These zesty refrigerator dill pickle spears are flavorful, super easy to throw together, and don’t require any cooking or fermentation. So flavorful you’ll want them all the time!
I was watching the “Dill-icious” episode of “Good Eats” one day (definitely not for the fifth time since it’s been on Netflix, that would be crazy) and noticed Alton Brown said you could skip the fermentation process and make refrigerator pickles.
Classic LLC, I saw that as a challenge, so an experiment I started.
I made a few changes to the ingredients based on the the different method and personal preference including:
- I pared it down a little. This was a late-night experiment, after all.
- Less salt. Whether or not you reduce the ratios, you need less salt when you’re not fermenting.
- More garlic! I like garlic.
- I added vinegar. You don’t really need it, but zesty is my bag.
- Finally, I used dill weed instead of dill seed. Either my area has no use for dill seed, or there is a vast conspiracy among the local grocers.
You can find Alton Brown’s original fermented dill pickle recipe here.
These pickles are pretty low effort if you can wait just a few days, and they go great with deli sandwiches, or the slow-cooker classic Italian Roast Beef.
Refrigerator pickles vs. fermented or canned pickles
Part of the reason pickles exist is because of the need to store food safely over the winter, so classic pickles are fermented and jarred. This requires a long, fairly complex process to ensure everything is done correctly and safely—which might not be what you’re looking for if you want pickles soon.
Luckily we can still get a really tasty result with quick pickling. Quick pickling is exactly what it sounds like—you soak some cucumbers (or onions, peppers, etc.) in acid with seasoning for a few hours (to days) until it’s softer and flavorful.
Refrigerator dill pickles take things just a bit further by soaking longer, and since you’re doing that you may as well spend a few minutes longer adding a supercharged seasoning mix.
As long as you only pickle them for up to a few days and only keep them refrigerated for a few days after that, you don’t have to worry about refrigerator pickles any more than you would saving fresh produce or leftovers. There are methods to make them last longer such as cooking the cucumbers or liquid, but we’re going to keep it simple here.
Can I make refrigerator pickles fast?
Sort of! Sure, 2-4 days isn’t fast-fast, but it’s a lot faster than the time it takes to ferment pickles. There’s also no cooking or exhaustive prep here. Just cutting, throwing everything in a jar, and soaking.
If you want something truly fast you can just do a simple quick pickle, but it’ll still be pretty crunchy with less flavor absorption. You’re better off buying a jar if you’re looking for actual pickles quick—no shade, I love store-bought dills.
I think the point of this is the unique flavor and the fun. Got kids? Perfect science experiment, and they’ll love eating pickles they made.
- Choose the freshest produce possible.
- Thoroughly clean the prep area and sanitize your storage container, especially if you’re going for a longer pickling period.
- If you’re immunocompromised, elderly or feeding this to young children, consider a shorter pickling period and consuming within a few days to avoid risk of listeria (and watch the sodium for very young children).
- If you’re storing the pickles longer than the few days I’ve recommended, keep an eye out for changes. If a film is forming on top, the liquid appears carbonated or the pickles/liquid are starting to look or smell otherwise off, time to toss. You should never see these changes with refrigerator pickles.
These zesty refrigerator dill pickle spears are super easy to throw together, and don’t require any sort of cooking or fermentation. So flavorful you’ll want them all the time!
- ⅓ cup pickling salt
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 4–5 pickling cucumbers (4–6 inches), quartered lengthwise*
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ large bunch fresh dill
- Several cups filtered water
- Combine pickling salt, dried dill weed, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, white vinegar and one cup of filtered water in a quart-sized jar. Stir until salt dissolves.
- Place as many cucumber spears as you can fit into the mixture.
- Place fresh dill and garlic cloves in between and around the cucumbers, using a butter knife to help you push them down if necessary.
- Top off with filtered water, making sure to cover all of the pickles. Seal tightly and give it a shake to combine.
- Leave the jar in the refrigerator for at least two days, preferably 3-4. Eat within a week at most.
- You can always halve any large quarters if you like your pickles thinner.
- I actually used a deli container this time that I had from buying grape leaves. You can really use just about any air-tight container that holds about a quart. Just don’t use anything that’s going to hold the smell of the vinegar or pass on smells from other foods.
- This recipe goes great with my Slowcooker Italian Roast Beef!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2-4 days
- Category: Sides
- Method: Soaking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Refrigerator dill pickle spears, refrigerator dill pickles