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Refrigerator Dill Pickles – A Quick and Easy Recipe

These easy refrigerator dill pickles (aka icebox pickle or quick pickles) are so delicious and are a great way to quickly put up small batches of cucumbers from your garden or the grocery store. This recipe is for refrigerator dill pickles but you can make all kinds of refrigerator pickles using this recipe as a guide.

Three pickles spears of refrigerator dill pickles.

Of all the pickles I make, my grandson thinks these are the best pickles. It’s funny how everyone has their own idea of what makes a good pickle. Therefore, I’ll share some variations in the printable recipe card that you can use to make quick pickles based on your family’s favorite flavors.

When the garden is giving you an abundance of cucumbers it’s easy to make a big batch of homemade pickles that are canned and shelf stable. But when you have just a few cucumbers coming in each day it’s much harder. That’s when I like to make this easy recipe because I can make just a jar of pickles if that’s all the cucumbers I have. 

Pile of pickling cucumbers.

Homemade Refrigerator Pickle Ingredients

Cucumbers – The kind of cucumber you use to make homemade dill pickles matters. The best cucumbers to use for any kind of pickling are pickling cucumbers Pickling cucumbers have thinner skin and are drier than slicing cucumbers. Some popular pickling cucumber varieties are National Pickling, Boston Bush and Kirby Cucumbers. English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers can also work for pickle making because they have thin skin. But don’t try to use regular cucumbers (slicing cucumbers) as they will make soggy pickles. 

Vinegar – I use white vinegar in this recipe because my grandson likes it better than apple cider vinegar. That being said, you can use any vinegar that has 5% acidity (it will be listed on the label). If you like a more mild vinegar flavor try apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. 

Water – You can use tap water or bottled water for making refrigerator pickles. If you have well water, the minerals in the water might make the pickles soft, so it’s recommended that you only use soft water to ensure crisp pickles.

Salt – Canning salt is recommended for making pickles, even refrigerator pickles, because it doesn’t have any anti-caking agents or minerals in it. If you don’t have canning salt, you can use any pure salt, including kosher salt or sea salt. If the only ingredient listed on the label is salt, you can use it. Just be aware that some salts have naturally occurring minerals and those minerals might make the pickles soft. Don’t use regular table salt (iodized salt) for making pickles.

Sugar – I put just a little bit of white sugar in these dill pickles to take the harshness from the white vinegar down a notch. These are definitely sour pickles and not sweet pickles, even with the little bit of sugar. Feel free to leave the sugar out of the recipe, if you want to.

Fresh Garlic and Other Herbs – For dill pickles I like to use a combination of fresh dill sprigs, dill seeds, whole black peppercorns, bay leaves, yellow mustard seeds, coriander seeds, celery seed and plenty of garlic. You could also add bell peppers, red pepper flakes, cloves, allspice, or turmeric. Many of these can be grown in the home garden. If you need to purchase any herbs don’t grab the little jars at the grocery store they’re very expensive that way. Instead, order in bulk from Starwest Botanicals, which is my favorite place to order herbs that I don’t grow.

Two mason jars with cucumber spears in them.

How to Make Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

Step 1: Prepare the fresh cucumbers 

Start by washing the pickling cucumbers thoroughly. Trim off the blossom end of the cucumber, that’s the end that is not attached to the vine. The blossom end has an enzyme in it that can make the pickles soft. Some people prefer to cut off both ends and that’s perfectly fine. Slice cucumbers into spears or rounds, depending on your preference. Pickle spears will give you a crunchier pickle and sliced cucumbers will give you a less crunchy pickle. 

Step 2: Prepare the pickling brine 

In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar and pickling salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the salt dissolves completely. Remove the hot brine from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

The top view of an open jar of refrigerator pickle spears.

Step 3: Pack the jars 

Take a clean quart jar and pack cucumber spears or cucumber slices in the jar. You may have to do some rearranging and move a pickle spear a few times to get the jars packed tightly. Add the crushed garlic cloves, dill seeds, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes (if desired) to each jar. Finally, tuck in a few sprigs of fresh dill. I like to use quart-size wide mason jars (canning jars) because they have tight-fitting lids and wide mouth jars are easier to pack than regular mouth jars.

If you want to you can put spices in first so they are at the bottom of the jar. Either way works just fine.

Step 4: Pour in the brine 

Carefully pour the cooled brine into the jar, making sure to cover the cucumbers completely. Leave a little bit of headspace at the top of the jar.

Step 5: Seal and refrigerate 

Secure the jar tightly with its lid and gently shake it to distribute the spices and brine. Place the jar in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop. For optimal taste, refrigerate the pickles for about a week before enjoying them.

