German Cucumber Salad

When my garden is bursting with cucumbers this summer, I’ll make this refreshing cucumber salad almost daily. A staple in German cuisine, it’s eaten across Central and Eastern Europe. The creamy dressing and fresh herbs make this simple summer salad an easy favorite.

Creamy German cucumber salad in bowl full of fresh dill.

I’m not a fan of fussy salads, especially in the summer. This creamy German cucumber salad can be quickly made with just a few staple ingredients.

Try some other traditional German side dishes, like my German potato salad, rotkohl (braised red cabbage), semmelknodel (leftover bread dumplings), and spaetzle dumplings.

Check out my other favorite summer sides, such as nasturtium salad, or blitva (garlicky chard and potatoes), and smoked tomatoes.

Garden to Table: How To Grow Cucumbers In Raised Beds

Ingredient Notes, Substitutions, & Variations

All of the ingredients and substitutions needed to make this authentic creamy German cucumber salad.
  • Sugar can be substituted with honey, maple syrup, maple sugar, or coconut sugar.
  • A strong white vinegar is best, but apple cider vinegar can be used instead for a milder taste.
  • Fresh chives are a nice addition as well.
  • Dried, dehydrated, or freeze-dried dill may be used, but fresh is best.
  • You can use thick Greek yogurt in place of sour cream or a mixture of sour cream and any other yogurt.

A Few Key Recipe Process Shots

Thinly sliced cucumbers in colander.

Tip 1: Slice your cucumbers as thin as possible; a mandolin is best. You can peel them or not; I prefer unpeeled. If your cucumber sins are particularly bitter, you may prefer peeled.

Thick white creamy dressing poured over cucumber slices.

Tip 2: As pictured above, the dressing should be thick and creamy. The water in the cucumbers will continue to release and help to thin it out as the salad rests.

Creamy German cucumber salad in bowl full of fresh dill.

Top Tips & Hints

  • Use English or Persian cucumbers for their thin skin, fewer seeds, and crisp texture. They’re ideal for salads and don’t require peeling.
  • Salt and Drain: After slicing the cucumbers, salting them and letting them sit to draw out moisture is crucial. This step concentrates their flavor and improves the salad’s texture by preventing it from becoming watery.
  • Use a mandoline slicer for uniformly thin slices.
  • The dressing should have a balanced ratio of acidity from vinegar, creaminess from sour cream, and sweetness from sugar. Taste and adjust these components as needed.
  • Infuse the Vinegar: For an aromatic lift, infuse the vinegar with herbs (like dill and maybe a clove of garlic) for a few hours or overnight before making the dressing.
  • Fresh Dill: Don’t skimp on it. Dill is key to this salad’s flavor profile. Use it generously, and consider adding other fresh herbs like parsley or chives for complexity.
  • Herb Oils: Consider drizzling the salad with a dill-infused oil as a garnish for an intense dill flavor and an elegant presentation.
  • Add a sprinkle of toasted caraway or mustard seeds for a subtle crunch and a hint of earthy, spicy flavor.
  • Onion Varieties: Use thinly sliced red onions for a pop of color and mild sharpness, or soak them in ice water for 10-15 minutes before adding to the salad to reduce their bite.
  • Allow the salad to chill and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or even better, overnight. This lets the flavors meld and deepen.
  • Serve the salad in a chilled bowl to keep it refreshing and crisp.
  • Garnish with additional fresh dill, edible flowers, or thin cucumber ribbons rolled up.
Creamy German cucumber salad in bowl full of fresh dill.

Creamy German Cucumber Salad

Creamy German cucumber salad is refreshing and simple summer salad full of dill.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: German
Servings: 6
Calories: 74kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • 2 large cucumbers thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar adjust to taste, use honey as a substitute
  • 1 small sweet onion thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh dill or more to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare the Cucumbers: Use a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife to slice the cucumbers very thinly. Place the slices in a colander, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, and let them sit for about 30 minutes to draw out excess water. This step helps to ensure that the cucumbers remain crisp in the salad. After 30 minutes, gently press the cucumber slices to remove any remaining water and transfer them to a large salad bowl.
  • Make The Creamy Dressing: In a bowl, mix together the sour cream, fresh dill, vinegar, water, sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper until well combined. Adjust the sugar to your liking, depending on how tangy or sweet you prefer your dressing.
  • Make the Salad: Add the thinly sliced onion to the cucumbers in a salad bowl. Pour the sour cream dressing over the cucumber mixture and toss gently to ensure all the slices are evenly coated.
  • Chill: Cover the salad and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour. This resting period allows the flavors to meld together and the cucumbers to marinate in the dressing, enhancing the overall taste of the salad. You can make this salad one day ahead of time. Make extra dressing, or hold some back, to toss with the salad right before serving if you do.

Nutrition

Calories: 74kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 338IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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