recipes, Salads, Side Dishes, Summer, Vegan

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Pickled Red Onions

This smashed cucumber salad with toasted sesame seeds and pickled red onions on top is truly packed with so many flavors. Thanks to the Asian-inspired soy sauce dressing made out of just four ingredients, it’s goes perfectly with all sort of Asian recipes or can be served with rice and tofu in a quick and easy nourishing bowl. 

If you love quick and easy salad recipes, check out my creamy chickpea salad recipe or my brown lentil salad with feta and avocado!

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Smashed cucumber salad served with sesame seeds and pickles red onions.
If you need an upgrade for your classic cucumber salad, this recipe is for you!

About this Recipe

This recipe is made with just a handful of wholesome ingredients. And as the name suggests, cucumber is our main ingredient today. 

Cucumbers contain plenty of antioxidants which protect us from free radicals. They also have a protein-splitting enzyme that aids our digestion as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Besides cucumber we also need some sesame seeds for this recipe, which we will roast in a pan. This way they develop a wonderfully nutty flavor. In addition, we’ll top this salad with some freshly pickled red onions. And let me tell you, this adds so much flavor!

Finally, chili flakes and some roasted garlic provide the icing on the cake in terms of flavor. I used some roasted and chopped garlic which you should get in the spice section of your local grocery store. 

With all those flavors, this smashed cucumber salad is brilliant side dish for all kind of Asian recipes. But I also like to eat it in bowls with some soft Jasmine rice and some fried tofu cubes.   

Pickled red onions in a small bowl.
Those pickled onions make this salad really special.


The amount given in this recipe make two regular or four small servings. However, you will have some servings of those pickled onions left. But they keep well in the fridge for one to two weeks and can be add to sandwiches, burgers, salads, or bowls. 

Please note, I always base portion sizes on my personal dietary needs (presumably those of the average woman). However, you or perhaps one of your fellow eaters may need more or less than I do. So, feel free to adjust.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • one small or medium sized red onion, some white wine vinegar, water and honey or maple syrup to make those pickled onions
  • one organic cucumber
  • some sesame seeds
  • the green part of two spring onions
  • soy sauce, rice vinegar, some peanut or sesame oil and some coconut blossom sugar for the dressing
  • mild or hot chili flakes and some dried, roasted garlic 
Ingredients for the cucumber salad.
Ingredients for your smashed cucumber salad

Substitutions and Variations 

If pickling the onions is too much work for you, you can either add them to the salad raw, or just omit them. In this case, I would just add the white part of the scallions instead.

Instead of the peanut oil, you can also use sesame oil or just some canola oil. Also, you can substitute the coconut blossom sugar for regular brown or white sugar or a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup. 

Instead of roasted garlic, which you should find in the spice section of your grocery store, you can also use regular, dried garlic or a fresh, finely diced clove of garlic or just leave it out completely. 

And finally, to make this salad gluten free, use tamari sauce or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

Ingredients for making pickled red onions.
Ingredients for pickled onions

How to Make this Recipe

Step 1: Pickle the onion

Since the onions need to soak for about twenty minutes, I start with this step. To do this, simply cut the onion into very thin rings and place them in a clean preserving jar.

Now put the water, vinegar and honey in a small pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Then pour it over the onions so that all the rings are covered with the liquid and close the lid. 

Let the onions soak for at least twenty minutes at room temperature while you take care of the cucumber salad.

Pickled red onions in a jar.
Let the onions soak for at least 20 minutes.

Step 2: Smash the Cucumber

Now it’s time to smash the cucumber. Once we’ve washed it thoroughly, we’ll smash it a few times with a rolling pin or the bottom of a pot. Smashing the cucumber makes the skin pop up. This will allow the cucumber pieces to absorb the dressing more easily. 

So, once you’ve smashed the poor thing a few times, you can then cut it into bite-sized pieces and put them in a colander. Then sprinkle a little salt on top and let it sit for about 10 minutes to get rid of some of the water.

Smashed cucumber salad on a wooden cutting board with a rolling pin next to it.
Best way to smash a cucumber is with a rolling pin.

Step 3: Whip up the Dressing

In the meantime, you can mix all the ingredients for the dressing. You can also wash the spring onions and cut the green part into thin strips or rings.

Step 4: Roast the Sesame Seeds

Now you need to roast the sesame seeds. To do this, put them in a small pan without oil and roast them over medium heat for a few minutes. 

