Spicy Cucumber Kimchi
Korean Cucumber Salad – This traditional spicy kimchi recipe is easy to make with baby-pickling cucumbers, carrots, and fiery red pepper flakes. It’s a delicious way to add an irresistible kick of heat to any meal!
Why We Love This Kimchi Recipe
Part condiment, part salad, part side dish… A delicious kimchi can do it all! Like you often find Horiatiki at Greek eateries and Kachumber Salad at Indian restaurants, this spicy and perky Cucumber Kimchi is a staple at Korean restaurants. And you are going to LOVE making it fresh at home at your convenience! Also known as Oi Kimchi, this cucumber version of kimchi is a popular summer kimchi in Korea!
Here is a classic spicy cucumber salad recipe that’s fast and easy to prepare with minimal effort. Fresh carrots and cucumbers are briefly marinated in a bold blend of crushed red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic, vinegar, and tangy soy sauce. Done! This quick pickling (mock fermentation) process takes just over 30 minutes, but kimchi is excellent to make ahead and keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.
It’s so refreshing and delicious, with vibrant sweet and sour flavors that balance the heat. Serve it with a Korean main dish protein, or serve kimchi as a side to liven up any humdrum meal. I even like to pile it on pork or chicken sandwiches!
Ingredients You Need
- Seedless baby cucumbers – sliced into thin discs
- Carrots – thinly sliced
- Onions – peeled and thinly sliced
- Basil – sliced
- Gochugaru – Korean crushed red pepper flakes
- Garlic – minced
- Ginger – freshly grated
- Sesame oil – or other high-quality and light oil, like avocado oil
- Soy sauce – can be low sodium or coconut aminos (or even substitute fish sauce!)
- Rice vinegar – or apple cider vinegar
- Granulated sugar – to balance the spiciness from the red pepper
About the Cucumbers: Look for tiny Korean cucumbers, English cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, or Kirby cucumbers.
Optional Add-Ins: Sesame seeds or furikake, sliced radishes, chives or green onions, or even napa cabbage.
How to Make Spicy Cucumber Kimchi
Slice the baby cucumbers into thin rounds. Then thinly slice the carrots, onions, and basil leaves. Make sure to cut the onion into quarters before slicing so you have short curved segments.
Add the cucumber slices to a large mixing bowl.
Add the carrots, onion, and basil.
Then add 1 tablespoon of gochugaru chili flakes, followed by the minced garlic, grated ginger, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar.
Pro Tip: Start with the lower amount of chili flakes and soy sauce, so you can add more if needed at the end.
Toss the vegetables well to mix the salad. Then cover and rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to soften the crunchy texture.
Get the Complete (Printable) Spicy Cucumber Kimchi Recipe Below. Enjoy!
Taste, then add additional chili flakes and soy sauce if needed.
Serve at room temperature within the next 2-3 hours. Or cover and chill for later use.
Truthfully, I could eat (and yes, definitely have eaten) a bowl of kimchi by itself. The punchy flavors and delightful crunch make it the ideal salad or snack! Add a small bowl of fluffy white rice for a light but satisfying lunch.
Serve spicy cucumber salad as a tantalizing Korean side dish with Korean-inspired mains like Korean Chicken Skewers or Fried Chicken, Bulgogi Korean BBQ Beef, or Beef Ribs. Or pair with simple grilled or baked chicken – or other protein of your choice – for a no-fuss but fully delicious meal.
I like to make a large batch of this quick cucumber kimchi recipe at the end of the weekend, and scoop a bit onto various lunches, dinners, and snacks throughout the week. It is perfect to add onto bowls of bibimbap, ramen, chicken or pork sandwiches, or veggie wraps to jazz things up!
Frequently Asked Questions
Kimchi is a fermented Korean salad that is usually made with napa cabbage. The red color that you see is gochugaru, which gives it a spicy, smoky and tangy flavor! Kimchi often includes other vegetables too, like spring onions, garlic and ginger. This cucumber version of kimchi is easier to make but captures the essential flavors of classic kimchi!
Cabbage kimchi itself is considered a highly nutritious food that’s brimming with gut-healthy probiotics. This Korean cucumber kimchi recipe includes nutrient-dense produce, very little sugar, is gluten-free, and low-carb. AND tasty? You betcha!
We suggest using 1-2 tablespoons of the Korean red pepper flakes; for a spicy salad use the full 2 tablespoons or more to taste.
Keep the spicy cucumber salad in an airtight container or jar and store it in the refrigerator. It is best to enjoy homemade kimchi within 1 week of preparing.
Looking for More Spicy Side Dish Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:
- Quick Pickled Jalapenos
- Sweet and Spicy Roasted Broccolini
- Spicy Kani Salad
- Kimchi Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Spicy Beet Pickled Eggs
Spicy Cucumber Kimchi Recipe
- 1 pound seedless baby cucumbers 4 cups sliced
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
- ½ cup thinly sliced onions (cut into quarters)
- 1 tablespoons sliced basil leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons Gochugaru Korean crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 3 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2-3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Slice the baby cucumbers into thin rounds. Then thinly slice the carrots, onions, and basil leaves. Make sure to cut the onion into quarters before slicing so you have short curved segments.
- Set out a large mixing bowl. Combine the cucumbers, carrots, onions, and basil. Add 1 tablespoon of gochugaru chili flakes, followed by the minced garlic, grated ginger, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. *Start with the lower amount of chili flakes and soy sauce, so you can add more if needed at the end.
- Toss well to mix the salad. Then cover and rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Taste, then add additional chili flakes and soy sauce if needed.
- Serve at room temperature within the next 2-3 hours. Or cover and chill for later use.