These tangy and oh-so-simple-to-make sweet and sour Asian pickled cucumbers take only about 5 minutes to make, and are one of our favorite snacks. They’re also so good served as a cooling side or a crunchy, puckery salad all on their own.
I’ve never met a pickle I didn’t like. And when a quick pickle recipe does double duty as a tangy salad or a puckery snack, I look like that little emoji girl with my hand held high 🙋. Actually, my hand is more likely IN the pickle jar instead of being raised even though my mom ALWAYS told me, “USE A FORK!”
When will I ever learn to listen? Asking for my mom, because, you know, she’s still wondering.
This quick pickled cucumber recipe is exactly one of those recipes I will disregard all of my mom’s Emily Post etiquette teachings for. It’s the perfect topping on a sandwich or burger (like my Korean BBQ Burgers), or served alongside my Grilled Chicken Satay, or for simply snagging from the fridge for a little afternoon cure-all snack. Fork, or no fork, it’s totally your choice, but I bet you know how I’ll be digging for them.
These pickled cucumber are a classic served alongside spicy food, hence why they work so well with Thai, Indonesian, and other Southeast Asian savory flavors. They’re cooling and puckery and play well with other spicy bites.
What’s in These Asian Pickled Cucumbers?
If you think making quick pickled cucumbers is difficult, think again. It’s a 5-minute process that anyone can handle. For this pickled cucumber recipe, you’ll need:
- Seasoned rice vinegar
- Grated fresh ginger
- Kosher salt
- Dried red chili flakes
Note that this recipe calls for kosher salt and not table salt. Kosher salt flakes are larger than your average table salt, therefore the 1 teaspoon of salt doesn’t taste as salty as regular salt. If you only have table salt on hand, scale back the amount you add to these quick pickles.
How to Make Pickled Cucumbers
Slice the cucumbers and shallot very thinly (if you have a mandonline, use it!). Add the sliced veggies to a bowl or jar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved, then pour over the cucumbers and shallot and toss to coat.
Let the Asian pickled cucumbers chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving them. They need time to pickle, after all!
These pickles will last for up to a week in the refrigerator and will soften the longer they marinate in the vinegar and sugar solution.
What Cucumber is Best for Pickling?
I use English cucumbers for this recipe because they have a thinner, more tender skin so there’s no need for peeling. They also have fewer seeds and don’t leave a bitter bite.
You could try making them with Persian or Kirby cucumbers, but, if using a regular garden or grocery store style cucumber, consider peeling them first.
Tips for Making Pickled Cucumbers
I prefer these cucumber pickles as paper thin slices and for that job I rely on my handheld mandoline to keep things tidy and uniform. I also use it for slicing my shallots as well.
For a chunkier pickle, follow these instructions:
- Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise, and then cut in half
- Use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds and discard
- Slice the pickle into 1/4-inch pieces
- Allow for more refrigerator time for the flavors to infuse the cucumbers, at least 2 hours minimum.
I use seasoned rice vinegar in my pickling dressing solution because it already has a bit of sweetness to it. If you’re using regular rice vinegar, taste as you go and add more sugar if desired.
Also, if serving this as a salad, you’ll want to drain off most of the pickling liquid when serving and consider doubling the number of cucumbers and shallots to the same ratio of liquid I give in the recipe.
More Homemade Pickles to Make
- Refrigerator Quick Dill Pickles
- Killer Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles
- Zesty Bread and Butter Pickles
- Pickled Beets
- Dilly Beans (Pickled Green Beans)
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Sweet and Sour Asian Pickled Cucumbers
- 1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
- 2 seedless English cucumbers
- 1 shallot
- Slice the cucumbers into very thin coins (a mandoline works well for this job) and thinly slice the shallot as well. Add both to the quart jar or medium size bowl.
- In a smaller bowl or jar, whisk the rice vinegar, sugar, grated ginger, salt and chile flakes together until the sugar has dissolved and pour over the cucumbers, tossing lightly to coat.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.
What to Serve with Asian Pickled Cucumbers
Traditional Thai and Korean cuisine often delivers a bite of savory heat. These pickles deliver the cool down to perfectly contrast that heady bite. Here’s a few ideas of what to eat with your pickles.
- Chicken Satay with Almond Dipping Sauce
- Korean BBQ Burgers
- Korean Beef Bulgogi Bowls
- Slow Cooker Sriracha Meatballs
- Ramen Noodles with Marinated Steak
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