+ 10 Easy Tips to Make This Infused Water Extra-Tasty!
~ You’d think a Cucumber Water recipe would be completely obvious (I sure did!). But our extensive testing revealed some key tips for making this “detox spa water” so much better. Follow our guide to make delicious, wonderfully refreshing infused water that you’ll actually be excited to drink! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Make Ahead • Vegan (and Vegetarian) • Gluten Free • Paleo •
If you’re trying to drink more water – and actually ENJOY it – you’re gonna love having your new buddy Cucumber Water in your life (or, at least hanging out in your fridge on regular repeat)!
I can completely vouch for this. We’ve been drinking a lot of cucumber-infused water at my house lately. A lot.
It’s surprisingly refreshing, with a delightfully mellow, smooth flavor that plain ol’ tap water just doesn’t have.
I know, I know – it might sound like an overstatement to say that two simple ingredients can be mega game-changers. (Especially when one of those ingredients is water, which nobody really even counts as an actual ingredient, anyway.)
I’m here to tell you, though: Cucumber Water makes the task of drinking more water so much more exciting. So much prettier, tastier, and more appealing.
Mmmmmm … so refreshingly yummy!
And I’m going to make it easy for you to make terrific Cucumber Water every time! Because …
Key Takeaways (TLDR Sneak Peek of the 10 Tips Ahead!)
Okay. That’s the CliffsNotes summary. Good enough to get you going, if you want to scroll down to the recipe card and make your first batch straightaway.
I’ve got a lot more details, tips and tricks up my sleeve, learned from testing alllllll those batches of water. (My taste testers started to flee when they saw me comin’ at them with another pitcher! “Can’t we just drink the water without micro-analyzing every sip????” No. No, we could not! We were in search of the very best Cucumber Water.
We found it … and now you can enjoy it, too!
Just follow these tips:
Tip #1: What Cucumber is Best for Making Cucumber Water?
This one totally surprised me. I figured it wouldn’t matter much. Or maybe that English cukes would have a slight edge.
I was wrong … and wrong again!
There are lots of different varieties of cucumbers, but we focused on testing the 3 main, obvious choices:
- Common “garden variety” cucumbers (the fatter ones you most frequently find at the grocery store)
- English or “seedless” cucumbers (these are long and skinny and are usually sold in shrink-wrapped plastic)
- Mini cucumbers
Pictured (Top to Bottom) on Cutting Board:
• 1 English “seedless” cucumber
• 2 Small “mini” cucumbers
• 2 Common “garden” cucumbers
In test after test, the standard, garden variety cucumbers were the clear, hands-down winners. Unexpected!
Now, to clarify just a little: if you’re simply throwing a few cucumber slices into a single glass of water, any type of cucumber is fine. And, in fact, English cucumbers and mini cucumbers have a slightly more pronounced flavor right away, after sitting for just 10 or 15 minutes.
My goal was to keep a pitcher of infused Cucumber Water in the fridge, ready and waiting (and enticing me to drink more water all day long, every day). The English and mini cukes simply didn’t fare so well in that scenario. The flavor of fresh cucumber became way too strong and actually rather unpleasant.
We tested our batches at numerous intervals (10 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, 6 hours, 2 days and 3 days). The overall winner was crystal clear.
Bottom Line: The Right Cucumber
If you’re making a pitcher to keep on hand in the fridge for a day or two, a common garden cuke is absolutely the way to go.
After sitting for several hours or overnight – or even a couple of days – the flavor of Cucumber Water made with your basic garden cucumber is, without a doubt, the most pleasantly flavored. It stays light and refreshing, while the other two become overwhelmingly cucumber-y (and not in a good way).
I mean, if you want to feel like you’re gnawing on an actual vegetable as you sip your water, maybe go with an English or a mini cuke. As one tester said, “It depends on how much you like cucumbers.”
But, none of my testers liked the VERY cucumber-y, assertive flavor of water made with either the English or mini varieties, after the water pitcher had been hanging out in the fridge for more than an hour or so.
What About Organic?
Since you’re soaking the cucumber – skins and all – in water, sometimes for hours or even a couple days, you want to be sure you’ve thoroughly rinsed it off before using it.
Even better? Go with organic cucumbers if you can.
Side note: Most organics you buy directly from a farm market (or grow in your own garden) won’t have been waxed the way common grocery store cucumbers have been. (This is done to help preserve their freshness and prevent them from drying out.)
