Is it just us or does it seem like cucumbers repel any dressing you add to them? Not so fast! After some research and testing, we learned that smashing cucumbers helps the flavors stick around. Smashed cucumber salad to the rescue!
This Asian-inspired take is super fresh, crunchy, savory, a little spicy, and full of ginger and sesame flavor. Plus, so EASY — just 10 ingredients, 1 bowl, and 10 minutes required. Let us show you how it’s done!
This smashed cucumber salad is similar to pai huang gua, a Chinese cucumber salad featuring a garlicky sesame-soy-vinegar dressing and chili crisp and/or chili oil topping.
Our inspired version is naturally sweetened with maple syrup, swaps the chili oil for chili flakes, and also draws influence from Japanese cuisine with the inclusion of pickled ginger for a sweet, tangy addition.
How to Make Smashed Cucumber Salad
Smashing cucumbers is all about getting the dressing to better hold onto the cucumber. And this dressing? You’re definitely going to want it smothering that cucumber. It’s perfectly balanced thanks to tangy rice vinegar, aromatic garlic and ginger, savory tamari, nutty toasted sesame oil, sweet maple syrup, and spicy red pepper flakes.
Now, let’s talk about how to smash that cucumber. After cutting it in half lengthwise, place it on a cutting board and use a rolling pin or heavy skillet to smash, smash, smash. Gentle is not the answer here!
When it’s looking thoroughly craggy, you’re ready to slice it up and toss with the dressing, green onion, sesame seeds, and pickled ginger.
Welcome to YUM town.
We hope you LOVE this cucumber salad! It’s:
& SO refreshing!
What to Serve with this Smashed Cucumber Salad
It’s an easy, versatile side that pairs well with crispy salmon + rice for a simple meal. Or, try it with any of your favorite Asian-inspired mains. Here’s some inspo:
- Baked Crispy Peanut Tofu
- Creamy Sesame Noodle Salad
- Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Skewers
- Sesame Eggplant & Almond Butter Tofu Bowls
- 30-Minute Portobello Mushroom Stir-Fry
- Easy Vegan Fried Rice
More Refreshing Cucumber Recipes
- Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie
- Cucumber Cooler Cocktails
- Minty Watermelon Cucumber Salad
- Creamy Vegan Cucumber Salad (German-Inspired)
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Gingery Smashed Cucumber Salad (Asian-Inspired)
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned // ensure gluten-free as needed)
- 2 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce // ensure gluten-free as needed)
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 large English cucumbers (2 large cucumber yield ~6 cups or 775 g)
- 3 stalks green onion, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 2-3 Tbsp chopped pickled ginger (optional, but highly recommended)
- In a medium serving bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
- Trim the ends of your cucumbers, then cut each cucumber in half lengthwise. Place the cucumbers cut side down on your cutting board, then use a rolling pin or heavy skillet to smash each half until it splits open. Really go for it! They should look craggy. After smashing, cut each cucumber into 1/2-inch to 1-inch slices and add to the bowl with your dressing.
- Add the green onion, sesame seeds, and chopped pickled ginger (optional) and toss to coat.
- Serve immediately or make up to an hour ahead and keep it refrigerated. It’s best enjoyed cold. Not freezer friendly.
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