It’s no secret that many things from your own kitchen are more flavorful, healthful, and nutrient dense than store-bought. Pickles are no exception.

How To Pickle Cucumbers

Since we began pickling our own cucumbers, store-bought pickles seem so limp, soggy, artificially colored, and unappealing. You read that right – artificially colored. Certain brands of pickles have added yellow #5 to give their sickly-colored (translation: not so fresh) pickles a little color boost. With all we know about the health implications of food dyes, it’s high time we avoid store-bought and learn how to make our own pickles. This method is so simple, and you will love the outcome!

I didn’t automatically know how to pickle cucumbers, this recipe was derived from lots of personal taste testing trial and error. Out of all the recipes I’ve tried, this is the best. You don’t need any special equipment – we’re not going to can these pickles. They’re called “refrigerator pickles” because you allow the vinegar and other ingredients to tenderize and flavor the cucumbers with no need for cooking. You end up with crispy, fresh, delicious pickles that have all the raw nutrients in tact.

How To Pickle Cucumbers 1

Homemade Refrigerator Dill Pickles

You will need


Cut pickles into discs, spears, or sandwich slices and add to the jar with all ingredients except the water. Once everything is in the jar, fill to the very top with distilled or filtered water and screw lid on very tightly. Shake the jar up to distribute flavors and leave on your countertop for 12 hours. Shake again and turn upside down for another 12 hours, making sure the lid is screwed on tightly to avoid leakage. After pickles have sat for a total of 24 hours go taste your creation – you won’t believe how good they are! Store in refrigerator and enjoy within a month for maximum freshness.

Notes from the kitchen

Don’t limit yourself to pickled cucumbers, use this recipe with just about any vegetable. We omit the dill and use the recipe for okra, bell peppers, and more. Adjust the spices and be creative – there are so many possibilities.

At times we have eaten up our pickles within a few days – and hate to waste the well-seasoned liquid mixture – so when the pickles disappear too quickly, we reuse the liquid mixture by packing more fresh cucumbers in the jar. We add a touch more vinegar and  top off with more water.

Do you have cucumbers or other veggies coming out of your ears? Give this simple pickling recipe a shot, I promise you won’t regret it!


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    • mary w says

      Lisa – Since these are kept in the refrigerator rather than “canned” botulism isn’t an issue. (BTW water bath canning doesn’t kill botulism either. It’s the acid level that keeps botulism from growing. But that’s a conversation for a different blog.)

      • anon says

        If water bath canning is done properly, it absolutely kills Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria responsible for botulism.

  1. says

    I just found you through Jeff’s site, and must say you have an excellent blog. Right up my alley. :) Those pickles look amazing….I’m actually eating a peanut butter and pickle sandwich right now.

  2. Bunny says

    So excited! Made two jars tonight… had to promise hubby we won’t try them before he gets home on Wednesday. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  3. Joanie says

    Made 2 batches of these and will be making plenty more!!! I used regular cucumbers and they worked great!

  4. Wanda says

    My granddaughter loves pickles and she loves to cook, bake etc., so we’ll make these this weekend. Thank you I LOVE this site. We have made the laundry and dishwasher detergent but with the dishwasher detergent my silver and glass don’t get as clean or should I say as shiny as we like. Any who…. Do you have a grape jelly receipe I have tons of grapes this year on the vine we planted 3 years ago and need a good receipe. Do you have one.
    Thanks y’all keep up the GREAT work.

      • Wanda says

        I made the grape jelly just to tell I don’t know why but I wanted to tell everyone it was my FIRST time. It’s a little like really thick jelly syrupy but yummy just the same. A nice tart/sweet taste. Ok now Boeing to myself and patting myself on the back.

  5. says

    I have been making refrigerator dill pickles for the past month and they are great. We are eating them as fast as I make them. I did a lot of research on them and to answer a couple people’s questions…you do not have to sterilize and prepare the jars like you do for canning because you are NOT canning them. Botulism is something you have to worry about if you are storing jars at room temperature. Running them through the dishwasher first is fine. I am using canning jars for mine but you can also re-use old jars such as pickle jars. These pickles will last up to a year in the refrigerator because of the vinegar that is in them. I am storing any extra jars we end up with in our extra refrigerator. I am curious if the salt in this recipe dissolves…I assume it does. In the recipe I used you boil the water, salt, and vinegar first to dissolve the salt and then pour over the cucumbers. I also added about a teaspoon of mustard seeds and half teaspoon of minced dried onion to the jar. You don’t have to use pickling cucumbers, I am also using regular cucumbers from the garden while they are still small. YUM!!!!

