Gingery Smashed Cucumber Salad (Asian-Inspired)

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Spoon resting in a bowl of our ginger sesame smashed cucumber salad recipe

Is it just us or does it seem like cucumbers repel any dressing you add to them? Not so fast! After some research and testing, we learned that smashing cucumbers helps the flavors stick around. Smashed cucumber salad to the rescue!

This Asian-inspired take is super fresh, crunchy, savory, a little spicy, and full of ginger and sesame flavor. Plus, so EASY — just 10 ingredients, 1 bowl, and 10 minutes required. Let us show you how it’s done!

Tamari, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, cucumber, maple syrup, toasted sesame oil, green onion, sesame seeds, and rice vinegar

Recipe Inspiration

This smashed cucumber salad is similar to pai huang gua, a Chinese cucumber salad featuring a garlicky sesame-soy-vinegar dressing and chili crisp and/or chili oil topping.

Our inspired version is naturally sweetened with maple syrup, swaps the chili oil for chili flakes, and also draws influence from Japanese cuisine with the inclusion of pickled ginger for a sweet, tangy addition.

How to Make Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashing cucumbers is all about getting the dressing to better hold onto the cucumber. And this dressing? You’re definitely going to want it smothering that cucumber. It’s perfectly balanced thanks to tangy rice vinegar, aromatic garlic and ginger, savory tamari, nutty toasted sesame oil, sweet maple syrup, and spicy red pepper flakes.

Stirring an Asian-inspired sesame ginger sauce in a bowl

Now, let’s talk about how to smash that cucumber. After cutting it in half lengthwise, place it on a cutting board and use a rolling pin or heavy skillet to smash, smash, smash. Gentle is not the answer here!

Using a rolling pin to smash cucumbers

When it’s looking thoroughly craggy, you’re ready to slice it up and toss with the dressing, green onion, sesame seeds, and pickled ginger.

Hands holding a bowl of sliced cucumbers with chopped pickled ginger and sesame seeds

Welcome to YUM town.

Sprinkling sesame seeds over a smashed cucumber salad

We hope you LOVE this cucumber salad! It’s:

& SO refreshing!

What to Serve with this Smashed Cucumber Salad

It’s an easy, versatile side that pairs well with crispy salmon + rice for a simple meal. Or, try it with any of your favorite Asian-inspired mains. Here’s some inspo:

More Refreshing Cucumber Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Small plate of smashed cucumber salad topped with sesame seeds

Gingery Smashed Cucumber Salad (Asian-Inspired)

Fresh, crunchy smashed cucumber salad with ginger, sesame, and other Asian-inspired flavors. Just 1 bowl, 10 ingredients, and 10 minutes required for this versatile side!
Author Minimalist Baker
Plate of our gingery smashed cucumber salad recipe
4.91 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 (Servings)
Course Side
Cuisine Asian-Inspired, Chinese-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Japanese-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? Best when fresh


  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned // ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 2 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce // ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 large English cucumbers (2 large cucumber yield ~6 cups or 775 g)
  • 3 stalks green onion, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped pickled ginger (optional, but highly recommended)


  • In a medium serving bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  • Trim the ends of your cucumbers, then cut each cucumber in half lengthwise. Place the cucumbers cut side down on your cutting board, then use a rolling pin or heavy skillet to smash each half until it splits open. Really go for it! They should look craggy. After smashing, cut each cucumber into 1/2-inch to 1-inch slices and add to the bowl with your dressing.
  • Add the green onion, sesame seeds, and chopped pickled ginger (optional) and toss to coat.
  • Serve immediately or make up to an hour ahead and keep it refrigerated. It’s best enjoyed cold. Not freezer friendly.



*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 100 Carbohydrates: 9.5 g Protein: 3.2 g Fat: 6.5 g Saturated Fat: 1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.3 g Monounsaturated Fat: 1.2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 511 mg Potassium: 301 mg Fiber: 2.6 g Sugar: 4.1 g Vitamin A: 78 IU Vitamin C: 5.8 mg Calcium: 38 mg Iron: 1 mg

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My Rating:

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Carrie, smashing helps the cucumber absorb the dressing instead of it just sitting in it!

  1. Bailey says

    This was so delicious! I served this cucumber salad with the baked crispy peanut tofu that you have linked and suggested above, with brown rice and it made for an awesome meal that I’ll be making regularly. Thanks again for fabulous recipes as always!

  2. Brenda Johnson says

    So easy and delicious, my husband and I fought over bites. Subbed powdered ginger since I didn’t have fresh or pickled, threw in some diced avocado as it needed to be used-fabulous! This will be getting heavy rotation when we entertain or are asked to bring a salad to dinner with friends. thanks for all your hard work and culinary inspiration!

  3. Emily Brown says

    Really tasty! I loved the smashed cucumbers too. I used a nonstick pan and couldn’t get my salmon to caramelize. I will use the air frier next time for more crispiness.

  4. Trina says

    This was really tasty, easy and fast to make. Served alongside stir fry noodle bowl.
    Thank you,

  5. Patti says

    I had nearly all of the ingredients on hand so decided to give this a whirl and it didn’t disappoint! I subbed Mirin for rice wine vinegar and didn’t have spring onions or sesame seeds, but subbed with cashew nuts. Delicious and easy! What else would the marinade be good on? Thanks for a delicious, fast and easy recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Patti! We think it could be great as a marinade to most proteins!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Becca, this is best when fresh, but you can eat it within 24 hours and it will still be tasty!

  6. Susan L says

    Yummy recipe! Do you have a recipe for pickled ginger? The store bought kind served with sushi has aspartame, a known carcinogen. Muchly appreciated. Love all your recipes!! ❤️

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Susan, we don’t have a recipe for pickled ginger, but we used The Ginger People brand, which doesn’t have aspartame. Hope that helps!

      • Pols says

        Very tasty! I’d love to use this to meal prep and eat in lunches throughout the week. Will it keep that long??

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

          Hi Pols, we’re so glad you enjoyed it! We find the salad is best when fresh, but it will keep up to 3 days!

  7. Sonya says

    Hi there!
    Do you have a recipe for pickled ginger? I rarely see it to buy in grocery stores around me.