Sesame Cucumber Salad

This salad is one of the very first recipes I ever posted on Budget Bytes. Like, way back when I was still taking photos with my pre-smart-phone era phone. Yikes! Because this Sesame Cucumber Salad is still one of my favorite dishes and my favorite way to use up all those delicious and inexpensive summer cucumbers, I had to repost it and give it the proper attention it needs. So, if this Sesame Cucumber recipe is new to you, I hope it becomes one of your go-to fav’s as it has for me. It will serve you well!

Originally posted July 2009, updated 7-9-2020.

A bowl of Sesame Cucumber Salad from above, chopsticks on the side

Do I Have to Use Rice Vinegar?

I strongly urge you not to substitute the rice vinegar in this recipe. Rice vinegar has a uniquely mild flavor and acidity that is just perfect for this recipe. While people have substituted the rice vinegar with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, I find them both a bit too strong for this recipe. Also, be mindful not to use “seasoned” rice vinegar, which has other ingredients added and tastes quite different.

Where Do You Find Rice Vinegar?

Rice vinegar is fairly inexpensive, can be found in the Asian section of most major grocery stores, and will stay good in your pantry for just about forever. If you make Budget Bytes recipes on the regular, I promise it will get used again! In fact, here is a direct link to all the recipes on my website that use Rice Vinegar.

What is Toasted Sesame Oil?

The other key ingredient in this cucumber salad is toasted sesame oil. Unlike regular sesame oil, toasted sesame oil has a very strong nutty flavor and a little bit can really add a LOT of flavor to any dish. You can find toasted sesame oil in the international aisle of most major grocery stores, or Asian grocery stores. It may not say “toasted” on the label, but you’ll know it is toasted by the deep walnut color. Untoasted sesame oil is a light straw color, like canola oil.

How Long Does This Salad Last?

This salad does get kind of limp in the refrigerator fairly quickly, but it’s still insanely good once the cucumbers soften. They’re almost like pickled cucumber slices at that point. They’ve been marinating in the spicy-sweet vinegar solution and are just totally delicious! I enjoy this salad for about 2-3 days after making it (if I don’t eat it all sooner). If you like your cucumbers to stay crunchy, try cutting them into chunks instead of thin slices.

Side view of a bowl of sesame cucumber salad, chopsticks picking up one slice of cucumber


Side view of a bowl of sesame cucumber salad, chopsticks picking up one slice of cucumber
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4.88 from 83 votes

Sesame Cucumber Salad

Sesame Cucumber Salad is light, refreshing, and vibrant in flavor. It's the perfect summer side dish or companion to any Southeast Asian inspired meal.
Total Cost: $2.44 recipe / $0.41 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar ($0.70)
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil ($0.05)
  • 1/4 crushed red pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 2 large cucumbers ($1.38)
  • 3 green onions ($0.13)
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts ($0.12)

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, crushed red pepper, and salt. Set the dressing aside.
  • Peel and slice the cucumber using your favorite method (see photos below for my technique). Place the sliced cucumbers in a large bowl.
  • Chop the peanuts into smaller pieces. Slice the green onions.
  • Add the peanuts, green onions, and dressing to the sliced cucumbers. Stir to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. Give the salad a brief stir before serving to redistribute the dressing and flavors.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 62.82kcalCarbohydrates: 7.63gProtein: 1.87gFat: 3.1gSodium: 199.82mgFiber: 1.4g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclaimer here.

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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Overhead view of a bowl full of sesame cucumber salad

How to Make Sesame Cucumber Salad – Step by Step Photos

Spicy vinegar dressing in a bowl

Start by making the dressing. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp salt. Set the dressing aside.

Bottle of toasted sesame oil and a bottle of rice vinegar

Here is the toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar that I used. The sesame oil is from Aldi and the rice vinegar is from Kroger.

Two cucumbers, one half peeled

Peel and slice two large cucumbers however you like. I like to remove strips of the peel to create a cool striped effect once they’re sliced. If you don’t like cucumber seeds, you can slice the cucumber lengthwise before slicing into rounds and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds in the center.

Two cucumbers, one mostly sliced

I prefer thin slices so that there is more surface area to come into contact with the dressing. The thinner slices will become soft and wobbly after storing them in the dressing, but I kind of like that, too. If you prefer them to stay crunchy longer, you’ll want to do thicker slices. 

Sliced green onion and chopped peanuts

Roughly chop 1/4 cup peanuts and slice 3 green onions.

Dressing being poured over cucumbers, green onion, and peanuts

Place the sliced cucumbers in a large bowl, add the sliced green onion and chopped peanuts, then pour the dressing over top.

Finished sesame cucumber salad in the bowl

Finally, stir it all up and you’re ready to eat! Serve it immediately or refrigerate for later.

Side view of a bowl full of sesame cucumber salad, chopsticks on the side

The flavors do get really good as it sits in the fridge, although the cucumbers get softer (some people don’t like that–I kind of do!). Either way, this Thai Cucumber Salad is super refreshing and delicious. It always has been and always will be my favorite!