Salad Shirazi is a crunchy and refreshing Persian cucumber, tomato and onion salad. It is healthy, easy to make, and a great side dish for Persian stews or kababs, or just about any meal.
Salad Shirazi (or salad-e shirazi) originated from the city of Shiraz, a region in southern Iran that is known for its poetry, literature, and beautiful historical sites and gardens. It's now the most popular Persian salad and is as common as a tray of fresh herbs (sabzi khordan) and pita bread at the Persian dinner table.
While every chef has their own unique twist, this is my favorite way to prepare this delicious and simple salad.
Watch my short tutorial video below!
Salad Shirazi Ingredients
The main ingredients of this classic Persian salad include:
- Persian cucumbers
- Red onion (white onion or shallots can be substituted)
- Lime (lemon can be substituted)
- Apple cider vinegar (or similar)
- Oil (extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil)
- Dried mint
- Salt and black pepper
Dried Mint vs. Fresh Mint
I recommend using dried mint in the salad shirazi dressing. Dried mint has a concentrated flavor that can stand up to the other ingredients without being overpowered. Fresh mint leaves can be used as a colorful garnish on this healthy salad.
Fresh mint often becomes wilted when mixed with acidic ingredients like vinegar or lime juice. And if you have any leftover Shirazi salad, the fresh mint will become brown and even slightly bitter.
See recipe card for quantities.
Instructions on How to Make this Easy Salad Shirazi Recipe
To make the salad, dice the cucumbers, tomatoes and onion. To make the dressing, simply combine the juice of one lime, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and dried mint in a small bowl.
Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion with the dressing. Mix well, and refrigerate in airtight container until you are ready to enjoy this delicious salad!
How to Make Salad Shirazi Ahead of Time
Salad Shirazi can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. Simply dice the cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes and store them separately in the refrigerator. Make the salad dressing and store it in the refrigerator as well. 15 minutes before serving, combine all the ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Variations to Salad Shirazi
- add ¼ cup of each diced red turnips and green onions
- add ¼ cup small diced red, yellow, or green bell peppers
- top the salad with a few tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese and a sprinkle of sumac
Top Tips for Making the Best Shirazi Salad
- Dice the cucumber, onion, and tomatoes into roughly equal sized, small pieces. This ensures that you get all of the flavors in each bite.
- Rub the dried mint in a mortar and pestle or between your palms to release maximum flavor before adding it to the salad dressing.
- After adding the dressing to the salad, wait 15 minutes before tasting and adjusting the seasoning. If the salad is not sour enough, add another squeeze of lime or a splash of vinegar. If the salad is too sour, add a tablespoon of oil. I often find that I need to add more salt and pepper to my salads, as the vegetables absorb it over time.
I use Roma tomatoes as they are firm and hold their shape. But any fresh tomato, including heirloom, grape or cherry, will be a great addition. If I am using juicy tomatoes, I typically remove any bigger chunks of seeds.
Small Persian cucumbers are ideal for this salad, as they have thin skin that does not need to be peeled. They also have small edible seeds, so I don't bother removing them. In general, I recommend scooping out any cucumber that has large seeds. A large English cucumber is a good alternative if you can not find crisp Persian cucumbers. I avoid waxy cucumbers, as their skin is too thick, and we don't typically peel the cucumbers for this salad.
If you are using pungent onions, you can soak them in water for 10 minutes. Be sure to dry them thoroughly before adding them to the salad. However, I find that red onions mellow out significantly once they soak in the acidic olive oil dressing. If you prefer a milder onion flavor, you can use shallots or white onions instead of red onions.
Yes, in fact many people make salad Shirazi with lemon juice. Lemon juice is typically less tart than lime juice, but since I prefer the tart flavors, my recipe uses lime. Some authentic Shirazi salad recipes require the use of ab ghooreh, which is an unripe sour grape juice.
Mint is the most often used herb in the Persian Shirazi salad recipe. However, dill, parsley, tarragon, and cilantro are all common flavors in Persian cuisine, and would be suitable additions.
Salad Shirazi can be made 1 day ahead of time. For best results, I recommend keeping the vegetables and dressing separate, covered, and refrigerated until ready to serve. 15 minutes before serving, combine all the ingredients together.
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These are my favorite dishes to serve with Salad Shirazi:
- 2 cups Persian cucumbers diced
- ½ cup tomatoes diced
- ½ cup red onion diced
- 2 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoon oil, avocado or olive
- 1 teaspoon dried mint or more
- ¼ teaspoon salt or more
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper or more
- Dice the cucumbers, tomatoes and onions and combine in a bowl. A small uniform dice is preferable.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the lime juice, vinegar, oil, dried mint, salt and pepper.
- 15 minutes before you are ready to eat, pour the dressing over the salad, and stir well.
- Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to eat.