Sweet Pickles

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My easy-peasy spicy and sweet pickles recipe includes dill pickles marinated in a sweet, spicy, and tangy brine made with sugar, pickling spice, and white vinegar.

Forkful of sweet pickles.

Julie Hutson sent me this handed-down recipe a few years back and my mother and I quickly got to making these spicy and sweet pickles and found they were the best pickles we’d ever eaten. They taste like the old-fashioned pickles my grandmother used to spend weeks creating! Over the past few years, I’ve developed my own way of making them and simplified it a bit for me (I tend to simplify everything but my household clutter, go figure) and so I decided that I just HAD to bring this easy sweet pickle recipe to y’all for the benefit of everyone who has never tasted a truly wonderful sweet and sassy pickle.

You are in for a treat… and very likely the best pickle you’ve ever had in your life. Fortunately, this sweet pickle recipe is super quick and easy to make. We start with whole dill store-bought pickles, which will marinate in a pickling liquid that’s a little bit sweet thanks to the sugar, a little bit spicy thanks to the pickling spice, and a whole lot tangy thanks to the white vinegar. The instructions are as simple as combining all the ingredients and patiently waiting for them to get all good and pickled. You can eat them the next day, but these old-fashioned sweet pickles taste better the longer you let them marinate.

I’ve included lots of serving suggestions below for how you can make the most of your sweet and sour pickles. But I won’t tell a soul if you simply eat them out of the jar because I do the exact same thing! Alright, who’s ready to get pickling?

Ingredients for sweet pickles.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Sugar
  • White vinegar
  • Pickling spice
  • WHOLE dill pickles

How to Make Sweet Pickles

First, drain off all of your pickle juice into a bowl and remove all of the pickles from the jar.

Add pickle juice to jar.

Now, to that jar (or any sterilized jar), I want you to add the pickle juice…

Add vinegar to jar.


Add sugar to jar.


Add pickling spice to jar.

And the pickling spice.

Some people tie this up in cheesecloth. Mama ties hers up in a bit of muslin (which is a plain cotton fabric). I just toss mine in there because I like the added zest of biting into a peppercorn and such from time to time. Plus, I think they look prettier that way.

Shake jar.

Give that jar a good shaky shake.

Aww come on, you can do better than that, put your arms into it!

There ya go!

Slice pickles.

Now slice those pickles.

You can cut them thin or thick, whichever you like best. I like mine a little thicker because it means I don’t have to eat as many 😉.

Add sliced pickles to jar.

Put all of your sliced pickles back into the jar with the pickling liquid.

Now class, on the rare occasion that one or two slices don’t fit, what do you do?

That’s right! You eat them! It is good to have a taste comparison anyway so you can see what the frog was like before he became the prince.

Shake jar with pickles.

Put your lid on the jar and give this another good shake.

Sweet pickles in jar with sugar at the bottom.

It’s Pickling Time!

At this point, you’ll see a good bit of undissolved sugar at the bottom. I set my jars out on the counter for a few hours and turn them upside down every hour or so to help with this.

Turn jar upside down every hour or so.

Like this. In a few hours, most of that sugar will be dissolved. The rest will take place over the next day or so.

Before you go to bed, put the jar in the fridge. In the morning, look and see if you need to turn it over again.

Spooning sweet pickles into bowl.

All of the recipes for this say to wait anywhere from 3 to 5 days before your pickles are ready. But seriously, how do you wait that long?

Go ahead and try a few the next day. They will be awfully good by then and they just get better every day after. They’ll have their full flavor in about three days.

A bowl of sweet pickles.

Have mercy! They sure are good!


When stored in an airtight container (like a pint jar or a mason jar) in the fridge, our refrigerator pickles will last up to 2 months. If you’d like them to last longer, check out my canning tutorial.

Recipe Notes

  • If you like, you can use apple cider vinegar instead or a combination of both.
  • Some sweet pickle recipes also include 1/2 to 1 cup of thinly sliced onion as well (either white onion, yellow onion, or sweet onion like Vidalia), so feel free to add sliced onion to your jar as well.
  • Substitute the whole dill pickles for 2 cups of cucumber slices instead to make an old-fashioned bread and butter pickle recipe. Pickling cucumbers are the best, but any fresh cucumbers will work.

Recipe FAQs

What is pickling spice?

