This Lemon Cucumber Salad with Dill deserves a frequent place on your summertime dinner table. So uniquely cool, crisp and refreshing, cucumbers are a welcome elixir on a hot sultry day. Toss them with a creamy lemon and dill vinaigrette, and you've got a fresh, versatile summer salad to go alongside just about anything.
This updated version of a traditional creamy cucumber salad with dill is a real winner...light, refreshing and bright thanks to the addition of lemon. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions for making this Lemon Cucumber Salad with Dill at home. It's so quick and easy and a perfect showcase for fresh cucumbers!
Why This Recipe Works
This Lemon Cucumber Salad with Dill is an updated version of a salad my mother served nearly every night during the summer. I wanted something similar to hers but with a modern, fresh feel. This recipe works because:
- The cucumbers are salted to remove some of their moisture which creates a crisp (rather than soggy) salad.
- The cucumbers are tossed in a lemony vinaigrette style dressing that contains a modest amount of sour cream. This makes for a light, refreshing salad that isn't overly cream heavy.
- Use an English (or seedless) cucumber if you can find one. They don't have seeds in the center so they are easy to work with. Garden cucumbers are a fine substitution, but you may choose to halve them first to remove the seeds from the center.
- Coarse salt (such as kosher salt) helps draw moisture from the cucumbers keeping them nice and crispy.
- The zippy vinaigrette gets its flavor from fresh dill, lemon zest, lemon juice and white wine vinegar.
- Sour cream provides just a touch of creaminess (not too much....the dressing has a very light feel to it).
- Extra-virgin olive oil provides the base of the dressing.
How To Make This Recipe
- Begin by slicing the cucumber into thin rounds. Transfer them to a colander and toss with 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. Let them sit for around 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the dressing. Combine the shallot and the white wine vinegar in a medium bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes to mellow out the shallot flavor. Add the sour cream, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and dill to the bowl and whisk until combined.
- Transfer the cucumbers to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Pat dry, taking care to wipe away any salt that remains on the surface of the cucumbers. Add the cucumbers to the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You may not need any salt because we salted the cucumbers previously. Be sure to taste before seasoning. Chill the salad until ready to serve!
Cucumber salads are meant to be simple, but there are a few steps that take this one from good to great:
- Use English cucumbers if you can find them. Also known as seedless cucumbers, English cucumbers make an elegant salad as there is no need to cut them in half and remove the seeds first. Garden cucumbers will also work just fine in this salad, and it is really just a matter of personal preference whether or not you want to remove the seeds prior to eating them.
- Salt the cucumbers to draw out some of the moisture. Cucumbers are more than 90% water. Sprinkling them with salt and letting them sit for 30 minutes or so helps draw some of that water out of the cucumber and ultimately leads to a more crisp, delicious salad. An extra step, yes, but one definitely worth taking.
- Pat the cucumbers dry. Once you've let your salted cucumbers sit, transfer them to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or a non-terry kitchen towel. Pat them dry and wipe off any remaining salt prior to tossing them with the vinaigrette. Again, this just ups the crisp factor in the final product.
Store the salad tightly covered in the refrigerator. It can be prepared up to a day ahead of time, and leftovers will keep for another couple of days as long as they are tightly covered in the refrigerator.
English (or seedless) cucumbers make an excellent choice for a salad as there is no need to cut them in half and remove the seeds first. Garden cucumbers have more prominent seeds in the center. They will also work just fine in this salad, but you may want to halve the cucumbers and scrape out the seeds with a metal spoon prior to eating them. The seed aren't harmful, it's more a matter of personal preference whether you choose to remove them or not.
Salting the cucumbers and letting them drain in a colander for 30 minutes or so prior to tossing with the dressing helps to draw out some of their moisture which ultimately leads to a crispier salad.
While this Lemon Cucumber Salad with Dill makes an excellent side dish, it is also perfectly capable of being the star of the show. Consider topping some crispbread with a heaping spoonful of cucumber salad for lunch, or better yet, start with a bed of sliced avocado! A delicious Nordic summertime riff on avocado toast.
My personal favorite way to serve this salad is in a simple bowl with hearty whole grains, garden vegetables and sliced avocado. I used brown rice in my bowl, pictured below, but barley or farro would both be delicious here.
Looking for more Scandinavian-inspired summer salads? Give these blog favorites a try:
I hope you have a chance to try this Lemon Cucumber Salad with Dill sometime soon! It's sure to become a summertime favorite. And please let me know if you do in the comments below! I love hearing from you.
Lemon Cucumber Salad with Dill
- 1 large English cucumber or 2 medium garden cucumbers, unpeeled and sliced thin (see note below)
- 1 tsp coarse salt + more for seasoning
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- lemon zest finely grated zest from one lemon
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp fresh dill chopped
- freshly ground pepper
- Transfer cucumber slices to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat evenly Let the cucumbers sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing.
- Transfer the cucumbers to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Pat dry, taking care to wipe away any salt that remains on the surface of the cucumbers. Add the cucumbers to the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You may not need any salt because we salted the cucumbers previously. Be sure to taste before seasoning.
- Cover and chill until ready to serve. This salad is best after it has had a chance to chill for 30 minutes or so. It can be made several hours or up to a day ahead of time.
If you loved this recipe, give it a star review! Also, snap a picture of your Lemon Cucumber Salad with Dill and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #truenorthkitchen and tagging me @true_north_kitchen.