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Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles
A wonderful, simple recipe for homemade refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles. No canning equipment required! Just prepare and pop in the fridge!
About five years ago, I vowed to spend the summer learning how to can and had grand plans to can ALL THE THINGS. I bought a book, read it, and had a list of recipes I wanted to try. Then I blinked, and summer was almost over. Oops. Then I saw this recipe for refrigerator bread and butter pickles, and I was immediately drawn to it because there was no canning equipment required. You could make these pickles in just about no time and pop them straight in the refrigerator. Score!
Bread and butter pickles have always been my absolute favorite sandwich pickle. A dill spear is great on the side of a burger for munching on, but give me bread and butter pickles on a big sandwich any day. They’re a little sweet and little zesty and with a kick. Love them!
One of the best parts about pickled veggies is that you don’t need canning jars to make them! Fresh cucumber slices are infused with flavor from a seasoned vinegar mixture, then stored in the fridge.
It takes just 15 minutes of hands-on time, then 25 hours to marinate. The result is a batch of sweet and salty pickles that the whole family loves!
- 1 1/2 pounds pickling cucumbers , sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 5 1/2 cups)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
The Best Bread and Butter Sweet Pickles Recipe
I love this recipe because it is both a) classic and b) customizable – a duo that is hard to pull off well in a dish. But this is it!
Traditionally, Bread and Butter Pickles include a smidge of spiciness to help balance the sweetness. We’ve included the spice blend we love for the most heat… However, you can adjust the spice to your preferences, including adding more cinnamon sticks or cloves for a deeper flavor if desired.
The beauty of this Refrigerator Bread and Butter pickles recipe is that it can also be used for canning! As long as the pickling liquid is boiling-hot when it goes in the jars, there’s no need to cook the pickles beforehand. So you can use it as either a quick refrigerator pickles recipe or as sweet pickles for canning.
So many options!
How to Make Easy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles
This recipe will walk you through the few simple steps necessary to prepare the pickles. You can then finish them in the refrigerator or use this as a sweet pickle canning recipe.
What’s the difference between canning or refrigerating Bread and Butter Pickles? Pickles that are preserved using the traditional water bath canning method will keep shelf-stable for up to 2 years, unopened. On the other hand, refrigerator pickles need to be kept in the fridge (obviously) and need to be eaten within 2 months. So it really just depends on where and how long you’d like to keep them stored.
STEP #1 – PREPARE THE PICKLES AND ONION
The first step to make the BEST sweet pickles is to slice them into that iconic thin bread and butter-style disk.
Take out a mandolin and a medium or large bowl. Use the mandolin to slice the pickles into even 1/8 inch rounds.
Then quarter and slice the onion into short segments.
Place the cucumber slices and onions in the bowl, and toss with kosher salt. This will help pull out (or drain) any excess moisture from the cucumbers. Set them in the fridge to rest for 1-3 hours.
STEP #2 – PREPARE THE BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLING LIQUID
Once the cucumber slices I’ve had plenty of time to rest, release their juices, and absorb the salt, rinse them in cold water to remove the excess salt. Divide the cucumber slices and onions between the four jars and pack them well.
Set a small/medium saucepan over high heat. Add the sugar, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, and turmeric. Bring to a boil.
STEP #3 – FILL AND STORE THE PICKLE JARS
Once boiling, carefully ladle the hot pickling liquid into the jars with the cucumber mixture, dividing it evenly. If some of the cucumbers are still sticking out of the top of the jar, uncovered, add a tablespoon or two of hot water to the jars, almost to the rim with an inch of headspace left.
Screw the lids on tight and shake the pickle jars.
If planning to make refrigerator pickles, let the pickles sit at room temperature for one hour, then move them to the refrigerator.
However, if you plan to can the pickles you should do so immediately and follow the proper canning procedure at this point. Either way, you prepare them, you should let the pickles rest at least 48 hours before eating. The texture and flavor will improve over the next week.
- The cucumber slices should be about 1/4-inch thick. You want some crunch! Too thin and they can disintegrate when soaked with the hot brine. Too thick and they won’t soak up the brine enough.
- I highly recommend using a mandolin, which ensures the slices are all the same size. It also makes the process so much easier and faster!
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
Why are they called bread and butter pickles?
Some say they gained popularity during the Great Depression. Since they were a cheap kitchen staple, people would use them on buttered sandwich bread for an easy, inexpensive lunch.
Another story is that Omar and Cora Fanning, who were Illinois cucumber farmers back in the 1920’s, pickled and sold their small cucumbers and would also trade the pickles with their local grocer for essentials, like bread and butter. They ended up filing for a “Fanning’s Bread and Butter Pickles” trademark.
Are Bread and Butter Pickles Sweet?
Unlike dill pickles, they’re definitely on the sweeter side, but they’re also tart, with a slight kick. They’re infused with a sugar-vinegar brine and other spices that make them pretty irresistible and perfect on sandwiches!
Making homemade bread and butter pickles is so easy! There are only a few simple steps, some resting time (for the pickles and hopefully for you, too! HA), and then chilling in the fridge overnight to get the truest flavor. If you’re really impatient, though, they taste great after only a few hours!
WHAT TYPE OF CUCUMBERS CAN I PICKLE?
Great news, you can pickle any type of cucumbers you have on hand. The best option may arguably be the pickling cucumber, which is grown for pickling. However, any cucumber will work.
I used an English cucumber for these pickles, because it’s what I had on hand. English cucumbers, or slicing cucumbers, will produce a softer pickle, but they taste just as great.
I made thin, ⅛” thick pickles for this recipe. This size is great for adding on top of hamburgers. Feel free to slice them ¼” thick (or larger) if preferred.
For even vegetable slicing, I recommend using a mandoline slicer.
WHAT SIZE JARS DO I NEED?
This recipe makes two pint (16 ounce) size jars of pickles. Or, you can make four 8 ounce jars, or one quart size jar.
If you have randomly sized jars or old, clean pickle jars in your home, these will work just as well. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the amount of pickles and brine needed to fill oddly sized jars.
HOW LONG DO REFRIGERATOR PICKLES LAST?
These refrigerator pickles will last for two months stored in the refrigerator. Since they’re not canned, they are not shelf stable and need to be stored in the refrigerator all the time.
How To Serve Them
- Inside or next to burgers and sandwiches
- In or with chicken or tuna salad
- In potato or pasta salad
- Battered and fried
- With Bloody Marys
- With deviled eggs
How to Store Homemade Pickles
Refrigerator pickles keep well for about 2 months. But note that they do tend to lose their crunchiness the longer they sit.
Pickles that have been canned can last 1-2 years at room temperature if sealed properly.