Spicy-Sweet Pickled Cucumbers

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These pickled cucumbers are inspired by the spicy-sweet pickles served at Saffron, a popular Thai takeaway in San Diego. Use thin-skinned Japanese, Persian, English or pickling cucumbers, and slice them as thinly as possible. If you have a mandolin or Japanese slicer, this a good time to use it; otherwise, just use a razor-sharp chef’s knife. Serve these pickled cucumbers as a refreshing summer side dish, or use them as a condiment in sandwiches and tacos. They’d be delicious on a sandwich or tortilla with Grass-Fed Beef Bulgogi and Fiery-Sweet Peach Salsa.


Spicy-Sweet Pickled Cucumbers

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 1 quart

If you happen to have a mandoline or Japanese slicer, use that to slice your cucumbers. Otherwise, use your sharpest knife and slice them as thinly as you can.


  1. 2 cups rice wine vinegar
  2. 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  3. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 medium limes)
  4. 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  5. 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  6. 1 pound Japanese, Persian, English or pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick or thinner)
  7. 1/2 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
  8. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Combine cucumbers, onion, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Add vinegar mixture and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 45 minutes before serving, or transfer cucumber mixture to a clean jar and refrigerate up to 5 days.


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  • Smaiolini

    These were fantastic, and easy! The longer they sat, the hotter they got.  They lasted a good two weeks.

    • Anonymous

      Great to have around, aren’t they!

  • SEO Software

    this looks beautifully simple! i have bookmarked this, thank you for sharing

  • haroutk

    Can I make it without the sugar? This looks amazing but not a fan of sweet pickles. It’s an Armenian thing.

    • liahuber

      You totally could!

  • Trena McClelland Oyler

    If I replace sugar with honey, would you suggest an equal amount?

    • liahuber

      I would, Trena. It won’t have quite the same taste, but will still be delicious. You could also try alternative sugars like coconut sugar or sucanat.

      • Trena McClelland Oyler

        Thank you Lia. I’m working at eliminating sugar from my diet as much as possible. I remember, I bought some Demerara washed raw cane sugar. Perhaps that, or maple syrup would be sweeter.

  • anukampa dubey

    This looks awesome. I was looking for a perfect pickled cucumber recipe and your not only looks great but also sounds so simple and well defined. Thanks for sharing. will try on friday and tag you once I post it.