Cucumbers and Honey

Have you ever tasted a slice of cucumber dipped in honey? The combination reveals that at its heart, cucumber is  a fruit.

While the pairing of cucumber and honey may sound like an invention of young Danish chefs, it’s a classical Ukrainian duo and the ultimate taste of summer. By the time my great-grandmother was ready to harvest the first batch of cucumbers from the vines, the mild acacia honey would become available at the market, and the two went perfectly together, an earthy green and floral fragrance and the taste of sea and violet leaves in one mouthful. I couldn’t even unravel which nuance was of the cucumber and which of the honey.

The memory of this childhood snack accosted me one rainy day in Brussels and I wondered how the greenhouse cucumbers might stand up to the test. And fared well they did. Honey brings out their natural sweetness and offsets the green notes. Something as ordinary as a cucumber becomes much more interesting.

If you have access to something other than the giant green cucurbits packed in plastic, you’re in for a treat. The best way to try cucumbers with honey is the simplest. You only need a few cucumbers and a jar of honey. You can figure out what to do next. The small cucumbers with seeds barely formed are the sweetest. I sometimes also grab a salt cellar and sprinkle a few grains on top for an extra briny jolt and crunch.

Should you want a fancier variation, try slicing cucumbers into batons and covering them with a dressing of honey, mild extra-virgin olive oil, ground pepper and salt. A few drops of orange blossom water in the dressing will give your cucumber salad a musky twist. Flower water with cucumbers is also part of culinary classical traditions, albeit one from even further East–Persia.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Michaela: How simple yet strange! Never thought of this pairing. I’ll try it soon, for sure. Than you for sharing! June 16, 2017 at 8:54am Reply

    • Victoria: It makes cucumbers taste like melon. Do try it. June 19, 2017 at 2:54am Reply

      • Michaela: I did! It is going to be this summer’s sensation for me!
        Cucumbers and melons belong to the same botanic family, but who could have imagined they could share a similar taste?!
        Thank you! June 22, 2017 at 7:38am Reply

        • Victoria: I’m so happy to hear it! It’s so much fun to play with tastes like this. June 22, 2017 at 7:42am Reply

  • Karen A: Sounds like a good perfume idea for summer! June 16, 2017 at 10:02am Reply

    • katherine x: Great idea indeed! June 18, 2017 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Doesn’t it? 🙂 June 19, 2017 at 2:54am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I can’t wait to try this. My summer cucumber dish is to dice them with diced fresh ripe tomatoes, a sweet Bermuda onion, and spring onions with a dressing of white vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper. June 16, 2017 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I also love such summer salads. June 19, 2017 at 2:54am Reply

  • Jillie: What an excellent idea! I’ve been drizzling honey over our salad lately – it brings out the taste of tomatoes. Now I can’t wait to try it on cucumbers. June 16, 2017 at 10:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Tomato is another candidate for being treated as a fruit. In Portugal they make a delicious tomato jam, and I love Paula Wolfert’s recipe from her Slow Cooking book for the sesame tomato confit. June 19, 2017 at 2:55am Reply

  • Vishishta: I love cucumbers (and honey!). I have been eating a lot of cucumber sushi lately. They are so good for your skin! I love them marinated in rice vinegar and now I will combine them as you suggested. Thanks! June 16, 2017 at 11:57am Reply

    • penny: hi, this looks so interesting. I cannot wait to try it out, but I don,t grow my own, where else can one find these small cucumbers.I live in London I do not remember ever seeing them for sale. June 16, 2017 at 12:33pm Reply

      • SilverMoon: hi Penny,

        the Indian grocery shops that have a vegetable section often have them. Also some of the local farmers’ markets (at least in summer months). Bigger branches of supermarkets in areas with high ethnic diversity also tend to stock these.

        I remember one of my favourite salads as a child and teenager was grated cucumber with some plain yogurt and sugar. Refreshing! and as Victoria says cucumbers do great in a sweet setting. I shall certainly try them with honey. June 16, 2017 at 4:28pm Reply

        • penny: hi silver moon thanks so much for that i will definitely be on the lookout! cheers. June 17, 2017 at 7:47am Reply

        • Victoria: Raita with a touch of sugar is so good. June 19, 2017 at 3:00am Reply

      • Victoria: Also, check any Polish or Eastern European grocery store. At this time, they should have small cucumbers for pickling and eating fresh. June 19, 2017 at 2:57am Reply

        • penny: thank you Victoria and thanks for this website i love it. June 19, 2017 at 6:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you will like it! June 19, 2017 at 2:56am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Wow, I would never have thought about combining those 2 elements. I will try it for sure. I do love cucumbers and they are nicely fresh and sweet when fresh. June 16, 2017 at 12:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: It may seem unusual, but the result is so perfect. No wonder that it’s a classical pairing in Ukrainian cuisine. June 19, 2017 at 2:56am Reply

  • Gabriela: What a wonderful idea, I love honey. At home I use honey with artichokes, it’s delicious! June 16, 2017 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: How do you use honey with artichokes? June 19, 2017 at 2:57am Reply

      • Gabriela: I put them in a pan with thyme and pine nuts and at the end I put a tea spoon of honey to caramelize it. Try it! June 19, 2017 at 3:32am Reply

        • Victoria: It sounds so delicious. I will be sure to try it. June 20, 2017 at 8:33am Reply

  • Honey: I have tried! It tastes like melon;) I love cucumbers! This summer I discovered cucumber water, yummy!:) June 16, 2017 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it makes you discover how close cucumber is to melon. June 19, 2017 at 2:58am Reply