    • says

      “Pickling” cucumbers are the smaller varieties (that are more pickle sized), but you can use any cucumber, just cut them to size.

  6. says

    I definitely want to try this.
    Anyone tried this sorta recipe using green beans? We get tons in the garden and my in-laws will usually make “dilly beans”, but they are cooked first. I prefer to keep things raw if I can.

  7. Brad says

    Could you do the same steps for doing baby pickles, I think they are called crunchers, or snackem’s. Could i do the smaller cucumbers for these? Thinking about planting a few more before it starts cooling down.

  8. Tammie says

    I made a batch of refrigerator pickles and was lucky enough that my lids all sealed (I think it was because they were still slightly warm when I put the lids on and stuck them in the fridge). Someone told me that if they sealed, then I don’t need to store them in the fridge as they’re shelf stable. Do you know if that’s true? I didn’t do the whole water bath/sterilization thingy so I’m a bit nervous. Don’t want to inadvertantly knock off any unsuspecting friends… Thanks!

  9. Brenda says

    TIP: I used a garlic press on my garlic and it made the vinegar soultion cloudy. There is nothing wrong with the taste but is much prettier if you minced the garlic instead.

  10. says

    Love this simple recipe. The hardest part is waiting 2 days before you can eat them! I wouldn’t know how long they last in the refrigerator either because ours are gone in just a few days.

  11. Natalie says

    Does it matter (food safety-wise) that I divided the recipe between 4 8 oz canning jars (that’s all I had). So there is basically about a quarter of the amount of salt and vinegar in each jar. I didn’t know if using a smaller amount of the salt and vinegar would keep the cucumbers from spoiling. We tasted them and they are delish, is that a good enough test ? :-)

  12. Ken says

    Just made a few jars of these pickles, spears and slices and on the third day after about 10 hours in the refrigerator we tried them and they are great.
    The smell and taste reminded me of going to the neighborhood butcher shop as a kid and them having the barrel of pickles there, same smell and flavor.
    Hard to control ourselves from eating them up in one night.
    We will never buy jar pickles again. These are fresh, healthy, without all the extra salt and chemicals. Thanks for sharing

    • says

      Glad y’all like em Ken. We just made another cucumber batch today and even used the same recipe to pickle red and green bell peppers (minus the dill), can’t wait to taste them.

  13. Jennifer says

    I used regular cucumbers with a similar recipe. I sliced them & after a couple of days the pickles fell apart, the meaty part seemed to melt away….any ideas as to why? It was my first attempt at pickles & Im a little disappointed :(

    • says

      If you didn’t use this recipe then I can’t know what happened. If you use this recipe that won’t happen, at least it never has to me. I made 2 batches yesterday with regular sized cucumbers sliced into thick pickle chips – they’re money in the bank! Give it another shot and let us know how it goes. Make your slices about 1/2″ thick.

  14. patti says

    dangit….did these yesterday, and not only did i forget to flip them after the first 12 hours, but i just realized i forgot the salt!! what should i do now?? is all hope of a pickle lost?? :(

  15. Cheryl says

    I made these pickles a month ago. We ate one jar after a week (fantastic!), but saved the other jar til now. When I opened them, bubbles, much like carbonation, came up to the top. Is this OK? Are they safe or did I wait too long to use them?

    • says

      Hard to say Cheryl. We have had them last for months with no issue but it depends on a lot of factors. If it were me, I would smell them. If they smell good, I would taste them. If they taste fine I would eat them, if not, I would spit the bite out, discard, and get more cukes to process. How did they last that long? I’m guessing they were hiding behind something else.

      • Cheryl says

        I hate to say it, but I ate one, thinking what could possibly go wrong with them? It was very garlicky, which I love, and otherwise it seemed fine. Looked good and was crisp. But of course now I’m expecting botulism any day (even though I keep reading it’s not possible with refrigerator pickles). The jar (glass lid with rubber seal) had sealed really well…maybe too well? And since it was a very large jar and I only had about enough cukes to fill it half way, they were at the top. I’ve read that could be a sign that something is wrong, but my first batch did the same thing and they were fine. And no…they weren’t hiding… I was saving them since we ate the first jar so fast. Hoping they’d last awhile. Love them! Thanks for the recipe and for your help.

