simple cucumber and onion salad

My Dad walked into the house (remember, we’re living together while their house is under construction) with a bunch of cucumbers in one arm and a handful of onions in the other. He’d picked both from the garden just minutes before. As soon as he stepped inside, he looked at us and exclaimed, “Cucumbers and onions!” No, he wasn’t being Captain Obvious, he was making a request. He was asking we have this simple cucumber and onion salad that has been a staple in our family for years.

Being the remarkably inflexible person I am, I pretty much ignored his request because that salad just simply didn’t fit with the menu I’d already planned for the week. Side note: having a huge garden with things being harvested all the time is hard for menu planning. But my stubbornness waned as the days went by and those beautiful, green cucumbers started whispering to me from the crisper drawer.

I finally caved, adjusted my plan and added cucumbers and onions to the menu for our Canada Day celebration. Man, sometimes my stubbornness really screws me, because I totally forgot how delicious cucumbers and onions are! I was kicking myself for waiting so long to make them.  Making this also meant I got to go pick an onion. Which is always fun.

This concoction is actually painfully simple. Which I personally think is the mark of a really good seasonal recipe. The onions and cucumbers are so fresh, sweet and delicious, you really want them to shine through. And the dill yogurt sauce lets that happen. No muss, no fuss, just a quick and easy summer side dish. If you are looking for a last-minute recipe to go alongside your 4th of July meal, this is the one for you! Chances are, you already have everything you need to make it in your kitchen.

Let’s talk about the cucumber slices. You may notice that they have a neato little pattern in the peel. To get that pattern, all you have to do is run along the peel of a cuke with a fork before slicing. I don’t think there is really any reason to do this other than it looks cool. I could make up something about how the grooves let the dressing soak in the cuke slices, but I really doubt that’s true. It’s just pretty, so I do it. That and it’s the way my Mama does it. And we never question Mama.

Back in the day (read: when I was growing up) we used sour cream as the base for the dressing. It added a nice, tangy zing to the salad that is hard to replicate. Now-a-days, we’ve put a halt on the sour cream and started using plain Greek yogurt. It isn’t quite the same, but the calorie savings and protein boost are totally worth to me. In my book, smothering fresh veggies in sour cream pretty much negates the purpose of eating them in the first place, but pairing them with a healthful, complementary yogurt sauce makes this a clean dish that anyone can enjoy.

Simple Cucumber and Onion Salad

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: None

Makes: 4 large servings


  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Using a fork, scrape down the sides of each cucumber to make grooves. Slice into thin rounds.
  2. Mix cucumber slices and onion slices together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, dill, salt and pepper. Pour over cucumbers and onions. Toss to coat.
  4. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Serve cold.
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Are you a stick-to-the-menu kind of person? Or do you like to wing it when it comes to your food?


  1. Shauna says

    Can I come to your garden? I am SOOOOO JEALOUS. I grew cucumbers in a pot last year, but never made anything with them, because I love cucumber so much, and totally eat them plain. Like an apple.

  2. says

    TOTALLY not a stick-to-the-menu person!! I am all over the place. :)
    Grooves in the cucumber? I’ll have to try that! I have about 8,000 pickling cucumbers that I bought at the farmers market (and that’s what’s left after already making 2 huge jars of pickles!).
    I don’t know if I told you this- but you look SO pretty in the “bio” photo on the sidebar!

  3. jeri says

    This is one of my all-time favorites down to the little fork trick. I usually salt the cucumbers and let them drain in a colander for a while. So much water comes off, it keeps the yogurt/sour cream from getting watery. Not that it ever lasts that long.

  4. Kat says

    I was always told that putting grooves in the cucumbers makes you burp less after eating them, especially with homegrown ones. I have no idea if that’s true. I’m satisfied with the pretty-ness factor! :)

  5. Z E Johnson says

    Nice. Another simple variation is to make the dressing out of a little mayo, or yogurt, or sour cream and a little fruit juice apricot, peach or pear work best.

  6. says

    This is probably one of the few summer dishes that I’ve been making for as long as I can remember. I grew up on an ewe farm in southern Michigan and our summer gardens were ginormous. While my mother taught my sister how to actually COOK, and can, and preserve, etc. I learned all the quick stuff. Mom said it was because when I decided I was hungry, I was hungry NOW! And since we weren’t allowed to eat between meals, by asking me to collect, clean, and cut stuff up from the garden, and put together the simpler dishes, I could *sneak* my snack from the slices! Tus I was the weird kid who loved raw veggies INCLUDING broccoli and “color flower”. =) I never thought about it as a recipe though as I’ve always made it from memory, almost from instinct, until a friend asked me for the recipe. Thank goodness people like you record this stuff! THANK YOU!

    Like you I always made it with sour cream until a couple years ago when I switched for the same reason. I have never used, or thought of using vinegar though. My dish ends up w/ a lot of milky cucumber ‘juice’ in the bottom of the bowl so I would fear adding a liquid would make it runnier? I’ll have to try a little vinegar next time. Of course, I’ll have to try apple cider vinegar. ANY excuse I can find to use raw AC vinegar w/ the mother – I’ll take it!

    When I only have a half hour or so before people will be eating it, I use onion powder vs. onions because for some folks the fresh cut, raw onions are too strong or can cause really bad heartburn. By cutting the onion slices in long, thin strips and letting it chill for, no less than, a couple hours, it allows the sour cream or yogurt to work on the onions and make them a little more palatable and the overall dish even more flavorful.


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