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Christmas Pickles

A dear family friend made these pickles for decades. I've adapted the recipe a bit over the years, but in my heart they are still “Dr. Rhodes’ pickles.” These morsels are delicious any time of year, but the green, red and white hues of the pickles, cherries and onions make them ideal for Christmas gift-giving—and it's a tasty twist on the classic Christmas pickle tradition. —Patricia Martin, Shelby
  • Total Time
    Prep: 10 min. Cook: 25 min. + chilling
  • Makes
    6-1/2 quarts


  • 1 gallon whole dill pickles
  • 11-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 3 to 4 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 to 5 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pound whole candied cherries
  • 3 jars (15 ounces each) pearl onions, drained
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


  • Drain pickles, reserving juice; set juice aside. Cut pickles into 1/2-in. slices; set aside. In a large stockpot, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, cloves, peppers, garlic, cinnamon sticks and pickle juice.
  • Cook over medium heat sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Discard cinnamon sticks.
  • In a large bowl, combine cherries, onions and pickle slices. Pour liquid over pickle mixture. Stir in oil.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours, stirring occasionally. Divide mixture among jars. Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 1 month.
Nutrition Facts
1/4 cup: 99 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 55mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate (23g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.

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  • JCV4
    Dec 12, 2019

    I thought this was a great-tasting pickle recipe! I love the cinnamon and cloves. I made a quarter of the recipe and it still makes plenty!

  • Michele
    Dec 17, 2018

    I just made these for my 6 siblings for Christmas gifts

  • ebow1
    Jul 6, 2016

    I'm seeing 4 to 5 clovesof garlic in the recipe

  • hfinkhouse
    Oct 16, 2012

    There is no garlic in this recipe. Yes you have to use 11 1/2 cups of sugar. And I do agree that the cherries fade out so I will try the marchino cherries next time. I also will cut the onions and cherries in half, we enjoy the pickles very much....I am making them again for the third time.

  • singletary
    Dec 21, 2011

    This recipe looked so good I wanted to try it. But not wanting to make that large batch, I cut the recipe to one quarter, using a quart of dill pickles, and making all the other adjustments on the ingredients. After reading the not so good reviews, I panicked. So, I only used half the pickles and half of the pickle juice. I thought it came out really well. However, the candied cherries are so expensive. I did use them, but I also included some maraschino cherries. They came out just as good as the candied ones and so much cheaper. They didn't fade either. I hope this helps.

  • ctsgjs
    Nov 10, 2011

    I am a pickle lover, and I loved the idea of having the Christmas colors in these pickles. However they didn't turn out as I had hoped. The cherries faded out badly, and pale pink cherries just aren't that appetizing. Also the flavor just wasn't what I had expected. No one in my family liked them and I ended up throwing away the whole batch.

  • pepper2008
    Feb 6, 2011

    I first noticed this recipe and made it from the 2007 Best of the Holiday Recipes. There is a discrepancy in amounts. That magazine calls for 1 16oz. jar of pickles. This is way too few for the cherries and onions called for and you can barely stir the syrup when cold. However, I have altered the amounts to suit my taste. I use:48 oz. jar whole dill pickles1 pound candied cherries1 15-16 oz. jar pearl onions1/2 of all of the other ingredients1/2 or less of the pickle juiceYou can save the remaining pickle juice and add to taste as they sit. Some of the cherries have lost color. This depends on the brand of cherries and how much pickle juice you use compared to sugar. The onions don't "pickle" as quickly as the other ingredients. Cut them in half, not as cute, or make a few slits in them with a knife tip.

  • ctsgjs
    May 20, 2010

    While these pickles didn't taste bad, the appearance wasn't what I had hoped. The color in the cherries faded out from the liquid, so they weren't very colorful. Also, the spices just didn't suite my family. It's a good idea, just not right for us. No one in my family cared for them.

  • brencast
    Dec 12, 2008

    I have made these pickles and they are great. I believe the receipe is correct.

  • debi.kleinsmith
    Dec 5, 2008

    I to am confused about this recipe, I've never made pickles but 11 & 14 cups of sugar sounds like alot. Is this correct? How much garlic is to be used? I would love to try this I just want to make sure it is correct. Thank-youdebi.kleinsmith