Refrigerator pickles are a crisp and tangy treat that’s simple to make at home. A Southern favorite, these tangy and sweet pickles go well with any main dish.
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
I recall my first time enjoying refrigerator pickles at a restaurant called Jestine’s Kitchen. Jestine’s is unfortunately closed now, but this pickle recipe stood out. These pickles, also known as icebox pickles, are the perfect side dish. They balance heavy foods such as fried chicken or fried fish.
This pickle recipe comes together quickly and uses ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. They’re known as quick refrigerator pickles because they’re ready in hours rather than being canned in a water bath.
Ingredients for Refrigerator Pickles
- The brine: These pickles are made with a brine consisting of hot water, white vinegar, granulated sugar, kosher salt, and white pepper (or black pepper).
- Cucumbers and Sweet Onion: You’ll want to use pickling cucumbers, also known as Kirby pickles, for this recipe. They will stay crunchy throughout the pickling process.
- A kettle – to make the hot water. I prefer doing this rather than using a pot to boil the brine.
- mandolin and cutting board – for slicing the pickles and onions
- A heat-proof 32-ounce mason jar – or a similar-sized jar to hold the brine and pickles.
How to make Refrigerator Pickles
Thinly slice your cucumbers and onions and set them aside. I use a mandolin for this step to ensure my pickles are thin. If you don’t have a mandolin, use a sharp knife to slice the vegetables.
Then, add hot water, white vinegar, sugar, and salt to the jar. Cover and shake the jar, until the sugar is dissolved in the jar. Open the jar and set the lid aside.
Add the sliced cucumbers and onions to the jar, ensuring all the cucumbers and onions are covered with the bring. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
When ready to serve, remove the pickles from the brine with a fork to serve.
It’s best to store these pickles in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They can last on the fridge for 3-4 weeks. I do not recommend freezing these pickles as they will likely lose their crunch and become mushy.
- It’s important to ensure that the cucumbers and onions are completely submerged in the brine. If the brine is not completely covering all of the cucumbers and onions, add a few extra tablespoons of water to cover.
- To ensure the pickles stay crunchy, always use a clean fork to remove them from the brine when you’re ready to eat them. You can also top them with herbs or spices for an added layer of flavor.
- Make sure to use pickling cumbers, like Kirby pickles for this recipe. Avoid using waxy cucumbers, or thick-skinned cucumbers, like English cucumbers.
Frequently Asked Questions
The main difference between traditional pickles and refrigerator pickles is the preservation method. Traditional pickles use a canning process that creates an airtight seal, allowing for longer storage. Refrigerator pickles, however, are made with a simpler, quicker process and stored in the fridge, resulting in a shorter shelf life.
I don’t do either of these, and my quick pickles remain crispy for weeks. These seem to be methods needed for traditional pickles.
While you can technically eat your refrigerator pickles as soon as they’re made, it’s best to wait at least 24 hours for the flavors to meld and intensify. For optimal taste, allow the pickles to marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before enjoying their crisp and tangy goodness.
If you have tried this recipe, please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below!
Quick Refrigerator Pickles
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 3 medium-sized pickling cucumbers like Kirby pickles thinly sliced (about ¾ lb)
- 1/2 medium sweet onion thinly sliced about ¼ lb
- In a 32-ounce jar, combine the hot water, white vinegar, granulated sugar, kosher salt, and ground white pepper. Stir or cover the jar with a lid and shake until the sugar and salt have dissolved completely.
- Thinly slice the pickling cucumbers and sweet onion.
- Layer the cucumber and onion slices into the jar, fully submerging them in the pickling liquid. Use a clean utensil to press the vegetables down into the brine if needed.
- Refrigerate the jar for at least 8 hours to allow the flavors to meld and intensify.
- When ready to serve, remove the pickles from the brine with a fork to serve.