Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Slices


My husband makes fun of me because I have an uncanny ability to remember seemingly minute (and perhaps useless) details related to important life events.  Like, he’ll say,

“Sara remember the time we went on that amazing date and I got you that super awesome gift and shared all of the inner most parts of my soul with you?” 

And I’ll instantly know what he’s referring to and say

“Um, ya, you mean that one time when I was wearing that gray sweater and my red heels and I had my hair up, but not all the way up, but casually-messy up, and you wore those one pants with the hole in the knee and the flip-flops I bought you in Cali and on the way to the car I dropped my chap-stick?”

And that’s when he just stares at me.

I’m convinced this talent will some day win me lots of money on a random game show or something, but in the mean time it can also provide us with some good recipes.  See I remember a family bbq from about 2 years ago.  I know where we were, but I can’t even list the people that were there.  What I do remember, and I remember it well, was that my sister-in-law Monica showed up (and yes, I do know what she was wearing) with a little plastic container of awesome cucumbers.

Husband: “Hey Sara, remember that really important family bbq we had where all of those earth-shattering things happened?”

Sara: “Um, ya, you mean the one where Monica brought those awesome cucumbers?  Totally remember that.”

sweet and spicy cucumbers

I’ve remembered that for two years and even though that was the only time I tasted them, I found myself craving them a few weeks ago.  So I got the recipe from her and here we are!  See?  I knew my talent was useful.

These are tangy and sweet with a little bit of a kick. It makes a great side-dish for summer bbq’s. There’s something incredibly refreshing about cold cucumbers, right?  And if you have cukes coming out of your ears garden, then this is especially for you.  Aside from eating them plain, we love these on salads or added to lettuce wraps or just plain from the fridge.  They’re unique and you have to make them to see why I love them so much!


A mandoline will be your best friend here, but you can certainly slice by hand if you’d like.  You can do peeled or unpeeled cucumber and you can leave them whole, or cut them in half.  Your choice.  

Next, place the cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle them with salt.  Salting cucumbers draws out the moisture.  If you don’t do this step, then all of this moisture will come out in the final dish and water it down.  I actually salt my cucumbers before making tzatziki as well because otherwise it tends to get watery after sitting in the fridge.  I like to set my colander in a pan to collect the moisture and just leave that whole set-up in the fridge for a bit.

sweet and spicy cucumbers 

While your cucumbers are draining you can prepare the simple marinade.  Heat up rice vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a pan and after it’s reduced add some minced red onion.  Honestly, you can leave out the pepper flakes if you don’t want any heat.  I obviously left them out of this batch, because honestly I forgot.  But I don’t like a lot of heat and these taste great sans pepper flakes as well. 

sweet and spicy cucumbers 

You’ll want to let these sit and marinade for a while before you eat them.  They get better with time, so give yourself at least a few hours chill time.  They’re also great the next day, and even several days later.  They become more like pickle-texture they longer they sit (which I like!)  

It’s a great side-dish for any bbq meal, or just along side grilled chicken or steak. Try it out at a pot-luck and listen for the oohs and aahs.

sweet and spicy cucumbers


Sweet and Spicy Marinated Cucumbers

5 from 1 vote
Marinated cucumbers burst with flavor, making a perfect side dish, or topping to a salad or other meat dishes. We love these on Asian lettuce wraps as well!


  • 1-1/2 lbs cucumber about 3 medium, thinly sliced (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt if using table salt, use only 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar seasoned or regular
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes optional if you don't want any heat.
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion


  • Place cucumber slices in a colander sitting over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss well. Let sit for 1 hour refrigerated. Toss the cukes a few times while they drain if you remember. While cucumber slices are draining, prepare marinade.
  • Combine vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook until reduced to a 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes). If for some reason you boil for too long, just add a little water until you have 1/3 C. Remove reduction from heat and add onion. Let mixture cool to room temp.
  • When cucumbers are done resting, pat them dry with a few paper towels and then combine with the vinegar reduction. Chill for at least a few hours before serving. They improve with time!


  • Note: I have successfully made these with sugar substitute (like Truvia) as well.
  • Tip: Sometimes I like to double the marinade to make them extra flavorful!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Valjean- the water is in fact listed in the directions- it's with the vinegar and sugar mixture. As for the salt, it draws moisture out of the cucumbers so you'll find most of the saltiness drains right off with it. There's no need to rinse them, but you certainly can if you feel worried about the salt content.

