Creamy Cucumber Salad

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You can never go wrong with a bowl of creamy cucumber salad at a picnic or party.

Creamy Cucumber Salad With Dill
Photo: Hannah Zimmerman/Southern Living
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
Servings:
6

Whether you are cooking up low and slow barbecue or spicy Southern fried chicken, a cooling creamy salad is always a perfect pairing. Cucumber and dill are great pals, and while many traditional salads that feature them are dressed with a sweet and sour vinegar-based brine, they are just as happy with a velvety bath in some dairy.

This creamy cucumber salad borrows from the Eastern European sour cream-based salads, with some mayo added for pure Southern flair. We use Duke's, naturally, but any mayo you love will work fine here. If you want a version that is a little lighter, swap in Greek yogurt for the sour cream. It adds a tangy twist you don't get from Duke's or Hellman's.

We make this salad with English or seedless cucumbers, which tend be sweeter and less watery than standard Kirbys, and sweet Vidalia onions, which aren't as aggressive as red or white onions.

You can make this creamy cucumber salad in advance, but it is at its peak if eaten within four hours. If you do make ahead, be prepared for the cucumbers to soften and the dressing to get a little watery, but it will still be delicious.

Creamy Cucumber Salad Ingredients

Joining the cucumbers and Vidalia onions are the "creamy" ingredients of sour cream and mayonnaise. To balance out the richness of those dairy ingredients, we'll add a little white wine vinegar and some sugar. The good news about these ingredients is they're usually always in a Southern fridge and pantry, so as long as you have the onions and cucumbers, you have what it takes to make this creamy cucumber salad.

ingredients for creamy cucumber salad in bowls on a white marble surface
Hannah Zimmerman/Southern Living

Variatons to Try

If you like your cucumber salads extra creamy, consider doubling the dressing. Sure, as is, this recipe results in perfectly gilded cucumber coins and onion pieces, but there's no harm in boosting the creamy factor. It is creamy cucumber salad after all. Splurge a little.

You can also skip the dill if you want, or if you don't have any on hand. It's the perfect herb for bringing freshness to the final dish, but the tangy bite of mayo and vinegar works well without it.

If you plan to serve this salad quickly, consider adding in some tomato slices, too. While we really love this Marinated Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad for the summer vegetable trifecta, we wouldn't be opposed to a creamy version like this.

How to Make Creamy Cucumber Salad

Besides a 30-minute wait for the cucumbers and onions to release some water, this creamy cucumber salad comes together quickly (i.e. very little hands-on time). While this salad will lose some texture the longer it sits, you can make this ahead of time if need be. Just drain off any water that's leaked to the bottom of the bowl, and give the vegetables a quick stir before serving.

Step 1. Salt the vegetables

Salting cucumbers and onions helps to draw out their water. Water-rich cucumbers will quickly soften and water down your creamy cucumber salad as it sits in the dressing. If you salt them before combining with the dressing, however, they will "leak" some of that water, and you can avoid a watery pool at the bottom of your bowl.

You don't need a lot of salt to make this happen, and since you won't be rinsing the vegetables, limit yourself to about 1 teaspoon.

In a large bowl, sprinkle kosher salt all over the cucumber and onion slices, toss gently, and empty into a colander in the sink or over a bowl. Let sit for about 30 minutes. The water will drain out of the cucumbers and into the bowl. Discard the water.

salting cucumbers and onion
Hannah Zimmerman/Southern Living

Step 2. Make the dressing

While the onions and cucumbers are weeping, you can make the creamy cucumber salad dressing. It doesn't need a lot of time to sit before it can be tossed with the cucumbers and onions, but even a few minutes will help the flavors meld. So in a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Mix well, then fold in 2 tablespoons fresh minced dill. Set aside.

salad dressing in a bowl with a spoon
Hannah Zimmerman/Southern Living

Step 3. Pat dry

Instead of rinsing the cucumbers and onion (which will just add more water to them), you'll want to pat them dry with a lint-free towel or paper towel. This will help remove any water that is beaded up on the surface of the slices. If you have time, spread them out on a baking pan lined with a paper towel. This will help wick away more moisture before you continue to the next step of the creamy cucumber recipe.

a white woman's hand pats cucumbers and onions dry
Hannah Zimmerman/Southern Living

Step 4. Combine dressing and cucumbers

Once the cucumbers and onions have been patted dry, pour the cucumbers and onions into a large bowl. Add the dressing into the bowl with the vegetables. Gently stir to combine. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon dill, and immediately serve, or chill in the refrigerator until time to serve.

combining cucumbers and dressing
Hannah Zimmerman/Southern Living

What We Love About This Creamy Cucumber Salad

- Simple and quick to prepare; the longest task is waiting on the cucumbers to release water.
- Ingredients are inexpensive and likely already in your pantry and fridge.
- Goes great with a variety of dishes and is family-friendly for parties, barbecues, tailgates, and picnics.

Can You Make Creamy Cucumber Salad Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can make this salad in advance, but there will be some costs: The cucumbers will release more water while they rest, meaning you'll have a watery dressing and soggy cucumbers. That isn't all bad. Some people like this texture.

While you can make this salad up to four days in advance, we wouldn't recommend making it more than 24 hours before you plan to serve it.

More Southern Living Cucumber Salads

If you're at the end-of-summer cucumber bonanza (you know, when the plants finally start making fruit), you likely are looking for ways to use up bushels of cukes in a matter of days. Look no further than these refreshing cucumbers salads:

- Spicy Cucumber Onion Salad
- Herbed Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad
- Cucumber-and-Vidalia-Onion Salad

Editorial contributions by Kimberly Holland.

Ingredients

  • 2 large English or seedless cucumbers, sliced thin

  • ½ cup finely sliced Vidalia or sweet onion

  • ¼ cup sour cream

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill, divided

  • 1 teaspoon, plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Salt the cucumber and onion well with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and empty into a colander placed over a bowl; drain for 30 minutes. Do not rinse; pat dry with lint-free paper towels.

  2. While the cucumbers sit, mix sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, 2 tablespoons dill, remaining salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix with the dried vegetables. Serve chilled with more minced dill on top to garnish.

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