Creamy Cucumber Salad with Pickled Red Onions

A healthier twist to the classic creamy cucumber salad recipe with quick pickled red onions. The perfect summer salad for any cookout!

It seems like most creamy cucumber salads are a thing everyone’s grandma or mom made and so the tradition carries on. My family, however, (not surprisingly) did not have a creamy, cool cucumber salad recipe that appeared at all summer cookouts like most.

I don’t remember my grandmother making any specific summer salad to be honest and while my mom started making this wheatberry summer salad (she used orzo though) pretty consistently when I was in high school, it wasn’t a family tradition by any means.

A healthier twist to the classic creamy cucumber salad recipe with quick pickled red onions. The perfect summer salad for any cookout!

That said, I appreciate a good creamy cucumber salad recipe like anyone else. It’s pretty much the perfect summer side dish to any grilled meal. It’s refreshing and cool – just what you want on a hot summer day and incredibly easy to throw together. It stores well in the refrigerator so you can make it ahead of time too.

I wanted to throw my own healthier spin on the classic creamy cucumber and onion salad recipe (does that surprise anyone?) though and not just because I think Greek yogurt is better for you than sour cream or mayo but because I actually prefer the taste of it in a creamy salad like this.

I can understand sour cream as the creamy base but mayo just downright grosses me out. It almost feels like you can’t call something a “salad” when the base has mayonnaise in it, let alone as the primary ingredient. Seems a bit ironic, no?

Greek yogurt is a way better option in my opinion – it gives you all the creaminess you need for the cucumber salad while also amping up the protein content and lessening the fat by A LOT. 

I don’t know about you but I’d prefer my summer indulgence to be some ice cream at the end of the day rather than a mayo-laden salad alongside my burger or grilled steak.

How to make an easy, refreshing and healthier creamy cucumber salad recipe for all your summer cookouts and parties!

How To Make Creamy Cucumber Salad

Throwing together this cucumber salad couldn’t be easier. You can cut the cucumbers into any shape you like just make sure they’re sliced very thinly. A very sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline if you have it is your friend here – just watch those fingers!

The creamy yogurt base for the salad is so simple, it’s just plain, Greek yogurt (use whatever fat percentage you have or like best), minced garlic, dried dill, salt and pepper.

The pickled red onions aren’t something you see in every creamy cucumber salad recipe but an addition I really love for both flavor and texture. I prefer them over radishes which you sometimes see for this salad but choose whichever you like better.

Quick pickling onions is so easy (see the notes in the recipe on how to make them for this salad) and a really great ingredient to have on hand for everything from omelettes to sandwiches and salads. Can’t beat a tangy condiment! In fact, I used them in this cucumber melon salad too!

The ingredients just get tossed together in a large bowl and thrown in the refrigerator to chill before serving. That’s it!

A Greek yogurt base makes this simple creamy cucumber and onion salad a healthier option summer. Quick pickled red onions add the perfect tangy flavor to this creamy cucumber dill salad recipe.

Can I Use Fresh Dill Instead of Dried?

Absolutely! In fact, I think fresh dill is probably more common than dried. I just don’t love having a huge bunch of dill on hand because half of it inevitably goes bad – it’s just not a fresh herb I use much. If you prefer fresh, use it! There’s amounts for both fresh dill and dried dill in the recipe below.

What Kind Of Cucumbers Should I Use?

This really doesn’t matter.

If you prefer cucumbers without seeds, grab a couple English cucumbers (they’re the ones usually wrapped in plastic in the store). I also like that English cucumbers (also called hothouse cucumbers) have a thinner skin so you don’t have to peel them like a regular cucumber.

Regular cucumbers or even mini cucumbers (I sometimes feel these are a littler sweeter) work great in this salad too.

Simple seasonings like garlic, dill, salt and pepper are all you need for this creamy cucumber and onion salad recipe.

Can I Freeze This Salad?

