Zesty Vinegar Cucumber Onion Salad: Favorite Summer Side

Why does it always seem that everyone I know has a garden and way too many cucumbers? Every summer, I seem to have a ton of them on my hands! This zesty vinegar cucumber onion salad is a simple and delicious way to use up some of that extra fresh produce.

vinegar cucumber onion salad recipe dinners done quick

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Fresh garden cucumbers are just perfect for summer. Combine them with tangy quick-pickled onions for the perfect amount of zing.

This summer salad is an ideal side dish for grilling and barbecuing. It’s great served chilled or at room temperature, and is fast and easy to put together.

vinegar cucumber onion on a spoon

I love how versatile it is as well. If you have some extra fresh tomatoes, throw them in for a nice twist. Any type of vinegar goes well, so choose your favorite or use what you have on hand. It’s really a great, low stress dish.

What You’ll Need: Ingredients

ingredients to make vinegar cucumber onion salad
  • 2 large cucumbers (or 6-8 small ones)
  • ¼ large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste) 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • Any type of cucumber is fine (though the fewer seeds the better). I’m using English cucumbers, but often use pickling cucumbers as well
  • You can swap the red onion for a sweet onion (like Vidalia) or shallots
  • Other good vinegar choices are red wine, white balsamic, rice vinegar, or plain white vinegar
  • All seasonings may be adjusted to taste, but this is a good starting point
  • Top with some fresh herbs for additional flavor: dill, parsley, and basil are great choices

How to Make Vinegar Cucumber Onion Salad

  1. Peel the cucumbers if desired (optional but recommended for thick skin varieties) and cut into approximately ¼” thick slices
peel and cut your cucumbers into slices
  1. In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine the onion slices, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper
combine onions, vinegar, and seasonings in a bowl
  1. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute to soften the onions
soften the onions in the microwave
  1. Add the sliced cucumbers and garlic to the onion bowl, then stir to combine well
add cucumber slices to onion mixture and stir
  1. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours) before serving
  2. Top with fresh herbs before serving, if desired
overhead view of a bowl of cucumber onion salad

What to Serve With Cucumber Salad

  • Grilled shrimp
  • Barbecue chicken
  • Pork chops
  • Fried chicken
  • Grilled steaks
  • Hot dogs
  • Hamburgers
  • Kebabs
  • Salmon
  • Roast beef sandwiches
  • Ham and cheese sliders
  • Falafel
  • Hummus
  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Pitas
  • Flatbreads
  • Garlic bread
  • Pinot Gris wine
  • Lemonade
  • Cucumber infused drinks

There are lots of great main dishes and drinks to serve with a cucumber salad. While it’s a perfect side for summer, you can enjoy it all year round with roasted dishes from the oven too.

Try this easy vinegar cucumber onion salad with my crispy Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs in the Air Fryer, easy Trader Joe’s Frozen Falafel in the Air Fryer, handheld Ham and Cheese Sliders on Hawaiian Pretzel Rolls, tasty Air Fryer Salmon Bites, crispy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters, or with a refreshing Cucumber Watermelon Agua Fresca.

Recipe FAQs

How Long Will Cucumbers and Onions in Vinegar Last in the Refrigerator?

Cucumbers and onions in vinegar last in the refrigerator for up to one week. However, the vegetables will continue to soften and pickle during that time frame, so the texture will change.

Generally, cucumber onion salad is best consumed within 3 days for the best taste and texture. If you add tomatoes to the salad, then it must be consumed within 3 days anyway due to the tomatoes.

Which Vinegar Is Used For Onion Salad?

Traditionally, white vinegar is used for onion salad. However, if the flavor is too overpowering, other common choices are red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or white balsamic vinegar.

Really, any type of vinegar may be used, so feel free to experiment with different options or use something to coordinate with the flavor profile of the rest of your meal.

What Happens When You Soak Onions in Vinegar?

When you soak onions in vinegar, they lose some of the very strong onion flavor, thus becoming more mellow. They will also soften slightly.

To accelerate the softening and flavoring changes, microwave the onions in the vinegar for about 1 minute.

What Does Soaking Cucumbers in Salt Do?

