A deliciously creamy yet refreshing German cucumber salad (AKA Gurkensalat) made with a combination of thinly sliced cucumbers, dill, and dairy-free yogurt or sour cream. A wonderful side dish or inclusion to a BBQ, Potluck, or family gathering.
You know those recipes that it seems like everyone’s grandparents know, yet all with their slight personal twist? Well, I introduce you to Gurkensalat – a light German cucumber salad that is probably known by German Oma’s everywhere and passed down through the family. This recipe is healthy, low-carb, oil-free, vegan, gluten-free, yet creamy and flavorful!
This recipe is quick to prepare, takes minimal effort, is low-budget, but also super versatile- with lots of little tweaks to customize it your taste buds.
Whether you simply want a simple summer salad/side dish for any day of the week or something that will impress at a barbecue, this creamy marinated cucumber dill salad is a winner!
Just A Few Ingredients
As I mentioned above, this healthy salad is made up of only a few key ingredients:
- Onion (optional)
- Dairy-free sour cream OR yogurt
- Sugar OR a refined sugar-free sweetener
- + Salt & Pepper
There are also lots of ingredient variations and substitutions that you can use, as well as further general tips on making this the best version of this dish for you!
In fact, there is a version of this cucumber and onion salad that omits the creamy ingredients altogether. Instead, you can combine oil and vinegar for the dressing.
However, I love the creamy way because that is how my family always made our Gurkensalat when I lived in Germany. Plus, it’s also lower in fat when using yogurt, and you get the added benefit of healthy probiotics.
A Few Notes On The Ingredients
As I said above, there are tons of ways that this creamy cucumber salad recipe can be customized and tweaked to fit your tastes and preference. This begins with the choice of ingredients and the way you prepare them. For Example:
Cucumber: The type of cucumber you use will affect the texture and moisture level of the dish. Seedless and small-seed varieties like English cucumbers are great options for this dish, for having the least moisture. All cucumbers will work though; However, some will be more prone to ‘mushiness’ than others.
Onions: You can use white or red onions, or even omit them altogether.
The Dip: I love to use either a dairy-free sour cream or yogurt. In terms of yogurt, any will be fine, almond yogurt, coconut yogurt, soy, etc. You could also blend 150g silken tofu or vegan cream cheese with around 40ml of plant-based milk. Use a vegan Greek-style yogurt for a thicker dressing.
Sugar: Use regular white sugar or low-carb/keto sweetener such as Erythritol (i.e., Swerve).
Herbs: Dill is the classic addition to this cucumber salad. However, feel free to swap this for chives or parsley instead, or even a combination of these herbs.
The Vinegar: Swap your choice of vinegar for different flavor profiles. Apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, and white vinegar all produce a different taste. Or choose lemon juice/lime juice for a nice fruity touch!
Refer to the Tips & Variations section for more recipe notes and top tips!
How To Make German Cucumber Salad?
What I love about preparing this cucumber and onion salad is that it’s literally just three steps to creamy, refreshing salad perfection! For the full ingredients list, measurements, and nutritional information then please find the recipe card below.
STEP 1: Prepare the cucumbers by thinly slicing them, placing them in a large bowl with ¾ tsp salt and leaving them to rest for 20 minutes. This will allow them to leak excess moisture.
Once ready, gently squeeze the slices to get rid of the excess liquid. You can also pat with some kitchen towel. This will help to reduce the dressing from thinning too much as the cucumbers marinate.
STEP 2: Prepare the dressing by combining the vegan yogurt or sour cream, garlic, sugar, salt & pepper, and dill (or herb of your choice) to a medium bowl and mixing well to combine. You could also add these ingredients to a mini blender to combine. Once mixed, taste the dressing, and adjust any of the seasonings as required.
STEP 3: Pour the dressing over the cucumber and optionally add some thinly sliced onion, then stir to combine.
While you can eat this cucumber dill salad immediately, I recommend leaving it to marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes before consuming it.
The longer you leave your cucumber onion salad to marinate, the stronger the flavors will become while the cucumbers (and onions) become more tender. However, the dressing will also thin slightly, as the cucumbers continue to release moisture.
How To Serve?
There are tons of ways that you can enjoy the creamy cucumber salad. Including making it as part of a BBQ, Potluck, or other family gathering or just a mid-week side dish.
If you want some inspiration on what to serve this salad with then look no further. This salad will pair wonderfully with dishes like this Vegan Black Bean Burger, Portobello Mushroom Steaks, Roasted Cauliflower Steaks, Vegan Sloppy Joes, and even pizza like this Mexican Pizza recipe and Vegan Calzone.
You can also serve this salad alongside other ‘small bites’ and light lunch items such as this Caramelized Onion Tart, Vegan Grilled Cheese, Healthy Veggie Fritters, or even crispy gluten-free Polenta Fries.
Useful Tips & Variations
- The texture of this German cucumber salad will change depending on how thinly you slice your cucumber (by knife or even mandolin) and whether you choose to use peeled or non-peeled cucumbers.
- If you are worried about the dressing thinning out too much while the cucumbers marinate then you can keep some dressing aside and add it to the bowl just before serving.
- I love the simplicity of this salad, however, if you want to bulk it up further, then you can add cooked beans (e.g. red beans, black beans, white beans, green beans) or even chickpeas.
- Garnish the cucumber salad with some paprika for additional flavor.
- You could add a little bit of mustard, for additional tang!
How To Store?
As I’ve previously stated, this salad is best left to marinate for about half an hour (or a little longer) for the best flavor. However, if you leave it for too long then it can become ‘soggy’ as the cucumbers continue to soften and release liquid in the dressing.
For that reason, I would suggest only storing this salad in the refrigerator for no longer than 1 day.
This salad is not freezer friendly, due to the way freezing would change the texture of the dish.
This Creamy Cucumber Salad Is:
- Light & Refreshing
- Quick to prepare
- Low Budget
- Easy to make
- Super Customizable!
- A perfect summer salad
If you give this tasty German Cucumber Salad recipe a try, I’d really appreciate a comment and rating below. Also, don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan.
German Cucumber Salad
- 6 small (600 g) cucumbers thinly sliced
- 1/2 onion thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 large garlic clove grated
- Sea salt & black pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup (180 g) dairy-free yogurt or sour cream (*see notes)
- 1/2 tbsp sugar or Erythritol (*see notes)
- 1 1/2 tbsp vinegar or more to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh dill or more to taste, chopped (*see notes)
- To a large bowl, add sliced cucumbers and season with about 3/4 tsp salt. Let rest for 20 minutes, then drain excess moisture from the cucumbers by gently squeezing the slices and pouring off the liquid.
- To a medium bowl, add vegan yogurt or sour cream, garlic, sugar, vinegar, dill, salt & black pepper to taste. Stir to combine (you can also blend all ingredients in a mini blender). Taste the dressing and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, vinegar, etc. to taste.
- Pour the dressing over the cucumbers. Add sliced onion (optional) and stir to combine.
- I recommend refrigerating the cucumber salad for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!
- Yogurt: Any dairy-free yogurt is fine, such as almond yogurt, coconut yogurt, soy yogurt, etc. You can also blend 150 grams of silken tofu or vegan cream cheese with about 40 ml of plant-based milk.
- Sugar: Use regular white sugar or a refined sugar-free sweetener like Erythritol (e.g. Swerve).
- Dill: Use 1 tsp dried if you don't have fresh dill. You can use chives instead of dill if you don't like the taste of dill.
- Check the Tips & Variations above in the blog post.
- Recipe serves 4. Nutrition facts are for one serving.
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