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Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles

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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

  • 1¼ cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1¾ 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
  • ¼ 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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Comments

  • Jen, these are my daughter’s favorite pickles! I can lots of pickles every year which we all love, but had a few pounds of cucumbers left to use up at the end of the season in September. I made your refrigerator pickles and they were a huge hit! I made extra brine just in case, then used that with fresh green and yellow beans in separate jars. My daughter is asking me to make both of these again ASAP. Now I will have to use store bought produce, but she’s a picky eater so I will make them again soon. Thank You So Much!

    • — Stefanie on November 2, 2022
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  • These pickles are … I’ve been making them seasonally for four years now, and all the neighbours start asking in August when their jar is coming! Another amazing recipe from you Jenn – thanks for sharing.

    • — Andrea on October 5, 2022
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  • Leaping right in, I made a double batch as a first attempt, and used pint jars. Also because that’s just how I am, I didn’t have coriander seeds, so used powdered. I added 2 mini vidalia onions (tiny, tiny) whole and peeled to each jar, a star anise to each jar, and 2 peeled whole garlic cloves to each jar. My red pepper flakes were little packets from a pizza ordered a while back … 1/2 packet each. And I put one strip of red and one strip of yellow bell pepper per jar.
    FABULOUS!!!!!!!
    They did not last a month in my fridge, or in friends’ fridges.
    Making more this weekend, and processing some.

    • — Peri Craig on September 30, 2022
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  • My husband and I absolutely loved these pickles. We devoured them.
    Will make again for sure.
    Question, when taking the pickles out of the jar, the dill was all over them. Of course I scraped it off. Maybe chop the dill?
    Also, the mustard seeds rose to the top of the jar so that became a pain. Would turn the jar upside down, but they floated to the top again. Is this to be expected?
    Thanks. Great recipe.

    • — Sunny Drohan on September 18, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sunny, So glad you liked the pickles! You could chop the dill, but that would likely make it even harder to scrape off. And it is normal for the mustard seeds to rise to the top of the jar.

      • — Jenn on September 20, 2022
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  • I made these yesterday and couldn’t wait for today to come. It was SO worth the wait! So, so good. I added a little more garlic and a little more red pepper flakes because I like my dills garlicky and spicy.

    To be honest I knew ahead of time this recipe would be awesome. I’ve made many of Jenn’s recipes and none have ever disappointed!

    • — Gary Cote on September 16, 2022
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  • These pickles are delicious! I will never be able to eat commercial pickles again! I added extra garlic, but that’s me. Thanks for the fabulous recipe!

    • — Melissa Civert on September 16, 2022
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  • Best pickles we have ever tasted! We gave two jars to our neighbors and they raved about them! Thank you so much!

    • — Mary on September 15, 2022
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  • These are delicious!
    I made them 2 weeks ago. Can I reuse the brine for a second batch?

    • — Kim J on September 9, 2022
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    • Sure, you can use the brine up to 2 times (and glad you like them)!

      • — Jenn on September 11, 2022
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  • This is the second refrigerator pickle recipe I’ve tried. First one was fine but a touch sweet and not enough brine. I only had six Kirby pickles but I doubled this recipe too and I’m glad I did. Recipe mentioned topping off the jars with water if there was room but I feel that would have watered them down. I used 1 part 5% vinegar and 1 part apple cider vinegar and this added a really nice flavor to the pickles. I also used only 3 tablespoons of sugar instead of doubling to 4. Added peppercorns and some chunks of onion as well. Made both chips and spears. Came out perfect. Try apple cider vinegar folks. It’ll bring them to the next level.

    • — Matthew on September 7, 2022
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  • For intentionally sweeter pickles, what’s a good multiplier on the recipe’s sugar?

    • — Gabriel on September 6, 2022
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    • It really depends on how sweet you want them. I may start by increasing the sugar by 1 tablespoon and see what you think. You can always increase or decrease it on your next batch.

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2022
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  • i used only pickling cucumbers and this year my pickles are a little yellowish in color and not much crunch. any thoughts on what might have caused this. we made so may jars last year and loved them.

    • — Dana on September 6, 2022
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    • Sorry you had a problem with them! Are you certain they were Kirby cucumbers?

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2022
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  • Hello! Anyone make these with cucumelons?

    • — Kristy on September 5, 2022
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  • Saturday had our first homemade pickle. They are fabulous. My husband loves them, as do I.
    Thank you for a terrific recipe. Hopefully I will be able to find Kirby cucs for the next batch.

