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

  • 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
    • Reply
    • I can’t say I have. Please LMK how they come out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on August 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
    • Sure!

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

    • — Marc on August 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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
        • Reply
    • 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
      • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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
      • Reply
  • These are the best pickles I’ve ever had…and so easy!

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

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

      • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • 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
          • Reply
    • Best pickles ever! I made two double batches😊

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

        • — Jean Pierce on July 30, 2022
        • Reply
    • 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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