You’ll find pickling spice in the spice aisle at grocery stores like Walmart. It depends on the brand, but it will include a combination of these spices: cinnamon, allspice, mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, celery seed, crushed red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, and dill seed. 

How do you serve sweet pickles?

Here are some ways to serve your sweet pickle relish:

You may also like these other pickle recipes:

Easy Pickled Onions

Recipe for Fried Pickles

Asian Relish (Achar)

(EASY) Candied Dill Pickles

Bowl of sweet pickles.

Sweet Pickles

My easy-peasy spicy and sweet pickles recipe includes dill pickles marinated in a sweet, spicy, and tangy brine made with sugar, pickling spice, and white vinegar.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Pickling Time: 3 days
Total Time: 3 days 10 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pickles
Servings: 4
Calories: 20kcal


  • 1 46-ounce jar whole dill pickles
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pickle juice from the jar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon pickling spice


  • Drain all the pickle juice from the jar into a bowl and set it aside. Remove the pickles from the jar.
    1 46-ounce jar whole dill pickles
  • Into that pickle jar (or any mason jar), pour 1/2 cup of reserved pickle juice, as well as the white vinegar, sugar, and pickling spice.
    1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup pickle juice from the jar, 3 cups sugar, 1 heaping tablespoon pickling spice
  • Put the lid on tightly and give it a good shake. Sugar will not be dissolved but that is okay.
  • Slice whole pickles into slices, thick or thin, based on your preference. Return sliced pickles to the jar.
    1 46-ounce jar whole dill pickles
  • Place the lid on the jar and shake again. Set it out on the counter for a few hours, turning upside down every hour or so, and then right side up again the next hour. Place pickles in the refrigerator after a few hours. Allow them to marinate for about three days for full flavor.



Calories: 20kcal
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  1. I keep reading about Christmas pickles people are making…..what are they, what do they look like when done—are they red color ? sorry for all the questions….

  2. Here’s what we call Texas Sweet Hots – 1 gallon jar of dill pickles, drained and sliced as you like, 4# bag of sugar (yep, all of it!), and 4 ounces of Tabasco …… As you are returning the pickles to the big jar, start adding sugar – otherwise you’ll have a hard time getting everything back it … and be really really sure the lid’s on tight, because otherwise you’ll turn it upside down – and it will leak pickle juice all over the kitchen! we usually turn these for about 7 days – and i have also packed and canned them in jars for gifts – that way they last longer! (well, not really, because they are gobbled up, but it sounds good!) ……. We did try one batch with splenda, but they were just not very good …. even for my diabetic husband who has forgotten what real sugar tastes like!!

  3. Interesting concept, will have to give it a try, but won’t buy the pickles as I make them, much better than the store bought kind! LOL at least all the people who buy them say so! I have some left over (not exactly, just not eaten yet) and will try it with a jar, maybe even try the hot pepper as well. I have a recipe for the homemade sweet dills, but it takes a few days to do. I also do up gherkins, the sweet ones from a very old cook book, those take five days and are a pain in the butt to deal with, would work much easier if I could do them this quick method!

  4. I’ve been making something similar using Kosher dill pickles.
    3 cup sugar, 1 cup pickle juice from the dill pickles. Cut up dill pickles and put back into jar.
    Mix sugar and pickle juice in saucepan till sugar is dissolved. pour over pickles. When cooled store in refrigerator.
    These were always delish but I think I will add your spices, put a garlic clove in each jar along with some hot sauce too. Thanks for the reminder of these wonderful pickles.

  5. Christy, have you tried the new colored pickles sold at food fairs, called Koolickers, and made with KoolAid and sugar? if so, what flavors? Some say kids love them, as well as all ages, with the sweet and sour taste. Some food blogs say the cherry red ones are the best. What brand of dill pickles would you recommend, or flavors?

    Thanks for all the great recipes!

  6. My mom used to make these years ago…and I still do! She would make them in November and give us each a jar for Christmas. Sure did look forward to that! I always think of her when I make them now…and I DON’T wait for November!

  7. Can’t wait to try these. I pickle green and yellow beans and carrots as well, wonder if I can do this for them??? Thanks for all the great recipes!!!!

    1. i put carrots onions and assorted vegetables in mine although i have never used beans lol it makes it look like a relish and some of it i put in the food processor and make relish for hot dogs and such

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