Maybe you forgot all about Creamy Cucumber Salad, or maybe you’ve never had it at all. Either way, this German favorite is about to become your crunchiest best friend. Imagine crisp cucumber slices, lots of fresh dill, and a punchy sour cream dressing that comes together in minutes.
Creamy Cucumber Salad Ingredients:
- Cucumbers. Hothouse, homegrown, whatever your favorite variety of cucumber may be.
- Sour cream. Lighten it up with low-fat sour cream, if you like, or plain Greek yogurt.
- Mayonnaise. Good quality mayo tastes great. Try Hellman’s or Best Foods.
- Dill. Fresh dill is amazing in this recipe.
- Lemon juice. Freshly squeezed lemon juice makes the salad pop.
- Garlic. Minced fresh garlic is tempered by the sour cream.
- Salt and freshly ground pepper.
There aren’t really any hard and fast rules, here. People made cucumber salad with something creamy, something acidic, and something savory/herby. Therefore the ingredients, though different, all basically do the same thing to the sliced cucumbers.
- Cider vinegar. In place of lemon juice, some cooks add a splash of vinegar.
- Onion. Sliced red onion or sweet onion are often used.
- Chives. If you got ‘em, add them! Same with parsley.
- Half and half or heavy cream. Some recipes get the creaminess from actual cream, but sour cream makes a less watery salad.
- Garlic powder. Dried garlic or onion powder
- Ranch dressing. This creamy garlic herb salad could be compared to Ranch dressing, so it makes sense that some folks just use Ranch.
Cucumbers: to peel or not to peel?
It is completely up to you whether or not you want to peel the cukes. Are your cucumbers thick-skinned, fresh from the garden? In that case, maybe you want to remove all or most of the peel with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.
Most hothouse or Persian cucumbers have a softer outer skin that’s easy to eat; they’re less likely to need a peeling.
Another fun way to prepare cucumbers is to score their skin with a dinner fork before slicing. Take the tines of a fork and run it firmly along the length of the vegetable, so that the tines dig into the green skin. When you slice the cucumber, you’ll have slices with “striped” skin that look great.
Slicing and salting cucumbers:
Because this recipe is such a classic, almost everyone has a slightly different way of preparing it.
Some cooks prefer a chunky slice, while others strive for perfection and use a mandolin to make uniformly paper-thin slices. Again, it’s up to you. You can slice the cucumbers by hand with a chef’s knife, if you like.
Salting the cucumber slices helps them release their extra moisture, which helps the salad stay creamy, not watery.
Once you slice the cukes, you can layer them with some salt in a colander that is set over a bowl to catch the cucumber water. Use about ¼ teaspoon salt for each layer of cucumber slices—about 4 layers in all.
Then let the salt do its work for one hour. If there’s room, pop the colander into the refrigerator to keep the cucumbers cold while they release their liquid.
How to make Creamy Cucumber Salad:
For best results, German cucumber salad with sour cream is best when assembled just before serving time, up to an hour ahead, if covered stored in the refrigerator. Otherwise, the sour cream could break down and become watery, and the cucumbers risk turning soggy and limp.
- First, Have you sliced and salted the cucumbers? Great! While the salted cucumbers are working, make the creamy herb dressing.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper. Then set this aside in the refrigerator until you need it.
- When the cucumbers are ready, gently remove them from the colander and pat the slices dry with paper towels. Discard the liquid—you don’t need it.
- Add the cucumbers to a large bowl and then toss them in the dressing until thoroughly coated. Garnish with a little extra dill, if you like.
- Cover and chill until you’re ready to serve!
Creamy Cucumber Salad
- 4 hothouse cucumbers thinly sliced (see note 1)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill minced (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (see note 3)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Add cucumbers to a colander set over a medium bowl, salting in layers (I do about 4 layers, ¼ teaspoon per layer). Let stand for 1 hour. Drain excess liquid and pat cucumbers dry.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Cover and chill while the cucumbers are draining.
- In a large bowl, add drained cucumbers and sour cream mixture, tossing until evenly coated. Serve immediately (see notes).
- Cucumbers: If you use thick-skinned cucumbers, you may want to peel them for this salad. To remove any large seeds, cut them in half lengthwise, then scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Slice and salt as direct in the recipe.
- Dill: Or substitute 2 teaspoons dried dill.
- Lemon juice: Or substitute 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
- Yield: This recipe makes 8 cups of cucumber salad (8 servings, 1 cup each).
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator. The dressing will begin to break down and turn watery and the cucumbers will become soggy (but the salad is safe to eat for up to 4 days).
- Make ahead: This dressing is best assembled right before serving (30-60 minutes in advance is okay; store it covered in the refrigerator until serving time).
- Ranch dressing: This creamy dressing here is similar to classic Ranch, so grab a bottle if you're looking for a shortcut.
- More mix-ins: Stir in minced fresh parsley or chives if you have more herbs on hand.