I wouldn’t recommend it. This creamy cucumber salad is best eaten the day it’s made or a few days after. It does store well in the refrigerator though!

How Long Will Creamy Cucumber Salad Last?

Stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, the salad will last about 5 days. You might find the salad looks watery after it’s been store for awhile, don’t fret! It’s just the cucumbers giving off their water from the salt in the recipe, just stir it up before serving to recombined everything.

Can I Use Something Besides Greek Yogurt?

If you don’t love plain Greek yogurt but want a healthier cucumber salad option, I would try one of the Bolthouse yogurt dressings. They have a cucumber ranch and a classic ranch that would both be great in this salad. 

Of course, you can do half sour cream, half Greek yogurt or even half Greek yogurt and half ranch dressing. Play around with the flavors you like for this salad, it’s flexible!

The best creamy cucumber salad is easy to whip up when you need a simple side dish everyone will love.

Is This Creamy Cucumber Salad Healthy?

This salad fits well into so many eating plans and dietary niches. Creamy cucumber salad made with Greek yogurt is vegetarian and gluten-free.

While it’s not paleo, it is primal (basically a paleo diet that includes dairy). And, if you made this with full-fat Greek yogurt, it’d even be great for anyone doing the keto diet at your summer cookout.

If you’re like me and don’t label your diet, it’s also just an all-around healthy, whole-food, seasonally appropriate summer salad you can feel good about eating.

Do I Have To Use Pickled Onions?

I love the tangy flavor of any and all pickled vegetables! If you do too, check out my post on how to ferment vegetables – it’s so easy and doable and they really make a great addition to salads and such.

The quick pickled red onions in this recipe are basically a quick and easy version of fermented vegetables. They bring the same tangy flavor but without the wait time of actual fermentation (of course you don’t get the probiotic benefits either).

If you don’t like pickled things, just use raw thinly sliced red onions (white onions work just fine too). I detest raw onions but love them pickled or cooked.

You can also use thinly sliced radishes (pickled or not, follow same quick pickling method for onions below if you like) if you prefer those to onions.

Love pickles? Try spicy garlic dill pickles or this basic homemade pickle recipe.

Skip the sour cream and mayo and try Greek yogurt in this healthier creamy cucumber salad recipe.

What Should I Serve With This Cucumber Salad?

If you’re looking for some great summer time grilled main dishes this salad would go perfectly alongside, try out one of these:

Grilled Halloumi Lamb Burger 
Grilled BBQ Short Ribs
Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Mango Peach Chutney or Sticky Honey Soy Pork Chops
Yogurt Indian Steak Kabobs

You can also check out all my summer recipes for more ideas!

Cool and creamy cucumber onion salad is a great side dish for all summer grilling!

No matter how you make it, creamy cucumber salad is one of the best summer side dishes out there. It’s pretty much a guaranteed hit with everyone and so easy and simple to make.

Looking for more summer salad ideas? Try one of these:
Tart Cherry Balsamic Grilled Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Simple Summer Corn and Tomato Salad
Peach and Radish Salad with Crispy Prosciutto
Greek Pasta Salad

Yield: 4-6 servings

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Pickled Red Onions

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Pickled Red Onions

A healthier twist to the classic creamy cucumber salad recipe with quick pickled red onions. The perfect summer salad for any cookout!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 large cucumbers, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup quick pickled red onions (*see note for how to make these)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine yogurt, vinegar, garlic, dill, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir until well combined.
  2. Add the cucumbers and pickled red onions to the bowl. Toss to coat in the yogurt mixture.
  3. Cover and chill for 20 minutes before serving. (**see note)

Notes

*For quick pickled red onions:

Very thinly slice a small red onion and place in a small bowl (use a mandoline if you have one). Combine 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in another bowl or cup, stir to dissolve. Pour the mixture over the onions and let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour before using.

**Stir gently before serving if salad looks a little watery or separated. It's just the cucumbers giving off some water as they sit. You can avoid this by waiting to season with salt and pepper until right before serving.

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