Refrigerator Bread And Butter Pickles are so easy to make, and can be refrigerated up to six months. These don’t require canning techniques. Just a few ingredients and they are ready in no time. Try these easy pickles!
Making pickles can seem like an intimidating thing because of the whole canning component, but you don’t have to have canning experience to make pickles!
Even if you already are an experienced canner, these refrigerator bread and butter pickles are a great recipe to have in your repertoire for when your garden is just starting to produce – or winding down – and you have just a few cucumbers to process.
We’ve made these several times, and they’re always a hit – particularly with my husband. They’re so handy to be able to reach into the fridge and grab for a cold snack, or to serve at picnics.
Pro tip: if you’re buying cucumbers to make these pickles with, make sure you get pickling cucumbers. These are available everywhere – including Walmart. Pickling cucumbers have thinner skins, and smaller seeds that make them more appealing as pickles.
What Makes Them Bread and Butter Pickles?
Legend has it that bread and butter pickles became popular during the great depression. Since they’re cheap (cucumbers are easy to grow, and many people made their own vinegar), people would use them to make a sandwich with bread and butter to add crunch and flavor.
What’s the difference between dill pickles, and bread and butter pickles?
Homemade dill pickles are hard to beat, but have a different purpose in my mind. While dills are the perfect burger and sandwich pickle, bread and butter are for snacking and side dishes.
So the difference is that dill pickles are made with the herb, dill, for flavor, and they’re also salty and sour. Bread and butter pickles on the other hand are sweet, with a vinegary tang, and flavored with onions, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric.
Basically, bread and butter pickles are sweet, dill pickles are sour.
Ingredients for Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles
While pickling might not be something the average family does on a regular basis, I bet you already have most the ingredients on hand.
- Cucumbers – use smaller, pickling cucumbers rather than large salad cukes
- Onion – I typically use white or sweet onions. These are essential for flavor.
- Salt – both a preservative and a flavor. Be sure to use non-iodized salt such as kosher salt or pickling salt. While you probably won’t run into the side effects of iodized salt as much in refrigerator pickles as you would canned pickles, it still better to be safe than sorry. That is one trick in canning – table salt is usually not gonna cut it.
- Sugar – This is also both a preservative and a flavor. Sugar gives bread and butter pickles their signature sweetness. Feel free to use cane sugar or turbinado.
- Vinegar – This is another one of our flavor/preservative combos. You need the acid element for both the tanginess, and the acid element.
- Apple cider vinegar – While we could use only white vinegar in terms of preserving the pickles, we want to add some ACV to achieve the perfect bread and butter pickle flavor.
- Mustard Seeds – for flavor that intensifies over time
- Celery Seeds – another flavoring
- Turmeric – This is both for flavor, and color. You may have noticed that bread and butter pickles have a yellow tinge. That comes from turmeric. It also adds a subtle flavor that may not realize you notice until you don’t have it.
If you find you don’t have some of the ingredients on hand, you can most likely pick them up at your local grocery store. While I typically prefer to order my pickling spices in bulk, they’re definitely available at stores like Walmart, HEB, and Albertsons.
You can also tweak this recipe to your liking by replacing the granulated sugar with brown sugar for a richer flavor, or adding some red pepper flakes for some heat.
How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles
Here’s the simple recipe for making pickles:
- Slice your onions into thin rings
- Slice your cucumbers into rings at least 1/4 inch thick
- In a saucepan, combine brine ingredients (vinegars, salt, sugar, and spices) and bring them to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the salt and sugar is dissolved
- Layer onion and cucumber slices in a quart jar. (You can also mix the two in a large bowl and then add them to jars for a more even mixture.)
- Once your vinegar mixture is piping hot, pour the pickling brine over cucumbers and onions until completely covered.
- Place lid on jar, and let cool
- When the jar is cooled, store in the refrigerator for up to six months
You can replace the cucumbers into the same brine when your first batch runs out, but I find that the brine loses flavor pretty quickly, so I just make a whole fresh batch.
Tips for Success
- Slice our cucumbers thickly. You want some substance there for crunchiness! I like my bread and butter pickles thicker than dill pickles.
- With that in mind, you can slice or cut them into any shape you want, including using whole, baby cukes.
- Make sure you work on an easily cleaned, non-porous surface. The turmeric can really leave stains!
- You can use quart, pint jars, or even a half gallon jar for these pickles. I usually use canning jars and Denali canning lids, but you can use any jar with a tight lid such as a cleaned out pickle or salsa jar.
Frequently asked questions
The main question I get is “Can I use this recipe for canned pickles”, and I don’t recommend it.
For canning, I recommend old fashioned bread and butter pickles. This recipe has a couple extra steps. An especially important step is a salt and ice bath, which helps your pickles stay crisp even after they’ve been canned in boiling water. It’s almost magical.
Another question is “can I store these at room temperature?” The answer is no. This brine is meant to be adequate for preservation at cold temperatures.
Other Pickle Recipes to Try:
Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
Sweet and tangy homemade bread and butter refrigerator pickles.
- 8–10 medium sized pickling cucumbers (about 6 cups, sliced)
- 1 white onion
- 1 Tablespoon canning salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar or turbinado
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
- Slice cucumbers into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
- Slice onion into thin slices
- Layer cucumbers and onions into 2 quart jars or equivalent
- In a saucepan, heat remaining ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally until salt and sugar are melted
- Bring brine to a simmer
- Remove from heat and pour over cucumbers and onions, covering completely, and being sure to divide the mustard and celery seeds between the two jars
- Screw down lid, and let jars cool
- Store in refrigerator for up to six months, using as desired
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