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How To Make Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

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Refrigerator pickles are a quick and easy way to preserve the bounty of summer, adding a tangy crunch to sandwiches, burgers, and salads, or simply enjoyed as a tasty snack. This article will guide you through the process of making your own spicy refrigerator pickles, along with some tips and tricks to customize them to your liking.


To make spicy refrigerator pickles, start by preparing a brine with vinegar, water, garlic, salt, sugar, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Wash and slice pickling cucumbers, then pack them into jars with fresh dill. Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers, let the jars cool, then seal and refrigerate them. For the best flavor, let the pickles sit for at least 24 hours before enjoying.

What You’ll Need

The ingredients for spicy refrigerator pickles are simple and straightforward. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 pickling cucumbers (4-4 1/2″ long)
  • 1/4 oz fresh dill (a few sprigs per jar)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a knife
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to your desired spiciness)

In terms of equipment, you’ll need canning jars, a canning funnel, a saucepan, and a jar lifter.

The Process

Here’s a step-by-step guide to making spicy refrigerator pickles:

  1. Prepare the cucumbers: Wash and dry the cucumbers, then slice them into 1/4-inch slices or cut them into spears.
  2. Make the brine: In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the white vinegar, water, crushed garlic cloves, kosher salt, sugar, whole mustard seeds, whole black peppercorns, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring the brine mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  3. Pack the jars: While the brine is heating, pack the cucumber slices or spears and fresh dill sprigs into clean jars, leaving about 1/2-inch of headspace at the top.
  4. Pour the brine: Once the brine has come to a boil and the salt and sugar have dissolved, carefully pour the hot brine over the cucumbers in the jars, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  5. Cool and seal: Allow the jars to cool to room temperature, then seal them with lids.
  6. Refrigerate: Refrigerate the pickles for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop. The pickles will become spicier the longer they sit in the refrigerator.

Tips and Tricks

While the process of making spicy refrigerator pickles is quite straightforward, here are some tips to ensure success:

  • Choose the right cucumbers: Pickling cucumbers are the best choice for making refrigerator pickles. They are small, firm, and have a thick skin that stands up well to the pickling process.
  • Use fresh ingredients: Fresh dill, garlic, and spices will give you the best flavor. Remember to always use high-quality, fresh ingredients for the best results.
  • Adjust the heat: The amount of crushed red pepper flakes you add will determine the spiciness of your pickles. Start with a small amount and add more to taste.
  • Keep them crisp: To keep your pickles crisp, avoid boiling the cucumbers in the pickling liquid. Instead, pour the hot brine over the cucumbers.
  • Wait before eating: While it might be tempting to dive right in, your pickles will have the best flavor if you wait at least 24 hours before eating them.

Storing Your Pickles

Properly stored, your spicy refrigerator pickles will last for about one to two months in the fridge. Make sure to keep them in airtight jars and fully submerged in the brine.


Making your own spicy refrigerator pickles is a fun and rewarding process. With just a few simple ingredients and a little bit of time, you can create a delicious, tangy treat that’s perfect for snacking, adding to sandwiches, or serving alongside a cheese platter. Happy pickling!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use other types of cucumbers for this recipe?

Yes, you can use other types of cucumbers, but pickling cucumbers are recommended due to their small size, firmness, and thick skin that holds up well to the pickling process.

Can I use store-bought vinegar?

Yes, any white vinegar will work for this recipe. Just ensure it has 5% acidity, which is the standard for most store-bought white vinegars.

How can I make my pickles less spicy?

If you want your pickles to be less spicy, simply reduce the amount of crushed red pepper flakes used in the recipe.

Can I reuse the brine for another batch of pickles?

While you can technically reuse the brine, it’s not recommended as the balance of vinegar, water, and spices may be off after the first batch, which could affect the taste and safety of your pickles.

Do I need to sterilize my jars before use?

Since these are refrigerator pickles and not meant for long-term storage, you don’t need to sterilize the jars. However, they should be clean and free from any residue.

Can I eat the pickles immediately after making them?

While you can technically eat the pickles immediately after making them, it’s recommended to wait at least 24 hours for the flavors to fully develop.

Can I use this recipe for other vegetables?

Yes, this recipe can also be used for other vegetables like carrots, green beans, or peppers. Just remember that denser vegetables may take longer to pickle.

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