This creamy and tangy vegan German cucumber salad (Gurkensalat) is a favourite recipe to make for summer. Thinly sliced cucumbers are tossed with a balanced creamy and tangy dairy-free dressing and flecked with plenty of fresh herbs and shallots. This classic recipe comes together in 10-15 minutes, however, several hours advanced preparation is required to allow the flavours to mingle.
A Perfect Summer Dish
German cucumber salad is something I grew up eating all year round, however, this dish really hits the spot in the summer months. Not only is this recipe easy to make, it's cool, refreshing, tangy and makes great leftovers—next day gurkensalat is one of my life's simple pleasures.
This dish pairs well with barbecue, sandwiches, burgers and a plethora of other mains. I like to have German cucumber salad alongside vegan black bean quinoa burgers, baked falafel bites, topped onto a slice of rye bread, or all on its own.
In German speaking countries, cucumber salad is called gurkensalat— to translate “gurke” means cucumber and “salat” means salad. Traditional gurkensalat is made with thinly sliced cucumbers, fresh herbs and onions tossed in a tangy or creamy dressing.
In Germany, there are two main variations—cream based or vinegar based (with no cream). The latter version is quite popular in the South of Germany (where my father is from). Many variations within the creamy or tangy spectrum exist.
The addition of the sour cream, or in this case, dairy-free sour cream or thick dairy-free plain yogurt. Essentially, the two versions of cucumber salad are pretty similar except for the addition or omission of sour cream.
Why You Will Love This Version
There are lots of recipes for German cucumber salad. And, whether you prefer one over the other is a matter of personal preference (or possibly upbringing). Thankfully, this recipe strikes a balance between creamy and tangy/sharp. It's also rather versatile so you can adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Unlike a lot of other recipes, this version makes use of the cucumber water rather than discarding it; this nicely thins the dressing.
This recipe is
- Cool, crunchy and refreshing
- Nicely balanced between creamy and tangy
- Doesn’t require straining
- Easily made in advance
- Versatile and adaptable to your taste and preferences
- A perfect side dish for summer
- Simple to prepare
- Uses up any abundance of garden cucumbers you may have
The Best Cucumber For This Recipe
It's important to note that the variety of cucumber matters; it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the various types sold in a typical grocery store (see below). There are three main varieties, however, one is going to work best for gurkensalat.
Long English cucumbers are the best variety for German Cucumber salad. They have a firmer flesh, less water content, thinner skin and smaller seeds. These qualities make preparing this recipe less labour intensive and helps prevent the salad from becoming watery.
However, if you want to use a slicing variety, you will need to peel the skin, slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and spoon out the seeds before slicing. Moreover, I wouldn’t use a pickling cucumber for this recipe.
Helpful Info When Choosing Cucumbers
Always choose seedless long English cucumbers that are fresh and blemish free. A quality English cucumber should have an even toned, smooth yet slightly striated green skin and slightly tapered ends. They should be firm and crisp with no soft spots—English cucumbers typically start to spoil at the ends first, so use your fingers to check for firmness around these areas. The wrapper should also be in tact with no tears or holes and there should be no humidity present under the wrapper.
Slicing Cucumbers: Slicing cucumbers (aka slicers) are typically grown for raw consumption, however, their skin and seeds are usually removed beforehand. The typical slicing cucumber has thick, dark skin that may or may not be waxed and large seeds. Sometimes, these cucumbers go by the name "field cucumbers".
Seedless Cucumbers: These cucumbers are have thin skins, small or no seeds and a slightly sweeter taste. Seedless varieties are often grown in hot houses and tend to be shrink wrapped to protect their delicate skin on the way to the produce shelf. These are often called hothouse, English, Persian or European cucumbers.
Pickling Cucumbers: these varieties were bred specifically for their thin yet firm skins and small uniform size. As such, this makes them ideal for submerging in brine, not so much for other purposes.
To make this creamy and tangy vegan German cucumber salad, you will need the following ingredients. For exact quantities, see the recipe card below.
- long English cucumbers
- dairy-free sour cream or dairy-free plain yogurt
- finely diced shallot
- white wine vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- extra virgin olive oil
- granulated sugar
- fresh dill
- fresh chives
- fresh parsley
- sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
For special equipment, you will need:
- An adjustable mandoline, food processor with a stainless steel slicing disc, or a box grater with a slicing blade.
- Vegetable peeler (if you want to peel your cucumbers).
- A whisk to combine your dressing.