  2. Two questions: Do you rinse the salt off? And where does the water come in? It's listed in the ingred. list but not in the directions. Thanks so much!!!

  3. Thanks for this great recipe! I have made this twice since discovering your blog last week. Adding red pepper flakes was a wonderful idea. I also thinly sliced a small vidalia onion and added it to the mix. Yum!

  4. I tried these and they ending up soupy, even after letting them drain with salt. Any suggestions? I let them drain in the fridge for 1+ hour. I did really like the flavor though!

  5. i think it was the kosher salt vs table salt that was my fatal error… now i know! thanks!

  6. That looks delicious! Can't wait to try…Oh, and just fyi, Stevia sweetener will be a little healthier…just use less because it's a lot sweeter than sugar, but all natural. 🙂

  7. singlewhiteknitter- did you let the cucumbers drain for at least an hour? The salt draws the moisture out, and generally a good portion of the salt you put on there drains out with the liquid. It's a good idea to toss them a few times while they drain. It would also be extra salty if you didn't use quite enough cucumbers or you used regular table salt instead of kosher salt. I suppose the brand of vinegar could also contribute to the saltiness as well. If you make it again, there's nothing wrong with rinsing the cukes if it's still too salty for ya.

  8. i just tried this tonight– and it hasn't chilled in the fridge mixed together yet– but it tastes *really* salty…

    was i supposed to rinse the cucumbers after salting them? i'm new to the world of cucumber salads…

  9. I just found your blog this week and have already tried these cucumbers and the pb cup popcorn. I LOVE this recipe – I'll be bringing it to a family picnic tomorrow!

  10. Okay, I was fully prepared NOT to like this recipe. I'm not a huge fan of cucumbers. But when our neighbor not so anonymously deposited about 3 lbs of cucumbers on our doorstep, and I had a potluck to go to, we made it.

    We really liked them! Nice change from a salad. Wonderful!

  11. These ARE delicious. I grew up on something similar, except that we didn't have the zing of the red pepper flakes. Nice addition. P.S. I totally covet that blue dish.

  12. Oh yum! I have just recently started liking cucumbers, and this sounds so good. I'll have to pass this on to my mom; she LOVES cucumbers. In fact, you know her, Vicki Rasmussen. I'll tell her to call if she needs onions. 🙂

  13. Will someone please inform my garden that cucumbers actually need to grow? Thanks! They are still small plants. My garden is weird this year. Anyway, remind me where you are? Would love some onions! 🙂 Thanks for the recipe, looks yummy and kind of like the cuc salad from Noodles & co.

  14. When you salt cucumbers are you supposed to rinse them afterward, or just leave the salt on them?

  15. We eat these with Briyani rice in Malaysia. You can add pineapples and green apples too!

  16. I've been munching on cucumbers with rice wine vinegar and a couple of shakes of Pico de Gallo seasoning. I'm definitely going to try this one – sounds yummy.

    And I loved your opening story!

  17. Really tasty. I thought I had more cucumbers from my CSA than I actually did, so substituted some red cabbage. So good with the red onion. I'm so happy to have this recipe:)

  18. this will be our side tonight- I LOVE cucumber salads! And I also get those blank stares from my husband for the same exact reason…

  19. Royann- they'll last quite a while, but the texture of the cucumbers will change the more they sit around, getting kind of soft. So it really depends on how you like them. I just ate some that were 3 days old and they were just fine.

  20. I have a bowl of cucumbers soaking in vinegar in my fridge right now. Tasty, but not QUITE what I wanted. I think this may be JUST what I'm looking for – thanks a ton!

  21. you may as well add some pineapple ..just slice it like the cucumber .. for us in Malaysia we called that jelatah ..it also nice to eat together with baryani rice, curry , and spicy chicken.. try it ..

  22. This looks similar to a cucumber salad I like at the local sushi restaurant. I think I will be making this during the week and taking it to camp

  23. Like Kate, we made this very often growing up and I make it quite a bit during the summer as well, but never thought of red pepper flakes. We always used apple cider vinegar, too. Will have to try this in the next couple of days. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Those look so yummy!! My dad used to make these all the time during the summer sans the hot pepper flakes, but I think I need to try this.

    1. Hi, my family have been making these cukes for eons. My hubby loves them for work lunch in a thermos with cottage cheese on the side. Try a few drops of sesame oil in the marinade. It’ll knock your socks off.