German Cucumber Salad


Everyday Culinary Delights 👩‍🍳


German Cucumber Salad, known as Gurkensalat in Germany, is a refreshing and light dish that has been a staple in German cuisine for centuries. This salad combines the crispiness of thinly sliced cucumbers with the tangy sweetness of a vinegar or sour cream dressing, often enhanced with herbs like dill and parsley. Its simplicity and delightful taste have made it a favorite not only in Germany but around the world.

The history of Gurkensalat dates back to times when preserving fresh vegetables for the harsh winters was essential. Cucumbers, being abundant in summer, were sliced and mixed with vinegar, salt, and herbs to be enjoyed throughout the year. Today, this salad is a testament to the ingenuity of traditional German cooking, reflecting the country’s rich culinary heritage. For more on the history of German cuisineWikipedia offers a comprehensive overview.

Variations of the salad exist across different regions in Germany. In the south, a sweeter version with added sugar is popular, while in the north, a more tangy version with mustard seeds can be found. This diversity showcases the regional adaptations and the versatility of the salad. Each household has its unique recipe, passing down through generations, making Gurkensalat a personalized experience for many.

To understand the base ingredient better, cucumbers on Wikipedia provides detailed insights into their varieties and cultivation. Whether served alongside a hearty Schnitzel or as a light summer dish, German Cucumber Salad remains a beloved part of Germany’s culinary landscape, embodying the simplicity and elegance of German cooking.

This introduction sets the stage for a deeper exploration into the ingredients, preparation methods, and variations of Gurkensalat, inviting readers to discover the charm of this traditional German dish.

Ingredients and Substitutes

The classic German Cucumber Salad is known for its minimalistic yet flavorful ingredients. Here’s a detailed list along with substitutes to cater to various dietary needs:

  • Cucumbers: 2 large English cucumbers are preferred for their fewer seeds and thinner skin. For a crunchier texture, garden cucumbers can be used as a substitute.
  • Onions: ½ small red onion adds a mild spicy flavor. For a sweeter taste, shallots can be used.
  • Sour Cream: ½ cup provides the creamy base of the dressing. Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative with a similar texture.
  • White Sugar: 2 tablespoons to balance the tanginess. Honey or agave syrup can be used for a natural sweetener option.
  • White Vinegar: 2 tablespoons for the tangy flavor. Apple cider vinegar offers a milder taste with a fruity hint.
  • Dill: 1 teaspoon, dried. Fresh dill can enhance the flavor, while fennel fronds can be an alternative.
  • Parsley: 1 teaspoon, dried. Fresh parsley boosts the freshness, and cilantro can offer a distinct twist.
  • Paprika: 1 teaspoon for a subtle spice and color. Smoked paprika can add a deeper flavor profile.
  • Kosher Salt: 1 teaspoon to season. Sea salt can be a more mineral-rich option.

For those interested in the health benefits and culinary uses of sour creamWikipedia’s sour cream page provides valuable insights. Similarly, understanding the flavor profile and uses of dill can be enhanced by visiting its Wikipedia page.

This salad is not only a testament to the simplicity of German cuisine but also its adaptability. By substituting ingredients, one can tailor the Gurkensalat to fit dietary restrictions or personal taste preferences, making it a versatile dish suitable for various occasions. Whether served as a refreshing side to a barbecue or as a light meal on its own, the German Cucumber Salad remains a beloved dish for its delightful combination of flavors and ease of preparation.

Step-by-Step Preparation

Preparing German Cucumber Salad is straightforward, involving simple steps to bring out the flavors of the fresh ingredients. Here’s a detailed guide:

  1. Cucumber and Onion Preparation: Begin by thinly slicing 2 large English cucumbers and ½ a small red onion. Place the slices in a colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and let them sit for about 30 minutes. This process helps draw out excess moisture, ensuring the salad remains crisp.
  2. Dressing Preparation: In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of dried dill, 1 teaspoon of dried parsley, and 1 teaspoon of paprika. Mix well until the sugar dissolves and the dressing is smooth.
  3. Combining Ingredients: After the cucumbers and onions have rested, gently squeeze any remaining moisture from them. Add the cucumber and onion slices to the bowl with the dressing. Fold gently to ensure all slices are evenly coated with the dressing.
  4. Chilling: Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. This chilling time allows the flavors to meld together, enhancing the overall taste of the salad.
  5. Serving: Before serving, give the salad a gentle mix. Optionally, garnish with a sprinkle of paprika for added color and a slight kick.

For those looking to explore variations, incorporating apple cider vinegar can introduce a fruity tanginess to the dish. More about the types and uses of vinegar can be found on Wikipedia’s vinegar page.

This step-by-step guide ensures that even those new to German cuisine can successfully prepare a traditional Gurkensalat. The key to this salad is in its simplicity and the quality of ingredients, making it a refreshing addition to any meal. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or looking for a light, healthy side dish, this German Cucumber Salad is sure to impress.

