Pickled Cucumber Salad

Mitchell Davis

James Beard Foundation, NYC


  • 2 English (seedless) cucumbers (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeling optional
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 large yellow or white onion (1/2 pound), peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white vinegar (5 percent acidity)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste (optional)


Using a food processor or handheld mandoline, thinly slice the cucumbers and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle the cucumber slices with the salt, tossing the slices around to distribute the salt evenly.

Place a plate on top of the salted cucumbers to weigh them down, and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour but no more than 2, until the cucumbers have given up a lot of their water and wilted.

Drain the cucumbers, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Add the sliced onion to the cucumbers.

Combine the vinegar and 1 cup cold water and pour over the cucumbers. If using sugar, it is best to dissolve it in a little hot water and then add that mixture to the cucumbers.

Pack into a 1-quart glass jar or other nonreactive container and refrigerate. The cucumbers can be eaten right away, but they are best after they have sat for a day or two. They will keep about two weeks in the refrigerator.

Chef’s note: All the Davises are lovers of sour things, so we never put any sugar in the dressing. But if you find the vinegar solution too strong, you can add a tablespoon or two of granulated sugar to help cut through the acid. You can also play around with peeling or not peeling the cucumbers, a decision I make based on what color I would to add to the meal, or my mood, or my degree of laziness at the time of preparation.


14 servings