If you find yourself with lots of extra vegetables, never fear. We have a pickle recipe for that! It really is true that you can pickle almost anything, from the classic dill pickle recipe to any number of weirder pickles with apples and watermelon rinds.
The great thing about pickles is how easy they are to make. First you decide if it’s shelf stable or a quick pickle. Any pickle that you’re looking to put on the shelf needs to processed in a boiling water bath in a large saucepan. The hot water protects the contents from bacteria growth. If you’re more interested in refrigerator pickles, the rules are much more loosey goosey.
Then you get to choose your vinegar – I like using white vinegar or cider vinegar, but really you can use any vinegar with an acidity above 5 percent. Next comes kosher salt and sugar to preserve the vegetable itself. Finally, throw in some flavorings. Anything from fresh dill, dill seed, garlic cloves, mustard seeds, and black peppercorns will work to spice it up and flavor your pickles.
If you’re looking for specific inspiration, read on for a pickle recipe to fit every mood. We included our favorite recipes to make popular (and some more uncommon) pickles.
If you’re my age, you might remember those jars of pickled eggs in bars. You wouldn’t touch those things with a ten-foot pole! These days, beet pickled eggs are all the rage. They look beautiful and add a light tang to your favorite hard-boiled egg.
Cucumbers are the most classic pickle for a reason. You can slice them or quarter them, but I love pickling them whole. The best type of cucumbers to use for a whole, quick pickled cucumber is small pickling cucumbers or Kirby cucumbers. Do make sure to cut off the blossom end of the cucumber or your pickles will be too soft. These pickles are best when crunchy in texture!
I like to call pickled beets the winter tomatoes. Roast them, slice ’em, and toss them in a brine. When you pull them out, you’ll be surprised at how much they taste like tomatoes! They have a delicately earthy flavor coupled with tangy notes and a sweet aftertaste. These are my favorite pickles to use on falafel sandwiches.
If you don’t like your food super spicy, pickle up some jalapenos to tame their heat a little bit. They also soften the flesh of the peppers and add a nice, acidic flavor. Use a combination of red Fresno and green jalapeños to give these pickles a pleasing appearance. This recipe is perfect to use as a topper on nachos or on banh mi sandwiches.
Okra might be most popular for thickening up gumbo soups, but any true Southerner will tell you that pickled okra is the way to go. Preserve your summer okra crop with this tasty pickle recipe. The dill seeds and the garlic give it a boost of flavor, and canning it in a boiling water bath will preserve the okra for the rest of the year.
Tame the flavor of raw onions with a little pickling solution. Sweet onions make the best-pickled onions, especially the short-seasoned Vidalia onions. They make an excellent onion slaw, or you can use them as-is on a burger to add some sweetness to the sandwich.
7. Red Onion
Red onion pickles have the most beautiful color. They stand bright magenta in the jar and they’ll add a burst of color to any dish! Pickled red onions are my favorite taco topping because they’re quick and easy. They come together while you make the rest of the taco toppings.
8. Bell Peppers
This recipe for garlicky red peppers is a mixture of preserve roasted peppers and pickled bell peppers. They have a beautifully soft texture and pack all the flavor you’ve come to know and love about bell peppers. If you want to eat peppers in the winter, this recipe is the way to go.
Mexican pickled carrots (also known as escabeche) packs a ton of crunch alongside a burst of flavor. They make an amazing addition to bloody Mary cocktails but they’re also tasty eaten on their own as a palate cleanser. Just be careful – these pickles are seriously spicy!
Are you ready for your new favorite pickle recipe? Thinly sliced radishes not only look beautiful on top of a fresh summer salad, but they also lighten up a rich piece of roasted meat. There’s no way to better preserve a spring crop of red radish, French breakfast, or the multi-colored varieties.
11. Banana Pepper
There’s something completely iconic about a sweet and tangy banana pepper ring. They brighten up regular-old sandwiches and make a colorful addition to antipasto platters. There’s almost nothing you can’t do with banana peppers, so don’t be afraid to experiment
Sweet pickled ginger is the classic side to sushi dishes, but don’t think it’s so specialized that you can’t make it at home. All you need for this simple pickled ginger recipe is vinegar, salt, and sugar! If you can find young ginger at the farmers market with its thin, delicate skin, this recipe will turn out even better.
This spring vegetable quickly vaulted to the top of my seasonal list after living in the Pacific Northwest. I realized it was so much more versatile than the simple steamed asparagus of my childhood. Saute it, grill it, or (best yet) pickle it and serve it with bloody Mary’s!
14. Green Tomatoes
While you’re waiting for your tomatoes to ripen, you may as well snag a few of the unripened variety. Instead of being soft and sweet, these unripened tomatoes are super firm and tart. They’re perfect for pan frying in a little cornmeal, or you can pickle them and eat them for months. These make exceptional green BLT sandwiches and they’re amazing with breakfast egg dishes, too.
Before you discount this recipe, give it a try! The fish is pickled in wine, which adds a delicate flavor while maintaining the fish’s texture. To be safe, since you’re not cooking the fish, make sure you freeze it for 48 hours first. This will kill any parasites that might be living in the flesh.
16. Watermelon Rind
This Southern treat was a favorite in my college dorm room. My roommate’s mother would send her a few jars every month and they would be gone before you know it! They’re delicious and refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.
We’ve all heard of fermented cabbage (like kimchi and sauerkraut), but have you ever pickled cabbage? It’s a great way to keep the crispy, crunchy texture of the cabbage while mellowing out the brassica’s flavor. Use this gem of a pickle recipe in any instance where you would use raw (or fermented) cabbage.
Giardiniera is one of my favorite off-style pickles because they’re first brined then packed in oil. You almost always use bell peppers and carrots in giardiniera, but the pickled cauliflower bites are absolutely my favorite. This recipe is great because you get spicy pickled cauliflower first, then you get seasoned oil to use afterward!
Did you even know that pickled sausage is a thing? Of course it is! This recipe for spicy, smoked sausage is a popular Czech appetizer. It’s the easiest way to make a sandwich – just grab a jar, a little bit of mustard, and your favorite rye bread. Voila – lunch is served!
These soy sauce and sherry pickled shiitake mushrooms are simply bursting with flavor. They’re a sure fire way to add some umami notes to any dish! Talk about a great way to repurpose dried shiitake mushrooms, too. After you finish soaking them to make vegetable broth, turn them into pickles.
I love using mango in salsa, but recently this pickled mango is my go-to ingredient. The soft mango flesh really picks up on all of the spices – chile de arbol, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, ginger, and lemon. It’s an absolute flavor bomb and I want to eat it on everything!
22. Zucchini or Yellow Summer Squash
Bread and butter pickled zucchini are one of my favorite additions to any sandwich. I love the idea that, back in lean times, you would make a pickle that would make a satisfying lunch with just bread and butter. It’s a great story and an even better pickle!