        • says

          The bubbles and carbonation are the result of fermentation. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with it- in fact, the opposite. Fermentation actually increases the good bacteria (which overtakes the bad bacteria which causes botulism) and helps make the nutrients more available for the body. However, if you’re not accostomed to eating a lot of fermented foods, eating some may cause some digestive uncomfort at first, or if you’re overly acidic and toxic it could cause some detoxification symptoms which can be very uncomfortable. I’d recommend not eating too much of those at a time until you know how your body reacts.
          Fermented vegetables are packed full of probiotic power (WAY more than a probiotic supplement!) and eating them can greatly improve one’s gut flora, which aids the entire body in maintaining health and balance.

          • says

            Great info Gracie, are you into WAP? We’re getting familiar and have started fermenting foods too. It’s the way we’ll be doing it going forward, rather than canning, so the nutrients and beneficial bacteria are still there! Blessings.

  16. says

    I don’t know what WAP is!
    We have recently started fermenting vegetables. Our sauerkraut (cabbage) has been delicious. I too tried this pickle recipe and let it sit out “too” long and they got very carbonated! They tasted great but had that bubbly tingle on the end of the tongue. And unforunately, eating some make me sick. It didn’t bother my husband at all, but he has grown up with much better health than I have. I used to have very bad health with years of candida yeast problems. I am over it now, but I believe my gut flora has been severely compromised from bad diet and antibiotics. The reintroduction of such a high dose of good bacteria from two slices of fermented pickles was perhaps too much too fast! Thankfully I seem to be well adapted to the sauerkraut at this time. I’ll have to try a few bites of pickles again sometime…

  17. Cheryl says

    I’m so happy to have this information. The pickles taste so good and I hate to waste anything unless it’s really going to hurt us. I did eat the one pickle yesterday and had a bit of upset today, but nothing too uncomfortable or long lasting. (or even uncommon) I’m relieved to know it’s just fermentation and is a healthy thing. Thanks Gracie. And thanks again, Matt.

  18. StephInBerkeley says

    Hey Jabs,

    I tried your pickles recipe today. They look gorgeous!!! And I can’t wait to try them :) Thanks for this recipe and ALL that you do!

  19. Hannah says

    I found some really cute mini cucumbers at the market the other night and was wondering if I have to cut them in order to get the same effect…can I just throw them in as is? I’m not too big on sliced pickles!!!!

    • says

      Great question Hannah, we haven’t tried it yet. I imagine it would work, but will probably take a little longer to penetrate into the center of the pickle, so give it 3-4 days. Let us know how it goes!

  20. Anna says

    I have made these and they are awesome :) I have two questions though. 1. is it important that they sit on a counter for 24hrs? I’m concerned about “funny” things growing- will they pickle if you leave them in the fridge without counter time?. Lastly has anyone ever tried this with mushrooms? I love pickled mushrooms and may just give it a shot anyway. I’ve got too many right now anyway. (Just realized that was 3 questions LOL) Thanks

    • says

      Give mushrooms a shot and let us know how they turn out Anna. If you’re worried about leaving them out then refrigerate them, but we can’t guarantee the same results because we don’t do it that way.

      • Anna says

        Well I did make the Mushrooms and they are really good! I was surprised to see how much they shrink- I needed to open the jar a few times to add more water to ensure they were covered. I did leave them on the counter and (as I’m still living and have no adverse affects) I believe they are safe :) I just used 1 Garlic clove and 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp vinegar and top off with water. This was in a 500ml mason jar. Good luck to anyone else wanting to do them- I’m making another batch today. Cheers!

  21. Marguerite Hollingsworth says

    Thank you for this recipe. The combination of salt and vinegar is just perfect.
    I used this recipe to make carrots with veges, and wanted to see what would happen if I left it out on the counter for a few days the way I do when fermenting. Well, it began bubbling just like my fermenting jars. I can’t find any info online, would someone who knows please tell me why they ferment with vinegar present? If they are indeed fermenting, then they will store at room temperature as well.

  22. Rebecca V. says

    I love love love the ‘barrel cured’ dill pickle flavor. I absolutely hate hate hate the Kosher dill pickle flavor (and sweet pickles too!). I’ve made refrigerator pickles before with great success, but the flavor was that of the Kosher dill pickles. Granted, that recipe called for sugar too…but I was wondering where the taste of these fall in the pickle flavor range? Thanks so much!! Love EVERYTHING you and Betsy do!

