How to Make Easy Refrigerator Pickles

You can use this method to make pickle spears as well! They'll need to pickle for 2 to 3 days in the fridge before they're ready.

As is, the recipe makes a fairly sweet pickle. You can cut the sugar in half for a more sour and tart pickle, if desired.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Pickling time: 24 hours
  • Yield: 2 pint jars of pickles


  • 1 pound Kirby or other small cucumbers
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pickling spice, homemade or store-bought

Special equipment:


1 Wash and dry the jars and cucumbers: Wash 2 wide-mouth pint jars and their lids in hot, soapy water. Set them aside to dry.

Rinse the cucumbers well under cold water, pat them dry, and then set them on a towel to dry completely.

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2 Slice the cucumbers and onion, then pack them in the jars: With a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer, slice the cucumbers and onion into slices 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.

Firmly pack the cucumbers and onions into the jars, fitting in as many as you can without smashing the vegetables. Leave 1/2-inch or so of headspace at the top of the jars.

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3 Make the brine: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pickling spice up to a simmer. Stir occasionally and continue simmering until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Refrigerator Pickles

4 Pour the brine over the vegetables: If you have a canning funnel, use it here to make it easier to fill the jars. Carefully pour or ladle the hot brine into each jar, filling the jars until the cucumbers and onions are covered. It's ok if a few small pieces poke out the top.

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5 Cool and refrigerate for 24 hours: Screw on the lids, then let the jars cool to room temperature (about an hour). The cucumbers will start off bright green, but will become darker and more "pickle-colored" as they cool.

Place them in the refrigerator. Wait at least 24 hours before eating the pickles in order to let the flavors develop. Use them within one month.

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  • d4v1d

    from other experience making sauerkraut, after slicing the cucumbers, I salted them (kosher salt) and left them in a covered bowl to draw off moisture – you can get quite a lot. then rinse the slices and follow recipe as above. they seem to me they come out a little crisper this way.


  • Christine

    Is it possible to do this using whole, small or mini cucumbers instead of slicing large ones?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Christine! Yes, I think other cucumbers would work fine in this recipe. Let us know how it goes!

  • Howard E Nutter

    Looks like a winner. . . . .I wonder if you have a recipe for pickled sausages and hard boiled eggs?? . . . . .Years ago (too many) I could get them in bars in Florida, and I think they were made under a name such as MAX’s Pickled Sausages ????????. . . I enjoy the recipes very much, but don’t do much cooking anymore as we live in an apartment, now. .
    Thank you very much for your prompt response. . . . .

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Howard! We’ll have to look into pickled sausages — that’s a new one for me. But check out our recipe for Pickled Eggs right here!

  • Susie

    If you don’t have pickling spice, what do you suggest using?

    • Daniel

      I always go for mustard seeds, bay leaves, and peppercorns. You can also add cloves (one per jar is enough I think) or allspice.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Susie! You can make your own blend of spices, if you like. Here’s our recipe: Basic Pickling Spice Blend.

  • Jon Nilsen

    Thanks for the inspiration! I’m making these tonight. One question… Where’s the garlic:)

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Jon! You can definitely add garlic if you like! Smash 2 to 3 cloves and add them along with the cucumbers and onions.

  • David Bishop

    Is the sugar ‘required’? How much will it affect things if I leave it out?

    • Coco Morante

      Hi David,

      In this recipe, the sugar really does balance out the tartness of the vinegar. Without any sugar, the cucumbers will definitely pickle, but they’ll be quite sour. I’d try cutting the amount in half to start, and seeing if they come out to your taste!

    • d4v1d

      you can also change the balance slightly – a bit more water, a tad less vinegar.