How to Make Spicy Pickles

These easy spicy pickles are great for snacking and will amp up any sandwich or charcuterie board. No canning equipment required!

Just about anything can be pickled, from asparagus to okra, beets, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and of course cucumbers. Out of the seemingly endless roster of pickling recipes, these spicy pickles with a little kick offer something different.

The best part: You don’t need any special canning equipment to make these easy refrigerator pickles. Just a few staple ingredients, a bowl and any kind of container that can hold them.

Serve spicy pickles as a burger topping or alongside spicy pickled garlic and other condiments on your next charcuterie board. They make a zingy picnic side dish or a great snack on their own. Here’s how to make the spicy pickle recipe that Taste of Home contributor Pat Heitmeier says makes her family go “wild.”

Key Ingredients in Spicy Pickles

While you only need a few ingredients to make these spicy pickles, each one brings a lot to the party. 

First, the star of the show. You want to choose the right cucumber variety to ensure a crispier pickle. White vinegar is the go-to for pickling, whether it’s for canning or a quick pickle like this recipe. Sugar and water help mellow out the sharpness.

Aromatics like dill, garlic and pickling spice—whether you use homemade pickling spice or store-bought, add the backbone of flavor. Fresh dill is best, but dried works as well. The ratio for substituting with dried dill is 1 teaspoon dried to 1 tablespoon fresh.

How to Make Spicy Pickles at Home

Ingredients

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  • 2 cups water
  • 1-3/4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 dill sprigs or heads
  • 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon mixed pickling spices
  • 3 pounds pickling cucumbers (about 12), halved lengthwise

Directions

Step 1: Make the brine

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Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a large bowl, then whisk together until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Mix in the red pepper flakes, pickling spice, garlic and dill. 

Step 2: Add the halved cucumbers

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Add the cucumbers and toss until well coated. No need to let them sit since you’ll be storing them right away.

Step 3: Transfer pickles to a container

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Pack the spicy pickles in whatever container you’re using for storage—glass or ceramic jars or bowls are our choice, but plastic is fine to use here—and fully cover with the brine. If using fresh dill, try to get a sprig or two into each container.

Because these are simple refrigerator pickles, you can even leave everything in the bowl you mixed it all in and put the whole bowl in the fridge.

Step 4: Store in the refrigerator

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Cover your containers tightly and refrigerate for 10 days. You can eat the pickles before 10 days, but they won’t pack as much of a flavorful punch. The spicy pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Tips for Making Spicy Pickles

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What are the best kind of cucumbers to use when making spicy pickles?

Choosing the best cucumbers for pickling is key. Go with a fresh garden or pickling cucumber, or any variety with a thicker skin. Just make sure not to use cucumbers with a shiny wax coating. The wax is edible, but it will change the texture of your pickles.

What’s the best type of vinegar to use when making this spicy pickle recipe?

Some types of pickles call for milder vinegars like white wine vinegar or rice vinegar, which creates a mellower bite. But for this, stick with white vinegar which adds just the right amount of sharpness.

How can you make sure your spicy pickles are crisp?

To get really crisp pickles, pick the right cucumbers. Snacking varieties, like Persian cucumbers, will result in a too-soft pickle. 

How should you store spicy pickles?

For refrigerator pickles, you can use any glass, ceramic or plastic container, like jars or bowls, for storage. Choosing something with a tight-fitting lid is best. You can keep these spicy pickles in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. 

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Lesley Balla
As an associate editor at Taste of Home, Lesley helps track food and cooking trends, and writes and updates digital content. When not at her desk, you'll find her whipping up something with finds from the farmers market, discovering new restaurants, or hiking and roadtripping with her husband and pup Pucci.