Believe it or not, there are actually more than 100 varieties of cucumbers! You’re only likely to find a small fraction of them at the grocery store or farmers market, but it’s worth noting that, generally speaking, there are two main categories: slicing and pickling. As you may guess from the names, slicing cucumbers are best eaten fresh, whereas pickling cucumbers typically have thicker skin and a lower water content, making them better suited for turning into pickles. Slicing cucumbers make the best cucumber salad.
For this recipe, we recommend using a seedless variety, such as English cucumbers. English cucumbers are the long, slim ones you usually see wrapped in plastic at the grocery store; not only do they have small, nearly imperceptible seeds, but their skins are thin, smooth, and sweet, eliminating the need to peel them. Persian cucumbers are also a good option here — they’re far shorter than English cucumbers, but otherwise share many of the same traits. The most common type of cucumber is the garden cucumber, which is what you’ll find standard at most stores. If you opt to use them for this recipe, you’ll want to peel their bitter skins and scoop out the seeds first.
As for how to make cucumber salad, it couldn’t be any easier. If you have one, simply slice your cucumbers using a mandoline, toss them with a bit of sugar and salt, then stir in vinegar and onion. A few extra minutes of marination time softens the bite of the onions and helps the tangy seasonings infuse every bite of cucumber.
Pair this salad with grilled hot dogs or pork chops in summertime, or serve as a cool contrast to roast chicken or poached salmon in colder months. Feel free to make this up to a day ahead and store it in the fridge — the salad will only get tangier and more delicious as it sits.