Cucumber salad is a simple side dish that everyone loves.  This is a replica of the type of salad found in most New York delis and pairs perfectly with burgers, barbecue, grilled meat, and sandwiches.

Closeup shot of cucumber salad in blue and white bowl with dill garnish.


Cucumber salad is one of those dishes that can be made a million different ways. 

You’ll find many variations of it, but this version is one we keep coming back to over and over again.

This recipe is inspired by the cucumber salad you’d find in any New York deli with its onion slices, fresh dill, and sweet vinegar brine.  It’s not typical for delis to use red onion, but feel free to use one if you want to add some color to this classic.

Having worked in several delis, Jim has been on a mission to bring these recipes to you, such as macaroni salad and potato salad, along with some interesting stories in the New York deli podcast episode.

Ingredients shown: onion, sugar, white vinegar, dill, and cucumbers.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice 4 large English cucumbers and 1 medium sweet onion. Mince 2 tablespoons worth of fresh dill.
Cucumber salad recipe process shot collage group number one.
  1. Spread the cucumbers and onion onto a baking tray and season with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper.  Allow the cucumber and onion to sit for 15 minutes to absorb the seasoning.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat combine 2 cups of white vinegar and 1 cup of sugar and bring to a boil.  Once the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat off and add 1 cup of cold water to the pot and allow the mixture to cool down.
Recipe process shot collage group number two.
  1. Move the cucumbers and onions into a dish deep enough to hold the cucumbers and the sugar/vinegar mixture.  Pour the vinegar mixture (it doesn’t have to be cold) over the cucumbers, add the dill, and gently mix until combined.  Cover the dill cucumber salad and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight, mixing it gently halfway through.  Serve alongside your favorite sandwiches or main courses and enjoy!
Overhead shot of white platter with deli cucumber salad.

Top Tips

  • Cucumbers. We recommend using English cucumbers because they have less seeds and very thin skin.  If you can’t find English cucumbers, you can use other types, but you may want to use a peeler to remove all, or some of the skin.
  • Slicing. We used a mandoline to slice the cucumbers and onions because it yields super thin slices with a uniform thickness. If you use a mandoline, be sure to take precautions, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and use the guard.  
  • Vinegar and sugar. We used distilled white vinegar here since that’s what’s used in most NY delis.  The vinegar and sugar combination is a key component in achieving the NY deli flavor.  Be sure the mixture cools down before adding to the cucumber salad.  If the liquid is too hot it can lead to soggy cucumbers.
  • Refrigeration. We recommend refrigerating overnight for maximum flavor, however, you could serve after 2 hours in the fridge. Be sure to gently mix the salad halfway through through the refrigeration process.
Closeup shot of cucumber salad in blue and white bowl with blue napkin in background.

More cold salads and sides

Here are a few more sides for warm-weather gatherings and cookouts. 

If you’ve enjoyed this deli-style cucumber salad recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

We strive to satisfy a number of learning styles. If you prefer to learn by watching, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Cucumber Salad

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
refrigerator time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 10
Cucumber salad with onion and dill is easy to make and is perfect with sandwiches, burgers, and grilled meat. This salad is reminiscent of those found in New York delis.

Ingredients 

  • 4 large English cucumbers thinly sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill minced

Instructions 

  • Slice the cucumbers and onion and spread onto a baking tray or large flat surface. Sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the cucumbers and let them sit for 15 minutes.
  • Combine the sugar and vinegar in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Once dissolved turn the heat off and add 1 cup of cold water to the pot. Let the mixture cool down.
  • Place the cucumbers into a flat baking dish and pour over the vinegar mixture and mix in the dill. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. At the halfway point, mix the cucumber salad and return to the fridge. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Seasoning the sliced cucumbers and onion before marinating is key to a much better flavor.  
  • Avoid pouring the sugar/vinegar mix over the cucumbers when boiling hot.  That will make the cucumbers way too soggy.
  • This salad gets even better after a couple of days in the fridge.  Leftovers can be saved for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 33.2g | Protein: 1.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 224mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 1.2g | Sugar: 28.8g | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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14 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Well, thank you very much for sharing the recipe. My grandma used to make a version of these, which she called fixin cucumbers, perhaps the folks from the south recognize that. It’s old south. At any rate, for your readers, only had dry dill seeds on hand, crushed them, and they tasted great. Can’t wait to try it with fresh. I made half the recipe, as it’s just me and my guy, our kids are grown. Have to make them again today. He loved them that much. For a note, yesterday I used regular cucumbers, but sliced them even thinner on the mandolin, and that seemed to work, as I said, they were a big hit.