    • — Sunny Drohan on August 29, 2022
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    • Made these yesterday with my daughter – couldn’t wait for 24 hours to try them. They are awesome. We both like a tarter pickle though, so next time will adjust the sugar just a bit. We added half a Thai chili to each jar along with the crushed chilies but I didn’t notice any extra heat. As the brine is cool when added to the jar, I don’t think much of the heat from the chili was released. Maybe next time we will add the Thai chili pepper to the hot brine before adding the cold water.

      • — Shirley & Meescha A on September 6, 2022
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  • We made these pickles and they are now a staple favorite in our fridge. We do them in pint jars. They are delicious. My family will look forward to every summer when we can begin to make new batches! Thank you for sharing your family’s recipe it is now one of our family’s recipes to pass down.

    • — Pat on August 27, 2022
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  • I was skeptical . . . I grew up making dill pickles with my mom every summer and thought nothing could be better than her tried-and-true hot brine recipe. But Jenn ALWAYS delivers with her recipies and these pickles are amazing! Another OUAC winner 💞

    • — Julie Roedell on August 26, 2022
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  • Had a stellar crop of small cucumbers this summer and just packed two more jars today. These are really good, but wondering if I can cut back on salt a bit? Will this affect shelf life in fridge?

    • — Dan on August 25, 2022
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    • Hi Dan, Glad you enjoyed them; you can cut back on the salt without impacting the shelf-life. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 26, 2022
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  • Ok, finally made the pickles and put them in the fridge. Tomorrow at 4 should be ready. But probably won’t eat then until Friday with lunch.
    I bought “pickle” cukes yesterday. They come in a see thru bag, 16oz.ea.
    So this morning I was ready to proceed.(no tennis this morning). Got everything ready. Noticed I had bought yellow mustard seeds in error🙁. But was going to use them anyway. After I had all the seasoning in little bowls and the garlic peeled, but uncut, I was looking for my stash of red pepper flakes. Unsuccessfully. Though had just enough in my jar. In my quest looking, low and behold, there was a jar of brown mustard seeds. So just added them to the other ones.

    Now here’s the kicker, open the bag of cukes, which I just bought yesterday, and they were wet and mushy. I could have screamed. I didn’t. Called the manufacturer and let them know. No way of knowing their package date. They are sending me coupons. But I still had to take them back to Publix. Bottom line at 3:45 I finished making them.
    Will test them out before we go out to dinner with friends tomorrow or maybe wait one extra day.
    Sorry this is so long. I am finished venting😂😂.

    • — Sunny Drohan on August 24, 2022
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    • Sounds like quite an adventure! Hope they turn out nicely. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 24, 2022
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      • What’s life for, other than for adventure. Though it’s usually when I’m in the kitchen!
        Decided I would be patient and have the pickles with our lunch tomorrow🤞🤞🤞.

        • — Sunny Drohan on August 25, 2022
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  • Made these a few times now. Love them and so does the family.

    • — Debbie Loscher on August 21, 2022
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  • Made these and they were delicious! The grandkids even loved them. The first time I actually made them without the coriander or mustard seeds and they were still delicious. Getting ready to make them again! Yum

    • — Mitzi on August 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed making and eating these wonderful refrigerator pickles. My Grow-Box produced an abundance of cucumbers, so thankfully, I came across your recipe again and had the right kind of cucumbers to make them. I made a few batches of them and shared them with my son (who absolutely loved them) and daughter-in-law and some friends. Everyone loved the crunchiness of them, and I loved that they were so well-balanced in flavor. I have had dill pickles that were so sour they made me cough, but these had just the right amount of vinegar to be “gently puckery”. Thanks so much! I always love your recipes and am never disappointed!

    • — Terry Young on August 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Tried this recipe, it’s fantastic. My husband said save that recipe. Just used a dash of pepper flakes and it was just right for us. Couldn’t find coriander seeds but turned out great.

    • — Sharina on August 19, 2022
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  • Have you ever tried zucchini in the place of the cucumbers? Seems like a great way to use up the zucs this time of year.

    • — Jeri Jo on August 14, 2022
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    • I can’t say I have. Please LMK how they come out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on August 15, 2022
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  • Hi, really would like to try this recipe for pickles, however, can this recipe be used for pickling other vegetables such as jalapeños or red onion?

