Kitchn Love Letters

My Family’s Favorite Cucumber Salad Is Basically an Excuse to Eat More Ranch

updated May 27, 2021
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Credit: Meghan Splawn

As soon as summer hits, the cucumber munching begins. For many, that means smashing them with salt and pepper or tossing them with a seductively savory dressing. But in my house, we’re serving up a much simpler salad: sliced English cucumbers and bottled ranch dressing.

I know, I know, it’s hardly the kind of recipe you expect to find on a food website. But when you’re a parent hungry for your children to explore salads of any kind, cucumbers and ranch is actually something to be supremely proud of. Plus, it really isn’t that far off from one of Kitchn’s most popular cucumber salad recipes, which is dressed with little more than mayonnaise. Here’s how my two school-aged kids and I are gobbling up cucumbers all summer long.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

An Easy Veggie Side That Everyone Devours (Finally!)

When you’re feeding two kids with their own likes and dislikes, it can be hard to find sides and salads they both love. My oldest kiddo will eat any vegetable with ranch dressing, but also loves crisp lettuces with maple-mustard dressing. My young son won’t touch lettuce to save his life, but will devour an entire cucumber as long as there’s “crunchy salt” on top (he’s quite a fan of this little tin of Jacobsen sea salt). In the thin sliver of their Venn diagram of tastes is where cucumbers and ranch lives.

Tired of chopping carrots for my ranch-lover and slicing cucumbers for my salt-lover, I combined the two to make a quick salad and crossed my fingers that they’d at least try it. I also took a tip from Kitchn’s Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, and topped the whole bowl with a generous crank of freshly ground black pepper. It looked something like this: 1 large sliced English cucumber, 2 tablespoons ranch dressing, and a few grinds of black pepper.

Not only was the salad devoured in minutes, but both kids asked for it another night. And then another. We’ve eaten it as a side dish for grilled chicken, but also as a sort of topping-slaw for burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. As for the ranch, we’re loyal to classic Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. It really is the best.

Maybe next summer we’ll branch out to smashed cucumbers, or swap the ranch for a fancier vinaigrette, but for now, I’m happy to have found a cucumber dish that will see us through this one.

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.