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Have you ever tried making your very own batch of homemade dill pickles?
I think you'd be surprised at just how easy it is to turn regular cucumbers into delicious dill pickles right at home in your kitchen - no experience necessary.
Not only is this recipe incredibly easy, but the rewards are so worth it; homemade dill pickles that are fresh and full of flavor - so much better than the store-bought stuff you might be familiar with.
And if you didn't like pickles before.. because again I repeat.. the store-bought stuff are not that bueno, I highly encourage you to give these homemade refrigerator dill pickles a try because it might just change your mind on pickles forever.
What are refrigerator dill pickles?
For starters, pickles are made from cucumbers. Cucumbers are soaked in a vinegar and water solution often referred to as a brine, and then the cucumbers turn into what we know as pickles.
You've probably noticed I'm calling these refrigerator dill pickles, and please let me explain because I also had no idea this was actually a term, but it is.
You see, 'refrigerator pickles' simply means that these are *not* canned pickles, and therefore must be kept in the fridge. It also means the process to make these pickles is much easier because we aren't canning anything.
What is canning?
Canning is a method of preserving and processing fresh vegetables in order to keep them stored for longer periods of time, usually at room temperature. It is a more complex process than what we are making here today.
We aren't using the canning method in this dill pickle recipe so therefore these are referred to as refrigerator pickles. Just know that refrigerator pickles mean you must keep them in the refrigerator for optimum freshness and to prevent bacterial/moldy growth, and they do not last nearly as long as canned vegetables do.
Using apple cider vinegar to make homemade dill pickles
Many recipes online call for using white vinegar and when I first started out in my homemade dill pickle making journey I did use white vinegar as well. White vinegar works just fine and you can use that in this recipe instead of ACV.
However, I like using apple cider vinegar over white vinegar because of it's added health benefits such as it being an anti-microbial and it is loaded with antioxidants too. Plus, I may be biased but I think apple cider vinegar adds a more delicious acidic flavor than white vinegar.
The apple cider vinegar brand that we use (and love) in our home is Bragg Organic Raw and Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar. We've been using this brand for years (and have made this dill pickle recipe using it many times) and have never been disappointed. It is available at most Whole Foods Stores (or similar natural foods stores) or on Amazon.
do I need to add sugar to my homemade pickles
You may also notice a lot of recipes online call for the addition of sugar. We like to keep things simple over here and as healthy as possible, so whenever we can omit the sugar and feel that the recipe hasn't been greatly affected, we do. Based on our experience (and our taste buds) we do not feel that it is necessary to add sugar this homemade dill pickles recipe.
As a matter of fact, the store-bought pickles that this recipe was inspired by (shout out to Glaser Organic Farms - a local vegan organic farm that makes THE best pickles) does not use sugar in their own product as well.
If however, you find these pickles to be too sour (and not sweet enough for your liking) you can always add a bit of sweetener next time. Our favorite sweetener options lately are agave, maple syrup, and/or honey. By the way, if you want to learn more about our top six healthiest sweetener alternatives to white sugar make sure you check that blog post out!
easy homemade refrigerator dill pickles in 3 easy steps:
- Disinfect the jar or jars you will be using with hot boiling water.
- Make your brine by adding all brine ingredients to a stovetop and bringing it to a boil.
- Pour brine over pickles in the jar and let sit for 12-24 hours for best taste!
That's all it takes to make delicious homemade refrigerator dill pickles. You can definitely eat these right away but I highly encourage you to wait it out for at least 12 hours (24 hours would be ideal) because the pickles soak up the flavor of the brine as time progresses. If you eat them too early they will probably taste bland.
what foods do refrigerator dill pickles pair well with?
Your possibilities are endless.
I personally like to munch on them just as they are - fresh out of the jar. However, I do on occasion enjoy my homemade dill pickles on burgers (so good!), chopped up in tacos (although my husband calls me weird for that), and when all else fails just thrown into any veggie bowl that I'm having for lunch or dinner.
A few other ideas for how to use your homemade pickles:
- flour-coated fried pickles as an appetizer or snack
- use them up in your favorite sandwich recipe
- chop them up and toss them into a salad like this one
- snack on it with peanut butter? I've never done this but apparently it's a delicious combination.
use your leftover brine
If you are anything like me, your homemade pickles are not going to last very long, like at all. And if that is the case you are going to have a whole jar with relatively fresh pickle brine leftover. It would be a shame to let that liquid gold go to waste, so what exactly can you make with this leftover brine? Here are a few ideas for you:
- use it as a salad dressing
- marinate chicken, or your favorite veggies if vegan, with your leftover pickle brine
- and my favorite way to reuse brine - make more pickles!!!
Why should you make homemade pickles
I can give you several reasons why making your own homemade dill pickles is better.
You control the quality of the ingredients.
The easy way out is to buy a pickle jar at the store that is already nice and ready for you but the truth is - do you even know what's in there?
Making your own homemade dill pickles means that you have 100% control over what ingredients go into it. You get to choose high-quality organic ingredients vs just relying on the word of store-bought brands.
You can use organic cucumbers.
Cucumbers are actually on the dirty dozen list, meaning that if you can, it's best to consume organic cucumbers over conventional. Conventional cucumbers are one of many vegetables that tend to have the highest contamination of pesticides. So when you make your own pickles at home you get to know for a fact that you are using organic cucumbers for your homemade batch.
You get creative license when making your own pickles.
