When you think of summer refreshers, icy, thirst quenching beverages likely come to mind. But there are a few foods that deserve the distinction, too. Cucumbers are definitely one of them—they’re called cool for a reason, after all. Juicy and hydrating, they’re best appreciated on a hot, sweltering day.
As things heat up this summer, you can keep your cool during mealtime with a crisp cucumber salad. Here are eleven of our favorites.
1. Creamy Cucumber Salad
To get maximal crunch out of your cucumbers, season them with a little salt: it draws out their excess moisture. We like to toss them with some sour cream, vinegar, and herbs for a tart and tangy combination. Get our Creamy Cucumber Salad recipe.
2. Asian Sesame-Cucumber Salad
Dressed up in sesame oil, red pepper, and rice vinegar, this salad is fantastic served alongside a number of Asian mains—think miso-marinated seafood or Chinese-style roast pork. Get our Asian Sesame-Cucumber Salad recipe.
3. Cucumber Salad with Honeydew Melon and Feta
Salty and sweet with plenty of green, the contrast between cucumber, melon, and feta in this recipe brings plenty of excitement to a deceptively light salad. Get our Cucumber Salad with Honeydew Melon and Feta recipe.
4. Cucumber and Bibb Lettuce Salad with Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette
Cucumber and bibb lettuce may be two mild-mannered veggies, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get a little bit feisty. The horseradish dressing in this salad lets them take a walk on the wild side. Get our Cucumber and Bibb Lettuce Salad with Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette recipe.
5. Warm German Potato-Cucumber Salad with Dill
A potato salad that’s not just about the potatoes? Cucumbers compete for the starring role in this riff on the German classic, nicely soaking in the usual seasonings of mustard and vinegar. Get our Warm German Potato-Cucumber Salad with Dill recipe.
6. Obsessively Good Avocado Cucumber Salad
Chunks of avocado and cucumber would be enough to get any veg lover going, but it’s the dressing on top that makes this salad truly irresistible. Based simply around mayo, lime, and sriracha, it’s an addictive accompaniment to the cubes of bright green. Get the recipe here.
7. Watermelon, Tomato, and Kalamata Olive Salad with Cucumber
This salad wins the award for the best way to use up an overabundance of summer produce. With watermelon, tomato, cucumber, and herbs, plus some olives and cheese for a hint of saltiness, it packs a lot in and does so with finesse. Get our Watermelon, Tomato, and Kalamata Olive Salad with Cucumber recipe.
8. East African Mango & Cucumber Salad
Full of bright fruits and veggies and accented by a good dose of nuts and spices, you could eat this lively salad on its own, if you wanted—no accompaniments necessary. Get the recipe here.
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that helps day-old bread to come back to life by soaking it in the juices of its accompanying veggies and light vinaigrette. Cucumber is essential to that mix, adding in its cooling essence. Get our Panzanella recipe.
10. Grilled Tuna with Cucumber Salad
Although grilled tuna may take center stage in this recipe, it’s the salad that does the talking. Nuoc cham, a Vietnamese-style dressing of fish sauce, lime, chile, provide potent flavors that imbue the cukes with fire and funk. Get our Grilled Tuna with Cucumber Salad recipe.
11. Asian Cucumber Noodle Salad
Cucumbers don’t just have to be chunky. You can also cut them into long strands that bounce and slither like a noodle, This veggie packed salad takes that concept to this max, turning it into a summery Asian-inspired dish with flavors like soy and sesame. Get the recipe here.
Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.