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Korean Cucumber Salad

Fresh, crunchy cucumbers tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce, this Korean cucumber salad recipe makes a delicious Asian side dish. It’s a quick and easy salad to make and has a sweet, savory, and spicy flavor that pairs beautifully with the fresh, snappy cucumber pieces. Prep this Korean cucumber salad in under 20 minutes for an authentic-tasting cucumber salad that goes with a variety of main dishes!

Chopsticks in a cucumber salad.

Our spicy Korean cucumber salad is comparable to what you’d find at your favorite Korean restaurant! Crisp cucumber slices marinate in a simple dressing made with a combination of sesame oil, brown sugar, gochugaru and rice wine vinegar.

The combo is sweet, tangy and slightly nutty, with a kick of heat from the gochugaru, a course-ground chili powder made from Korean chili flakes. We’ve used this Korean red pepper flakes powder before to make Korean-inspired recipes like our Quick Kimchi Slaw and traditional Kimchee.

The fresh and crunchy textures and flavors make it the ideal side salad for your favorite Asian-inspired main course, like our Korean-Style Pork Ribs, our Kimchi Grilled Cheese with Black Garlic and this Cedar Planked Salmon.

But you don’t have to have a Korean meal on the menu in order to enjoy this cucumber salad. It pairs well with so many delicious recipes and can even be enjoyed on its own.

Why This Korean Cucumber Salad Recipe Works

Not only is this Korean cucumber salad recipe short and sweet, but it’s also super easy to adapt to your own taste preferences.

It takes just a few minutes of prep time. Plus, you can make it up to four days in advance and let it marinate for extra flavor.

Our spicy Korean cucumber salad is:

  • fresh and flavorful
  • crisp and delicious
  • a quick and easy side salad
  • sweet, savory and spicy, all at once

Korean Cucumber Salad Ingredients

For this Korean cucumber salad recipe, we prefer Korean cucumbers but if you can’t find them, English cucumbers are a great substitute. They are both a type of cucumber that has a thin skin and fewer seeds than other cucumber varieties. Persian cucumbers will work too but since they are mini cucumbers, you’ll end up with smaller sliced cucumbers.

If your area has Asian grocery stores or Korean supermarkets, you shouldn’t have a problem sourcing the Korean cucumbers there. And many larger grocery stores that have a well-stocked Asian foods aisle often carry gochugaru.

Here’s a list at the Korean cucumber salad ingredients:

  • Korean or English cucumbers
  • fresh chives
  • sweet white onion, thinly sliced
  • gochugaru
  • rice vinegar
  • fresh garlic cloves, finely minced
  • brown sugar
  • sesame oil
  • sesame seeds
  • salt
Cucumbers, rice wine vinegar, gochugaru, garlic, sesame seeds, salt, onion, brown sugar, and chives.

How to Make Korean Cucumber Salad

This salad takes just a few minutes to put together, but it does require about 15 minutes to marinate before serving.

Here’s a look at the steps but be sure to check out the full recipe card at the bottom of the page for all of the details.

Scooping seeds out of the center of a cucumber.

Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds in the center, then cut them in 1/4-inch thick slices. This step helps remove excess water and will prevent the salad from getting overly watery.

Combining cucumbers and onions in a mixing bowl and mixing the dressing in a separate bowl.

Toss the sliced cucumbers, chives, onion, and minced garlic in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients: the gochugaru, rice vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt. Taste and adjust, if needed.

Mixing the dressing in the top photo and combining it with the salad in the bottom photo.

Pour the sauce over the cucumber mixture and toss until the cucumbers are well coated. Marinate for 15 minutes and serve.

For the best flavors, let the salad marinate for 3 to 4 days. After three days, the cucumbers will not have as much crunch to them, but the flavors will be more intense. 

A serving bowl filled with spicy cucumber salad.