Storage: Refrigerator dill pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Over time, the flavor will deepen and become even more delicious. That being said, refrigerator pickles will also get softer over time.

Be sure to label the jars before putting them in the refrigerator. If you wait until they’re cold, the labels won’t stick because of the condensation on the jar. Grab these free, printable canning labels to label your refrigerator dill pickles. Just fill out the form below.

Tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page. We always appreciate your feedback. You can also save the recipe for later by pinning it or clicking on the heart in the lower right hand corner.

Yield: 2 quart-size jars

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Two mason jars of cucumber spears with spices to make refrigerator dill pickles.

These easy refrigerator dill pickles (aka icebox pickle or quick pickles) are so delicious and are a great way to quickly put up small batches of cucumbers from your garden or the grocery store. This recipe is for refrigerator dill pickles but you can make all kinds of refrigerator pickles using this recipe as a guide.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs cucumbers (approx. 5-6 medium size cucumbers)
  • 1 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 - 2 dillweed sprigs
  • 1/4 tsp dill seed
  • 1-2 cloves garlic

Instructions

  1. Prepare the fresh cucumbers by washing them. Trim off the blossom end of the cucumber, that's the end that is not attached to the vine. Slice cucumbers into spears or rounds, depending on your preference.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar and pickling salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the salt dissolves completely. Remove the hot brine from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Take a clean quart jar and add the crushed garlic cloves, dill seeds, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes (if desired) to the bottom of the jar. Then pack cucumber spears or cucumber slices in the jar.
  4. Carefully pour the cooled brine into the jar, making sure to cover the cucumbers completely. Leave a little bit of headspace at the top of the jar.
  5. Secure the jar tightly with its lid and gently shake it to distribute the spices and brine.
  6. Place the jar in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop. For optimal taste, refrigerate the pickles for about a week before enjoying them.
  7. Refrigerator dill pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Notes

Refrigerator Pickle Variations:

Sweet Pickles - To make a sweet refrigerator pickle, use 3 tablespoons white sugar or other sweetener such as honey or maple syrup.

Bread and Butter Pickles - Use three tablespoons white sugar in the brine. In each jar substitute the peppercorns, dill weed and dill seed with a pinch of celery seed, 1/8 tsp mustard seed, pinch of turmeric. Add thinly sliced onions to each har.

Spicy Pickles - Add 1-2 tsp crushed red peppers or slices of jalapeno, serrano, or other spicy peppers, to each jar.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

2 pickle spears

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 12Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 196mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g

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Most Common Questions

What’s the difference between pickles and refrigerator pickles?

Technically, pickles refers to any food (usually a vegetable) that has been preserved in a vinegar or saltwater brine. Generally, when people in the US talk about pickles they are referring to pickled cucumbers that have been canned and are self-stable. Refrigerator pickles are cucumbers that have been put into a vinegar and water brine that is not strong enough to ensure safety when canning, so refrigerator pickles need to be stored in the refrigerator and are not shelf stable.

Can I water bath can pickles made with this refrigerator dill pickle recipe? 

No. There is not enough vinegar in this recipe to make it recipe that is safe for canning. However, I do have my Granny’s bread and butter pickles recipe and a crunchy canned dill pickle recipe that makes fantastic shelf stable pickles. 

Can I add more or less spices, sugar, etc.?

Yes, if want the pickles to be sweeter you can add more sugar, or less sugar if you want them to be more sour. Because this recipe is for refrigerator pickles you can change it up all you want and not have to worry about the safety of the pickles. My suggestion is to make the recipe as written at least once and then make adjustments based on your family’s preferences.

Can I use pickle spice instead of individual spices?

Yes, you can purchase pickle spice at most grocery stores. But I would suggest making your own with this easy pickle spice recipe. It will be so much cheaper.

Can I use other vegetables in this recipe? 

Yes! Zucchini and summer squash makes great refrigerator pickles as do green beans. Just substitute the cucumbers in the recipe with zucchini, squash or green beans.

What can I do with the leftover brine?

If you have leftover brine after filling the jars, you can put the brine in a mason jar and store it until you have enough cucumbers to make another jar of pickles. 

Once the jar of pickles have been eaten you can use the leftover brine to make a quick salad dressing or marinade. I would not add more cucumbers to it and try to make another jar of pickles with it. They won’t be near as flavorful. 

Making refrigerator dill pickles at home is not only easy but also rewarding. With just a handful of ingredients and a little bit of patience, you can say goodbye to store-bought pickles. Use them as a a snack, to enhance sandwiches or burgers, or pair them with a charcuterie board, the possibilities of these tangy pickles are endless. 

refrigerator pickles on white plate with a jar of homemade pickles in the background

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

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