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Japanese Cucumber Salad or Sunomono

Japanese cucumber salad, called sunomono in Japanese, is a refreshing side dish that goes especially well with grilled fish and meat or spicy dishes. It is easy to make, light, and uses just a few ingredients.

Japanese cucumber salad ready to serve in a black salad bowl.

What is sunomono made of?

Japanese cucumber salad—or sunomono—is made of thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers, rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. Sometimes other ingredients are added, like sesame seeds, wakame seaweed, or pickled ginger.

Ingredients for japanese cucumber salad including rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and cucumbers.

What is Japanese cucumber?

Japanese cucumbers, called kyuri in Japanese, are thinner than English cucumbers and longer than Persian cucumbers. They generally do not contain seeds or have only very small, delicate seeds.

Slicing cucumbers on a mandoline for Japanese cucumber salad

Can you use a different kind of cucumber to make sunomono?

Yes, you can use any cucumber you have access to. The best cucumbers for sunomono are the long, thin, seedless Japanese cucumbers, but you can substitute another type if those aren’t available.

Persian cucumbers are a good substitute because, like Japanese cucumbers, they have very few seeds and are thin with a tender outer skin.

English cucumbers will also work, but they tend to be more watery and have larger seeds, so you may want to halve them lengthwise and scoop out the seedy middle part before thinly slicing.

Sliced cucumbers ready for Japanese cucmber salad

What ingredients are in Japanese cucumber salad?

  • Cucumbers, preferably Japanese or Persian cucumbers.
  • Rice Vinegar, preferably unseasoned. This can be found in just about any supermarket and, of course, in Japanese or Asian markets.
  • Soy sauce, just a touch!
  • Sugar, which balances out the tartness of the vinegar.
  • Salt, again, just a little.
  • Sesame seeds are optional. Black sesame seeds look dramatic, but white work well, too. You can also use a combination if you like.
Sliced and salted cucumbers for Japanese cucumber salad.

How do you make sunomono?

  1. Use sharp knife or a mandoline to slice your cucumber into uniform slices that are very thin.
  2. Place the cucumber slices in a colander and toss them with a pinch of salt. This helps to draw out excess moisture and prep the cucumber to absorb the tart-sweet dressing.
  3. Let the cucumber slices sit for a few minutes while you make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber slices and dressing together. Let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or chill in the refrigerator.
  5. Just before serving, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the top.
  6. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Japanese cucumber salad ready to eat.

What to serve with sunomono?

Japanese cucumber salad is a great side dish alongside grilled meat or fish. Because it is so light and refreshing, it goes especially well with heavier or spicier dishes. It’s also the perfect thing with onigiri.

Serve it as a side along with Shrimp Yakisoba, Beef Yakisoba, Karaage Chicken, or Mochiko Chicken.

This Quick Cucumber Kimchi also uses Japanese cucumbers. If you’re looking for a more substantial salad with Japanese flavors, try this Teriyaki Chicken Salad.

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Japanese cucumber salad ready to serve in a black salad bowl

Japanese Cucumber Salad or Sunomono

Robin Donovan
Japanese cucumber salad, or sunomono, is a popular side dish in Japanese cuisine. It is light and refreshing and goes well with many main dishes. It's also super quick and easy to make.
4.89 from 18 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Salad Recipes
Cuisine Japanese
Calories 64 kcal


  • 2 Japanese cucumbers or 4 Persian cucumbers or use 1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise with the seedy center scooped out, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black or white sesame seeds


  • In a medium salad bowl, toss the cucumbers with the salt and let stand for about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar,
    sugar, and soy sauce, whisking until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the dressing mixture to the cucumbers. Toss to combinewell. Let stand for about 10 minutes, or chill until ready to serve.
  • Just before serving, garnish with the sesame seeds.


Serving: 1Calories: 64kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSodium: 157mgFiber: 2gSugar: 8g
Keyword Japanese cucumber salad
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By on August 8th, 2019


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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