This Din Tai Fung cucumber salad recipe is the most refreshing and flavorful copycat side dish you’ll find! The crisp cucumber is lightly salted and dressed with aromatic sesame oil, chili oil, and a hint of sweetness. This dish will transport your tastebuds to the dining room at Din Tai Fung!
I can assure you - as a Taiwanese chef and foodie - this recipe has the same flavor as the restaurant version. Look no further if you want to recreate this dish at home.
✨ why you'll love this recipe
Din Tai Fung may be known for its dumplings, but one of its most popular and beloved dishes is a simple cucumber salad (called 小黃瓜 in Chinese, which translates to “little cucumber”). I tested this dish several times and finally landed on this perfect copycat recipe!
With only 5 minutes of prep and just 25 minutes of marinating, you’ll find this Taiwanese cucumber salad comes out crunchy, refreshing, and bursting with a bit of heat. The aromatic sesame oil, chili oil, and thinly sliced raw garlic and red bell pepper (or fresh Fresno chili) add another layer of flavor to this simple but elegant side dish.
It's a milder version of a Chinese cucumber salad recipe. Perfectly paired with a quick miso soup recipe or even pork rib bitter melon soup.
If you’d like to go in a different direction for your meal, whip up a simple purple radish salad and enjoy both veggie salads alongside a protein.
Top it all off with a refreshing taro boba milk tea!
🥒 why this is the best copycat recipe
Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐 (also lovingly called “DTF” by super fans like me) is a popular Taiwanese restaurant that I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy at several of its locations. Like most people who dine with DTF, I fell in love with the cucumber salad.
I can assure you - as a Taiwanese chef and foodie - this recipe has the same flavor as Din Tai Fung cucumbers, and there’s no vinegar required! Although the cucumber tastes lightly pickled, and I’ve seen many copycat recipes use vinegar, that’s not correct.
Vinegar dressing certainly tastes good, but it doesn’t provide the Din Tai Fung flavor I set out to achieve. If you've never dined at DTF before, this is still a flavorful Asian cucumber salad that you'll love.
I hope you enjoy this delightful side dish and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve also dined at DTF!
📋 key ingredients
Most ingredients in this recipe are simple kitchen staples, but I have included some additional elements that will add dimension and a spicier flavor if you're interested.
- Persian cucumbers - use Persian cucumbers or another seedless variety like English cucumbers.
- Taiwanese mushroom powder (optional) - commonly used in vegetarian Taiwanese foods. I use this mushroom powder but it can also be found at Taiwanese or Chinese grocery stores like 99 Ranch Market or online at Weee! (affiliate link)
- red bell pepper or red Fresno chili (optional) - you can use a red bell pepper for additional crunch and flavor, or use a red Fresno chili for all of that and some heat.
- sesame oil - this toasted sesame oil provides an aromatic nutty and earthy flavor to balance the sweetness in the dressing.
- salt - I use the Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt (affiliate link) in most recipes since it has lower sodium levels, making it easier to layer the seasoning without accidentally oversalting a dish. It can be found in some grocery stores. ✴️ If using table salt or sea salt, use half of the amount listed in the recipe.
- garlic cloves - peeled and thinly sliced
- chili oil
- warm water
See the printable recipe card for quantities.
This recipe is so simple that it already fits most dietary preferences. If you'd like to make some swaps based on ingredient availability or flavor, I have some suggestions below.
- cucumber - use another seedless variety like English cucumber or Japanese cucumber.
- salt - if using a different salt than Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt, use half the amount.
- non-spicy - omit the chili oil and use red bell pepper instead of Fresno chili (optional).
I’m going to go through each step in detail below, including step-by-step photos of how to cut the cucumbers and bell peppers. In a hurry? You can jump straight to the printable recipe.
Begin by preparing the cucumber and garlic.
Cut your Persian cucumber into ¾-inch thick slices.
Add the sliced cucumber to a medium container or bowl. Sprinkle the slices with salt and toss to combine. Let sit for 25 minutes.
While the cucumber is resting in the salt, slice your garlic cloves into thin slices.
The garlic slices should be around ¼-inch thick.
Next, combine the sugar water dressing.
Pour warm water into a small bowl filled with the sugar.
Stir the water and sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved.
hint: If using the mushroom powder (which is optional), you can add it to the bowl and stir it with the sugar and water.