You don't have to rely on the boring store-bought recipes. You can add garlic, more salt, make it spicy, or leave it out entirely. I love getting creative with my pickles and making each batch unique!
It's more affordable.
I did the math myself and I discovered that while my favorite organic pickle jar at Whole Foods costs me around $11, I could make the same amount of pickles at home with organic ingredients for around $5 to $6. That's around half off! A tip I'd like to offer you is to keep an eye out for a sales rack at your local natural food stores. At our local store, they always have fresh vegetables and fruits that are usually going to spoil within the next few days so they offer these up to their customers are a steep discount. My last batch of pickles came from the sales rack and I was able to make a huge batch of pickles for dirt cheap!
The taste is so much better!!!
I know I've already touched on this but I have to mention it again because it's so true. I've never been a huge fan of pickles. I always found them to be soggy and bland. However, when you make them at home, they tend to be crunchier and so so tasty and flavorful. I'm assuming it's because of their freshness (vs sitting in a sad jar on a shelf for days if not months) and the lack of preservatives and other chemicals that are usually included in store-bought pickles.
Are these refrigerator dill pickles fermented?
Pickles *can* be fermented but not *all* pickles are fermented. Fermentation works by having healthy bacteria breakdown natural sugars of fruits and vegetables. This process is what gives the fermented fruits and vegetables that classic sour fermented taste. However, this requires for vegetables to sit in salt and water for a course of several days (usually a week or more) to allow this fermentation process to take place. For example, this sauerkraut recipe that I posted a few years ago is an example of a fermented vegetable (check out that post if you are interested in learning how to make your own homemade sauerkraut using cabbage.)
On the other hand, a quicker and easier process that also gives veggies that delicious sour tang is to use vinegar instead. And that's what we are doing in this recipe. The vinegar, when allowed to sit with the cucumbers for 12 to 24 hours, will turn the cucumbers into pickles with that classic acidic sour taste! Most pickles in stores are not fermented. The downside is that you do miss out on the amazing benefits of fermented foods, but you get to enjoy delicious pickles within hours vs having to wait days or weeks!
Benefits of eating pickles
The best part of eating pickles, besides their yumminess, is the many health benefits that come along with consuming them.
When you eat pickles you are getting all of the health benefits of cucumbers which are as follows.
Cucumbers help fight inflammation in the body.
Our bodies experience inflammatory responses due to many reasons, most of the time because of the foods we eat. The good news is - cucumbers help fight that inflammation that those not-so-good-for-us foods create. This also means that it may help reduce pain because inflammation usually leads to pain in our joints and muscles.
With substances such as flavonoids and tannins, that help reduce inflammation, cucumbers may be a great natural pain reliever.
Cucumbers cleanse the body
This super veggie has the ability to clean the body out of old toxic waste!
Because cucumbers have fiber and fiber is your gut's best friend.
Provide the body with hydration
Cucumbers are around 90% water, so if drinking water is not your favorite thing to do, at the very least you'll get some hydration from consuming this high-water content veggie.
These are just a few of the many health benefits of cucumbers (and therefore pickles) but if you want to learn even more about their health benefits make sure to read this research paper here that outlines all of the potential therapeutic effects of this little green vegetable.
There's never a wrong time to eat dill pickles.
Unless maybe when eating ice cream.
Enjoy your pickles folks and let us know how they turn out by dropping a comment below. 🙂
Want to see more wholesome recipes made with REAL food?
Check out our whole foods recipes page.
Easy Homemade Sugar-Free Refrigerator Dill Pickles Recipe
Easy homemade sugar-free refrigerator dill pickles! This recipe is simple and yields the most delicious crunchy pickles that are fresher and tastier than store-bought!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- 1 lb fresh cucumbers (You can use more or less, you’ll just have to adjust the brine quantity)
- 1.5 cups of water
- 1.5 cups of apple cider vinegar*
- 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
- a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional for added heat and spiciness)
- 5 or 6 fresh dill sprigs or 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
You will need 2 – 16oz mason jars (or similar) or one tall glass jar that holds around 32oz.
- Clean your jars (and lids) with boiling water and dry. Set aside.
- Wash the cucumbers and then slice into spears (my favorite) or rounds.
- Add pickles and fresh dill sprigs (if using dry dill I add it to the brine instead – see step #4) to the jar.
- Prepare the brine. Add water, apple cider vinegar, salt, dried dill (if using fresh dill I just add it directly into the jar), pinch of red pepper flakes, and minced garlic to a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt. Remove from heat and let the brine cool down slightly. Then add to the jar with the pickles, making sure that the brine covers the pickles entirely.
- Tightly close up the jars and once they’ve reached room temperature, store in the refrigerator overnight. Pickles will taste better as they age in the brine and soak up the flavors. You can eat these right away but they will not be very flavorful – I suggest letting them sit in the fridge for at least 12 to 24 hours.
- Cucumbers will change color from bright green to a darker green after soaking in the brine, this is normal and expected.
- You can use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar but I like using ACV for its beneficial health properties.
- Homemade refrigerator pickles are so delicious that they never last that long in our household. I’d say these are safe to eat within a few weeks of making them as long as they are kept in the refrigerator. Other sources online say that they can last up to 2 to 3 months but I have not tested this myself. Like anything else regarding food safety, if pickles develop an “off” smell or look moldy, it’s best to throw them out.
- These must be kept refrigerated.
Keywords: pickles, homemade pickles, cucumbers,