Pickles and barbecue are a quintessential combination. Whether stacking them on a pulled pork sandwich or serving them alongside a platter of smoked meat, pickles are a tangy palette cleanser that cuts the fatty, smoky flavor of barbecue perfectly.
Traditionally, pickles are canned and stored for 4 to 6 weeks prior to being ready to eat.
These pickle chips can be made right in your fridge in just 24 hours and don’t require any fancy canning supplies or techniques.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Cucumbers – pickling cucumbers (also known as Kirby cucumbers) are the best to use for this recipe, but depending on the season, they can be difficult to source locally. When I can’t find pickling cucumbers, I substitute English cucumbers, and they work perfectly.
- Homemade pickling spice – this recipe keeps the pickling spice pretty simple with a combination of mustard seeds, dill seeds, Kosher salt, and sugar – you can add red pepper flakes, fresh onion, or peppers if you want to add an extra layer of flavor.
- Vinegar – I used distilled white vinegar for this recipe, but you can alternatively use apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or a combination of all three.
- Water – tap water or filtered water is fine.
- Fresh dill – I cannot emphasize enough how important FRESH dill is for this recipe. I’ve used dried dill and dill weed in the past, but the strong dill flavor doesn’t come through nearly as much as when you use fresh.
- Garlic – I love to add garlic to my pickles, but it’s optional. I just throw a few cloves into the jar and let it pickle right alongside the cucumbers to infuse the brine with a subtle, garlicky flavor (plus it’s tasty to eat!).
- Peppercorns – I like to add whole peppercorns to my pickle brine. They add a bit of a kick, but don’t make the pickles spicy.
Equipment you’ll need
- 2-quart pot
- Silicone or wooden spoon
- Largemouth jar with lid
Brine, by definition, is a solution of salt and water. When you’re brining meat, you are infusing the proteins with salt and flavor, but when you’re making pickles, you are replacing the moisture in the cucumbers with a salty, vinegary liquid that gives pickles their famous flavor and texture.
A pickle brine can be made in a number of ways. A heavier dose of sugar makes sweeter pickles or double the salt to get an extra sour kick. My pickle brine is a combination of the two with the classic dill flavor.
How to make Homemade Pickles
1. Prep the cucumbers
When I’m making pickles to serve alongside barbecue, I prefer to make pickle chips, but this recipe also works great for spears, halves, or whole pickles.
If you’re doing chips like I did, just slice your cucumber into equal-sized pieces. You can make them as thick or thin as you prefer, but I find that keeping them under ¼” yields the best flavor.
One trick I’ve learned to keep my pickles extra crunchy (because who doesn’t love a crunchy pickle?) is to let the pickles soak in an ice bath for a couple of hours before you pickle them. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step – but if you’ve got the time, I find that they leave the pickles with this unbelievable crunch that can’t be beaten.
Place your pickles in a bowl of ice and pour cold water on top until they’re covered. Transfer the bowl to the fridge and let them sit for 1 to 2 hours.
2. The brine
Start by adding two parts vinegar and 1 part water to a pot over medium heat, then add the pickling spice.
You want to bring the mixture to a rolling boil, give it a good stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, then set aside to cool before you pour it over your pickles.
Once your cucumbers have soaked in their ice bath for a couple of hours, you can strain them into a colander.
You want to use a large mouth jar with a lid. I like to use jars with clasps on the side to give me a good seal, but you can also use a mason jar with a lid or even a Tupperware container. Since this is a quick pickle recipe, you don’t need to worry about the seal being 100% airtight as you would with a traditional canned pickle recipe.
Start by stuffing some fresh dill down into the bottom of the jar, then add some peppercorns and garlic cloves. Add a layer of pickles and repeat the process until the jar is almost full. You want to leave about ½” of space at the top to leave room for your pickling liquid.
Once your liquid is cool and your jars are stuffed, you can pour the brine on top of the cucumbers until the jar is full. Pop the lid on and store it in the fridge for at least 2 to 4 hours before eating (ideally a whole day for maximum flavor).
They will keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, and I find that they have the best flavor and crunch after about 3 to 4 days. Once you’ve finished these off, why not give our Pickleback Wings a try and use up all that tasty leftover juice.
If you love pickles you’ll also want to try our quick pickled red onions.
What to serve your pickles with
- Leftover Barbecue Pulled Pork Tacos
- Smoked Pellet Grill Brisket
- The Best Macaroni Salad for BBQ
- Big Mac Copycat Smash Burgers
Quick and Easy Homemade Pickles; Refrigerator Pickles
- 2 English cucumbers
- 8 stalks fresh dill
- 2 tbsp rainbow peppercorns
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp dill seeds
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- Slice your cucumbers into equally sized pieces about ¼” thick.
- Fill a large mixing bowl halfway with ice, then add your cucumber and cover with cold water. Place the bowl in the fridge and let the cucumber sit in the ice bath for 1 to 2 hours.
- In a pot over medium-high heat, add your vinegar, water, and all of the ingredients for your pickling spice. Bring to a rolling boil and stir until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- In a large mouth jar or container, add layers of fresh dill, peppercorns, garlic, and cucumber slices. Repeat the layering until you only have about a ½” of space left at the top.
- Pour the cooled pickling liquid over the top of the cucumbers until completely covered. Add the lid to the jar and store in the fridge for at least 2 to 4 hours, but ideally 1 full day.
- Serve alongside your favorite barbecue and keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.