Pickle Me This: Cucumber Variations

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Pickled cucumbers don’t have to be your plain old dills. Far from it. Make these and you’ll never have (or want!) to buy another jar again.

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As I wrote in my pickled fennel post, being half Finnish and half Polish, pickling is in my DNA. And, you can pickle just about any vegetable — and many fruits, too. But today I present the classic, pickled cucumbers. Because they are THAT good and stand the test of time; the very definition of a classic.

Refrigerated, these retain their crisp crunch about 3 weeks but will likely be eaten long before then!

Below is the base recipe along with a number of variations to try. Think of this as your springboard to just about any flavor profile.


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Quick Pickled Cucumbers

  • Servings: Approximately 24 spears
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1 pound small cucumbers (approximately 5-6 cucumbers, 6-inches)
  • 2 tablespoons, plus two teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup plain white vinegar
  • 1 and 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed


  1. Slice cucumbers and place in bowl (I prefer quartering them, lengthways, but feel free to do thick medallions, rustic irregular cuts, or any shape you like).
  2. Sprinkle two tablespoons of Kosher salt over cucumbers and toss. Let sit for one hour to draw out liquid.
  3. Bring vinegar, water, two teaspoons of Kosher salt, peppercorns and garlic clove to a boil (This is your brining liquid).
    1. If you are making any of the variations using spices (see variation ideas, below), add them to the brining liquid now.
  4. Remove brining liquid from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  5. Thoroughly rinse and drain cucumbers.
  6. Place cucumbers in jar. Any clean jar will do.
    1. If you are making any of the variations using herbs (see variation ideas, below), add them to the jar with the cucumbers.
  7. Pour brining liquid into the jar, ensuring the liquid completely covers the cucumbers. If you do not have enough liquid, add equal parts water and white vinegar to top off the jar (no need to boil).
  8. Refrigerate and wait 24 hours before enjoying.

Variations from classic to surprising, and all delicious. Add these to the base recipe, above. Note the timing on adding spices vs. herbs.

  • Spicy: 2 extra garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground Cayenne or Pepperoncini pepper
  • Thai: 4 lime wedges, 4 springs cilantro, 4 Thai chili peppers left whole
  • French: 2 springs tarragon and peels of 1/2 lemon (using a vegetable peeler, only using the yellow skin, leaving the white pith behind)
  • French: 1 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence
  • Yellow Moroccan: 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cumin,1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Sweet: 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • Traditional: 2-3 springs dill and 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed


Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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