American vs. English Cucumbers: What's the Difference?

Not all cukes are created equal—learn the similarities and differences between these slicing cucumbers.

a photo of an American Cucumber beside an English Cucumber
Photo: Getty Images

From a veggie-packed sandwich to a seasonal salad, cucumbers add color and crunch to any dish. The next time you're looking to buy this versatile veggie, you may come across a few different varieties at the store. There are two main types of cucumbers, pickling and slicing. Here, we'll focus on two slicing cucumber varieties, American and English. We'll break down everything you need to know, from the appearance to the taste, so you can shop with confidence and stay cool as a cucumber.

So, What Is an American Cucumber?

American cucumbers, whose seed is called Americana Slicing Hybrid, are the variety you're most likely familiar with at the grocery store, and are often simply labeled "cucumber." The skin of these cucumbers can be tougher than other varieties, and some you buy at the grocery store may have been coated in wax to help prolong their shelf life. If you find the skin of the cucumber is too bitter for your liking, you can peel it. These cucumbers range in size, typically from 6 to 9 inches long. Inside the cucumber, you'll find large seeds. While these seeds are edible, they can contribute to the bitter flavor profile—you can scoop them out and discard them, then slice the flesh.

So, What Is an English Cucumber?

English cucumbers, also known as hothouse, burpless, seedless or European cucumbers, are another common variety of slicing cucumber. When buying an English cucumber, you're likely to find it wrapped in plastic to protect it from damage. That's because English cucumbers aren't waxed and have a more delicate, thinner skin than an American cucumber. In addition to a thinner skin, English cucumbers are much longer, and can grow up to 2 feet long. Plus, they are thinner and straighter, whereas an American cucumber is often wider and can have a more pronounced curve.

Unlike other cucumbers, English cucumbers have very few seeds in the center, if they have any at all. Without these seeds, the flavor profile of an English cucumber is much sweeter. Its delicate skin is also less bitter than that of other cucumbers.

Cucumber Nutrition

When it comes to nutrition, American and English cucumbers have a similar nutrition profile. While there may be minimal differences, both are mostly water and can be a good food choice for hydration. The high water concentration can also help keep your skin hydrated. Cucumbers are also low in calories, which can be helpful for weight loss or maintenance. Read more about the health benefits of cucumber.

The Bottom Line

American and English cucumbers are both varieties of slicing cucumber, and they can be easily interchanged in recipes. American cucumbers are shorter and wider than the long, narrow English cucumbers and have a more bitter flavor. English cucumbers are sweeter and contain very few seeds. Whichever cucumber you choose, you're sure to add a refreshing, crunchy element to your plate.

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