    1. Hi Kelli, we’re so happy you enjoyed the cucumber salad and will be making it again! We can’t ask for a better outcome than that! Thanks for the comment.

  2. I made this for the kids I cook for (23 kids 1.5-6 years old) and when I went to see how much was. left I found an empty bowl. Never has this happened before with this type of salad. Next I will give the coleslaw she how that one goes.

  3. Great recipe, the salad is so delicious. I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for a long time. I added 1/4 teaspoon of calcium cloride to the marinade. Then the cucumber slices will still remain crunchy. Thanks

  4. 5 stars
    Quite frankly have never tried NY Cucumber salad, but have always enjoyed sliced cukes soaked in a bath of ice water and salt. This gives me a delicious alternative. Thanks to you both.
    Have greatly enjoyed most all the recipes offered having made a great many.
    I would like to offer a suggestion that you and Jim might consider trying recipes from other parts of the country/world or perhaps some submitted by your viewers. Would be interested to see your take on Shrimp & Grits, Pozole or perhaps Chicken Fried Steak. Just a thought.
    Buon appetito Ya’ll,

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for the comment and we’re so happy you’ve enjoyed the recipes. Thanks for the suggestions – Jim has made shrimp and grits many times and it would be great to get that one up on the site. At some point we probably will.

  5. Hi Tara and Jim,

    I haven’t made yout New York deli salads yet because I was wondering if you could use a sugar substitute for real cane sugar called for in the ingredients, and how much it would change the flavor of the salads. My husband, who is is pre-diabetic would like to try these salads. We both are very interested in recipes using no sugar and less salt if possible.

    I absolutely love your YouTube recipes and Podcasts. As soon as it cools off here in Southern California I am going to start cooking some of the delicious recipes that I have watched you prepare. But for now it’s the cold deli salads I’m interested in because I can make without heating up the kitchen. Thanks for your highly entertaining videos.

    1. Hi Valerie, thanks for the comment. We’re so happy you’re enjoying the recipes and podcasts! With regard to the sugar substitute, we haven’t tested the deli salad recipes with a sugar substitute, so we can’t say for sure. If you do try these with a sugar substitute (I’ve heard good things about stevia and monkfruit), let us know how it turns out.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi Tara & Jim. I made the cuke salad yesterday using “Truvia”, a stevia leaf-based substitute for sugar and it turned out just fine. We bought it on Amazon which has a selection of artificial sweeteners to choose from. Next, I am going to try it with your other deli salad recipes and I will let you know how they come out. Your podcast is awesome. I grew up in Glen Cove which was a third Italian back then and I love Italian food so for me duplicating your recipes brings back a ton of good memories. Thank you and keep up the great work, Vinny, Lubec, Maine

        1. Hi Vinny, thanks for letting us know how the salad turned out using Truvia. I’m sure this information will be helpful to others also looking for a sugar substitute. It’s so great to hear Jim’s recipes are bringing back good memories for you – thank you for sharing!

  6. 5 stars
    Hey Jim. Your deli style salad recipes are a curse I’ve now inherited. I’m from a large Italian family on Long Island and there are gatherings just about every weekend. Salads were usually store bought but not anymore!! I volunteered to make them all one occasion, they were so good now I am The salad guy !! Every gathering. They are great, all five star. Macaroni and cucumber are my favorite. I store bought one weekend, I had no time to cook, and they all knew I cheated !! Oh well this is my legacy. Thanks for all the great recipes. Joe

    1. Hey Joe, haha sorry to hear you’re the official salad maker, but at the same time that’s pretty awesome. Thanks for the comment and rating and so happy you’re all enjoying the deli salad recipes!