Soaking cucumbers in salt draws the excess moisture out of the cucumber, which makes your salads less watery and keeps the cucumber slices crisper.

Make sure to rinse the cucumber slices very well, though, or you’ll add too much extra salt to your salad.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • To keep your cucumbers more crispy, place them in a colander and sprinkle them with a couple teaspoons of salt. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture. Rinse the extra salt off and pat dry
  • If you prefer crunchy onions in your salad, you can skip the microwave step
  • I like to shake the bowl or stir things around a couple times while they’re marinating to ensure more even flavor (but if you don’t have time that’s fine)
  • Use tongs or a slotted spoon to scoop the cucumbers and onions out of the brine for serving
closeup of vinegar cucumber salad in a bowl

Storage Tips

  • Store vinegar cucumber onion salad covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It may be enjoyed chilled, or brought to room temperature before serving
  • If you add tomatoes to your salad, then it should be consumed within 3 days for best results

More Easy Summer Side Dishes to Try

Final Thoughts

This zesty vinegar cucumber onion salad is a perfect side dish for summer. It’s great on the table with your favorite barbecue and grilled items, but equally nice with a roast from the oven year round.

Since it takes less than 10 minutes to throw together, it’s perfect even for the busiest days. Plus, you can prep it up to two days in advance for the ultimate convenience. It’s one of those recipes you can get the kids to help with too!

Cucumber salad is one of my favorite uses for the pile of summer vegetables we always get. It’s cool and refreshing, and just perfect for a hot day with family and friends!

vinegar cucumber onion salad recipe dinners done quick featured image

Simple Vinegar Cucumber Onion Salad

This simple vinegar cucumber onion salad is a perfect way to use up fresh cucumbers! Serve chilled or room temperature for an incredibly easy summer side dish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 6 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Servings 8
Calories 20 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Large cucumbers (or 6-8 small pickling ones)
  • ¼ Large red onion, thinly sliced (or more to taste)
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Peel the cucumbers if desired (optional but recommended for thick skin varieties) and cut into approximately ¼” thick slices
    2 Large cucumbers
  • In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine the onion slices, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper
    ¼ Large red onion, thinly sliced, ¼ Cup apple cider vinegar, 2 Tsp granulated sugar, 1 Tsp salt, 1 Tsp black pepper
  • Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute to soften the onions
  • Add the sliced cucumbers and garlic to the onion bowl, then stir to combine well
    1 Clove garlic, minced
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours) before serving
  • Top with fresh herbs before serving, if desired

Notes

  • Any type of cucumber is fine (though the fewer seeds the better). I’m using English cucumbers, but often use pickling cucumbers as well
  • You can swap the red onion for a sweet onion (like Vidalia) or shallots
  • Other good vinegar choices are red wine, white balsamic, rice vinegar, or plain white vinegar
  • All seasonings may be adjusted to taste, but this is a good starting point
  • Top with some fresh herbs for additional flavor: dill, parsley, and basil are great choices
  • To keep your cucumbers more crispy, place them in a colander and sprinkle them with a couple teaspoons of salt. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture. Rinse the extra salt off and pat dry
  • If you prefer crunchy onions in your salad, you can skip the microwave step
  • I like to shake the bowl or stir things around a couple times while they’re marinating to ensure more even flavor (but if you don’t have time that’s fine)
  • Use tongs or a slotted spoon to scoop the cucumbers and onions out of the brine for serving
  • Store vinegar cucumber onion salad covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It may be enjoyed chilled, or brought to room temperature before serving
  • If you add tomatoes to your salad, then it should be consumed within 3 days for best results
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand and flavor of ingredients, any herbs or sides added, and quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 69gCalories: 20kcalCarbohydrates: 4.7gProtein: 0.7gFat: 0.1gSodium: 292mgPotassium: 95mgFiber: 0.6gSugar: 1.9gVitamin A: 8.59IUVitamin C: 2.3mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 0.2mg
Keyword apple cider vinegar cucumber onion salad, cucumber and onions, cucumber onion salad, cucumber onion salad with vinegar, cucumber salad, cucumber salad apple cider vinegar, recipe for cucumber and onions, vinegar cucumber onion salad
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Katie Vine