But I suspect it may also be part of the reason that their flavor is milder when you’re making infused water. If your homegrown, organic cucumber starts to taste a little strong, simply remove it from your water pitcher and add a bit more water to dilute the flavor.
Tip #2: Should You Peel Your Cukes?
Maybe you’re thinking … hey … I can’t find organic, so maybe I could just peel the cucumber instead?
That’s definitely an option.
We found that the flavor changed very little when we used a vegetable peeler to remove the cuke’s skin before slicing.
But, leaving the peel on makes for a more eye-catching, enticing pitcher of water (which is especially key if you’re serving a pretty jug of infused Cucumber Water at a picnic or party).
So … To Peel or Not to Peel?
Your water will be prettier if you leave the peel on. In terms of flavor though, the choice is yours on this one!
Tip #3: How Much Cucumber Should You Use?
You don’t have to get obsessive about this, but after my testing, I settled on a precise amount (5 ounces of cucumber) to give you a solid starting point.
If you want a little more flavor right off the bat – or you like a more pronounced cucumber flavor – then, sure, use a little extra.
I tested using up to 10 ounces of cucumber per 2 quarts of water. But after an hour or so, that amount began to be too strong, and after 24 hours, it was taking on an unpleasantly bitter edge.
To Give You a Rough Idea:
My preferred amount of 5 ounces of cucumber is equal to about 24-30 slices (cut 1/8″ thick) from a typical, medium cucumber. If you pack them into a cup measure, it’s equivalent to 1 (slightly heaping) cup.
As a ballpark, that’s about half of a standard, grocery store cucumber (but, of course, the size of cukes can vary quite a bit).
So, do you have to hit precisely 5 ounces? Or pull out a ruler to slice perfect 1/8″ slices???
Of course not! No stress here!
But I wanted to be as precise as possible to get you started as you make your first, perfect batch.
Tip #4: How Long Does It Take for the Water to Taste Cucumber-y?
As I mentioned before, we tested numerous batches at a wide range of times, beginning with 10 minutes … and sampling at intervals all the way up to 3+ days.
Your Cucumber Water will have a light hint of cucumber flavor within about 10 minutes, but the flavor won’t really begin to peak for at least an hour or two.
Bottom Line: How Long ’til You Get Great Flavor?
So, if you’re making a big batch for a party or cookout, I recommend that you make it at least two hours in advance.
If you’re just making it for yourself to enjoy … you can start drinking it almost right away, knowing it’ll just get yummier and yummier each time you open the fridge to pour some more!
Tip #5: How Long Does Cucumber Water Last?
Your pitcher of water should last up to about 3 days, if you keep it refrigerated.
You’ll see the cucumbers eventually start to get waterlogged and sink to the bottom of the water pitcher. (They float when you first make your water.)
That’s a good hint that it’s about time to remove your cukes, finish drinking your batch of water, and start over with a nice, fresh batch.
Bottom Line on “Shelf Life”:
For food safety, as well as for best flavor, I don’t recommend any longer than 3 days, at most.
Tip #6: How Long Can You Leave Cucumber Slices in Water (and Can You Reuse Them)?
You can definitely reuse your slices!
If you’re drinking a LOT of water (yay, you!) or serving this at a summer party where a lot of people are guzzling thirst-quenching water, then it’s super handy to simply refresh your pitcher with additional water – no need to constantly add new cucumber slices.
Short Answer on Slice Longevity:
There’s no real problem with reusing the slices of cucumber, other than the fact that they will eventually start to lose their flavor.
Your cucumber slices should hold out through at least two or three rounds of water. As you notice them losing flavor, either toss a handful of new slices in from time to time, or start over with a fresh batch of slices periodically.
Side note on this one: Can You Eat the Cucumbers?
Yep! If you wanna munch on a slice that’s been floating around your glass, go right ahead. Just know that if it’s been in the pitcher for awhile before making its way to your glass, then it may have lost flavor or become a bit soggy.
Tip #7: Should You Use Warm or Cold Water for Infusing?
We tested this by making side-by-side batches, one with warm (room temperature) water and the other with chilled (refrigerated) water. But, for food safety, we then refrigerated both batches and continued tasting how the flavor developed over the next several hours and into the second day.
What we found was that there was virtually no difference at all in how the cucumber-y flavor developed, how strong it became, or how pleasant the flavor was.
