How to make the best cucumber salsa - This simple and easy dip recipe uses crisp, fresh veggies like tomatoes, cukes, and spicy peppers for the ultimate healthy summer salsa! Serve with baked tortilla chips or as a topping for meat or tacos.
I have a little mirror attached to the rearview mirror in my car. It telescopes and twists and turns so that I can keep an eye on my baby while I'm driving. I picked up our CSA share today, and I set the big bag on the back seat as I do every week. This week, when I got in the front seat, I saw something in the mirror that really made me laugh.
The kid grabbed a fresh cucumber out of the bag and starting eating it! I didn't scold her or take it away because - seriously? It was a parent's dream.
She crunched that cucumber the whole way home.
In honor of Gracie's sudden affection for cucumbers, I am sharing my cucumber salsa recipe. It's dee-licious.
Ten years ago, when I bought my house, there was a dilapidated swimming pool inside of a little fence in the back yard. The pool had fallen into such disrepair that the only viable option was to rip it out. I've never replaced it.
Last year, Joe decided to take advantage of the fenced-in area and build a little garden. (We live in a slightly wooden, suburban area, so we get critters of all shapes and sizes.)
At first, the garden didn't produce much. He mulched and fertilized and tilled. Still a lot of nothing. This year, Joe has been working in his garden every day. He's been watering and tending and loving those plants.
His work has really paid off, and the garden is flourishing. Between the garden and the CSA, we have scads of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini. It's been great.
Why you'll love this cucumber salsa recipe
Healthy: This cucumber salsa recipe is loaded with vegetables and contains no oils or fats, making it extremely healthy. It's full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It's a much better alternative than sour cream or cream cheese based dips. It's great for paleo, keto, whole30, low carb, and low calorie diets.
Versatile: This salsa is a great snack, appetizer, or side dish. You can use it to top tacos, fish, or meat, or just eat it as it is with chips.
Easy to prepare: This salsa recipe is easy to prepare. All you have to do is chop all the veggies, pour on the lime juice, and sprinkle the herbs on top. Mix it all up and you're done.
Easy to customize: You can add diced avocado, black beans, or corn, change out the hot pepper, or adjust the herbs, and your salsa will still be delicious.
Allergy-friendly: This recipe is friendly for almost all diets, including gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free.
What you'll need to make the best cucumber salsa recipe
- Garlic press - A garlic press is the second most useful tool in my kitchen, after kitchen shears. You will use your garlic press nearly daily if you have one. If you don't, get one. If you can't, you can mince the garlic with a knife and aim for the smallest possible pieces. However, you can never get the pieces as small with a knife as a press would get them. With the press, you end up with a kind of garlic paste that is easy to distribute into the dish.
- Citrus juicer - I love my citrus press as well, but it doesn't get as much action as the garlic press. If you don't have a citrus press or juicer, go on YouTube and learn how to juice your lime with a fork.
See the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page for all measurements and nutritional information.
- Medium cucumbers - I use burpless or English cucumbers when I can get them. You'll definitely need to chop these. If you're using a "normal" cucumber, I suggest peeling them as well and removing the seeds, although you could skip those two steps if you're using an English cucumber as their skin and seeds aren't bitter and are fine to include.
- Medium tomatoes - I typically use roma tomatoes, but any variety will work. You'll need to chop the tomatoes, and I suggest removing the seeds. The smaller the better in my opinion.
- Red bell pepper (We've used yellow, red, and green bell peppers at different times; we used yellow in the photos so you could tell the difference between the tomoto and the pepper.) - This should be chopped in pieces similar in size to the tomato and onion.
- Hot pepper - We've used jalapeño peppers and hot hungarian wax peppers, but you can use a poblano, a serrano, or really any hot pepper you like. If you're really brave, you could use a habanero but unless you've cooked with them before, I wouldn't recommend that. (The most popular hot peppers from mildest to hottest are: poblano, jalapeño, chipotle, serrano, and habanero.) Dice or even mince the pepper as small as possible. Remove the seeds and membranes if you don't want your salsa to be fiery hot.
A note about working with hot peppers: use plastic gloves! If you get the capsaicin oil from the peppers on your fingers and then wipe your eyes, nose, or butt, you will be feeling that burn for hours. It's not pleasant. Use gloves.
- Small onion - Chop this in pieces similar in size to the tomatoes and peppers. I prefer sweet Vidalia onions, but as they are typically enormous, use only half or use a smaller yellow or red onion.
- Fresh garlic - You'll want to press this with a garlic press. That's the best and easiest way to get tiny little pieces of garlic throughout the whole bowl of salsa. You will not want to use garlic from a jar as it does not taste the same as fresh garlic and will result in a flat and bland salsa.
- Freshly squeezed lime juice - There is no substitute for fresh lime juice. If you use that horrible stuff in a plastic bottle, you will be sad. Your salsa will taste flat and bland.
- Fresh parsley - Snip with scissors or mince with a knife. The mix of parsley and cilantro is really nice in this recipe, but if you don't like one or the other, simply double the one you're using.
- Fresh cilantro - Snip with scissors or mince with a knife.
- Fresh dill - Snip with scissors or mince with a knife.
- Salt - You need a little salt to bring out the flavors of the veggies. I normally use kosher salt.
How to make the best cucumber salsa
- Mix cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet pepper, hot pepper, onion, and garlic in a large bowl.
- Squeeze lime juice over the salsa ingredients.
- Sprinkle parsley, cilantro, dill, and salt over the salsa and mix in. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour.
- Serve with your favorite tortilla chips. This recipe also makes a nice pico de gallo garnish for burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, chicken tacos, beef tacos, or steak tacos.
If you want to shortcut the process, you could make this cucumber salsa in the food processor. Your pieces will be smaller (some people prefer that!), and the salsa itself will be juicier.
You can leave out the tomato or the bell peppers if you don't like them. You'll still have a delicious salsa (or maybe, if you make it without the tomato, it would be more of a cucumber salad?).
You can leave out the hot pepper or replace it with red chili flakes or even a pinch of cayenne.
You can zest the lime and throw that in with the juice for an extra zing of lime flavor. I love doing this!
You can make the salsa a little more substantial by adding a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
You can add diced mango or pineapple for a fruity spin on cucumber pico de gallo.
You can add diced avocado, black beans, and/or corn kernels to beef up cucumber salsa.
Storing cucumber salsa
As stated in the recipe, this salsa tastes best when it's been given an hour or two to rest in the fridge. It's a great make ahead recipe and can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You may want to add additional lime juice or salt when serving after the salsa has been sitting for a day or two. Taste it before adjusting anything!
This recipe does not freeze well.
Try cucumber salsa with these main dishes:
- Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Grilled Stuffed Burritos with Chicken, Feta, and Mexican Cheese
- Easy Shredded Beef Tacos
- Cilantro-Marinated Flank Steak Tacos
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
- Cilantro Lime Shrimp Burrito Bowls
- Cheese & Onion Quesadillas
- Turkey Quesadillas
- Mexican Pizza
- Sheet Pan Nachos