Do you love pickles, but hate to wait? Quick Pickled Cucumber with Lemon is that special condiment for your next barbeque or bowl. These Asian-style pickles with lemon are ready in less than 20 minutes!
Most pickles take days to age before they are eaten. But these are ready in minutes and contain just 5 ingredients: cucumber, lemon, water, sugar, and salt.
Years ago, I was very lucky to learn a little bit of Asian cooking from a lovely Japanese woman, who was masterful at putting a dinner together that hit every taste you would want in your meal. To balance the salt and savory components on the plate, her meals always included some sort of tsukemono, a preserved, pickled vegetable.
Sometimes, it was daikon radish, cabbage, or burdock root. But my favorite was always her quick pickled cucumber. Added to a meal of rice, meat, and veg, they are the perfect refresher for your palate. These pickles refresh your taste buds the same way wine can enhance food and make your palate ready for another bite.
I love that this particular pickle adds lovely lemony acidity and brightness and they are so quick and easy to make! They only need 15 minutes in the pickling liquid, which means you can make them just before making the rest of your meal and they will be ready to serve by the time you sit down to eat.
These quick Asian pickles contain just 5 ingredients. The pickling liquid is sweet and lemony that has just 4 ingredients that is poured over a thinly sliced English cucumber. The garnishes are totally optional. But since fresh lemon juice is needed for the pickling liquid, I generally remove the zest before juicing the lemon and use it.
For the Pickling Liquid:
- White Vinegar - White vinegar has just the right acidity.
- White Granulated Sugar - For just the right sweetness use white granulated sugar.
- Salt - Simple table salt is perfect for these pickles.
- Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice - Always use fresh lemon juice and not bottled juice.
For the Pickled Cucumber:
- English Cucumber - Also called a "burpless cucumber", the English cucumber has a texture that makes an excellent quick pickle.
- Lemon Zest or Thinly Sliced Nori - The zest from the lemon is an excellent garnish as it signals the lemon flavor of the pickles. Thinly sliced nori is a dried edible seaweed that adds color contrast and subtle seasoning.
Please see the recipe card for the exact quantities.
For the Pickling Liquid:
In a small saucepan mix together white vinegar, granulated sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add lemon juice and stir well.
For the Pickled Cucumber:
Thinly slice the cucumber either crosswise in discs or lengthwise into ribbons. Place the sliced cucumber in a non-metallic medium bowl or container and pour the pickling liquid over the cucumber.
Let the pickles stand at least 15 minutes before serving. Refrigerate, if desired.
Serve the lemony pickles with a garnish with lemon zest or finely sliced nori (dried edible seaweed).
A mandoline makes thin accurate slices and takes just minutes to cut the cucumber. I purchased mine around 40 years ago and it still works great. It is a kitchen tool I can't imagine not having, as it significantly cuts my work time in the kitchen when I need to thinly slice vegetables like cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, and beets. If you choose to use a mandoline, be sure to always use the food guard and/or a hand protector to prevent serious and painful cuts.
Make-Ahead & Storage
These pickles are meant to be eaten within minutes of them being made for the freshest taste. So, this particular recipe is not meant to be a make-ahead recipe since the cucumber is pickled so quickly. However, you can make the pickling liquid in advance, to have it ready when you need it. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
If you have left-over pickles you can store them in a covered non-metallic container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, the cucumbers will have a different texture.
More Delicious Side Dish Recipes
Quick Pickled Cucumber with Lemon
- ½ Cup White Vinegar
- ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1 Large English Cucumber
- Lemon Zest or Thinly Sliced Nori Seaweed
- In a small saucepan mix together white vinegar, granulated sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add lemon juice and stir well.
- Thinly slice the cucumber either crosswise in discs or lengthwise into ribbons. Place the sliced cucumber in a non-metallic medium bowl or container and pour the pickling liquid over the cucumber.
- Let the pickles stand at least 15 minutes before serving. Refrigerate, if desired.
- Serve the lemony pickles with a garnish with lemon zest and/or finely sliced nori.
Nutrition Per Serving
All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.