The only difference came in the simple fact that testers agreed they preferred to enjoy Cucumber Water when it’s served cold. (Regardless of what temperature the water was when we initially made the batch.)
Bottom Line on Water Temperature:
It doesn’t matter if you MAKE your Cucumber Water with water that’s room temperature or water that’s already chilled. BUT … Cucumber Water tastes best if it’s chilled when you serve it.
So, that means if you plan to start sipping within an hour or so, you should use colder water right from the start. That way, it’ll be nice and cold when you serve it up.
If you’re planning on stashing it in the fridge for several hours before serving, though, then it really doesn’t make much difference if the water was chilly when you initially made your batch.
Tip #8: Do You Need to Add Ice?
Adding ice is, of course, a great way to get your pitcher of water deliciously cold FAST. And also to keep it refreshingly chilled for outdoor events or long parties.
Ice also makes your water feel even more appealing. More inviting, cooling and refreshing.
And, it’s prettier, too!
But it’s totally optional.
The Icy Options:
If you’re storing your pitcher in the fridge, there’s really no need to add ice (unless you like how it looks). But, if your pitcher will be sitting out at a party, particularly a warm-weather outdoor gathering, then ice is a great idea to keep it cold and fresh.
Just remember that those ice cubes will eventually melt into additional water. So, you may also want to add a few extra cucumber slices to balance out the cucumber:water ratio and ensure your pitcher of water stays flavorful.
Tip #9: Can You Use Sparkling Water?
This was another big surprise for me. I mean, sparkling water just somehow feels extra fancy … so I assumed it would make cucumber “spa water” seem even more special.
Turns out, it definitely does not.
Spoiler Alert: NOT Recommended
Although this is certainly a matter of personal preference, my taste testers gave Sparkling Cucumber Water an across-the-board thumbs down. We 100% prefer regular, fresh water.
I don’t know quite how to explain this, but it was completely unanimous.
While seltzers and sparkling water might be great for fruity infused waters, nobody was loving the cucumber version.
The one good thing I can say for it is that those bubbles got the cucumber flavor activated really quickly. Within the first 10 minutes, our sparkling water had plenty of cucumber flavor – really as much flavor as you would probably want.
It’s important to note that if you do love your Cucumber Water sparkling and bubbly (no judging – totally great if you’re in the sparkly camp!), it’ll lose its carbonation and be flat within a day. For the best result, you should definitely plan to drink it all within 12 hours, at the very most.
Tip #10: Do You Have to Use an Infusion Pitcher?
What’s an Infusion Pitcher?
An infusion pitcher has a little compartment where you put your cucumbers (or whatever fruits, veggies and herbs you’re using to make your infused water). The compartment has holes or slits that allow the water to circulate through, releasing flavor into the whole pitcher of water. The compartment is also removable, so you can easily take it out of the pitcher once the flavor is how you like it. It also helps keep seeds or stray bits tidily encased within the compartment, instead of floating around in your pitcher.
So, Do You Need One?
As you’ve probably guessed by looking at my photos, an infusion pitcher isn’t necessary for making great Cucumber Water. Although I do own an infusion pitcher or two, I typically don’t use them for this “recipe.”
In fact, depending on the size of the infusion compartment in your specific pitcher, cucumber slices might not fit that well, anyway, without extra chopping.
Sure, a few stray cucumber seeds may fall to the bottom of my “regular” pitcher. But that doesn’t bother me. And besides, I just love the way all those slices look, bobbing around in that refreshing water. I keep saying this … but it’s just SO PRETTY! It really and truly entices me to drink extra water!
Also, since the cucumber flavor doesn’t get bitter or overwhelming (as long as I use the right kind of cucumber – see Tip #1 above), there’s no need for me to fish the slices out after they’ve infused for a while.
The slices can just stay right in there, floating around, and looking fresh and lovely!
So, Should You Go Buy an Infusion Pitcher?
I vote no. At least, not for Cucumber Water.
Ok, so now you’ve got all the little tips I learned from testing batch after batch after batch. And hounding my testers to guzzle glass after glass after glass. And then jotting page after page full of notes (“a bit bitter” … “clear, fresh & crisp” … “so good!” … “#1 still the best!” … through 6 epic pages in my testing notebook).
I really thought making Cucumber Water would be my easiest recipe development project ever. Seriously – can you really even call it a recipe???
