Ina Garten's Easy Trick for the Best Cucumber Salad

It keeps your cucumber salad from being watery and bland.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Getty Images </p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Getty Images

When summer hits full force, my cooking habits change in two major ways: First, I can’t get enough summer produce. I snatch up berries, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, corn, cucumbers, and peppers at the market like they’re going out of style.

Second, I pivot toward simple recipes. Recipes that are easy to throw together and showcase all that summer produce as the shining star. Summer is about long, relaxing days—not toiling away in a hot kitchen.

My favorite way to eat an abundance of bright green, super crunchy summer cucumbers is in a simple cucumber salad. Whether it’s a lightly dressed affair with rice vinegar and sesame oil, a colorful mixture of cucumber and tomatoes, or a creamy number with sour cream and dill, I’m all in.

While I’m fine with tossing sliced cucumbers with a few ingredients right before dinner on a weeknight, I plan ahead when I’m having company. After making Ina Garten’s Creamy Cucumber Salad years ago, I picked up a tip that’s stayed with me ever since. For the creamiest dressing and most flavorful cucumber salad, salt and drain your cucumbers.

<p>Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph</p>

Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

Why Ina’s Cucumber Salad Tip Works

To reaffirm my faith in this tip, I made two small batches of cucumber salad, one of which I salted and drained just as outlined below, the other I did not. I tossed both sets of cucumbers and onions in the same sour cream dressing and refrigerated overnight.

The next day it was very clear which salad was which. The salad I made using fresh cucumbers and onions, skipping the salting step, was incredibly watery. The sauce wouldn’t stick to the cucumbers, and it was a bit bland.

The salted and drained batch, on the other hand, was wonderfully creamy and not watery at all. All of the cucumbers were well-coated, and the salad was really flavorful thanks to the vegetables soaking up some of the salt.

<p>Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph</p> Cucumber salad made without the salting trick

Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

Cucumber salad made without the salting trick

How to Salt Cucumbers

To make a superior cucumber salad, all you’ll need is salt, a colander, and a bit of time. In Ina’s recipe, she has you toss the sliced cucumbers and red onion with salt, place them in a colander over a bowl, wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight.

If you’re making a big batch of cucumber salad and have the time and fridge space, this method totally works. That being said, I almost never have the time or fridge space. So this is how I do it:

  • Slice your cucumbers and onions thin. I use a mandolin.

  • Toss with salt and place in a colander over a bowl on the counter.

  • Set a timer for 2 hours. I’ve found that if your cucumbers are sliced thin, you don’t need to brine them for more than 2 hours.

  • Dump the drained cucumbers and onions onto a clean dishcloth and spread them out. Place another dishcloth on top and press gently to remove any excess moisture.

  • Add to a bowl, add your other ingredients, and toss. This method works especially well with creamy cucumber salads since it keeps the dressing from sliding off, but it works with any cucumber salad recipe. Omit any salt called for in the recipe.

I’m having a barbecue this weekend, and I plan to make a batch of cucumber salad. I’ll definitely be salting and draining the cukes first so that I can make it a day ahead of time without worrying about it becoming a watery mess.

Get Recipe with Title: Ina Garten's Creamy Cucumber Salad

<p>Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph</p> Cucumber salad made with the salting trick

Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

Cucumber salad made with the salting trick

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