Recipe Tips for the Best Results

  • You can substitute the chives with three green onions or a small bunch of Chinese garlic chives.
  • Gochugaru is less spicy than other chili powders and has a sweet, smoky flavor. Another variety of chili powder won’t give the Korean cucumber salad the same flavor.
  • For a slightly more complex flavor, you can use Gochujang paste, which combines gochugaru powder with bold fermented flavors.
  • For a more mild dressing, replace half of the gochugaru powder with paprika powder.
  • Some types of cucumbers have a lot of seeds which can give the veggie a slightly bitter taste and hold in excess liquid. English cucumbers and Korean cucumbers are most commonly used in this Korean side dish because of their thin skin and fewer seeds.
Chopsticks picking up a bite of cucumber.


This easy Korean cucumber salad recipe makes a delicious salad with a lovely flavor and great crunch! We know you’ll love it too. This recipe was adapted from Korean Home Cooking.

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Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Japanese Cucumber Salad is light and refreshing and the perfect side dish for any Japanese-inspired meal! A delicious vinaigrette adds so much flavor to thin Japanese cucumbers, wakame and roasted sesame seeds.

Pork Yakisoba is a favorite weeknight dinner that features all the best flavors! This easy stir-fry dish is made with noodles, sauteed vegetables and flavorful bits of chewy pork. It’s so easy to make, too!

Our Arugula Burrata Salad boasts all the right flavors and textures that make it irresistible! Peppery arugula, salty prosciutto, creamy burrata cheese and sweet peaches create an epic salad that is sweet, salty and peppery in every bite.

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A serving bowl filled with Korean cucumber salad.

Korean Cucumber Salad

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Fresh, crunchy cucumbers tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce, this Korean cucumber salad recipe makes a delicious Asian side dish. It's a quick and easy salad to make and has a sweet, savory, and spicy flavor that pairs beautifully with Asian cuisine.

Prep this salad in under 20 minutes and adjust the spice level to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds Korean or English cucumbers
  • 1 large bunch of chives, sliced into 1 inch lengths
  • 1 sweet white onion, thinly sliced

For the Dressing

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons gochugaru
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds in the center then slice them 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Toss the cucumbers, chives, white onion, and minced garlic in a large bowl. 
  3. Combine 1 tablespoon gochugaru, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds and salt in a small dish. Taste the dressing. If you like it spicier, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of gochugaru. 
  4. Toss the dressing with the cucumber mixture until well coated. 
  5. Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes prior to serving it. You can let the salad marinate for 3 to 4 days for more flavor. After three days, the cucumbers will not have as much crunch to them but the flavors will be more intense. 

Notes

  • If you can’t find Korean cucumbers, English cucumbers will make a good substitute. Both types of cucumbers have thin skin that isn’t bitter. They also have fewer seeds and a crunchy, slightly sweet flavor. 
  • Remove the seeds from the cucumbers to prevent the salad from getting overly watery. The seeds will also add a slightly bitter flavor.
  • You can replace the chives with 3 green onions or a small bunch of Chinese garlic chives. 
  • Gochugaru is Korean chili powder. It is less spicy than other chili powders and has a slightly sweet, smokey flavor. It is hard to replace the flavor of gochugaru with other chili powders.
  • For a slightly more complex flavor, you can use Gochujang paste which contains gochugaru powder but also has some bold, fermented flavors.
  • If the dressing is too spicy for your palate, replace half of the gochugaru powder with paprika powder. 
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 91Total Fat: 0.7gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 97mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5.4gSugar: 19gProtein: 3g

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    This post was originally published on July 28, 2017.

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    Dahn Boquist

    Friday 16th of August 2019

    So true, it is easy to grow and some people find it a bit of an annoyance. For a weed, it is pretty tasty :)

    Dahn

    Saturday 29th of July 2017

    I hope you can find it Ayngelina

    Dahn

    Saturday 29th of July 2017

    Thanks Ginny, we love jicama too

    Dahn

    Saturday 29th of July 2017

    I hope you can find it, it's a fun change from the standard salad

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