And yet, I think it occupies more pages in my testing notebook than any other recipe so far (and at this point I have ten … yes 10! … notebooks full of recipe tests)!
But it was worth it, for sure. Now I can tell you – with total confidence – how to make the very best Cucumber Water!
Here’s what it all boils down to (haha … boils … water … get it??? *SORRY had to!*):
How Do You Make Cucumber Water?
So, following the 10 tips above, here’s all you have to do:
Choose a “regular” garden cucumber. (See Tip #1 above.)
You can peel it if you want to, but I prefer to leave the peel on since it’s so much prettier. (You can read more in Tip #2 above.)
Slice the cucumber about 1/8″ thick.
You need approximately 5 ounces of cucumber.
Depending on the exact size of your cuke, that’ll equal roughly 24-30 slices (1/8″ thick), or a slightly heaping 1 cup.
(Refer to Tip #3 above, regarding how to adjust the amount of cucumber you’re using.)
Place the slices in a large pitcher and add water. I usually start with chilled water. (Read more about water temperature in Tip #7 above.)
Let your Cucumber Water sit for at least 10 minutes to develop a little flavor. (See Tip #4 above.)
It’ll keep (refrigerated) for up to 2-3 days. The cucumber flavor will become stronger the longer the water sits. (Refer to Tip #5 above.) You can add additional water to refresh the pitcher if you wish, replacing the cucumbers once they have lost flavor or are starting to look soggy and exhausted.
Why Cucumber Water Is So Great
I’ll be honest. I struggle to drink enough water. I know it’s good for me. I know I should. But it’s still a conscious, ongoing effort I have to make.
It’s not that I drink a lot of soda or fruit juice instead, because I don’t drink those things, either. Somehow, I just don’t get around to it. Weird, right?
Except I know that a lot of other people struggle to drink enough water, too.
So, anything that entices us to drink more water is a win!
• Cucumber Water Is Good for You!
There are a lot of websites out there that get all excited talking about Cucumber Water as a detox water or an aid in boosting metabolism and dieting. But, the true “detox” and health benefits of Cucumber Water is really all about the water, and much less about the cucumbers floating in it.
The simple fact is that plain old water itself is great for you … for “detoxing” your body, for flushing out your systems, and for staying hydrated. With or without cucumber.
Even being mildly dehydrated can affect both your mental and your physical health and daily performance.
The precise amount of water each person needs is hotly debated amongst health experts, and can vary based on lots of factors (like weight and physical activity level). But the general guideline is typically somewhere around four-eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, depending on who you ask.
So, of course Cucumber Water is good for you … because water is good for you. Water itself is a great detox drink.
And if adding cucumbers to your water makes your water more enticing (I sure think it does!), then Cucumber Water is most definitely good for you!
Plus, if you nibble on some cucumber slices along the way, you get the nutrition benefits of the veggie’s vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, too. Notably, they’re a good source of potassium, vitamin K and vitamin B-5 (aka pantothenic acid).
• Infused Water Can Cut Calories and Help You Wean Off Sugary Drinks
You may have heard the adage, “Don’t drink your calories.” Lots of people pile on extra, unwanted calories with sugary sodas, sports drinks, or even fruit juices, without really thinking about it.
But those calories still add into your daily total, and can end up hanging around your midsection, just like any other excessive calories you consume.
Infused water recipes are a healthy drink alternative. They’re great options if you’re trying to wean yourself off sugar-y soft drinks, since infused waters are at least a little more jazzy than plain-jane tap water.
• Cucumber Water Can Hide or Improve the Flavor of Your Water
Don’t love the taste of plain water? Or just find it so darn ho-hum borrrrrrr-ingggggg?
Cucumber Water to the rescue again!
The pleasantly smooth, subtle flavor is a welcome change!
(Of course, if your tap water tastes really and truly bad, you may want to check for water quality issues. Also, consider making your Cucumber Water with purchased bottled water such as spring or distilled.)
• It’s Affordable!
I will freely admit to my family’s expensive obsession with Hint brand flavored water. I kind of flinch every time I look at the price, though. (I mean … since when did water become a luxury product, right?!?!)
If you have a similar addiction to Hint, Spindrift, Bubly, JUST Water … any of ’em … you can save a serious thwack of change by making your own infused waters.
Cucumbers are suuuuuper budget-friendly.
Plus, think of all the plastic bottles you won’t be using. Another win!
A healthy, refreshing drink you can feel good about on lots of levels, from your wallet to the landfill!
