Cucumber dill salad is one of the easiest and most versatile dishes you can make. A basic cucumber dill salad is refreshing, filling, and very low in calories. As a bonus, the salad can be adapted in creative ways. Using a basic cucumber salad recipe as a base, different ingredients and surprising twists can turn this picnic staple into an unforgettable dish.

What Is Cucumber Dill Salad? 

sliced cucumber
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1. What Is Dill?

Before getting into cucumber dill salad, let’s step back and talk about dill. Anyone who’s eaten pickles knows cucumbers and dill are a classic combination. Crisp, refreshing cucumber is a perfect canvas for showing off strongly flavored, unique herbs. Cucumber’s greatest herb partner is dill.

Dill, an herb in the celery family, has delicate, fern-like leaves and a crunchy stem. Anise and fennel are related to dill, and fennel sometimes tastes of licorice. The overall taste of dill, though, is slightly bitter. It has a strong, sharp taste that can withstand marinating in vinegar for a long time.

2. What’s So Special about Cucumber Dill Salad??

Variations of cucumber dill salad have been served in Europe and the Mediterranean for centuries. There are German, Greek, and Iranian takes on cucumber dill salad. Many other cultures throughout the world gave cucumbers their own twists.

The salad is special because it can be customized in so many ways. Besides being served as a side dish with a hamburger or gyro, it can be used as a topping for sandwiches, blended down to make a sauce for salmon, or even whipped up into a soup.

Cucumbers and dill are readily available in farmers markets and grocery stores in the summer months. They’re easy to grow and can become the most abundant vegetables in a home garden. A feeling of pride comes with serving food you’ve grown yourself. Grab cucumbers and dill from your garden—or your farmer’s market or grocery store—and throw them together into an easy salad. This crunchy, low-calorie dish can be served all summer long.

Ingredients 

sliced cucumber
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A basic cucumber salad has five ingredients:

  • cucumbers
  • salt
  • vinegar
  • sugar (or stevia)
  • dill

Most of us have sugar, salt, and vinegar hanging around in our cabinets, so all you need to pick up to make the salad are the cucumbers and dill.

Recommendations

sliced cucumber in a bowl
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We recommend keeping the skin on the cucumber and not removing the seeds. Cucumber skin and seeds hold fiber and other nutrients. Without them, cucumber is still refreshing and hydrating, but that’s about it. Keeping the skin on your cucumbers will also keep them intact when mixed into the salad and a touch of color. Wash your cucumbers well to remove any pesticides or wax from the skin and then get to chopping or slicing.

Recipes to Amounts

Here’s a standard recipe for cucumber salad: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sweet-and-sour-cucumbers-with-fresh-dill-109713.

For this recipe, you’ll need two large cucumbers (around 1 and a half pounds). This recipe asks you to slice the cucumbers very thin, but you can also chop them.  Put the slices in a bowl, sprinkle them with about a tablespoon of salt, then set them aside. Next, combine a half cup of vinegar, a quarter cup of chopped dill, three tablespoons of sugar, and a little pepper. Pour this mixture over the cucumbers and stir it all together so that the cucumbers are covered. Put the salad in the refrigerator and let it chill. Then you’re good to go!

A second variation on the classic cucumber dill salad is the German style salad, called Gurkensalat. You can make this version and use it as your base if you like a less sugary salad:

https://www.daringgourmet.com/german-cucumber-salad-gurkensalat/

The Gurkensalat calls for just one and a half teaspoons of sugar, but it adds minced onion and oil.

These basic salads taste great on their own, but they can also be jazzed up with other ingredients. Lemon juice, tomatoes, red onion, carrots, and radishes are just some vegetables that can be mixed into the salad for maximum taste and few extra calories. Dairy—such as yogurt, feta cheese, mayo, fresh mozzarella, and sour cream—also go great with this salad, adding a bit of tang and protein. Increasing the sugar in the recipe will make a sweeter salad while increasing the vinegar and salt will make a more savory salad.

Instructions to Prepare Cucumber Dill Salad

sliced cucumber and black knife
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Now that you have a base cucumber dill salad, you can use it to prepare a variety of dishes. Below, we present instructions for adding to your base salad. Our list begins with some easy, relatively tame recipes and moves on to more unique and surprising takes on this classic salad.

Sweet Start

cucumber dill salad in a plate
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Most people have a preference for a sweet or savory cucumber salad. If you’re on the sweet side, then a creamy version of this salad might be for you. Many creamy recipes for cucumber dill salad are available online. Most of them mix mayonnaise or sour cream into the base.

