Easy Homemade Refrigerator Pickles – A super-easy recipe for homemade pickles that cure right in your fridge so there’s no need to preserve them in jars. Ready in just a day or two, these classic dill pickles are made with garlic and dill and will be a welcomed addition to your summer time parties and barbecues!
Memorial Day is so close – I can almost smell the charred meats on the grill and the fruit in my sangria. I have absolutely zero plans for that Monday and looking forward to it. I haven’t binge-watched TV since Christmas and I miss it. If that sofa doesn’t have an imprint of my butt by the end of the holiday, I didn’t relax hard enough.
For all you that are planning to celebrate the day with tons of food, today’s recipe is a great addition to your BBQs and Picnics. It also marks the second recipe this week that was inspired by restaurants. First, we talked about this insanely-incredible Avocado & Charred Corn Salad that I recreated based on a salad I ate at a local Tex-Mex spot.
Now, I am bringing to you another easy recipe, but this time, on the snack spectrum. Say hello to my Easy Homemade Refrigerator Pickles!
Never in a MILLION years did I think I’d have the desire to make my own pickles. I was perfectly happy with the pickles I could buy in the store. They were perfectly seasoned and snappy – what could I do differently at home??
But during a visit to a local restaurant, I tried some of their homemade pickles and was BLOWN. AWAY. They were super salty but not as vinegary as your typical pickle. I could tell that they weren’t cured for too long because their skin was super green still and there was tons of crunch in the texture of the pickle. I NEEDED to have more of them. From that encounter alone, I was inspired to make my own at home.
But there was another thing holding me back – the canning process terrified me. Canning is the process of sealing jars to preserve the contents (think: jam, fruits, veggies, anything pickled). Why they call the process “canning,” even though you’re using jars, is beyond my comprehension.
But during my research, I realized that you don’t need to can pickles when making them at home. Instead, you can make refrigerator pickles. These pickles are called refrigerator pickles because they do not need to be preserved in jars by following the intimidating canning steps. Instead, they cure (turn from cucumbers to pickles) in the fridge.
So how exactly does this work? The process is similar to the pickled red onions that I made in this salad:
- Wash and dry some mason jars or jars with a clamp lid (which is what I used)
- Prepare the cucumbers by slicing off the ends and into the shape of your choice
- Add spices and cucumbers to jars
- Boil the brine and add to the jars
- Bring to room temperature and then store in fridge for 2 days
That’s really all there is to it! No fancy supplies or ingredients. But I will say, it was surprisingly annoying to locate the dill seed.
Note: dill seed is NOT the same as dill weed and they should not be interchanged for this recipe – a fact I learned after my third trip to a grocery store turned unsuccessful. I finally gave up the hunt and just purchased them on Amazon. I used the entire package (0.35 ounces) for this recipe so if you plan on making more than that, buy additional packs.
Here are a few more tips to ensure your pickles come out perfectly:
- Make sure to cut the ends off the cucumbers before pickling. The ends have enzymes in them that make them soft during the pickling process. I learned this from my favorite source of random cooking knowledge, The Kitchn.
- Speaking of The Kitchn, if you’re wondering if pickling salt is necessary for these pickles, here’s what they have to say on the matter.
- The best cucumbers to use for pickles are Kirby or Persian cucumbers. I used Kirby because they have a thicker skin so they snap when you bite them. At my local grocery store, they were called salad cucumbers. Regardless of the name, you can identify them by the bumpy skin. See my pictures above for an example.
- If you want a sweeter flavor to your pickles, use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar. It has a more mild and less vinegary taste. I love the taste of vinegar so I use white vinegar for my pickles.
- Make sure that you sure glass jars for your pickling. The vinegar is acidic (duh) so it can break down weak plastics and make your pickles taste funny. Also, if you are making two jars of pickles (like I did), use jars that are about 36 ounces. If you want to make smaller jars, you will need 4 pint-sized jars (16 ounces each)
- Make sure the jars are jam-packed with cucumbers before adding liquid. If you have too much space in the jars, you will fill it with too much brine, which will make the pickles too vinegary. I made this mistake my first time. They were still edible and yummy but just slightly too vinegary.
Well that’s all there is to it, folks! Try these out for Memorial Day this weekend. But make sure to give the pickles a couple days to develop their flavor! Come back and let me know how much you love them by commenting below!
Here are all the kitchen tools and serveware that I used in today’s recipe. For each item sold below, I make a small commission. I only recommend items that I own and love so you can trust that each recommendation is tried and true. Thank you for supporting CPA!
Easy Homemade Refrigerator Pickles
- 2 pounds kirby cucumbers (also called salad cucumbers)
- 8 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 4 teaspoons dill seed (NOT the same as dill weed)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons pickling salt (or kosher salt)
- Prepare the jars by washing them with warm, soapy water. Make sure to rinse them well and dry completely. Set aside.
- Slice the pickles into quarters to make them into spears. If you prefer, you can leave them whole, slice into halves, or slice into chips. Set aside.
- Grab your prepared jars and split the spices and garlic evenly between them. You should have 4 cloves, 2 teaspoons of dill seed, and 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes per jar.
- Divide cucumbers into both jars. Make sure to pack tightly. If you have tons of space between your cucumbers and the top of the jar, add more cucumber pieces to fill the gaps. If there's too much open space in the jar, too much brine will get used. My pickles were all different sizes so I split them up into the jars according to size. This will make sure I have enough brine to cover all of the spears evenly.
- Bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it's boiling, turn off heat and split brine between both jars. Tops the jars with lids and let them sit at room temperature until they've cooled down. Then, place pickles in the fridge for 2 days before trying them. The pickles will keep for a few weeks.
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