Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumbers

April 2, 2014(updated on March 16, 2022)
salted cucumbers - Food in Jars

In yesterday’s post about fancy salts, I mentioned that I would be sharing a couple of tasty ways to use these more esoteric salts in batches of pickles. This first recipe is one that uses a generous teaspoon of fleur de sel (though you can also use kosher salt if that’s what you’ve got) to pull some liquid out of the cucumbers and firm up their texture a little.

brine and salted cucumbers - Food in Jars

This pickle is loosely based on the recipe for smacked cucumber in Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Every Grain of Rice. I made it for the first time last year and it rapidly became one of my favorite things to eat (so crunchy! so spicy!). However, it’s the sort of thing that should be made and eaten within the same hour and so I tried to make a version that would keep its texture a little bit longer.

brined cucumbers - Food in Jars

How to make these spicy quick pickled cucumbers

You start by peeling, seeding, and slicing the two cucumbers. Heap the pieces in a bowl and sprinkle with one teaspoon of fleur de sel. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cucumbers and then let them sit for about half an hour.

When the time is up, there should be a goodly accumulation of liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Drain that out, toss the cucumbers again and try draining them once more. I tend to do this three or four times, until the cucumbers aren’t releasing anymore water.

quick pickled cucumbers - Food in Jars

While the cucumbers sit with the salt, mix up the pickling liquid (all the exact amounts can be found in the organized recipe below). It’s a slurry of grated garlic, grated ginger, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and gochugaru (that’s the coarse ground red chili powder used to make kimchi). Finally, combine the cucumbers and the dressing and stir to combine.

You can eat this pickle immediately (truly, it’s one of the quickest), or you can funnel it into a jar and eat it by the forkful over the next day or two. It’s fiery from the chili powder and garlic, and I find it endlessly delicious.

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Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumbers


  • 2 slicing cucumbers
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic grated on a Microplane
  • 1 inch peeled ginger grated on a Microplane
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon gochugaru


  • Peel, seed, and slice the cucumbers.
  • Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Toss cucumbers to distribute the salt. Let them sit for about half an hour.
  • While cucumbers rest, combine the garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and red chili powder in a small bowl or measuring cup and stir to combine.
  • Drain the cucumbers of any liquid that’s accumulated and add pickling liquid.
  • Eat immediately or funnel into a jar and refrigerate.
  • This pickle will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Any longer and it will start to lose its texture.

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13 thoughts on "Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumbers"

  • Definitely adding this recipe to the lineup this week. By the way, my husband’s favorite salt to cook with is fleur de sel and told me just this week that this particular salt changed the way he views salt. 🙂

  • Will look for fleur de sel salt this week at Whole Foods. Have never tried it but will definitely give it a shot. Thanks for sharing!!! Am enjoying your pickle recipes.

  • I love spicy pickles. I have some gray sea salt that has a similar texture to fleur de sel, so I’ll try that in this recipe.

  • These guys sound like the best thing ever to have in a little dish alongside a giant bowl of ramen or udon in broth. Yes!

  • Love pickes in general – sounds very yummy – I’ll have to give it a try. We have a cool little spice traveler store close to where I live and I am sure I can get some of that salt as well as some others 🙂

  • I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while, and have recently been overrun with cucumbers from the garden, so I decided to try it out. I didn’t have any toasted sesame oil, but I found some red chili oil in the back of the cupboard, so I used that instead of the sesame oil + chili powder. It’s amazing! I ate half of it before I even managed to get the jar into the fridge 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

  • Yeah this sounds AMAZING – off to google what exactly a “slicing pickle” will be called at the grocery store 🙂

  • These are delicious! I used red pepper flakes in place of red chili powder.

    Is there any way these can be canned? Does the rice wine vinegar add enough acidity?