Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 0 mins

Brining and Chill Time: 90 mins

Total: 100 mins

Servings: 4 servings

The Polish name for cucumbers in sour cream is mizeria, which means "misery." But this easy and delightful, cooling salad is anything but! It's a great accompaniment to pork, ham, chicken, and fish, and makes a tasty dish on a vegetarian buffet. This classic Polish dish also fits in nicely at a summer barbecue or potluck.

Aside from how delicious it is, the best thing about this salad is how easy it is to make. It requires just a handful of easy to find ingredients. Plus, it takes just 10 minutes of active prep time, though it does need some time to sit after you salt the cucumbers and to chill in the fridge before serving.

Why Is This Dish Called Mizeria?

The name of this dish is attributed to Queen Bona Sforza, an Italian princess who married Polish King Sigismund I in the 16th century. Homesick for her native Italy where cucumbers were common, she cried every time she ate this combination of cucumbers and sour cream. Hence the Polish word for "misery," derived from the Latin miseriae, was given to this dish. 

The Key Ingredients You Need to Make This Polish Cucumber Salad

  • Cucumbers: They’re the star of this dish! For this recipe, it is best to choose thin cucumbers with small seeds, like an English cucumber (or the seedless variety of cucumber), and dress the salad just before serving so the dish stays nice and crisp.
  • Fresh dill: There’s a reason cucumbers and dill are frequently paired—their fresh flavors perfectly complement each other. Fresh (not dried) dill is a must for this refreshing recipe. If you have extra, toss it into salads, sprinkle it over fish, or make this dill pesto.
  • Sour cream: Though you can technically make this recipe with reduced fat sour cream, for the best flavor and creamiest dressing, we suggest going for a full-fat variety.
  • Vinegar: Traditionally, vinegar is used in the dressing for mizeria, but we’ve made it optional here in case you prefer a thicker, less tangy dressing. That said, a little white vinegar really adds a wonderful dimension to this dish, so we recommend including it!
  • Sugar: Just a touch of sugar adds another flavor dimension to this salad and plays very nicely with the tart vinegar.
  • Salt: Salt makes just about everything taste better, but it also plays an important role in keeping the cucumbers crispy and the dressing creamy instead of watery (more on that below).

Cucumber Tip

For a pretty presentation, before peeling the cucumber, run a channel knife or a fork down the length of the cucumbers to create shallow grooves.

Why You Should Salt and Drain Your Cucumbers

Salting the cucumbers is an important step in this recipe that should not be skipped. Cucumbers hold a lot of water, which is what makes them so refreshing. But the water content will also make the dish they're used in soggy. Salting the cucumbers beforehand will pull out a lot of liquid, leaving nice crisp cucumber slices that are perfect for adding to any dish, especially those that include sour cream like this one.

To salt the cucumbers, place the sliced cucumbers in a colander and set the colander on a rimmed plate or in the sink so the juices don't run all over your counter. Then sprinkle the slices with salt, being sure to get salt on all of the slices. Allow them to sit for about 30 minutes, drain, and pat them dry, discarding the liquid.

“At first, I thought the dressing would be too sweet for my taste, but the cucumbers absorbed the salt during the 30-minute brining, so all the flavors were balanced, yet the dressing and cucumbers were distinct on their own.” —Diana Andrews

Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Cucumbers:

  • 1 large cucumber, with or without seeds, trimmed and peeled

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

For the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar, optional

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  2. Slice the cucumber thinly.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  3. Place the cucumber slices in a colander over a rimmed plate or over the sink and sprinkle with salt.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  4. Allow the salted cucumbers to stand for 30 minutes.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  5. While the cucumbers are sitting, make the dressing. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, sugar, vinegar (if using), and dill until well blended. (If you want to save on dirty dishes, you can also make the dressing in the bowl you plan to serve the cucumber salad in.)

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  6. Cover the dressing and refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  7. Pat the cucumbers dry, discarding any accumulated brine liquid on the plate.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  8. Place in a medium bowl and add the dressing. (Or, if you made the dressing in the serving bowl, add the cucumbers to the dressing.)

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  9. Toss with the cucumber slices.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  10. Taste the salad, then season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  11. Chill the cucumber salad until very cold, about 1 hour.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

  12. Garnish with additional dill before serving.

    Mizeria (Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream)

How to Store Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream

You can make these cucumbers in sour cream the night before you plan to serve them, chilling for several hours or up to overnight. Serve them while they are still crispy and cold from the fridge and don't let them sit out for too long. Leftovers will keep for up to two days before they start becoming too watery. Freezing this dish is not ideal.

Feeling Adventurous? Try This:

If you are out of sour cream or don’t want to use it, replace it with plain, full-fat regular yogurt or Greek yogurt instead. It will still be delicious, but it may need to be thinned out a little bit.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 72
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 17mg 6%
Sodium 301mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 142mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


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