Spicy dill refrigerator pickles are easy to make at home - no canning equipment required. They make the perfect topping for your next burger on the grill!
If you're hesitant to can your own pickles at home (it's time consuming & heats up the kitchen), refrigerator pickles may be for you. There is no canning or cooking involved in making these refrigerator pickles - just 5 minutes of prep and you're done!
These spicy dill pickles are made with just a handful of simple ingredients. Since they're not canned, they need to be refrigerated, but will last up to two months when tightly sealed.
Red pepper flakes add flavor and heat to these thin sliced dill pickles, making them an ideal topping for hamburgers and fried-chicken sandwiches. Looking for a sweeter version? Try my bread and butter pickles or sweet and spicy pickles.
What are refrigerator pickles?
Refrigerator pickles are pickles that are made without traditional canning methods. They are not shelf-stable like regular canned goods, so they need to be stored in the refrigerator.
Refrigerator pickles are ready to enjoy after two days and will last for up to two months in the refrigerator.
This is a great way to use up your fresh garden produce. Plus, you're not spending the entire day in the kitchen boiling jars and heating up the house.
Ingredients and substitutions
- White vinegar - Can be substituted with apple cider vinegar.
- Cucumbers - Pickling cucumbers (shown) or any slicing/salad cucumber can be used in this recipe. You'll need about 1 pound of cucumbers.
- Dill - Gives your pickles that tangy dill flavor.
- Peppercorns - Add flavor to your pickles.
- Kosher salt - Can be substituted with sea salt or non-iodized table salt. Iodized salt can change the color and flavor of your pickles and is not recommended.
- Red pepper flakes - The red pepper flakes give your pickles their spicy flavor, so I don't recommend omitting them unless you'd like to make regular dill pickles.
Any cucumbers you have on hand can be pickled. Of course pickling cucumbers are an ideal choice, but English cucumbers or slicing cucumbers will also work.
Pickling cucumbers make a firmer, crunchier pickle, whereas English or slicing cucumbers make a slightly softer pickle.
How to make pickles spicy
We're adding red pepper flakes for spicy flavor. As written, this recipe makes pickles with a medium spice level. For spicier pickles, add more red pepper flakes. For a mild dill pickle, cut the red pepper flakes in half or omit entirely.
Do I need to sterilize my jars?
The need to sterilize jars in canning is to ensure that your jars are free of bacteria and fungi. When canning, the food is prepared so that it can sit in a sealed jar at room temperature for long periods of time without spoiling.
Refrigerator pickles are not shelf stable, and will only keep for 1-2 months in the refrigerator. So no, you do not have to sterilize your jars before making refrigerator pickles. They will only be stored in the refrigerator for a short time.
Any clean jars, well sealing jars will work for this recipe. However, you are absolutely welcome to sterilize your jars if you want to.
Do I need to cook my brine?
There is no need to heat or cook your brine before adding it to the jars.
In my bread and butter pickles recipe, I include a step to heat the brine on the stove top. We heat the brine in that recipe because the sugar needs to be be dissolved. Since there's no sugar in this recipe, there's no need to heat the brine.
What size jars do I need?
This recipe makes 32 ounces of jarred pickles. Feel free to use any combination of these jar sizes:
- One quart size (32 ounce) jar
- Two pint size (16 ounce) jars (shown in the photos)
- Four half-pint (8 ounce) jars
Any clean jars you have on hand will work - as long as they seal tightly with a lid. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the recipe to fill randomly sized jars.
Spicy Dill Refrigerator Pickles
- 1 pound cucumbers, thin sliced
- 8 sprigs fresh dill
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, *
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup vinegar, apple cider or white
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- In two pint size jars, add fresh dill, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Then, pack jars tightly with sliced cucumbers and set aside.
- In a bowl, add water, vinegar, and salt. Stir until salt is dissolved. Pour into jars to completely submerge cucumbers. Any remaining brine can be discarded.
- Tightly seal, gently shake to disperse ingredients, and refrigerate for 2 days to allow cucumbers to pickle. Store pickles in refrigerator for up to 2 months.
- Any cucumbers can be pickled. Pickling cucumbers produce a firmer pickle, and slicing/English cucumbers produce a softer pickle.
- Your refrigerator pickles need to be stored in the refrigerator. Since they are not canned, they are not shelf-stable and need to be refrigerated.
- The cucumbers need 2 days to pickle in the brine before enjoying. They are edible immediately, but need at least 2 days of rest for best results.
- *As written, this will produce a medium heat pickle. For spicier pickles, double the amount of red pepper flakes, and for a mild dill pickle, use half as much.