Serving Suggestions and Pairings

German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat) is a versatile dish that pairs wonderfully with a variety of meals. Here are some serving suggestions and pairing ideas to enhance your dining experience:

  • As a Side Dish: Serve alongside traditional German main courses such as SchnitzelBratwurst, or Sauerbraten for a refreshing balance to hearty flavors.
  • With Grilled Meats: The cool, crisp texture of the salad complements grilled chicken, pork, or beef, making it a perfect addition to barbecues and outdoor gatherings.
  • In Sandwiches and Wraps: Add a spoonful of Gurkensalat to sandwiches or wraps for an extra crunch and flavor boost.
  • With Fish: Pair with grilled or baked fish like salmon or trout for a light, healthy meal.
  • As Part of a Buffet: Include in a buffet or potluck spread for a vegetarian option that everyone can enjoy.

Wine and Beverage Pairings

  • Riesling: A dry or slightly sweet Riesling pairs beautifully with the tangy and creamy notes of the salad, complementing its acidity.
  • Pilsner Beer: A crisp, refreshing Pilsner beer can cleanse the palate between bites, enhancing the flavors of both the beer and the salad.
  • Sparkling Water: For a non-alcoholic option, sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon complements the freshness of the salad.

Incorporating these serving and pairing suggestions can elevate a simple meal to a memorable dining experience. Whether enjoying a quiet dinner at home or hosting a festive gathering, German Cucumber Salad offers a taste of German tradition that pairs seamlessly with a wide range of dishes.

For more inspiration on German salad presentations, Pinterest offers a wealth of ideas on its German Salad Recipes Board. Additionally, for those interested in exploring healthy salad ideas further, Pinterest’s Healthy Salad Ideas page provides a variety of creative and nutritious options.

By integrating these serving suggestions and pairing ideas, you can create a well-rounded meal that highlights the simplicity and elegance of German cuisine, making every bite of German Cucumber Salad a delightful experience.

Nutritional Information

Understanding the nutritional content of German Cucumber Salad can help you appreciate not only its taste but also its health benefits. Here’s a breakdown of the key nutritional components:

  • Low in Calories: Cucumbers are very low in calories, making this salad an excellent choice for those monitoring their calorie intake.
  • Hydration: Cucumbers are made up of about 95% water, which helps in keeping the body hydrated, especially during hot weather.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: This salad is a good source of Vitamin K, essential for blood clotting and bone health. Cucumbers also provide small amounts of Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Dietary Fiber: Both cucumbers and onions add dietary fiber to the diet, which is beneficial for digestive health.

For individuals interested in the health benefits and culinary uses of ingredients like sour cream and dill, resources like Wikipedia’s sour cream page and dill page offer extensive insights.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

German Cucumber Salad is not only delicious but also convenient for meal planning. Here are some tips for storing and making this dish ahead of time:

  • Refrigeration: Store the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best consumed within 1-2 days, as the cucumbers will continue to release moisture over time.
  • Making Ahead: If preparing for an event, you can slice the cucumbers and onions, and prepare the dressing separately a day in advance. Combine them a few hours before serving to ensure the salad remains crisp.
  • Avoid Freezing: Freezing is not recommended for this salad, as cucumbers and sour cream do not freeze well, leading to a loss of texture and separation of the dressing.


  • Can I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? Yes, Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream, offering a similar texture with less fat and more protein.
  • How can I make the salad less watery? Salting the cucumbers and letting them sit to draw out moisture before mixing with the dressing can help reduce wateriness.
  • Is this salad gluten-free? Yes, German Cucumber Salad is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.

By incorporating these nutritional insights, storage, and make-ahead tips, along with answers to frequently asked questions, you can enjoy German Cucumber Salad to its fullest, appreciating not only its flavors but also its contributions to a healthy diet. Whether serving it at a family dinner or including it in your meal prep for the week, this salad remains a timeless and versatile choice that embodies the essence of German culinary tradition.

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German Cucumber Salad

  • Author: Naomi
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This traditional German Cucumber Salad, known as Gurkensalat, is a refreshing and light side dish that perfectly complements any meal. Featuring thinly sliced cucumbers and onions dressed in a creamy sour cream mixture with hints of dill, parsley, and paprika, it’s a simple yet flavorful salad that’s easy to make.


  • 2 large English cucumbers, sliced thin
  • ½ small red onion, sliced very thin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt as a substitute)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (honey or agave syrup for a natural sweetener option)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar (apple cider vinegar for a milder taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (fresh dill for enhanced flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (fresh parsley for added freshness)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika for a deeper flavor)
  • Additional paprika for garnish


  1. Spread cucumber and onion slices on a paper towel-lined platter; season with salt and let rest for 30 minutes to draw out moisture.
  2. In a large bowl, mix sour cream, sugar, vinegar, dill, parsley, and paprika until well combined.
  3. Gently incorporate the cucumbers and onions into the dressing, ensuring even coverage.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight, to allow flavors to meld.
  5. Garnish with additional paprika before serving.


  • For a dairy-free version, use a plant-based yogurt or sour cream substitute.
  • Adjust the sweetness and tanginess by varying the amounts of sugar and vinegar to taste.
  • This salad is best enjoyed fresh but can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • Explore variations by adding fresh herbs, such as chives or mint, for a different flavor profile.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 80 kcal

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