I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of Persian cucumber substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
English or Japanese cucumbers are the best substitutes for Persian cucumbers because they also have thin skins and small seeds. Kirby cucumbers are great substitutes for pickling. If you’re open to using other vegetables, try zucchini, jicama, or celery.
I made different batches of shirazi salad (it’s simple but delicious if you haven’t tried it) to put several different Persian cucumber substitutes to the test.
Persian cucumbers are smaller than the average cucumber and have very few seeds. They’re also extra crunchy and less watery than standard cucumbers. These characteristics make them popular for salads, sandwiches, pickling, and even stir-fries.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|English cucumbers||Very similar||10/10|
|Japanese cucumbers||Very similar||10/10|
|Other cucumber varieties||Kirby or American||8/10|
|Bell peppers||Use a mix of red and green||6/10|
English cucumbers make the best stand-ins for Persian cucumbers.
They’re a very common variety, so you’ll have no trouble finding them (they’re normally wrapped in plastic in grocery stores). And they share a lot of characteristics with Persian cucumbers. They have smooth, thin skins, a pleasantly mild sweet flavor, and not too many seeds.
One difference is that English cucumbers are more watery than Persian cucumbers, which means they make for softer pickles and won’t hold up as well in a stir fry. But in my fresh Shirazi salad, I couldn’t tell the difference.
English cucumbers are also bigger than Persian cucumbers, so they’ll go further!
How to substitute: replace Persian cucumbers in a 1:1 ratio with chopped English cucumbers.
These exotic cucumbers are another great Persian cucumber substitute. You can recognize a Japanese cucumber from its thin body and dark green, bumpy skin. The length is generally somewhere between an English and a Persian cucumber.
Just like Persian cucumbers, they have small, undeveloped seeds, keeping your dishes from becoming too watery. In terms of flavor, Japanese cucumbers are sweet without any of the bitterness you might find with other cucumbers.
But to be honest, once you’ve mixed the cucumbers into your dish, most people won’t be able to pick up on this.
The one downside is that they’re less common than English cucumbers. But if you’re into gardening, they’re very easy to grow at home!
How to substitute: replace Persian cucumbers in a 1:1 ratio with chopped Japanese cucumbers.
Other cucumber varieties
English and Japanese cucumbers are the best substitutes for Persian cucumbers, but don’t let that stop you from trying out other cucumber varieties.
Kirby cucumbers are great if you’re looking to pickle the cucumber because they have slightly thicker skins and a really crunchy texture. Sometimes they might even be labeled as “pickling cucumbers”, but their crisp texture was great in my salad too.
American cucumbers are very common in (you guessed it) North America. The skins can be tough and waxy, so I would recommend peeling them. And they have larger seeds than Persian cucumbers. The flavor is also more bitter.
Cucumbers with larger seeds will be more watery. If you’re worried about the extra moisture, you can salt the cucumbers before using them to draw out the water. I didn’t do this for my salad because I knew I would be eating it right away, but I would if I was planning to keep the salad for a day or two.
How to substitute: replace Persian cucumbers in a 1:1 ratio with other chopped cucumber varieties.
Time to move away from other types of cucumber!
Jicama is often described as a cross between a potato and a pear and is great for replicating the refreshing crunch of Persian cucumbers. It has a sweeter, more nutty flavor than Persian cucumbers, but it’s still neutral enough to work well in most salads, wraps, or sandwiches. It’s also great for eating with dips.
The texture is crisp and juicy, and a major advantage of jicama is that you can cook with it. As long as you don’t overcook it, it will keep its crisp texture.
Psst… I also tested the best jicama substitutes, which you can read about here.
How to substitute: replace Persian cucumbers in a 1:1 ratio with jicama.
Zucchinis can be mistaken for cucumbers because of their similar shape and color.
Storytime – I did this once when I was supposed to be picking up zucchini for a pasta dish, but when I sliced into it, I discovered I had a cucumber! Luckily, because they’re pretty similar, I was able to adapt my dish.
Zucchini is mostly eaten cooked, but it’s perfectly safe to eat raw too and you can swap it out for cucumber in any salad.
Raw zucchinis have a sweet, grassy flavor that can take some getting used to, but I’ve come to really like it over time. In terms of texture, raw zucchini is not crisp or juicy like cucumber and is denser. But as long as you have other juicy ingredients, this isn’t a problem.
Psst… you can pickle zucchini too.
How to substitute: replace Persian cucumbers with the same volume of zucchini.
If you’re willing to take a more unconventional route, celery is a decent substitute for Persian cucumbers. It has the same fresh and juicy qualities as cucumbers and, like Persian cucumbers, doesn’t get too watery.
The only thing to be wary of is the flavor. Some people really hate celery because it can taste earthy and green (and it’s a lot stronger than cucumbers). I’m in the celery fan club though, and thought it made for a delicious and interesting Shiraz salad.
How to substitute: replace Persian cucumbers with the same volume of celery.
Here’s a substitute that might surprise you: bell peppers. Bell peppers have a nice, crunchy bite like Persian cucumbers and differ in flavor depending on the color.
I used a mixture of red and green peppers in my salad. Green peppers have a grassy, bitter flavor. While red bell peppers are more sweet so they balanced each other out. And like celery, you don’t need to worry about them getting watery.
I may not have fooled anyone by using bell peppers in my Shirazi salad, but it still turned out great.
How to substitute: replace Persian cucumbers with the same volume of green bell peppers.
Substitutes to avoid
I came across a lot of suggestions for Persian cucumber substitutes, but not all of them were good suggestions.
I saw iceberg lettuce mentioned a few times as a potential substitute. While the stalks of the lettuce have a similar crunch to Persian cucumbers, most of the lettuce is leafy and not at all like a cucumber.
Ingredients like fennel and radish were also suggested a few times, but I think these are too strongly flavored to stand in for mild cucumbers. These ingredients would quickly overpower your dish and become the main flavor. A mild daikon radish could be okay though!
Best Persian Cucumber Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- 1 cup chopped English cucumber
- 1 cup chopped Japanese cucumber
- 1 cup chopped other cucumber varieties
- 1 cup chopped zucchinis
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen Persian cucumber substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.