    • — Jay on August 13, 2022
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    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on August 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is an awesome recipe!!!
    Easy and unbelievably tasty!!

    • — Marc on August 12, 2022
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  • These are/were fantastic! My first time making pickles and they were a hit. Tested by friends and family. I made a few modifications to assembly and type of slices; however, the ingredients were as published.

    • — Richard Resh on August 6, 2022
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  • Hi Jenn, I just finished bottling the quick pickles with the Kirby cucumbers and can’t wait to taste them! Thanks for another fabulous and very easy recipe.

    • — Debra on August 5, 2022
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  • In complete agreement that this is one of the best pickle recipes! Friends and family love them almost more than my tried and true processed dills. I’ve been making yours for a few years now and they’re gone in a flash. I am just in the process of doing my batches tomorrow but am unable to find ANY coriander seeds in any of my markets or grocery stores. What are your thoughts on omitting the coriander seed? Ground coriander will make the brine murky correct? Thanks for your thoughts!

    Shan

    • — Shannon Friesen on August 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Shannon, So glad you like the pickles! It’s fine to omit the coriander seeds.

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2022
      • Reply
      • Absolutely love this recipe! Super convenient and very tasty. The red pepper flakes add a nice spark! My daughter and I can never wait for the market to have our favorite cukes for making these.

        • — Marcel on August 8, 2022
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    • I’ve been using dill, red pepper and diced fresh garlic. I have McCormick’s picking spices, but haven’t used yet.

      • — Je on August 7, 2022
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  • I prepared the recipe with Armenian cucumbers which grow in my garden. I just made a second batch. Gave the first away! Very good pickles!!

    • — Paula Lloyd on August 3, 2022
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  • I’ve been looking for a recipe with this exact same taste for years and finally found it last year. It tastes like pickles at the deli & smoked meat restaurant. I will make some more today. This is the best pickle recipe. I follow the recipe exactly except for one detail. I add the brine to the mason jar when it’s still hot. When it cools off, the jar seals which technically make it last longer. But I couldn’t really test this theory as we ate the pickles too quickly.

    • — Francis on August 1, 2022
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  • Love your recipe. I like that you use more salt then sugar, most I’ve seen use more sugar then salt. I do use a pickling spice mixture but add more black peppercorns, several cloves of garlic and fresh dill. For those that want HOT pickles I add slices jalapeños and habanero peppers. Last year I was making pints but they sold so fast I went with quart jars. I also use your recipe for sweet peppers but don’t add the pickling spice, just garlic and black peppercorns. Love love love this recipe!!!

    • — Jeanne E on July 31, 2022
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  • Wow. I was always afraid to try pickles. This was so easy and so good. The only change I made was I doubled the red paper flakes. These were great the next day.

    • — Karen A. Riccio on July 30, 2022
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  • Hi, We absolutely love your recipe. So easy and delicious! Far better than any store bought deli. Can you tell me if this recipe would work if I left the pickling cucumbers whole, rather than slicing them. My garden has given me small cucumbers this season and my kids love the idea of grabbing a whole pickle to munch on.
    Thank you,

    • — Racquel on July 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you like it! Yes, you could keep them whole, but they will take longer to pickle.

      • — Jenn on July 31, 2022
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  • These are the best pickles I’ve ever had…and so easy!

    • — Pat on July 29, 2022
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  • Can you use this recipe to do pickle chips instead of cutting them into spears?

    • — Melissa on July 28, 2022
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    • Sure — that should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
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      • They are very good. A little sweet for me after 24hrs sitting. Is there a way to counter act the sweetness? Like can I add something. Or cut it in half next time. Now they are very refreshing I’m still going to eat the whole thing!!!!

        • — Melissa on July 30, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Melissa, You can add a bit more vinegar to the brine to temper the sweetness. And, yes, next time you can reduce the sugar if you find these to be too sweet. Glad you’re enjoying them nevertheless!

          • — Jenn on July 31, 2022
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    • Best pickles ever! I made two double batches😊

      • — Jean Pierce on July 30, 2022
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      • These pickles are so good! They were eaten up so fast, I made a second double batch!

        • — Jean Pierce on July 30, 2022
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    • I only cut rounds as that’s what everyone wants. I do a couple of jars of spears for us to make fried pickles in egg roll wrappers

      • — Jeanne E on July 31, 2022
      • Reply

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