Tomato, Onion, and Cucumber Salad

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A Southern staple at barbecues, family gatherings, and reunions, we love the juicy and refreshing experience of eating this fresh tomato, onion, and cucumber salad!

Tomato, onion, and cucumber salad

If I had to describe the flavor of this salad in one word, I’d say refreshing. This is the embodiment of everything a body craves on a hot summer’s day. Well, everything a body craves that doesn’t come with a little paper umbrella in the glass! This simple and easy tomato, onion, and cucumber salad recipe features juicy tomato chunks, onion slices, and crunchy cucumber tossed in a delicious vinegar and sugar dressing. 

I recommend making this colorfully crisp and tangy summer salad in advance to let it fully marinate in the dressing. Then serve it at your next summer gathering and prepare to win over your friends and family! You can also have fun with this salad and add some interesting additions, which I mention in the Recipe Notes section below.

Recipe ingredients for tomato, onion, and cucumber salad.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Two freshly ripe tomatoes (can be whatever you have on hand – heirloom tomatoes, grape tomatoes…)
  • Two cucumber
  • One purple or red onion (or sweet onion, the choice is yours)
  • Sugar
  • Water, and…
  • White vinegar. Go for the cheap kind here, make me proud!

Cutting tomato into chunks.

Cut up your tomatoes.

You can cut the tomato in chunks, slices, or dice them. I’m doing tomato chunks because it’s pretty that way.

Cutting peeled cucumbers.

Peel and cut your cucumber. However, if you prefer you can also skip peeling your cucumber.

Cutting onion into large chunks.

Cut up your onion.

I slice mine and then cut the slices in half, still leaving pretty big pieces.

This way, those of you who don’t care for the raw onions can pick them out easily enough.

Tomato, onion, and cucumber in mixing bowl.

Dump all of that into a bowl. You can also opt to sprinkle these vegetables with sea salt and black pepper right now before adding the dressing.

Now we have to make our dressing.

For this, all we are going to do is combine equal parts water, vinegar, and sugar and stir it up.

I start with 1/2 cup of each but you can do more if you like. I wouldn’t do any less though.

Adding sugar to vinegar dressing mixture.

This is me adding my sugar to the vinegar and water mixture.

Stir that up good.

Recipe Tip

Don’t worry if your sugar isn’t dissolved all of the way because we’re going to let all of this marinate in the fridge for a spell before we eat.

Pouring vinegar mixture over tomato, onion, and cucumber in mixing bowl.

Pour this over your veggies and stir.

Covering salad to place in fridge overnight.

Cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

It will make more juice but I like to go give it a good stir after an hour or so.

Tomato, onion, and cucumber salad

Save some for me!


Store this tomato, onion, and cucumber salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

Recipe Notes

  • If you like, add some fresh herbs to your salad. Dried or fresh basil and oregano will give this salad recipe a Mediterranean feel, while I also like sprinkling fresh dill or parsley on top.
  • Other fun additions to make to this salad include crumbled feta cheese, chunks of avocado, bell pepper chunks, and mozzarella balls.
  • Instead of white vinegar, you could also use either red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. If you’re going for a Mediterranean-inspired salad, you can opt for balsamic vinegar too.
  • Another option is using cherry tomato halves instead of tomato chunks.

Recipe FAQs

What do you serve with tomato, onion, and cucumber salad?

Serve this refreshing salad with any grilled or barbecued meat and a side of crusty bread. My suggestions include grilled chicken tenderloins, pork chops, or slow-roasted beef brisket

Can you make this salad ahead of time?

Yes, I recommend refrigerating the salad for a few hours before serving to let the vinegar sink into the vegetables. So you could definitely make this in advance the night before.

You may also like these other sensational salad recipes:

Cucumber Salad Creamy and Delicious

Fresh Fruit Salad with Lemon Honey Dressing

Cornbread Salad Recipe

Low Carb Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

Tomato, onion, and cucumber salad

Tomato, Onion, and Cucumber Salad

Juicy and refreshing, this tomato, onion, and cucumber salad (also known as Fire and Ice salad) is a summer Southern staple.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: salad


  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 purple or red onion
  • water
  • white vinegar
  • sugar


  • Peel and slice cucumbers, and chop tomatoes and red onion. Combine all in a large bowl.
    2 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 1 purple or red onion
  • Mix up a dressing of equal parts vinegar, water, and sugar. I start with 1/2 cup each of my dressing ingredients.
    water, white vinegar, sugar
  • Pour the vinegar dressing over the vegetables and refrigerate (ideally overnight).
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!



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  1. I Am Not a fan of vinegar. But I have have mixed cukes & tomatoes before and loved it. So this sounded good and because it has the sugar to hide the vinegar taste i tried it. I Loved it, and my family loved it. I took some to work to share and they all loved it! I will be making this again, and again and probably again. 🙂 Thanks for another great one Christy

    1. Whew! After your first sentence, I was holding my breath until the end!!! I’m so glad you tried it, John! You know, I would have never in a million years tried it if I had just looked at the recipe first. I had it for the first time on a buffet (I think I talked about that in this post) and then hunted down the recipe. It is pretty stinking awesome, isn’t it? Hope you have a great day, you sure did brighten mine!

  2. This looks soooooooooooo good, and I am sharing it on Facebook. Christy, I just received your first cookbook. I have had the second one for some time and I just love the recipes I have made. I had never heard of you, your books, or your sites before, and when I first found you online, I just got the second book. I am loving all the pictures and recipes in the first book now, and waiting for that third one to be published. You are SUPER. I love all the inspirational posts you include too. Thank you, Christy!!!!!!!!!

    1. I am so glad you are enjoying the recipes Jeanie, thank you so much for all of your support!!! I hope you get the chance to make this salad soon, it is one of my all time favorites, especially at this time of year!

  3. My maternal grandmother used to make this. So, so YUMMY!!! She’d also use this same veggie combo, mixed with cottage cheese! ALSO YUMMY!!

  4. Throw in a handful of kalamata olives, some crumbled feta and a little cracked pepper and it’s a Greek Salad.

  5. My husband taught me to make this, but there are no tomatoes (poor guy hates them!). We use apple cider vinegar instead of white and lots of pepper!!! I always cut the onions big too, cuz I’m with your mama…pass on them always!!! I try to let the flavors mingle for 24 hours and you can find a Tupperware of this in the refrigerator all summer long – great snack for him when he’s all hot from working on the farm!!!

  6. I have made this for years but like the other Lady said tomatoes, cucumbers, red or Vidalia onions ( ALWAYS TEAR UP FRESH BASIL, which I grow every year & also use in Marinara sauce) & I sometimes add a little Feta cheese– then, I use Paul Newmans Balsamic Vinegarette ( just enough to coat it – don’t drench it) YUMBO! I make this a few times a week and since my friends liked it so much, they also make it frequently when fresh tomatoes & dukes are in season. Great side dish w/ Grilled Steak– Pork chops-hamburgers, anything you grill out!!

  7. Christy, just wanted to let you know (belatedly) how much my family enjoyed this salad for our Mother’s Day brunch. Hope you don’t mind that I gave away your recipe — I did give you credit! It was a refreshing addition to an egg bake and fruit salad menu. And a hit with my parents, my mother-in-law, my sister’s family, my brother’s family and my own household. Nice to have this one in mind as tomato and cucumber seasons gear up! I notice it made your email newsletter today…

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