Recipe Review

This Creamy Dill Cucumber Salad Has a Smart Secret

published Jul 5, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

America’s Test Kitchen is famously known for going the extra mile to make the best version of classic recipes — and their creamy cucumber salad is no exception. While many recipes call for salting and draining the cucumbers, ATK takes it a couple of steps further by first seeding the cucumbers and then pressing the salted cucumbers down in a colander with a water-filled, gallon-sized zip-top bag. They claim this step removes more water than salting alone, creating a salad with especially good crunch. I had to know: Is it worth the extra effort? Here’s what happened when I got in the kitchen to try it out.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

How to Make America’s Test Kitchen’s Creamy Dill Cucumber Salad

Despite the extra steps of seeding the cucumbers and filling a large zip-top bag with water, this recipe is super-straightforward and easy. You’ll prep the cucumbers by peeling them, slicing them in half lengthwise, scooping out all the seeds, then slicing them on a diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add the cucumber slices and thinly sliced red onion to a colander set in a large bowl and toss with salt. Fill a gallon-sized zip-top bag with water and place on top of the cucumbers. Drain the cucumbers for at least one hour, or up to three.

Whisk together sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and dill, and season with salt and pepper. Add the cucumbers and onions and stir to coat. Serve chilled.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

My Honest Review of America’s Test Kitchen’s Creamy Dill Cucumber Salad

I know looks aren’t everything when it comes to food, but I was instantly smitten with the appearance of this salad. Simply slicing the cucumbers into something other than half moons made this salad feel more fun and even a little bit fancy. I will definitely take this approach again with other cucumber salads.

Now onto the flavor. I’ll start by saying this salad certainly lives up to its name. With sour cream as the base, the dressing is thick and incredibly creamy, with a tang that kept me coming back for more. It’s also packed with a generous amount of fresh dill.

My main qualm with this salad is that it skewed a little salty for me — and I tend to have a heavy hand with salt — but I will take partial responsibility. The recipe instructs you to add an unspecified amount of additional salt when whisking together the dressing. The best approach here, since the cucumbers have already been salted, would have been to mix the dressing with the cucumbers and taste to assess if additional salt was actually necessary. Instead, I whisked in 1/2 teaspoon salt (an amount comparable with other recipes) with the dressing. While the salad was still good, it was saltier than I would have liked.

Lastly, whiIe I liked the idea of using a water-filled bag to remove excess water, I wouldn’t use this approach again. I didn’t find the results to be significantly different from other recipes that salt and drain cucumbers without a weight.

Credit: Kelli Foster

If You’re Making America’s Test Kitchen’s Creamy Dill Cucumber Salad, a Few Tips

  1. Use slicing or English cucumbers. The recipe doesn’t specify cucumber variety. I recommend using slicing or English cucumbers.
  2. You can skip the water-filled bag. Compared to the two other recipes in this showdown that called for salting the cucumbers first, this one released about the same amount of liquid.
  3. You don’t need any additional salt to season the dressing. You’ll salt the cucumbers with a full tablespoon at the outset. This is plenty for draining the cucumbers and seasoning the salad. And if you do want to add more salt, just be sure to taste the salad first. I added an additional 1/2 teaspoon and it was a mistake.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

Have you tried America’s Test Kitchen’s Creamy Cucumber Salad? Let us know in the comments!