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.
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?
- 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.
Now, to that jar (or any sterilized jar), I want you to add the pickle juice…
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.
Give that jar a good shaky shake.
Aww come on, you can do better than that, put your arms into it!
There ya go!
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 😉.
Put all of your sliced pickles back into the jar with the .
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.
Put your lid on the jar and give this another good shake.
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.
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.
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.
Have mercy! They sure are good!
When stored in an airtight container (like a 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.
- 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.
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, , coriander, bay leaves, celery seed, crushed , black , and dill seed.
How do you serve sweet pickles?
Here are some ways to serve your sweet pickle relish:
- Add them as a topping to salads like pasta salad or potato salad, sandwiches, burgers, loaded potatoes, and hot dogs.
- Add to a pizza or casserole.
- Enjoy them on your next charcuterie board with cured meats and your favorite types of cheese.
You may also like these other pickle recipes:
- 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.
The cure for anything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the sea.
Submitted by Sandra Smith. Click here to submit your own.
I am trying to duplicate a recipe for VERY crispy/crunchy pickles a local church sells. (I am happy to continue to buy from them, but they are only available once a year so I’d like to make them if I run out.) The church ladies would not tell me the recipe “it’s in the vault” 🙂 but a couple of nice ladies gave me two hints. One was starting with Vlasic pickles; the other was they put them in sugar for – I thought they said THREE weeks! But only in one comment on your recipe did someone say they were crispy. The crispy is the best thing about the church ones. Does your recipe make them crispy/crunchy? Would keeping them in sugar longer make them crispier? Other websites have told me alum are lime are what makes them crispy, but this one doesn’t have either.
Alum is what makes and keep them from getting soggy.
Hi, I have a 24 oz jar of bread and butter pickles and would like to make sweet pickle relish from it. I don’t want to “can” it. (this is just an experiment). Problem is, I have not a clue as to what I’m doing. Can you help?
Sincerely, Cher Frank
So 3 cups of sugar to 1 jar of pickles?
Yes ma’am, to a 46 ounce jar.
Sounds like this would be really easy to make. Thanks for the recipe.
I have taken a jar of pickled jalapenos and a jar of dill slices and made my sweet and spicy mix. Just drain the dill pickle juice, add 1 cup of sugar and combine pickles, jalapenos and the juice from the jalapenos with the sugar until thw sugar is dissolved. Portion the mix back in to the two containers and refrigerate. Use more or less sugar to taste and a larger or smaller jar of jalapenos to control the heat. The pickles and the jalapenos both have a delightful taste and crunch!
What a wonderful idea Sonny, I have got to try this! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!!
I make a gallon at a time. I use 3 cups of sugar and was quite happy. So I am sure there would be no problem 1/2 the sugar.
Hi, has anyone tried with less sugar? I was thinking maybe 2 cups?
Christy, do you know (or how would I find the answer) if these pickles could be canned in a water bath? I want to give them as gifts for friends who are coming for a visit and not to worry about keeping them cold. BTW, I’m a southern girl having grown up on southern cooking but I always go to your site for those southern recipes. Thanks for all your hard work. God bless!
I’ve not canned them myself because they keep so long in the refrigerator but I believe they would can just fine in a water bath. Just make sure you use canning jars with new lids rather than the jar they came in. What lucky friends!
Thanks. Think I’ll give it a try…I can see the sweet little jars lined up on my counter right now!
the fDebirst time i made them, i put them in pint jars and did about 5 minutes in hot water bath. they lasted longer, but got eaten sooner than they would have gone bad.