Sichuan-Style Smashed Cucumber Salad Recipe

Crisp and tender cucumbers in a vinegary dressing J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Why It Works

  • Smashing the cucumbers helps them rapidly absorb the flavor of the vinegar and garlic.

One thing you'll quickly notice about Sichuan cuisine beyond the spicy stuff, is their love of fresh, crunchy pickles. No meal is complete without a dish of cold, vinegary vegetables, whether it's turnip, cabbage, peanuts, or cucumbers. Think of them as a palate cleanser between bites of the heavier stuff. Sichuan-style smashed cucumbers are the simplest example of one of these dishes, and coincidentally my favorite one.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 3 to 4 servings

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  • 1 whole English cucumber, washed, peeled in any especially thick areas (see notes)

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

  • 1 teaspoon black vinegar or rice vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)


  1. Place the washed cucumber on a firm, flat, clean surface. Whack it firmly but gently with the flat side of a heavy cleaver or the bottom an 8-inch skillet. Repeat all down its length until it is completely smashed. Chop the cucumber crosswise into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a colander set in a bowl. Toss with salt and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Discard the extracted liquid and transfer the cucumbers to the bowl.

  2. Add the garlic, the vinegar, and the sesame oil (if using) to the bowl and toss to combine. This cucumber salad is best served absolutely fresh; It will get wet and slimy as it rests in the fridge.

Special equipment

Heavy cleaver or a heavy skillet


If your cucumber has very thick skin in some areas, use a peeler to remove it before smashing. Most likely you will not need to remove any skin at all.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
15 Calories
1g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 15
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 158mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 80mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)