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This Chinese-inspired Smashed Cucumber Salad is a great crunchy, tangy side dish to serve alone or paired with your favorite rice dish, noodles, or a few seaweed snacks. Gluten-free, Vegan.
This Smashed Cucumber Salad is packed with protein-rich edamame, crunchy, cool cucumbers, flavorful green onions and a tangy, spicy dressing that’ll keep you coming back for more. All you need is 25 minutes and 10 affordable ingredients to whip up this easy recipe.
Table of Contents
All About this Crunchy, Fuss-Free Dish
Today’s edamame salad was born out of a need for a quick and easy lunch that would also keep me full until dinner. And while I’ve got many high-protein lunch ideas on the blog, I was craving a salad that was crunchy, tangy, spicy and didn’t require any cooking whatsoever.
I’m happy to say this edamame salad made with smashed cucumbers checks all the boxes. The smashing technique makes the cucumbers more tender, juicy, and allows them to absorb the flavorful sauce in a way you’ve never experienced before. If you’ve only ever tried my Crunchy Cucumber Dill Salad or White Bean & Cucumber Salad, you’re in for a treat!
Enjoy it as a side dish, refreshing afternoon snack, or light lunch on a hot summer day.
What You Need for a Smashed Cucumber Salad
This edamame salad is made with the classic Chinese smashed cucumber salad ingredients, plus a few more ingredients to make it more filling. Here’s the basics, plus a few substitution options:
- Cucumbers: A crisp, crunchy, and refreshing veggie that’s both affordable and easy to find year-round.
- Dressing: A combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, toasted sesame oil, homemade chili oil, and raw garlic are all you need to make this tangy dressing. You can even swap the maple syrup for agave, the chili oil for sriracha or a pinch of red pepper flakes, and the toasted sesame oil for another neutral oil.
- Edamame: Shelled edamame is a great source of both protein and fiber, which helps make this edamame salad filling enough to keep you satisfied until lunch. I like to buy pre-shelled edamame beans from Trader Joe’s, but they can be found in most freezer sections of mainstream grocery stores, too.
- Green onions: Adds a mild bite without overpowering the flavors of the dressing. If green onions aren’t an option, try spring onions.
- Sesame seeds: The source of an additional crunch, visual interest, and essential nutrients such as healthy fats, protein, and a variety of minerals. Try white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, or golden sesame seeds. Or, go for toasted sesame seeds for an elevated nutty aroma.
How to Make a Smashed Cucumber Salad
- Smash the cucumbers with a rolling pin or the flat edge of a wide knife. Slice into 1/2″ bite-size pieces, then transfer the cucumbers to a sieve.
- Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt; Let the cucumbers rest for 20 to 30 minutes, then drain.
- In the meantime, whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine the drained, salted cucumber pieces, dressing, edamame, green onions, and sesame seeds in a large bowl.
- Serve immediately, or marinate the cucumber edamame salad in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Don’t rinse the cucumbers! After salting the cucumbers, you may feel tempted to rinse the residual salt off, but doing so would defeat the purpose of salting the cucumbers in the first place. The salt draws out the excess moisture, and rinsing it would just put that water right back inside those cucumbers.
- Avoid cucumbers with a higher seed content. I like to use Persian cucumbers because they’re known for being seedless or “burpless” because the existing seeds are minimal and tender. If Persian cucumbers aren’t an option, I’d recommend Armenian cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers. Avoid slicing cucumbers or English cucumbers when possible.
- Check your edamame. Some frozen edamame is pre-cooked, while others require boiling the edamame first. Read the package instructions carefully and cook if necessary.
This Asian cucumber edamame salad can be served as a light lunch, side dish or served over Garlic Rice or noodles like these Peanut Noodles for a heartier main. It’s also delicious with a few nori sheets or seaweed snacks on the side.
Or, if you’re looking for more veggie-packed side dish recipes, you’ll also love this Roasted Honeynut Squash with Miso Maple Glaze, these Easy Garlic Green Beans and this Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad!
How to Store Smashed Cucumber Salad
When stored in an airtight container, this side dish will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. Freezing this salad is not recommended.
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-free option: Use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Warm salad option: I recommend this salad cold, but if you prefer a warm salad, heat this side dish in a warm saucepan until heated through.
- Milder heat: If you are sensitive to heat or sharing this salad with the whole family, reduce or omit the chili oil and replace it with a neutral oil like avocado oil or olive oil to balance the acidity in the dressing.
- Add veggies: If you’d like to bulk up the veggies in this side dish, toss in some grated carrot, diced red bell pepper, or finely shredded cabbage for a nice crunch.
- Add a protein boost: As is, this edamame salad is a good source of protein thanks to the edamame, but you can up it even more by adding your favorite chopped nuts like cashews or almonds or even some Smoky Marinated Tofu, this Easy Crispy Tofu, or Easy Baked Tempeh.
The key to keeping excess water out of your cucumber edamame salad is to salt the cucumbers beforehand. This process draws the excess moisture out of the smashed cucumbers and enhances the overall texture of the dish by making the cucumbers crisper.
This is really personal preference, but if you want my opinion, skin-on is best. It’ll keep the cucumbers crisp, add texture to the salad, and boosts the nutrition of the edamame salad overall.
Smashing the cucumbers breaks down their cell walls and releases different flavor compounds you can’t get just slicing them normally.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Edamame Salad with Smashed Cucumbers
- 8 ounces persian cucumbers
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1-3 teaspoons chili oil*
- 1 large clove garlic crushed
- 12 ounces shelled edamame cooked if necessary*
- 3 green onions thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Smash the Cucumbers: Cut the ends off of each cucumber, then slice in half lengthwise. Press on each cucumber half with a rolling pin or the flat edge of a chef’s knife, using the base of your palm to press each cucumber from end-to-end. Slice into ½” pieces, then repeat with the remaining cucumbers. Transfer the cucumbers to a sieve and sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over them; let rest for 20 to 30 minutes, then drain the water that comes out of them; do not rinse.
- Prepare the Dressing: In the meantime, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, chili oil, and sesame oil in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside; the vinegar will mellow out the flavor of the garlic.
- Combine: Add the drained cucumber pieces to the bowl with the dressing along with the edamame, green onions, and sesame seeds. Mix well to combine; serve immediately, or let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving cold. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days and can be enjoyed as a side or a main alongside cooked rice or noodles.
- Chili Oil: If you are sensitive to heat, reduce or omit the chili oil. I recommend replacing the chili oil with a neutral-tasting oil like olive oil or avocado oil though, to balance out the acidity from the dressing.
- Edamame: Some frozen edamame is pre-cooked, while other brands require boiling the edamame first. Read the package instructions carefully and cook as necessary!