• Cucumber-Infused Water is Terrific at Parties
Infused waters are great to have on hand at parties, including (or maybe especially) at cocktail parties.
Water isn’t usually the first thing hosts think of when drawing up a party menu.
Yet, as the book Woody’s Liquid Kitchen points out, water is particularly great to have on hand when people are drinking alcoholic beverages. But, guests may not feel comfortable interrupting a busy hostess to request water.
Keeping a lovely, inviting pitcher of water readily available throughout your party will help both drinkers and non-drinkers feel more comfortable grabbing some hydration when they need to.
• It Has a Really Versatile Flavor
Another great thing about Cucumber Water is that its smooth, mild flavor is refreshing in just about any setting.
It’s nice just to sip all throughout the day. But, it’s also great with savory meals in a way that sweet, fruity infused waters sometimes aren’t.
It’s a welcome refresher on hot summer days, yet also a hero every January when our New Year’s Resolutions make us recommit to focusing on water intake.
It just tastes wonderful, any time!
• Infused Water Looks So Festive, Too!
I often call Cucumber Water my “spa water” because it looks and feels special, like I’m pampering myself a little. (And yeah … health clubs and spas frequently have some gorgeous “spa water” in big, decorative jugs in their lobbies.)
I don’t actually hang out at spas much (#lifegoals). But a pitcher of Cucumber Water is still honestly so spa-like and lovely, even if it’s just sitting in my kitchen refrigerator. It beckons in a visually appealing way that a plain pitcher of water never has, and never will.
Cucumber Water looks more fun, and it tastes more fun.
And when it’s so darn inexpensive and simple to make … why wouldn’t we all keep a pitcher on hand at all times? Staring now. Ready, set, go …..!!!!!
Absolutely! There’s no specific ratio here, though. It really depends on how big your glass or water bottle is, and how fast you’re drinking it (how long the flavors will have to develop). You’ll probably want to use more cucumber slices than in my recipe’s base ratio, if you’re making this one glass at a time – assuming that you’re drinking it fairly soon after you’re making it. In that situation, you’ll need a lot of cucumber slices to deliver enough cucumber flavor quickly. (Pssst … and remember that you can reuse those slices. See point #6 above.)
Definitely! As I’ve mentioned, Cucumber Water is great for parties. And, if you get your whole family on board with this idea, you’ll likely go through a pitcher rather quickly. Just stick to the basic ratio of approximately 5 ounces of cucumber per 2 quarts of water. (And remember point #3 above … we’re talking approximate here, so don’t stress!)
I’ve used a wide variety of different sizes and shapes (particularly because we’ve had so many different pitchers being used simultaneously during our “formal testing”). Just be sure your pitcher has enough extra room for ice, if you plan to add that. Also (a minor detail here), if your pitcher has a narrowed pour spout, it’ll help to prevent too many cucumber slices from splashing into individual glasses as you pour.
Next time you’re at the store, grab an extra cucumber and tuck it in your fridge, ready for slicing.
I’m gonna bet that, once you get into the habit of keeping a gorgeous pitcher of Cucumber Water on hand, you’ll be thrilled how much MORE water you’re drinking … and how much you’re actually enjoying it!
Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?
Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!
- 5 ounces unpeeled cucumber (regular cucumber, not seedless English – see note)
- 2 quarts water (preferably chilled)
- Slice the cucumber about 1/8" thick (you should have approximately 24-30 slices, or a heaping 1 cup).
- Add the slices and water to a large pitcher, stirring gently.
- Let sit at least 10 minutes, or (refrigerated) up to 2-3 days. The cucumber flavor will become stronger the longer the water sits.
*** In addition to the brief notes below, be sure to refer to the article above for more details regarding the best type of cucumber to choose, adding additional water, using ice, and numerous other helpful tips.
Type of cucumber: As discussed in the article above, regular "garden cucumbers" were by far the most popular cucumber variety we tested, particularly when the Cucumber Water would be sitting for more than an hour. Taste testers specifically did not like the stronger flavor that developed when using seedless (aka English) cucumbers or the mini cucumbers we tested.
Water: Our taste testers definitely agreed that Cucumber Water tastes best when served cold. That's why we recommend starting with chilled water, particularly if you'll be serving your water within the first hour or two. Refer to the article above to read more about water temperature and adding ice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 1 cup water (does not include cucumber)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.