This crunchy cucumber kimchi with spicy ginger and savory fish sauce is an awesome side dish for all your Asian-style dinners. Best of all, you skip the endless fermentation and still get the same tangy, refreshing flavors in every bite.
Quick & Easy Cucumber Kimchi Recipe
This zesty, crunchy cucumber kimchi will transform your ordinary Asian-inspired dinners into a symphony of flavors. Lots of fiery gochugaru and fragrant garlic give each bite tons of personality, while herby basil helps round out the flavors. Don’t worry about it taking forever to make because this kimchi recipe requires no more than 2 hours. That means you can always set it on the table by the time the rest of your meal is ready.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe for Cucumber Kimchi
Kimchi will quickly become your go-to veggie side for all your Asian-style meals.
- Beginner-friendly. There are no complicated fermentation techniques or long waiting times involved so anyone can make it.
- Quick. This recipe gets you the most authentic flavor in very little time compared to traditional kimchi.
- Crunchy. Persian cucumbers, chopped garlic, onions, and ginger give each bite lots of texture.
- Authentic. Just because this version is quicker to make, it doesn’t make it any less authentic. It’s got the same ingredients!
What Is Kimchi?
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish that’s considered a staple in most households. It consists of a spicy mixture of fermented veggies like cabbage, radishes, carrots, and onions for flavor and texture. Korean chili powder, garlic, ginger, and green onions are also added for fragrance and aroma. Some types of kimchi can be fermented for up to a year to develop the most flavor. It’s served with most meals over rice, with grilled steak, or even in soups and stews.
Spicy gochugaru chili powder is what makes this quick kimchi authentically Korean. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.
- Kirby cucumbers – They can also be Persian cucumbers. Both of there are like tiny versions of regular cucumbers.
- Kosher salt – Himalayan salt can be used instead.
- Sesame oil – It can be toasted or regular.
- Onion – Use the white part of green onions for this.
- Thai basil – Sweet basil is a great swap.
- Gochugaru – This is a type of Korean coarse red pepper powder.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic is best because it adds crunch.
- Ginger – Avoid ground ginger because it’s not as spicy. It also doesn’t add any texture.
- Lime zest – Lemon zest works too.
- Asian fish sauce – You can swap it for tamari if you want to make the recipe vegetarian/vegan.
How to Make Cucumber Kimchi
Don’t skip the sugar because it keeps the savory, salty flavors in check. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.
- Salt the cucumbers. Place the cucumbers in a colander and toss with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Let it stand for 20 minutes. Rinse cucumbers thoroughly and drain well. Do a taste-test and continue rinsing them until no longer salty.
- Mix everything. Combine the cucumbers with garlic, ginger, onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Toss everything until well coated.
- Ferment it. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Stir occasionally to ensure even marination and absorption of flavors.
- Season and serve. Season the kimchi with salt to taste. Serve and enjoy!
Tips & Variations
Make this easy cucumber kimchi recipe extra crunchy and colorful with more veggies and chili powder.
- Add more veggies. Roughly chop green or purple cabbage (to make 2-3 cups) and add it to the mixture for some extra crunch. You can also add 1/2 cup shredded carrots.
- Use the right cucumbers. Regular cucumbers for this don’t work because they’re too meaty, soft, and have too many seeds. Use Persian cucumbers, which are extra crunchy. They also don’t require seeding.
- Skip the salt. Since this is an express-version of kimchi, not salting the cucumbers won’t alter the texture or accelerate spoilage. Skip salting the cucumbers if you’re in a rush.
- Ferment it longer. Cover the bowl and leave out the kimchi to ferment for up to 2 days for a stronger flavor. Don’t do this if the area where you live is quite hot or humid.
- Increase the heat. Add more gochugaru or add chili oil to taste to crank up the heat.
This cucumber kimchi is a great side to add to all your Asian-style meals. Add it to my Korean Rice Bowls or Beef Rainbow Salad for a bowl-style dinner. You can serve it over my Shrimp Fried Rice, brown rice, or steamed white rice. For main dish ideas, try my Orange Chicken, Grilled Chicken with Asian Barbecue Sauce, and Asian Glazed Salmon. You can even add it to your take-out meals!
Eat it straight out of the fridge or at room temperature!
- Fridge: Place it in an airtight container or glass jar for up to 7 days. Keep it away from delicate foods like sliced fruits and desserts to avoid the transfer of kimchi odors to other dishes.
More Side Dishes To Try
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Grilled Asparagus with Onion
- Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios
- Baked Zucchini Fries
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
Quick Cucumber Kimchi
- 2 pounds Kirby or persian cucumbers halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/2 small onion thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Thai or sweet basil
- 2 tablespoons gochugaru Korean coarse red pepper powder
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
- In a colander, toss the sliced cucumbers with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers and drain well.
- In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers with all of the remaining ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Season the kimchi with salt and serve.