      • Rebecca V. says

        Thanks! I will! I told one of my 6 year old twins (who also loves dill pickles as much as I do) about them and she cannot wait to try them. I see a DIY project in our very near future ;-)…

  23. says

    You refer to the cucumbers as “pickling cucumbers” but can I use what I am growing in my garden? They are regular (as far as I know) cucumbers.

  24. Sammy60 says

    I often use the leftover pickle brine for roasting some tough beef cuts. My recipe is lacto-fermented without vinegar (my grandma’s recipe).

  25. Lauren says

    Can you use other salts beside kosher, such as Celtic Grey or Himalayan Pink, and achieve the same results?

    • says

      We used what the recipe calls for so anything else is experimental, but I’m sure you’ll be fine using your favorite salt. Blessings.

  26. Cheryl says

    Hi, Matt!
    I just an hour ago put together my first jar of pickles for the summer…this year from our own cukes. Can’t wait to get to eat them! We have company coming to share in the goodness. Thanks for your help last summer. We are hooked! God bless you and your family.

  27. Evan Pincus says

    We’re making some right now with these MONSTROUS cucumbers that we picked yesterday. We could barely fit them through the top of the jar! Do they shrink at all?

  28. Dlagrand says

    This is a great way to make pickles – I do a similar technique which relies on fermentation to preserve them – so I don’t use vinegar but otherwise my recipe is much the same. Salt & water (roughly 1 T salt to 1 cup water), reused brine from the previous batch if I have some, veggies of choice, whatever herbs i have growing (basil, thyme, dill, etc), garlic, peppercorns, mustard seed or other spices of choice, and a couple of grape leaves on top to keep things crunchy (the tannins in the leaves are what do this). You can use wild grape leaves or buy pickled ones (I found them at whole foods but also have them growing in my woods). Leave the jar on the counter with a loose lid (it will get bubbly) a few days (depending on room temperature), poke everything down under the brine if it floats (a carrot or two wedged across the top of the jar helps keep everything under). If a white film develops, scrape it off and refrigerate. This is kham’s yeast and is not harmful can impart a bad taste. Refrigeration stops it. The jars can stay in the fridge as long as you need. They also can be left on the counter for a few days at a time if you need the fridge space. The salt (i very much prefer redmond real salt, but at very least use non-iodized sea salt) and developing acidity are what prevents spoilage. You are creating a climate that encourages beneficial bacteria over bad ones.
    A word about botulism – it is an anaerobic bacteria so is much more likely in sealed jars of food that have been improperly processed. These fermented pickles are not sealed and air is introduced every time you open the jar, so if something does go wrong with your batch – it is most likely do to spoilage bacteria than botulism. If the food tastes bad – dont eat it, but remember that botulism is virtually tasteless, so bad taste does not
    indicate botulism. I am not saying that food prepared this way cannot ever have botulism, just that it is very unlikely. It is much more likely in improperly heat canned foods.

  29. Dlagrand says

    And to answer someone’s question above – yes you can use while cukes – even big ones – they just take longer to cure all the way through. My fav veggies to use include cukes of all sizes, some sliced and some whole, carrots (try both sticks and ripple- cut slices, cauliflower, okra, cabbage (red and green, the red turns a beautiful shocking pink!), celery, and jicama (strange but true!). I just started a jar of tomatillos and small green tomatoes – can’t wait to try that. I like to add hot peppers to some as well.

  30. Renée says

    I bought 2 bags of pickling cukes at the market last week meaning to do canning pickles. My week got away on me and if I don’t get them done the cukes will go bad. If I make all into this recipe will they keep as long as I have fridge space? (Beer fridge in garage might become the pickle fridge!)

  31. Lavada says

    I am getting ready to make a batch of my first pickles as we speak! My girls go through a jar at least once a week of the commercial brands so I thought, why not? At least I know what is in these creations! Thank you for all your knowledge on this site! People are astounded that I’m making my own clothes detergent and how much money we are saving! You guys are the best!

  32. Elizabeth H. says

    Don’t like dill – can I add something sweet (maybe honey) and make these into sweet pickles?

  33. Shannon says

    OMG…. I must say that I was a bit reluctant to try the recipe because almost ALL other recipes I found wanted days to pickle. I tried this recipe just yesterday. Surprised I am!! The cucumbers pickled. Not only that, they taste GREAT!!! Thank you so much for the recipe and the simplicity of it! My 11 year old daughter is even WOW’ed! (with the process and the taste) – Thanks for sharing!!!