A mandoline will work best to get thin and even cucumber slices. A box grater will also work, however, it could be messy and dangerous if it isn’t sharp. Alternatively, you can manually slice the cucumbers, but this can be rather time consuming.
The detailed methodology for making this recipe is in the recipe card. In short, the instructions for creamy and tangy vegan German cucumber salad are as follows:
STEP 1: The first step is to prepare the English cucumbers by washing and drying them, then cutting off the blossom and stem ends. You will also need to peel the cucumbers if you are using a slicing or waxed variety (or if you simply prefer to peel the skin). Otherwise, you can leave the skin on for a nice pop of colour.
STEP 2: Using a mandoline, slice the cucumbers thinly, place them into a medium bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Meanwhile, you can prepare the dressing. Note that, unlike many other recipes, there is no need to strain off the juices for this recipe.
STEP 3: In a small bowl, simply combine the dairy-free sour cream or yogurt, shallot, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar, dill, parsley and chives. The dressing is given a good whisk and, at this point, you can adjust the seasonings to your liking.
STEP 4: Assemble the salad by pouring the dressing over the salted cucumbers and mixing until evenly coated; the cucumber juices will nicely thin the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.
STEP 5: Cover and allow the gurkensalat to chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours. Prior to serving, give it a good stir to re-incorporate the dressing.
- Always choose seedless long English cucumbers that are fresh and blemish free. A quality English cucumber should have an even toned, smooth yet slightly striated green skin and slightly tapered ends. They should be firm and crisp with no soft spots—English cucumbers typically start to spoil at the ends first, so use your fingers to check for firmness around these areas. The wrapper should also be in tact with no tears or holes and there should be no humidity present under the wrapper.
- Again, peeling the skin on long English cucumbers is optional for this recipe, however, if you are using slicing or waxed cucumbers, it’s best to remove the thick skin and the seeds—they are large and not pleasant to eat.
- Make sure to chill the salad—the longer it sits in the fridge, the better it will taste; the cucumber slices are more saturated with dressing. I find the optimal chilling time for this recipe is 2-3 hours.
Dairy-free sour cream can be replaced with plain dairy-free yogurt in a 1:1 ratio. However, I would suggest using a thick coconut milk based non-dairy yogurt; this will better mimic sour cream and prevent the recipe from becoming watery.
Fresh dill can be replaced with dried dill, however, use half the amount because dried herbs tend to be more concentrated with flavour.
Shallots can be replaced with finely diced red onion, however, note that red onions will start to lose their colour the longer they sit in the salad. Moreover, red onions to be spicier and more pungent than shallots—you may want to reduce the amount of onion so they don’t overpower the recipe.
Extra virgin olive oil can be replaced 1:1 with any neutral tasting vegetable oil such as grapeseed or avocado oil.
White wine vinegar can be replaced with apple cider vinegar in equal measure.
This recipe must be kept cold before serving and any leftovers should be stored covered in the fridge. Leftovers will last up to 2 days if stored properly. Note that the cucumbers will soften and lose some of their crunch over time.
For additional information on safe food handling and storage, please visit: the Government of Canada Food Safety website, USDA Food Safety Inspection Agency website or your countrys food safety website.
More Salad Recipes
If you like my recipe for creamy and tangy vegan German cucumber salad, you may also like these other favorites:
Creamy & Tangy Vegan German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat)
- 2 large long English cucumbers, wrappers removed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅓ cup dairy-free sour cream , or thick non-dairy plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoon finely diced shallot
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Prepare the cucumbers
- Wash and dry the cucumbers well and cut off the blossom and stem ends. If you wish to peel the cucumbers, you can however this step is optional (see notes below on when it's necessary to remove the skin, though).
- Using a mandoline, slice the cucumbers approximately ⅛- 1/16th thick (the thinner the better). Place the cucumber slices into a medium bowl and sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Mix to distribute the salt, then allow the cucumbers to sit while you prepare the dressing.
Prepare the dressing
- In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, shallot, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar, dill, parsley and chives. Mix until incorporated, then taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.
Assemble & refrigerate
- Pour the dressing over the salted cucumbers and stir until evenly coated (the cucumber juices will nicely thin the dressing). Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours. Prior to serving, give it a good stir to re-incorporate the dressing. Serve cold.
Disclaimer: all recipes on this site are developed and tested in a Canadian kitchen with Canadian ingredients at normal elevation using an electric oven and stove. Results may vary.
This is an approximation of the nutrition offered in this recipe, and is created using a nutrition calculator. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your preferred calculator.