Meanwhile, you can already add the chili flakes and garlic to the dressing. And once the sesame seeds have developed a light toasted flavor, take them off the heat and add them directly to the dressing, which will create a wonderful sizzle.

Finally, add the cucumber and green onions, mix well and serve your salad with a few of those pickled red onions on top.

How to Serve

This smashed cucumber salad is the perfect side dish for Asian and especially Chinese recipes. I also like to serve as a snack or if we just have some sandwiches for dinner or lunch.

You can also add this salad to a nourishing bowl alongside some soft Jasmin rice and some fried tofu or some chicken or steak strips.

Here’s How to Save this Recipe or Make It in Advance

Personally, I like this salad best when it’s freshly prepared. However, if you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for one or two days.

The pickled onions will keep for one to two weeks when stored in the fridge. 

Your Common Questions Answered

In case there are any questions left, I hope these FAQ will help you. If not, feel free to drop your question in the comments below.

Can I add the red onions raw?

Of course, you can. Pickling the onions is definitely optional, but highly recommended. But if this is too much work for you, you can add them raw or omit them and add the white part of your scallions instead.

Why do I have to smash the cucumber?

Smashing the cucumber allows the skin to break up, making it easier to absorb the delicious flavors of the dressing later on.

Do I need to dehydrate the cucumber with salt first?

This step is also optional and can be omitted if desired. The salad may taste a bit more watery, but that depends on how thick and watery your cucumber is.

Save for later

Click the pin button and add the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards. This way you can also easily bookmark the recipe for later. The pin button will appear as soon as you hover over the picture. 

Click on the button in the upper left corner to pin this recipe to one of your Pinterest board.
Pin this recipe to your Pinterest account and save it for later!

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I hope you like this easy smashed cucumber salad recipe and that you give it a try soon. If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email at or Instagram (@julesbalancedrecipes). 

In case, you’ve tried this recipe, I’d appreciate your comment and rating for this recipe. It’s easy to do via the comments section below this post and it would mean the world to me.

And if you loved this recipe, you may also link some of my other quick and easy side dishes! 

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,

Smashed cucumber salad served with sesame seeds and pickles red onions.

Smashed Cucumber Salat with Pickled Onions

Julia Schmitt
This smashed cucumber salad with roasted sesame seeds and pickled red onions is pack with flavors. It can be served as a side dish or in bowl alongside some rice and tofu.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Aisan, Chinese
Servings 2 servings
Calories 129 kcal


Pickled Onions

  • 1 small to medium-sized red onion
  • 120 ml water (≈ ½ cup)
  • 120 ml white wine vinegar (≈ ½ cup)
  • 1.5 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 1 organic cucumber
  • 2 spring onions (green part only)
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp peanut or sesame oil
  • 1 tsp coconut blossom sugar alternatively white or brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup
  • dried chili flakes
  • dried, roasted garlic optional
  • 1.5 tbsp sesame seeds


Pickled Onions

  • Peel and slice the onion into very thin rings and place them in a canning jar. Put the water, vinegar, honey, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
    Thinly sliced red onion on a small cutting board.
  • Pour the mixture over the onions, make sure all onions are covered, seal the jar, and let sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
    Pickled red onions in a jar.

Cucumber Salad

  • Wash the cucumber, smash it with a rolling pin or the bottom of a pot and then cut it into bite-sized pieces.
    Smashed cucumber salad on a wooden cutting board with a rolling pin next to it.
  • Place them in a colander, mix them with a little salt and let them sit for 10 minutes. 
    Cucumber slices in a colander over a big bowl.
  • Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, oil and sugar, season to taste with chili and roasted garlic. Wash the scallions and cut the green part into rings or strips (use the white part otherwise).
    Thinly sliced scallions on a cutting board.
  • Toast the sesame seeds in a pan with no oil over medium heat for a few minutes until they start to develop some roasted flavors. Then remove them from heat and add them directly to the dressing. Add the cucumber and scallions, stir well, and serve with a few pickled red onions on top.
    Toasted sesame seeds in a small frying pan.


Nutritional values per serving:
  • calories: 129 kcal
  • fat: 8.8 g
    • saturated fatty acids: 1.5 g
  • carbohydrates: 7.3 g
    • sugar: 4.9 g
    • dietary fiber: 2.1 g
  • protein: 3.3 g


Calories: 129kcal
Keyword cucumber, Pickled Onions, rolling pin
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