Creamy German Cucumber Salad (aka Gurkensalat)! This refreshing and simple side dish recipe is a family favorite. It features thinly sliced cucumbers in the most delicious sour cream dressing. SO GOOD!
What is German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat)?
Cucumber salad is called Gurkensalat in German. It’s a staple side salad in every household in Germany. Every German family and region tends to make it slightly differently. It comes in both creamy versions like the recipe I am sharing and non-creamy versions (in a vinaigrette).
Growing up in a German household, my Mom would make this recipe for us quite often and it was one of my favorite salads growing up. I’m sharing her version of this traditional German side dish since it is so delicious! My brother and I would actually fight over the remaining dressing left at the bottom of the salad bowl. Saying that out loud makes me wonder if we were strange kids?🤣
Reasons To Love This Salad
- Super delicious! This German cucumber salad is a family favorite recipe for good reason. Creamy yet refreshing and so flavorful. YUM!
- Quick and easy to make! Whip it up in 10 minutes with a few simple ingredients.
- Versatile! This salad goes with just about anything and is a great side dish any time of year. Pairs well with everything from grilled foods in the summer to hearty rich foods in the winter. And obviously it is the perfect match for German foods like schnitzel, rouladen, or these frikadellen.
Ingredients You’ll Need
To make this creamy German cucumber salad, you will need a few simple ingredients…
- Cucumbers: I like to use English cucumbers since they are seedless and less watery than some other varieties.
- Sour Cream: Since there is no oil in this dressing, I recommend using a full fat variety of sour cream for creaminess and taste.
- Onion: My Mom has always finely grated half a small onion into the dressing. This adds SO MUCH flavor and since it is finely grated, it just mixes right into the dressing. Highly recommend! I prefer to use sweet onion or white onion for the milder flavor.
- Garlic: I like to use one clove of minced garlic but feel free to use more if you like it extra garlicky.
- Vinegar: For some acidity and tanginess. We always use red wine vinegar but white wine vinegar, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar would all work as well.
- Herbs: Fresh herbs add so much amazing fresh flavor. I like to use a mixture of chopped parsley and dill.
- Seasoning: Salt and freshly ground pepper is all you need. You can also add a bit of sugar if you like.
Detailed ingredient list and directions located in the recipe card below.
How To Make Gurkensalat
Ready to make some Gurkensalat (aka German cucumber salad)? It’s super easy! Simply…
- Peel + Slice Cucumbers: Peel the cucumbers and slice them super thin. To slice, you can use a mandoline, slicing side of a box grater, food processor with a thin slice attachment or a sharp knife if your knife skills rock! If using a mandoline, I also recommend some cut resistant gloves for safety.
- Make Dressing: Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. The dressing is quite thick but this is intentional!
- Mix Together: In a mixing bowl, toss together the cucumber slices and the dressing. It will look a little strange once first mixed since the dressing is initially quite thick. Trust me though! It will thin out once it sits in the fridge and the cucumbers release some of their liquid. The cucumber juices will combine with the sour cream mixture to form a delicious dressing that is the perfect consistency.
- Chill + Serve: Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes for the flavors to develop and the dressing to form. Give it a stir and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve and enjoy!
Salads are super easy to customize and this one is no exception. Here are a few ideas…
- Omit the garlic or onion: The garlic and onion in this salad add amazing flavor but if you are not a fan, then simply leave it out. If you are out of the fresh versions, you could also use some garlic powder, onion powder or dried chopped onion to add flavor.
- Add a bit of sugar: My Mom never adds sugar to this recipe but some people like to add a touch to balance out the flavors. I have it listed as an optional ingredient in the recipe card below.
- Use different herbs: I like to use a mix of chopped dill and parsley. However, you could use one or the other. Chives would also be nice!
What To Serve It With
This creamy, refreshing salad goes with just about anything and is the perfect side dish any time of year. I like to serve it out in small bowls since it is saucy! German cucumber salad is delicious served alongside…
- Grilled or Roasted Meats: Perfect with grilled foods in the summer like burgers, kebabs, grilled bratwursts or grilled steak. Also delicious served with roasted meats like roast chicken, pork roast or roast beef.
- Hearty Rich Foods: A refreshing side dish with hearty mains like stews or gulasch.
- Fish: Delicious served with fish or other seafood dishes like these pan seared shrimp.
- German Foods: A staple side dish for German dishes like schnitzel, rouladen, frikadellen, schinkennudeln, etc.
A Few Questions Answered
I like to use English cucumbers since they are seedless, release less water than some other varieties and the size of the slices is nice. Other seedless cucumbers would also work. However, if they are smaller, you will need to use more of them.
The skin on English cucumbers is nice and thin so you don’t need to peel it. However, I do peel them for this salad since that is how my Mom has always made it! So peeled cucumbers are the texture that I am accustomed to in Gurkensalat but it is personal choice.
It is best served the same day since the cucumbers continue to soften and release liquid the longer it sits in the fridge. My preference is to eat it after a 30 minute to 1 hour chill time in the fridge. If you want to prep ahead, you can make the dressing and store it separately from the thinly sliced cucumbers in the fridge. Then just combine it 30-60 minutes before serving so it has some time to chill in the fridge.
Leftovers can be stored for 1 day in an airtight container in the fridge. It loses its texture if stored longer than that. Give it a stir before eating.
If you love cucumber salad, then make sure to also check out this Cucumber Yogurt Salad recipe which has all the flavors of tzatziki in salad form!
More German Recipes
Looking for some more German recipes to try? Here are a few of my favorites…
This creamy German Cucumber Salad (aka Gurkensalat) is a refreshing and easy side dish featuring thinly sliced cucumbers in the most delicious sour cream dressing. A German staple and family favorite – SO GOOD!
- 2 English cucumbers
- 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat variety)
- 1/2 small onion, finely grated (I like to use sweet or white onion)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 – 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (you can also use white wine vinegar, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste (I use Himalayan or sea salt)
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Optional: 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sugar
- Peel + Slice Cucumbers: Peel the cucumbers and slice them super thin. Place into a mixing bowl.
- Make Dressing: In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. The dressing will be quite thick but this is intentional.
- Mix Together: Pour the dressing over the cucumber slices and toss to combine. The salad will look a little strange at this point since the dressing is initially quite thick. It will thin out once it chills in the fridge and the cucumbers release some of their liquid. The cucumber juices will combine with the sour cream mixture to form a delicious dressing that is the perfect consistency.
- Chill + Serve: Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour for the flavors to develop and the dressing to form. Give it a stir and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve and enjoy!
- Thinly slice the cucumbers: The thinner the better! You can use a mandoline, slicing side of a box grater, food processor with a thin slice attachment or a sharp knife if you have amazing knife skills. Safety Tip: If using a mandoline, I also recommend some cut resistant gloves!
- Make Ahead + Storage: This salad is best served the same day since the cucumbers continue to soften and release liquid the longer they sit in the fridge. My preference is to serve it after a 30 minute to 1 hour chill time. To prep ahead, you can make the dressing and store it separately from the thinly sliced cucumbers in the fridge. Then just combine it 30-60 minutes before serving so it has some time to chill first.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored for 1 day in an airtight container in the fridge. Give it a stir before eating. It will still be safe to eat if stored for a few days but the texture is best if consumed within a day.
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