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Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)

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This Korean cucumber salad is a quick and easy recipe with both spicy and tangy notes, for a truly delicious culinary journey. Naturally gluten-free and vegan.

Close shot of sliced cucumbers tossed in a red dressing.

🥒 What is Korean Cucumber Salad?

There are a few different variations of a cucumber salad in Korean cuisine. This Korean cucumber salad is one of the spicier and richer varieties of Korean cucumber salad to be found and features the Korean chili flakes gochugaru. This salad is also known as “oi muchim” or “oi saengche”. It is also considered a “banchan” which is a small Korean side dish that can be served alongside rice.

A silver fork holds a cucumber slice coated in chili flakes.

❤️ Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • This Korean cucumber salad recipe is super easy to make.
  • You can serve it as an appetizer, or side dish, or if you’re anything like me, it makes a great main dish, too (I can so just sit and eat a large bowl)!
  • This salad has a refreshing crunch.
  • The flavors of this cucumber salad include sweet, salty, umami, and spicy. It is complex and delicious!
  • You can make this salad and enjoy it right away or make it ahead of time and refrigerate it.
  • Naturally vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
A wooden spoon rests in a white bowl filled with a cucumber salad.

🌶️ Ingredients and Substitutes

Cucumbers: If you cannot find Korean cucumbers, Persian cucumbers work very well as far as replicating the taste of Korean cucumbers. Otherwise, Kirby cucumbers or even English cucumbers will get the job done.

Garlic: Minced garlic really works well with the gochugaru and adds immense flavor.

Green onion: Green onions contributes greatly to both the flavor and texture of this recipe. If you do not have green onion, you can use chives, red or white onion, or a shallot instead.

Salt: I like to use sea salt or pink Himalayan salt in this recipe for the best results.

Gochugaru: Gochugaru are Korean red chili flakes. They have a mildly spicy, smoky flavor and are highly recommended for this recipe. You can use conventional red pepper flakes for a still tasty recipe, but the flavor will be different than the more traditional Korean flavors intended in this recipe.

Soy sauce: Soy sauce adds some umami notes and some saltiness. Use gluten-free soy sauce if necessary, and while the flavor will be slightly different coconut aminos taste really wonderful in this recipe, too, and makes a suitable substitute.

Toasted sesame oil: Toasted sesame oil is very different than regular sesame oil so I do recommend using the toasted variety in this recipe for best results.

Brown rice syrup: I like to use brown rice syrup in this recipe as it is very similar to traditional Korean rice syrup. If you do not have either of these, use any sweetener you have on hand instead.

Rice vinegar: Rice vinegar adds some acidity to this salad. Feel free to use any vinegar you have on hand instead.

Sesame seeds: Toasted sesame seeds add a delightful flavor and crunch to finish off this salad. You can buy pre-toasted sesame seeds or simply place raw sesame seeds in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, or until they smell toasty.

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A close shot of Korean cucumber salad resting in a large white bowl.

🔪 How to Make Korean Cucumber Salad

Cucumber slices topped with pink salt.
Slices of cucumber in a white bowl with sliced green onions and garlic.
Cucumber slices topped with red pepper flakes.
Slices of cucumber topped with sesame seeds.
Cucumber slices topped with various ingredients.
A cucumber salad with a vibrant red sauce.
  1. You will start by salting the sliced cucumbers, then draining excess moisture.
  2. You will then toss the cucumber slices with the remaining ingredients.
  3. You can enjoy it right away or chill it in the refrigerator.

🥡 Storage

This Korean cucumber salad will keep stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

A wooden spoon stick out of an Asian cucumber salad resting in a large white bowl.

🍽️ Serving Ideas

Traditionally, this dish is commonly served alongside some white rice and other assorted small side dishes like cucumber kimchi, bean sprouts, pickled veggies, bok choy, or radish salad.

Some other ways to enjoy it:

  • Include it in a cheese quesadilla.
  • Use it to top off french fries (no, really!!).
  • Serve alongside soup.
  • Top off a slice of pizza (so good!).

❓Frequently Asked Questions

What is gochugaru?

Gochugaru are Korean red pepper flakes made from the Korean red chile now as “gochu”. You can find it in both coarse flake form and chili powder form. It is commonly used in the Korean chile paste known as gochujang.

What are Korean cucumbers?

Korean cucumbers are thin-skinned, slightly sweet cucumbers used in Korean cuisine.

Is Korean cucumber salad spicy?

Korean cucumber salad is mild to medium spicy depending on how much gochugaru is used.

Close shots of cucumber slices drenched in a red dressing.

🥗 More Delicious Salad Recipes

Korean Cucumber Salad

This Korean cucumber salad is a quick and easy recipe with both spicy and tangy notes, for a truly delicious culinary journey. Naturally gluten-free and vegan.
5 from 55 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizers, Sides
Cuisine: Korean
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Kristen Wood


  • 2 Korean, Kirby or Persian cucumbers thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons gochugaru Korean chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons brown rice syrup or Korean rice syrup or any sugar/sweetener of choice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds you can toast raw sesame seeds for a few minutes in a dry skillet over medium heat or buy pre-toasted sesame seeds


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the sliced cucumber and salt.
  • Toss to coat, then allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • After ten minutes, squeeze the cucumbers with your hands and discard all excess liquid.
  • Add the garlic, onion, gochugaru, sesame oil, brown rice syrup, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame seeds.
  • Toss all to coat.
  • Enjoy!


Please see the full post above this recipe card for valuable information!


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 40kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 395mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 356IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 0.4mg

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Recipe Rating



  1. 5 stars
    I am a fan of spicy food and so, I had to make this salad immediately! It was super easy to make and took no effort! I ate the whole bowl by myself, it was that good. I served it as a side to stir fry and rice.

  2. 5 stars
    I grow cucumbers and always search for new recipes. This one is a keeper, I love the Korean chili flakes that add a nice spicy kick to the salad.

  3. 5 stars
    I loooved the spicy kick to this recipe, and the whole dish had such amazing authentic flavor. Loved every bite, and so did my guy! Yum!

  4. 5 stars
    Oh I loved this salad. i made for our lunch and everybody. loved it. This inspired me to cook more often Korean food.

  5. 5 stars
    This is my new favourite salad! I have it even for a snack sometimes. It is so easy to make and packs easily for my work lunch.

  6. 5 stars
    Mmm. This sounds fantastic! I mostly use gochugaru on a grilled zucchini recipe we love, but I am so glad to have another great way to use it!

  7. 5 stars
    This was the best version of cucumber salad I have made at home! I usually make a fairly simple version, but it will definitely be getting replaced with this from now on!

  8. 5 stars
    I made this as a side with chicken, bok choy and rice, and it brought everything together! It was just the right amount of spice and flavor, so even my spice-avert husband enjoyed it

  9. 5 stars
    Cucumber salad is always a favorite and I loved this Korean cucumber salad. Love all the flavors and the spicy kick. Yum!

  10. 5 stars
    These are all the flavors I absolutely love! I’m always needing good cucumber recipes as we get so many in the garden, and this is perfect. Thanks!

  11. 5 stars
    I had to get the last few ingredients from my local Asian grocery store but I’m glad I did! I looooved this salad! It was fresh, crunchy, a bit spicy, and tangy. So good!