Here’s a good starter for the creamy version. It includes both mayo and sour cream:
https://www.gonnawantseconds.com/creamy-cucumber-salad-recipe/

Another sweet twist is the addition of carrots. Carrots are a great mix-in for this salad. Not only do they add color and crunch, but they also bring on extra vitamins and a slightly sweet taste. Check out this cucumber carrot dill salad:
http://cookingwithmykid.com/2010/01/18/cucumber-dill-salad/

Finally, here’s a creative, slightly sweet/slightly tangy salad with pistachios:
https://www.spoonfulofflavor.com/2017/04/26/cucumber-dill-feta-pistachio-salad/

Tangy

cucumber salad in a bowl
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If you like a creamy cucumber dill salad but prefer your salad more tangy than sweet, then a cucumber salad made with plain yogurt might be the way to go. This take incorporates Greek yogurt and radishes for a colorful, peppery crunch:
https://www.wellplated.com/creamy-cucumber-salad/

Vinegar is a key ingredient in cucumber salad. Your choice of vinegar—plain distilled, rice, apple cider, balsamic, etc.—can shape your salad in different ways. To get a sense of how vinegar affects a salad, try this recipe, which incorporates three types of vinegar:
https://www.foodiecrush.com/dill-cucumber-salad-and-5-more-super-simple-cucumber-salads/

picked cucumber in a glass jar
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For many people, the next mix-in they go for when making cucumber dill salad is salty feta cheese. This cheese is a perfect match for cucumbers and tossed with tomatoes, it makes a dilly version of a Mediterranean staple.  Try this one to take your first steps with feta:
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/233542/refrigerator-dill-pickles/

If adding feta to your cucumber salad is old hat, then this colorful recipe with peas and chopped red cabbage might be right up your alley:
https://thecafesucrefarine.com/chopped-cucumber-dill-salad/

Lemon-lovers will enjoy this elegant recipe, which incorporates fresh lemon juice and lemon peel:
https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fresh-dill-cucumbers-with-lemon

The Next Level

If you can’t get enough of the cucumber-dill combo, then it’s time to go beyond salads.

Cucumbers and dill pair well with seafood. You can make a quick lunch out of water-packed tuna mixed with a basic creamy cucumber salad. Artificial crab used the same way can make a sweet and creamy lunch.

If you tire of the tuna, but still appreciate the mix of protein and herbs, give this low-calorie shrimp sandwich a try. As a bonus, it can be made from leftover cocktail shrimp and cucumber salad the day after a big picnic or potluck:
https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/shrimp-salad-sandwich-with-cucumber-and-dill/592f1a68a831fb7112f33a8b

Cucumber and dill can be used in dinners and lunches. The most common use is as a sauce. Here is a classic salmon recipe with a cucumber dill salad that doubles as a creamy sauce:
https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/grilled-salmon-with-creamy-cucumber-dill-salad.html

And for a true surprise, try this simple egg drop soup with cucumber dill salad. Ginger and sesame oil combine beautifully with the cucumber and dill:
https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/grilled-salmon-with-creamy-cucumber-dill-salad.html

Classic Pickles

three jars of pickled cucumber
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Finally, we offer a classic use of cucumber and dill: pickles! Homemade refrigerator pickles are easy to make and super tasty. They are a fun, healthy snack and accompaniment for homemade hamburgers.

With adult supervision, making refrigerator pickles can be a great activity for kids. Making their own pickles can encourage them to eat different foods and take pride in their work. These pickles make a nice gift from the kids to grandparents or babysitters.  (Just remember to keep them refrigerated and tell the recipient they’ll be good in the fridge for up to a month.)

Many refrigerator pickle recipes exist. The overall concept remains the same, however. You’ll need the same ingredients as you used for the basic cucumber dill salad, plus garlic and mason jars. (Amounts listed here are approximate.):

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Four cucumbers, sliced into pickle spears
  • Two bunches of dill
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Mason jars

To make the pickles, put the cucumbers upright in the jar and stuff the garlic and dill in with them. Boil everything else up on the stove. Let the mixture cool, then pour it into the jar. Close the jar up tight and place it in the refrigerator for three days. After three days, unscrew the lid and enjoy your pickles!

Check out these refrigerator pickle recipes for more variations:
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/233542/refrigerator-dill-pickles/
https://www.pinchmeimeating.com/refrigerator-dill-pickles/
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/22653/homemade-refrigerator-pickles/

Conclusion

If you’re dieting, cucumber dill salad should be at the top of your foods list. It’s low-calorie, filling, and—if you don’t remove the peel and seeds—full of nutrients. Even if you’re not a diet, cucumber dill salad is an easy recipe you can expand and customize for a quick potluck side- dish, a healthy lunch, or a special dinner. Give this versatile recipe a try!

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