  • Tati: I love this idea. My mother always made me cucumber salad with a dressing of sour cream and dill. We update it now using yogurt but I love the smell of fresh dill. I will definitely try with the orange blossom water also. June 16, 2017 at 1:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is one of my favorite summer salads. I sometimes making it thinner, on a yogurt base, and eat it as a cold soup. June 19, 2017 at 2:58am Reply

  • Joy: This sounds so refreshing and energizing! Thank you! June 16, 2017 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Carla: Just today I felt a keen desire for summer cucumbers! Coincidence June 16, 2017 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Jeanne: Yum! I love honey drizzled on figs with blue cheese, and this combo sounds equally delicious. When our cucumbers ripen in the garden, I’ll try them with some honey. Thanks! June 16, 2017 at 3:29pm Reply

    • SilverMoon: hi Jeanne, have you ever tried figs with scrapes of fresh lemon zest and a little olive oil sprinkled over them? They are yummy and would probably work great alongside the combination you mention. June 16, 2017 at 4:32pm Reply

      • Jeanne: That sounds really good! I’ll try it soon! June 16, 2017 at 7:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t wait for the fig season. June 19, 2017 at 3:00am Reply

  • Clair: What a brilliant idea.This pairing sounds fantastic, and there are so many variables with the choices for both honey and cucumbers! I like the idea of the salt, too. My grandfather always salted his (homegrown) watermelon, which we laughed about as children. Now it makes perfect sense. I love the little Persian cucumbers when they are available in the summer. I am reminded of how melon-like cucumbers are. In Iran there is a melon which tastes a bit like honeydew, but is similar in texture to watermelon. Like cucumber, it is known for it’s cooling effect when eaten; another wonderful summer treat. June 16, 2017 at 5:01pm Reply

    • katherine x: My grandmother salted her watermelon too! It really pumps up the flavor. Thanks to her my son still eats his that way. The rest of us use lime or lemon to do the trick – on all types of melons including canteloupes. June 18, 2017 at 6:57pm Reply

      • Victoria: My grandmother makes pickled watermelon. It has such a piquant flavor. June 19, 2017 at 3:05am Reply

    • Victoria: My husband salts grapefruit and adds roasted cumin powder. It really makes the grapefruit taste sweeter.

      At the Korean grocery stores I’ve seen a type of melon which is small, yellow and oval. It has a firm, crunchy flesh and mild sweetness. So refreshing. June 19, 2017 at 3:02am Reply

      • katherine x: Your husband’s grapefruit combo sounds intriguing! Love cumin so will try this too. And you remind me my grandmother salted her grapefruit too! June 19, 2017 at 7:41am Reply

        • Victoria: In India, it’s common to add salt and chili powder to fruit salads. Makes them even more refreshing. June 20, 2017 at 8:35am Reply

  • Kate: It’s been so hot here in London today that when I got home this evening from work all I wanted was Watermelon and Feta salad, which I sprinkled with crunchy Maldon salt, rosewater and olive oil. It was delicious, but tomorrow evening I’ll be having cucumbers and honey- thank you Victoria for the inspiration! June 17, 2017 at 2:45pm Reply

    • Tati: Hi Kate, rosewater sounds incredible paired with watermelon and feta! Great suggestion. June 18, 2017 at 4:00pm Reply

    • katherine x: Kate that sounds really delicious. When I get my kitchen back I will try your recipe! June 18, 2017 at 7:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: This pairing sounds wonderful. I also must try it. June 19, 2017 at 3:03am Reply

  • kayliz: Beautiful idea, thank you! June 17, 2017 at 4:49pm Reply

  • Aurora: So timely, Victoria, there are beautiful locally grown cucumbers at the moment, this reminds me of the scrumptious red pepper salad you shared. It also makes me long for lavender honey from Provence, I will have to buy some when I go there in August. June 18, 2017 at 4:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Mmmm, there is nothing like the true lavender honey from Provence. A friend brought me some from her farm last year, and I can still recall its perfume. June 19, 2017 at 3:04am Reply

  • katherine x: We used to make a wonderful juice with cucumbers, honey, lime, and water. Thanks for the reminder! Look forward to trying your very simple duo as well. June 18, 2017 at 6:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: It sounds so refreshing. June 19, 2017 at 3:04am Reply

  • Austenfan: This sounds delish, and very feasible. I’ve got a ridiculous amount of interesting French Honeys and can easily get my hands on some good, although large, cucumbers. Thanks for the recipe! June 19, 2017 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Then you can have a honey flight with cucumbers, tasting different varieties. 🙂 June 20, 2017 at 8:47am Reply

      • Austenfan: I did acacia last night. Added some nice olive oil as well. It was a lovely snack, and all I felt like actually, it being so hot. June 20, 2017 at 9:03am Reply

        • Victoria: Acacia honey is the best, since it has a light melon-like note that really enhances the fruity flavor of cucumbers. I recall that my grandmother often used this type of honey. June 20, 2017 at 9:18am Reply

  • Eric Rodgers: I’ve not tried cucumbers solely with honey. But there is a simple salad I enjoy with fresh apricot slices, fresh blueberries, and slices of cucumber — usually miniature Kirbys, but I’d think lemon cucumber would also be nice. The mix is dressed lightly with clover honey, tarragon vinegar, fresh mint leaves, and a pinch of sea salt. Chill it for a few minutes for maximum refreshment on a hot summer day. April 4, 2019 at 11:26am Reply

    • Victoria: That sounds so good. I love the combination of berries and cucumbers, and I’ll definitely try this salad when we have decent apricots. April 4, 2019 at 12:45pm Reply

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