Bread and Butter Pickles

It’s easy to turn cucumbers into sweet bread and butter pickles that are great for snacking or sandwiches. Can them for later using a water bath or simply store in the fridge.

Bread and Butter Pickles
Elise Bauer

Boxes filled with cucumbers from the farmers market, scores of mason jars, big pots, lots of activity in the kitchen, fresh homemade pickles. These are some of my memories from summers growing up.

My grandmother (dad's mother) and my parents used to pickle a lot when I was a kid. My dad's favorite was spicy carrot and cauliflower pickles (I'm still waiting for the recipe); my favorite was sweet watermelon rind pickles (can't find watermelons with thick enough rinds to make these anymore).

Bread and Butter Pickles
Elise Bauer

Sweet pickles like these bread and butter pickles (who came up with that name?) never lasted that long around here; we kids gobbled them up.

Bread and butter pickles are easy to make, and if you are planning to make them as refrigerator pickles (storing them in the cold fridge, to be eaten within weeks), you can skip a lot of the canning steps.

This is a basic recipe which we happen to love, cobbled together from various editions of the Joy of Cooking plus some online research.

The ice helps keep the cucumbers crispy, as does cooking them just a short time. You can experiment with the pickling spices, and the pickling vegetables for that matter. We have a jalapeño bread and butter pickle recipe for people who love their pickles spicy.

Do you have a favorite bread and butter pickle recipe? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.

More Tasty Recipes for Canning

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Bread and Butter Pickles

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Salting and Chilling Cucumbers 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 50 mins
Servings 24 servings
Yield 3 to 5 Pints

Start with the freshest pickling cucumbers you can find; your pickles are only going to be as good as the produce you start with. The fresher the cucumbers are, the crispier your pickles will be.

Kosher salt can be used as a substitute for pickling salt. Regular table salt has additives in it that will turn the pickles dark and muddy the color of the pickle juice.

The yield for canning recipes varies depending on a number of factors. This recipe makes between 3 and 5 pints worth of cucumbers and pickling syrup.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds pickling cucumbers, fresh from the market

  • 1/4 cup pickling salt (see recipe note)

  • 1 pound white or yellow onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 1/4 cups white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)

  • 2 1/4 cups sugar

Pickling spices:

  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds

  • 1 inch cinnamon stick

  • 6 allspice berries plus a pinch of ground allspice

  • 6 whole cloves plus a pinch of ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Method

  1. Rinse and slice the cucumbers:

    Carefully rinse the cucumbers, scrubbing away any dirt that may have stuck to the ribs. Slice off 1/8-inch from the ends and discard. Slice the cucumbers in 1/4-inch thick slices and place in a large bowl.

    bread-and-butter-pickles-method-1
    Elise Bauer
    bread-and-butter-pickles-method-2
    Elise Bauer
  2. Salt, chill, and drain the cucumber slices:

    Add the sliced onions and all of the pickling salt. Stir so that the salt is well distributed among the cucumber slices. Cover with a clean, thin tea towel (not terry cloth). Cover with a couple of inches of ice.

    Put in the refrigerator and let chill for 4 hours. Discard the ice. Rinse the cucumber and onion slices thoroughly, then drain. Rinse and drain again.

    bread-and-butter-pickles-method-3
    Elise Bauer
    bread-and-butter-pickles-method-4
    Elise Bauer
  3. Heat the jars:

    If you are planning to store your pickles outside of the refrigerator for any length of time, you will need to heat your canning jars in a hot water bath after canning.

    Simple Tip!

    Because the jars will be processed in the water bath for more than 10 minutes, it is not necessary to first sterilize the jars for this recipe. Do make sure your jars are clean.

    If you are planning to eat the pickles right away and store them the whole time in the refrigerator, you can skip the water bath step.

    To heat the jars for canning, place the empty jars on a metal rack in a large, 16-quart canning pot. (Jars must rest on a rack in the pot, not on the bottom of the pot). Fill with warm water at least 1 inch above the jars and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to warm to keep the jars hot and ready for canning. 

    Wash the lids in hot, soapy water.

  4. Make the pickling syrup:

    In a 4 or 6-quart pot, place the vinegars, sugar, and all of the pickling spices (do not add salt). Bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the sliced cucumbers and onions. Bring to a boil again. As soon as the sugar vinegar solution begins boiling again, use a slotted spoon to start packing the hot jars with the cucumbers and onions.

  5. Pack the jars, add the pickling syrup:

    Remove with tongs or jar lifters one by one as you can the cucumbers. Pack jars to 1 inch from the rim with the cucumbers and onions. Then pour hot vinegar sugar syrup over them to 1/2 inch from the rim.

    Wipe the rim clean with a paper towel. Place a sterilized clean lid on the jar. Secure with a metal screw band. Repeat with remaining jars.

  6. Process in a hot water bath:

    If you are planning to store pickles outside of the refrigerator, you will want to process the filled jars in a hot water bath.

    Return filled jars to the same canning pot with its already hot water. The water level needs to be at least one inch above the top of the cans.

    Bring to a boil and boil hard for 15 minutes. Remove jars from the pot using tongs or jar lifters.

    If you live over 1,000 feet above sea level, adjust your processing time using the directions here.

  7. Let cool and store:

    Let cool down to room temperature. Jars should make a popping sound as their lids seal. If a lid doesn't properly seal, do not store the jar outside of the refrigerator.

    Properly canned bread and butter pickles can be stored in a cool, dark place (like a pantry) for up to a year. Store opened jars in the fridge and use within 3 months.

    If you skipped the water bath canning, transfer the cooled jars directly to the fridge and eat within 3 months.

    Simple Tip!

    Bread and butter pickles (whether they’re water bath canned or not) can be eaten as soon as 24 hours after making, but they’ll have the best flavor if you let them sit for at least a week (ideally 3 or more weeks).

    Bread and Butter Pickles
    Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
95 Calories
0g Fat
23g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 95
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 633mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 20g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 116mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.