Then, slice the bell (or Fresno) pepper.
If using red bell pepper, cut the bell pepper into slices and remove the seeds.
Hold a slice of the pepper flat on a cutting board and slice it with a chef's knife parallel to the cutting board.
If using a Fresno pepper, wear gloves to cut off and discard the top with the stem attached. Cut the Fresno chili into quarters lengthwise, remove the pith inside along with the seeds with a knife, and cut each strip into 1-inch pieces.
Slice the red bell pepper close to the skin to create a thin strip.
Then, chop the bell pepper (skin side) into ¼-inch wide pieces.
pro tip: Taste the salted cucumber after it’s been sitting for 25 minutes and adjust based on your preferences. If you find that it’s a bit too salty for you, you can rinse the salted cucumber slices and pat them dry before dressing.
Now, dress the cucumber.
Plate the cucumber and top them with the sugar water mixture.
Add the sliced garlic and red bell pepper (sliced chili pepper if using).
Dress the cucumber salad with sesame oil and chili oil.
Finally, serve at room temperature or allow it to chill in the refrigerator to serve later.
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The equipment required to make this recipe is as delightfully simple as Din Tai Fung salad itself!
The dressed cucumber salad is best enjoyed the day of but it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
💭 top expert tip
Use a salt like Diamond Crystal kosher salt (affiliate link) that has almost half the amount of sodium of other salts so that you can easily adjust the seasoning to your liking. If you only have a different salt on hand, start with half the amount of salt listed in this recipe.
For this cucumber salad recipe, you'll need to use seedless varieties with a thinner skin/peel such as Persian, English, or Japanese cucumbers.
It's best served fresh, but you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day. You can also marinate the cucumbers for up to a day before dressing them if you'd like, although it's certainly not necessary to salt them for that long.
No, you don't need to peel the cucumber for this salad. I like to leave the peel on for texture and presentation, but you can take it off if you feel strongly about it. However, you may want to peel it if using a different type of cucumber that has a thicker peel.
🍲 serve it with these taiwanese dishes
Enjoy it with a main dish and soup if you'd like:
👨🍳 COOKING WITH KIDS
What can kid chefs help with?
- Chopping the cucumbers (with supervision)
- Stirring the sugar water together
- Pouring the dressing over the salad and adding the garlic slices
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
Happy cooking! ~ Cin
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Please give this recipe a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ if you make it. I would love to hear from you! If you have any questions at all, let me know in the comments below.
Din Tai Fung cucumber salad
- 3 Persian cucumbers, cut into ¾-inch (20 millimeters) thick slices (substitute English cucumbers), about 1 pound
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt, (use half the amount if using sea salt or table salt)
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon mushroom powder, optional
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 1 fresno chili pepper, optional (can substitute with red bell pepper)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon chili oil
*The Instacart button above is an affiliate link, which means we do make a small profit from your purchases (your price is not affected by this commission).
- Add sliced cucumber to a medium container or bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss to combine. Let sit for 25 minutes.3 Persian cucumbers, 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Meanwhile, mix the sugar, mushroom powder (if using), and warm water in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.3 teaspoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon mushroom powder, 3 tablespoons warm water
- After 25 minutes, pat the cucumbers dry and leave the liquid in the container/bowl to discard. Taste the cucumber to check for saltiness. If it tastes too salty based on your personal preference, rinse the cucumbers with cold water and then pat dry again.
- If using fresno or red bell pepper – Wearing gloves, cut off and discard the top with the stem attached. Cut the fresno chili into quarters lengthwise, remove the pith inside along with the seeds with a knife, and cut each strip into 1-inch pieces. For a red bell pepper, cut the stem side off and cut a 1-inch wide strip. Place the strip flat on a cutting board and slice it close to the skin from left to right with a chef's knife held parallel to the cutting board.1 fresno chili pepper
- Plate the cucumber and top with the sugar water mixture, sliced garlic, sliced chili pepper (if using), sesame oil, and chili oil.2 cloves garlic, 1½ teaspoon sesame oil, ½ teaspoon chili oil
- Serve at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator to serve later.
equipment and highlighted ingredients
🌡️ food safety
- Wash hands before touching ready-to-eat foods such as ingredients in a salad
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods