New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Stir fried cucumbers

Sat, 24 September, 2022

Coming from the bumper crop of garden cucumbers, this is a recipe for a brilliant, light, unusual and versatile side dish.

stir fried cucumbers

I bet you didn’t know cucumbers can be stir fried. I bet you didn’t even realise you can cook cucumbers. If all you know is the enormous, watery, flavourless salad cucumber from the supermarket, plus an odd gherkin in your burger, I understand.

You don't know there’s much more to cucumbers than that.


Cucumber sandwiches

It is probably the quaintest, the most old-school quintessential token of Britishness: cucumber sandwiches served for tea.

And that means tea in the posh sense: an afternoon snack of a meal centred around a cup of tea, with a tiered cake stand housing scones, dainty teacakes and said sandwiches. All white bread, buttered and filled with pale cucumber slices, the crust cut off, the sandwich cut into perfect finger size.

How marvellously whimsical! How classically English!

I have not actually been served cucumber sandwiches, ever, anywhere, but then I don’t very often take my tea at Claridge’s or Ritz, nor do I get invited to the Buckingham Palace Garden Party. I have it on good authority though that they are indeed served there, sometimes groundbreakingly flavoured with mint.

cucumber stir fry

Cucumber pickles

Another familiar shape of cucumber (one some people might not actually be aware IS cucumbers) is pickles.

Those tiny gherkins out of the burger garnish – why, are they the same vegetable (fruit, technically) as the enormous shrink-wrapped cukes?

They are, even if the variety differs slightly, the key difference is the time of picking. Which is: barely set on the stalk with the gherkins, FAR TOO LATE with regards to mega-cukes.

Thankfully these days more sensible cucumbers are on offer in supermarkets, the ridge variety, knobbly and flavoursome, and the mini cucumbers, a.k.a. Persian.

asian cucumbers

Cucumbers less watery

Water is the main element in cucumbers’ content: 96% of it. Which is fantastic if you think about keeping yourself hydrated (could be why they are served at garden parties hehe), but not so great if you want to use cucumbers in dishes that don’t exactly need to be oozing liquid.

Salt will draw the moisture out of the cucumber, apparently making it wilting, soggy and unappetising but in reality perking it up, making it more suitable for all kinds of salads and cooking – yes, cooking!

Salted cucumber slices or chunks should sit in a colander or sieve set over a bowl to catch the liquid for any length of time from fifteen minutes to several hours, the latter best happening in the fridge. A pinch of sugar apart from salt will improve the cucumbers’ flavour.

After a longer or shorter while, pat them dry in kitchen towels or even squeeze any remaining water and shake them back to shape.

salted cucumbers

You can simply slice the cucumbers, thinly or not so much, to salt them.

Alternatively, cut them lengthwise into long quarters and remove the seed segments. That approach works better with overgrown cukes, with seeds that are large, nasty and tough. You can then slice the lengths on a diagonal into strips, or even break them up roughly into chunks.

Cucumbers for a stir fry

The latter approach is good for the preparation for this stir frying recipe. Once the cucumbers have lost a lot of their water content, they are ready to go into the wok or a frying pan.

I like the Asian flavours here, it’s a stir-frying exercise after all, but you can season them simply with black pepper and a drizzle of honey.

They will take only about five minutes in the wok, so they are cooked but still retain a crunch.

With garlic, ginger, chilli and a spring onion, they will become much gutsier than you’d ever suspect cucumbers of being.

And a sprinkling of furikake, Japanese sesame and nori seasoning which I am slavishly addicted to, rounds off the dish.

And that should encourage you to using cucumbers as a legit stir fry ingredient, because of course they are equally happy in the company of red peppers, bean sprouts, baby corn, carrot sticks and shiitake mushrooms.

spicy stir fried cucumbers

More cucumber recipes

Another Asian cucumber recipe, this time raw: Chinese smashed cucumber salad with rice vinegar. Make it as spicy as you like with either chili flakes or red pepper flakes.

From the Middle East, fresh cucumbers with cumin tahini dressing, sprinkled with extra sesame seeds are crunchy, juicy and wonderfully refreshing. Try them as a side for beef burger patties.

Here’s the Greek way: cucumbers with feta cheese and honey are a minimalist version of Greek salad and all the better for skipping tomatoes – mainly for your digestion.

More vegetable stir fry recipes

Spicy asparagus stir fry, asparagus cooked with chillies in a wok to make a vegetarian stir fry that is a great starter or a side dish.

Stir fried ginger vegetables: a mixed vegetables stir-fry with ginger and sesame. This healthy Chinese vegetable stir fry is best served with plain rice.

Yu xiang aubergine, Sichuan stir fry in a fiery sauce. With added crunch of almonds and tartness of cranberries, it’s the best aubergine dish ever.

how to stir fry cucumbers

Stir fried cucumbers

Servings: 4Time: 30 minutes


  • 600g (1½ pound) cucumbers
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2cm (1 inch) piece of ginger root
  • 1 fat spring onion
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • sesame oil and furikake or sesame seeds, for serving


1. Peel the cucumbers and quarter them lengthwise. Slice off the seed segments and cut the cucumbers into bite-sized chunks.

2. Toss them in a bowl with the salt and sugar and leave for 30 minutes, to drain the moisture.

3. In the meantime peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger, and finely chop the string onion.

4. Scoop the cucumbers and shake off moisture; squeeze them dry, in batches, with paper towels.

5. Heat the oil in a wok or a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and sweat for a minute.

6. Turn up the heat and add the cucumbers with the chilli flakes. Stir fry them for 5-7 minutes until cooked but still crunchy. Add the rice vinegar and give them a final stir.

7. Serve immediately, drizzled with sesame oil and sprinkled with furikake or sesame seeds.

NEW recipe finder

Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!

Recipe Finder

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent

About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes updates

Follow Fiend