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Easy Sweet Refrigerator Pickles

Easy Sweet Refrigerator Pickles
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Skip the supermarket and treat yourself to a few pints of fresh, crunchy homemade pickles. These easy sweet refrigerator pickles start with classic cucumbers then add onion, pepper, celery, and dill for the perfect sweet pickle treat.

refrigerator pickles
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Refrigerator pickles.

If you’re new to canning, a batch of easy sweet refrigerator pickles is the perfect place to start. You’ll get all the flavor and lovely jar presentation without the part that intimidates new canners the most — the “vacuum sealing” part that keeps what’s inside shelf-stable for months or years to come. By making refrigerator pickles, the jars head right to the fridge and will keep for several weeks — the perfect amount of time for this favorite summer treat. They won’t last long enough to worry about how long they’ve been inside!

Canning and preserving have made a huge comeback in recent years, along with several other “heirloom skills” under the urban-homestead umbrella like gardening, knitting, carpentry, and even having your own flock of egg-laying hens. Along with the growing interest in “buying local” through farmer’s markets and co-op grocery stores, more and more folks are digging out their canning jars, unscrewing those shiny, spinning lids, and getting to work filling them with jams, preserves, sauces, salsas, chutneys, beans, and that savory classic we’re starting with today — pickles.

Let’s make some easy sweet refrigerator pickles!

Before you start, it helps to have a friend in the kitchen. My favorite culinary companion is my cat Bones. She’s lost her toy under the stove. Again.

refrigerator pickles

I stopped by a local farmstand and picked up some pickling cucumbers, which are small with thin skin, along with an onion, green pepper, and bunch of fresh dill. After slicing up the cucumbers, onion, pepper, and celery I tossed them together with a tablespoon of salt in a colander and set it to “sweat” in the sink for an hour. The salt draws out the liquid in the vegetables, so they’ll be able to suck up more brine once they’re in the jar.

refrigerator pickles

While the salt was doing its thing, I washed and sterilized my jars and prepared the vinegar mixture. Since these are sweet pickles, sugar is whisked into the vinegar until it’s completely dissolved (don’t skip this step – whisk until it’s smooth!) and then a tablespoon of mustard seeds is added to the mix. All I had were black mustard seeds, but yellow works great, too.

refrigerator pickles

To fill the jars, add a heaping spoonful of the cucumber mixture, then tuck a few pieces of fresh dill along the sides of the jar. Not only will it give your pickles a bit of that classic dill flavor, but the delicate fronds look beautiful outside the jar. Add more of the cucumber mixture, making sure to pack it in pretty good.

refrigerator pickles

Once the jar is full, pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumber mixture until it reaches the top. A funnel is helpful here, or eliminate the need for a funnel altogether by mixing your vinegar and sugar in a large measuring cup or bowl with a spout!

refrigerator pickles

You may notice here that I added liquid before the jar was full. I was filling them halfway, then adding some of the vinegar mixture before completely filling the jars up to the top. This was a bad approach — it used up too much of the vinegar mixture and made the jars appear to be full, so I thought I had leftover cucumbers and not enough brine. I got out another jar and made another batch of brine, but what I should have done was cram more of the cucumbers into the original 4 jars so they’d displace more of the brine that I could then distribute evenly among the jars.

They look fine here before getting their lids and heading to the fridge…

refrigerator pickles

But then the next morning the each jar had a good two inches of clear brine at the bottom. Oh well — at least I get to share my “mistakes-turned-knowledge” with you so you won’t make the same error!

Are you a canner? Tell us your favorite things to “put up” in the comments section!

Easy Sweet Refrigerator Pickles Recipe Links
View and print the recipe for Easy Sweet Refrigerator Pickles
Add Easy Sweet Refrigerator Pickles to your Recipe Box

Aimee Seavey


Aimee Seavey


As Yankee's Digital Editor, Aimee manages, produces, and promotes content for Yankee's digital and social media initiatives. A lifelong New Englander, she loves history and a good Massachusetts South Shore bar pizza.
Updated Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

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14 Responses to Easy Sweet Refrigerator Pickles

  1. Kayte July 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    These look so good! Solid cat cameo as well.

    • Aimee Seavey July 29, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Thanks, Kayte! She really is a helpful kitchen companion.

  2. Courtney July 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Wow – these jars look delicious! What a great solution to all of the cucumbers from the summer garden…

    • Aimee Seavey July 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

      Thanks, Courtney! I am not a fan of raw cucumbers, but with a little vinegar, sugar, and spices they sure do taste great!

  3. Helen Woodill August 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    I have cucs coming out of my garden right now! I will make this recipe and let you know how it turns out. My cat AND my little dog will be by my side the whole time, I’m sure!! Take care, and thanks
    From New England! (Western Mass.)

    • Aimee Seavey August 5, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      Hi Helen – I hope you like them! Your kitchen company sounds perfect. :)

  4. cindy July 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    You mention celery? Is that right for Sweet?

    • Aimee Seavey July 25, 2014 at 7:42 am #

      Hi Cindy. The sugar in this recipe makes everything a little sweet — from the cucumbers and green peppers to the celery. :)

  5. Cindy August 14, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    These turned out great! The celery and onion were great too! I have already made a second batch..I uses 1/2 gallon jars, this mix is exact amount for one half gallon jar..even the grand kids loved them. Thanks.

  6. Pam Lord September 2, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    How much sugar, vinegar and mustard seed?

  7. Aimee Seavey September 3, 2014 at 7:21 am #

    Hi Pam. If you click on the recipe link (“View and print the recipe for Easy Sweet Refrigerator Pickles”) at the bottom of the page it will take you to the full recipe. Thanks!

  8. Kathi Rendon September 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    I love to add paper-thin sliced jalapeño to these pickle recipes.

  9. Cheryl Salter July 19, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    I made these and my pickles were wimpy. They are good flavor, but not firm. What do I need to do about that?

    • Aimee Seavey August 3, 2015 at 9:18 am #

      Hi Cheryl. We didn’t have that problem, but some good tips for crunchy pickles from NPR are discarding the ends of the cucumbers, adding leaves such as cherry leaves or grape leaves (the tannins in the leaves encourages crispness), and adding a small amount of alum. Perhaps one of those will do the trick?

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