Creamy cucumber salad the French way

Cucumber salad with cream. This refreshing easy salad is a staple of French bistrot and home cooking.

Known as concombre à la crème in French, very refreshing served chilled, this dish only needs a few ingredients. The miracle of this dish is due to the balance of ingredients: smooth crème fraîche and crunchy cucumber; fresh herb and light seasoning.
Here is the recipe my mother-in-law always prepared for my husband, it’s one of his favorite starters.

How to serve this cucumber with cream sauce

I’m not sure creamy cucumber salad has its origins in France but it is for sure a staple of French home cooking prepared in any family, in daily life, or for more formal occasions.

  • It’s a perfect starter to serve
  • as part of assiète de crudité (mixed raw vegetable platter), as a starter (appetizer called entrée in France),
  • but also as a side for a dish such as a quiche or a savory loaf or grilled meat or fish at a barbecue party on a hot day.
  • Light and crunchy this chilled salad is also perfect for a picnic or pot lucks.
  • You can also use it as an ingredient for a dish inserted for example in a sandwich.

How to make cucumber salad like in France

There are two ways to prepare cucumber: as in this recipe with cream-based sauce (and no extra seasoning for me, some recipes add a bit of oil, lemon juice, and vinegar) or simply with vinaigrette dressing. If so I would suggest apple cider vinegar and a good olive oil.

But first, the secret of this recipe is to salt cut up cucumber beforehand.

Why salting cucumber?

To prevent cucumbers from getting watery in the salad. Cucumbers are naturally composed of a lot of water.
Adding salt and leaving for half an hour to one hour helps to draw out water, removes some of the vegetable vegetation water from the flesh.
This helps to prevent the water from coming out in the dish and soaking the sauce and to make them nice and crunchier. A crisp texture.

Some say it makes it more digestible, but I’m not sure.

Thankfully this extra step is very quick and easy and requires no specific cooking skills.

Don’t worry, salting cucumber won’t make your salad salty if you don’t leave it in salt for too long and if you rinse well. It will make your salad nicely seasoned.

how to prepare cucumber

Information on the directions

You can use cucumber unpeeled (completely unpeeled or peeled just a few stripes) but I would recommend this only if it’s organic or from a local producer you know and trust. Otherwise, it’s better to peel the cucumber.

To salt and drain the cucumber, slice the cucumber thinly, and place it in a colander or bowl, or directly in a strainer, with coarse salt, ideally sea salt.
The amount is about 1 tablespoon per large cucumber.
Some use fine salt but I’ve always been told by the elder around me that it’s better with coarse sea salt. I don’t know which is the best so I just follow the family recipe.

Gently toss to coat all slices of cucumber with salt then leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

After one hour, rinse thoroughly under cold water and dry your cucumber slices well in a clean cloth. You may also use paper towels.

If you don’t want to use salt, just place the cut cucumber on a paper towel, cover and tap well to remove some of the vegetation water.

add cream and fresh herbs to cucumber for a perfect salad

Which ingredient to use instead of crème fraîche?

In France we use crème fraîche (not liquid crème fleurette), or fromage blanc. Sometimes yaourt / yogurt.

I am using heavy cream with 30% fat, but you can use low-fat cream. Or substitute with sour cream, cottage cheese, or plain Greek yogurt.
Either the full amount of one of the above-mentioned ingredients or make half cream – half yogurt.

As you wish but don’t forget we are looking for the creaminess of the dressing. Heavy cream makes the salad dressing creamy and smooth.

Note that even if prepared this way cucumber will release less vegetation water, once you stir in crème fraîche, and after the salad sits for a while before being served, the cream tends to liquefy and loses its creaminess.
To avoid this if you prepare this dish in advance, you can add cream before serving.

Add fresh herb and onion or shallot

Fresh herbs

Dill or chives. Here again, as a family recipe, we use dill. It’s more common in France to see this recipe with chives.
You can choose the aromatic herb you like the most or that you have at your disposal: chopped chives, mint, fresh thyme, basil, chervil, cilantro…

Onion or shallot

Spring onion may be replaced with shallot. Avoid onion with too strong taste.

Additional seasoning

To reinforce the seasoning, you may add 1 teaspoon of mustard, a dash of lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar (or balsamic vinegar cream).
I sometimes like a drizzle of good olive oil which gives a bit of roundness to the sauce. It’s up to you.
Have fun with adaptations to your own taste.

french style cucumber with cream
chives or dill in the creamy cucumber salad
concombre with cream French starter salad

French Creamy Cucumber Salad

This refreshing easy tasty salad is a staple of French bistrot and home cooking. The secret to preventing cucumber from watering the sauce is to salt them beforehand. I give you the explanations and substitutes for cream, herbs…
4.50 de 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Rest 30 minutes
Course Salad, Starter
Cuisine French


  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 200 gr crème fraîche or Greek yogurt
  • 1 spring onion or shallot
  • 1/2 bunch herbs dill or chives
  • pepper (black)


Prepare cucumber

  • Rinse and peel the cucumbers. Then chop cucumber. Using a mandolin, a food processor or knife, make thin slices. Eventually, if you want to remove the inside seeds; cut cucumbers lengthwise and remove the seeds.
  • Place the cucumber slices and coarse salt in a colander or any bowl. Gently toss to coat all slices of cucumber. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, rinse thoroughly. Dry the cucumber then dry them with a clean cloth or some paper towel.

Prepare the cucumber salad

  • Arrange the cucumber slices in a salad bowl, add the cream. Combine.
  • Chop chives or dill and spring onion. Add to cucumbers (keep a few sprigs for decoration).
  • Taste and season with a little freshly ground pepper.


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Bon appétit !

4.50 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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