Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

Refrigerator pickles are quick and easy to make — no sterilizing jars or special equipment required.

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

The kids and I discovered a jar of these homemade refrigerator pickles in my parents’ refrigerator door one day and since then, no deli or store-bought pickles have ever come close. They were made by one of my mom’s oldest and dearest friends, Joanne Biltekoff, who is like an aunt to me. The best thing about Joanne’s pickles is that they’re quick and easy — no sterilizing jars or special canning equipment required. All you do is slice Kirby cucumbers into spears, cover them with brine, tuck them into the fridge, and they’re ready to eat the next day.

What You’ll Need To Make Refrigerator Pickles

ingredients for refrigerator pickles

The most important part of the recipe is to start with Kirby or pickling cucumbers. They’re short, squat and sometimes full of warts, but they make deliciously crisp pickles. Don’t be tempted to substitute another kind of cucumber or you’ll end up with soggy pickles.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Begin by making the brine. Combine the vinegar, salt and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat and stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Whisk in the cold water, then chill.

When cooking high-acid foods, be sure to use a cooking vessel made of a nonreactive material such as stainless steel, glass, ceramic or Teflon. Pots made from metals like aluminum, copper or cast iron will react with the acid and give your food a metallic taste.

brine for refrigerator picklesNext, stuff the cucumbers into two 1-quart jars. Add the coriander and mustard seeds, garlic, red pepper flakes, dill sprigs to the jars, dividing evenly.

adding cucumbers and spices to jars

Cover the cucumbers with the chilled brine.

adding brine to cucumbers

Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for about 24 hours, then serve. The pickles will keep in the fridge for up to one month.

These pickles will disappear quickly and you’ll likely get requests for more. You don’t have to start from scratch. You can use the pickle brine more than once — it should last for another batch or two of pickles!

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Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator pickles are quick and easy to make — no sterilizing jars or special equipment required.

Servings: About 24 spears, or two 1-quart jars

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1-3/4 to 2 pounds Kirby cucumbers (about 6), cut into halves or spears
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 16 dill sprigs

Instructions

  1. Combine the vinegar, salt and sugar in a small non-reactive saucepan (such as stainless steel, glass, ceramic or teflon) over high heat. Whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Transfer the liquid into a bowl and whisk in the cold water. Refrigerate brine until ready to use.
  2. Stuff the cucumbers into two clean 1-quart jars. Add the coriander seeds, garlic cloves, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, dill sprigs, and chilled brine into jars, dividing evenly. If necessary, add a bit of cold water to the jars until the brine covers the cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate about 24 hours, then serve. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • These are amazingly easy to make, crunchy and delicious – better than any store-bought pickle that I’ve had. I took a chance making them with powdered coriander, because I couldn’t find whole, and was worried that it might not work out well, but they came out great. The powdered spice simply settles at the bottom of the jar. Not as pretty, but that doesn’t really matter. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Al on October 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Fabulous

    • — Jen on October 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • I wanted to add to my review of August 12- between my hubby and my neighbor’s pickle-loving son, I can’t keep these in the house!. At this point I’m recycling the brine and just adding kirby cuke slices to the jars weekly. I never thought I would find a pickle recipe that would retain its crispness and taste so good! Another home run Jenn!

    • — Kathye on September 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These are wonderful! Just made them again a couple of weeks ago. A request from a Facebook group I belong to, Cape Cod Gardeners, was for a great refrigerator pickle recipe. Guess whose recipe I directed her to? And your site!

    • — Laura A Cox on September 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Super easy and great tasting recipe. Good “as is” or you can easily tailor to your taste. In my second batch, I added a bay leaf and some fresh pickling dill. Maybe replace a 1/4 cup distilled vinegar with white wine vinegar? So many ways to try and you can taste the results in days.

    What I learned was to taste the brine and adjust the salt/sugar ratio to your liking (keeping the water-to-vinegar ratio intact). This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks!

    • — Steve C on September 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made this recipe and loved it! One question. I have a bunch of green tomatoes. Can I use this recipe for them, and if so, how long will they take to pickle?

    • — Brian O on September 5, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Brian, I think it should work. I’m not sure how long they’ll take — if you cut them into wedges, they will pickle a bit faster than if you put them in the brine whole. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on September 6, 2021
      • Reply
      • They actually turned out great! I tried them after about 5 days. I’m sure another week will make them better!
        Thanks for the great recipe!

        • — Brian O on September 10, 2021
        • Reply
  • Between the garlic and the red pepper flakes, do the pickles come out spicy at all? I don’t mind, but some members of my household would be sensitive to it.

    • — Dan on September 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • No, these really aren’t spicy, Dan. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi – I was wondering if I could use cucamelons instead of cucumber for this recipe? I have an abundance of them. Thank you

    • — Kimberly M on September 2, 2021
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    • Hi Kimberly, I’d never heard of a cucamelons and just googled it. While it may work for this recipe, I see that they have a tart taste so it could be that they turn out to be too tart once they’ve pickled. If you go ahead and try it, please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on September 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made these pickles and brought them to a couple of picnics during the summer and everyone LOVED them! Thanks for the recipe…it’s a keeper @onceuponachef

    • — Laura B. on September 1, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn! It’s the peak of pickling season and I can’t find mustard seed or coriander seed. Can I sub dry mustard and ground coriander? I’ve read about substitutions online and there are a wide range of suggestions. Please help. ♥️ I already bought the pickling cukes from my local farmers market!!

    • — Kathy Bettes on August 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, I’d suggest just a pinch or 2 of the dry mustard and 1 teaspoon of ground coriander. If you have cilantro on hand, feel free to throw a little of that in there instead of the ground coriander. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 27, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jenn! They turned out great!

        • — Kathy on August 30, 2021
        • Reply
  • My go-to pickle recipe for 2 years now! The BEST. However, I have a question about the dill weed: how much is 16 sprigs? I grow my own dill here in the blazing 100-degree Idaho sun and my dill plants are huge! Sometimes the sprigs are the size of a tennis ball. Mostly I’ve been estimating but sometimes a batch comes out yucky due to too much/not enough dill. Any suggestions for a more precise measurement, like 1/3 cup packed, 20 gms weight, or 3 oz? “Sprigs” can be so variable! Thank you, and thank you for the BEST pickle recipe ever, Jenn!

    • — Idaho Deb on August 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Deb, So glad you like them!! I’ve never weighed or measured the dill in the way that you’re describing but I’d estimate that a sprig of dill is about 5-1/2 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide if that helps. BTW, if you’re concerned about using too much, I’d err on the side of using a little less. I’ve made the pickles with just a pinch of dried dill and they still taste good. Hope that helps at least a bit!

      • — Jenn on August 26, 2021
      • Reply

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