Tuesday, March 18, 2014

German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat)

When I was little, I wasn't a big fan of any salad that contained green lettuce leaves. I thought it tasted like grass and was better used as food for rabbits. I ate it, but many times it was very begrudgingly and only the smallest amount my mom would let me get away with. However, there was always one salad I didn't need convincing for and that was my mom's Gurkensalat (cucumber salad). I could happily eat a big bowl in one sitting without complaint.

Gurkensalat is as quintessential in Germany as Bratwurst, Sauerkraut or Schnitzel. Most families have a recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation with a few slight variations depending on the region in Germany. My love for this salad has only grown stronger over the years and I'm happy that my family loves it equally as well. In fact, this is one of my most requested recipes from friends who have tried it at our home. I've always told them "it's a little of this and a little of that", so I guess many of them will be happy that I've finally added it to my blog with a "real" recipe.

Cucumbers are mild and pretty neutral tasting, plus they are very refreshing, especially on a warm day. Making this salad doesn't require a lot of time, but there are a few key points to remember. I peel my cucumber and use a mandolin to get thin, even slices. Salting the cucumbers prior to adding the salad dressing helps remove some of the moisture and prevents the salad from being to watery. Fresh dill will really bring out the freshness in this salad, but in a pinch I've used dried dill before and it will work just fine, but in this case fresh is best. Last, but not least, while I use extra virgin olive oil for every other salad dressing or vinaigrette I make, for this salad I prefer a very neutral tasting oil like grapeseed oil which is a great healthy alternative.

This salad tastes best if it can "hang out" for about an hour before serving. It helps all the flavors meld together and makes it even more tasty. Gurkensalat is a great side dish for any grilled meat, but one of my favorite ways to eat it is the way my mom and grandma served it quite frequently, alongside some freshly made Käsespätzle (Cheese Spaetzle). I really hope you will give this recipe a try and that it becomes a family favorite of yours as well.

German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat)
~makes 4 servings~
(Print this recipe)

1 English Cucumber, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, finely chopped

Peel and slice cucumber and place in a strainer over a bowl. Add 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, mix with the cucumbers and let sit for about 20 minutes to drain.

Meanwhile to make the dressing whisk oil, white vinegar, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and honey in a small bowl until emulsified. Whisk in sour cream, onions, dill and chives.

In a bowl add your drained cucumber and your prepared dressing. Combine and let sit for about 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Notes: My mom taught me to peel the cucumber from the "flower to the stem" (top to bottom), this way if you have a bitter cucumber end you don't drag the bitterness across the entire cucumber.

Always taste both ends of your cucumber before using, there is nothing worse than a bitter cucumber ruining your salad.

I use a mix of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar for this salad. Over the years I have found that this mix comes pretty closely to the unique taste German vinegar has.

A Susi's Kochen und Backen Family Recipe


  1. Hi Susi! Welcome back! I needed a little breather, too. I was out of the blog world for about 6 weeks. Not as long as your ~2 years. But hey! Whatev! Breaks are always a good thing.

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  2. Hi Erika :-) good to see you! I'm still trying to get back into the groove of blogging, which is a lot harder after a long break. Glad to see you are still at it :-)

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  7. Hi Susi, it's so nice to see you again. I missed seeing your recipes. Gurkensalat is one of my favorites, too. I'll have to try your recipe sometime soon.
    I took a long break too, but I am working on coming back to tell everyone about the potato dishes I have been making for a weekly potluck with friends.

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