Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

2 jars
20 min

Try this easy recipe for crispy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles that are a little bit sweet and a little bit sour. No cooking, no canning, just an easy small batch recipe for delicious fresh pickles that I think are the best.

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

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🥒Why we love these pickles

  • No matter what brand of pickles I buy at the store, nothing matches the taste of these fresh homemade pickles. This recipe is simple, with a few ingredients that makes two jars of pickles, but if you want more, see the recipe card for the correct brine recipe.
  • The best part about this recipe is it doesn't require a long canning process. These pickles need time in the refrigerator to sit in the simple brine to marinate, and then you fill the jars and store them in the refrigerator for up to three months.
  • No fancy canning equipment is needed, or major canning skills are required for this recipe, and I promise you won't be in the kitchen all day. The whole process takes two hours, and 1 hour of that is chilling the pickles, so that means you can be chilling too! Maybe take a walk, or read a book during that time!
  • These pickles have a sweet, tangy flavor, and the slices stay crisp and green in the pickling spiced brine. They always make a nice addition for a tasty side for your BBQs.
  • The last reason we love these pickles is this is my grandmother's recipe, and she made a lot of pickles. However, she always called these bread and butter cucumbers.
Pickling Cucumbers
What kind of cucumbers should you use?

  • The best types of cucumbers to use when making pickles are called pickling cucumbers, also known as Kirby cucumbers. The major difference between the pickling cucumber and the standard cucumber is they are smaller; they have fewer seeds, less moisture, and thinner skins.
  • I can only find pickling cucumbers at the farmer's market; however, you can use the regular cucumbers found in grocery stores or try to buy small cucumbers.
  • You can also try using seedless English cucumbers.
  • No matter what type of cucumber you buy, pickle them as soon as possible to ensure a crispy pickle.

Pickle Ingredients
Bread and Butter pickle ingredients

Step 1. Give your cucumbers a good washing and rinsing, then slice them up in ¼" slices. I love this crinkle cutting slicer to cut the cucumber; it is very easy to use and makes those beautiful ridges. You can also make straight-cut slices too! And, if you own a mandoline, by all means, get it out, and use it to cut these cucumbers.

Beautiful crinkle-cut pickles

Step 2. Put the sliced cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over them, stir and then put the bowl in the refrigerator for an hour. This is a necessary step. See the FAQs to explain why we need to salt soak the cucumbers.

Step 3. After 1 hour, rinse the cucumbers in a colander to remove the salt, then put them back into the bowl.

Salt the cucumber slices

Step 4. Add the sliced onions to the cucumbers

How to make the pickling brine

Step 5. The brine is easy to make with white sugar, brown sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric.

Step 6. Mix all the brine ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over. medium heat, stirring until all the sugars have melted, then simmer for a few minutes.

Make the pickling brine

Step 7. Pour the pickle brine over the cucumbers and onion slices, and give it a big stir.

Step 8. Let the pan of pickles sit for one hour in the refrigerator.

Pour on the hot brine

Step 9. After an hour of refrigerating the pickles, you can see the change of color and that the pickles have softened some.

Step 10. Make sure to sterilize your glass jars and lids and when the cucumbers are ready, spoon the pickles and onions into the jars and cover the pickles with the brine. Leave a ½" of space at the top of the jar, and with a spoon, press down on the pickle slices to remove any air pockets.

You may have leftover brine and that may need to be added to the jars once you press down on the pickles. See updated notes for using the brine.

When the jars are filled, clean around the top of the jar and the threads and seal tightly with the lids. Store the jars in the refrigerator for up to three months.

The brined pickles
Canning bread and butter pickles
Adding the cucumber and onions directly into jars

Can you skip letting the cucumbers and onions sit in the brining pan for the hour? Yes, you can; you can brine the cucumbers and onions directly to the canning jars.

  1. After the pickles have been salt-soaked and rinsed, mix the cucumbers and onions and then fill the jars.
  2. Heat the brine and pour it directly over the cucumbers in the canning jars. See the recipe card for the brine ingredients.
  3. Let the jars sit on the counter for 1 hour, then wipe around the jar to ensure it's clean and top with the lid, then place in the refrigerator.
  4. Enjoy these crispy pickles after one day.
Add cucumbers and pickles directly to jars.
Updated notes for leftover brine

I have had questions about using the leftover brine. This is what I do. I pour the leftover brine into a clean container or another canning jar and store it in the refrigerator for up to three months.

  • You will not have a lot of brine leftover; I had ¾ cups left, so I bought an English cucumber, which was just enough to make a jar of pickles.
  • I reheated the brine and poured it on the salt-soaked cucumbers and sliced onion. (See the tip above on canning directly into jars)
  • The pickles tasted delicious; however, the reheated brine was cloudy, and the flavor was a bit diminished over using a fresh brine. I don't think most people would notice.
  • Leftover brine is best when it is just reheated once.

Pickle FAQ's

Why are these pickles called "Bread and Butter Pickles"?

Just so you know, there is no bread or butter in this recipe, and you don't have to eat bread and butter with these pickles. The name comes from the 1920s when the Fanning family would barter their sweet and sour pickles for bread and butter at the market.

Are bread and butter pickles the same as Yum Yum Pickles?

They could be pickle cousins! The difference is the Yum Yum Pickles has almost double the sugar in the recipe than this recipe.

Can you use a pickling spice mix?

You can, but a store-bought spice mix will contain more spices than I use and will definitely change the taste. This pickling spice mix contains eleven spices, including cinnamon, bay leaves, and allspice, which are not part of this recipe. I think adding three tablespoons would be the correct amount

What to do with leftover pickling brine?

You can add more cucumbers to the leftover brine.

Pour the brine on shredded cabbage and carrots for coleslaw

Pickle hard-boiled eggs in the brine.

Why do you soak cucumbers in salt?

This is a necessary step in the fermentation pickling process. The salt will pull excess water out of the cucumbers, making them crispier and adding flavor. Saltwater soaking the cucumbers will help inhibit bacteria growth while at the same time adding important bacteria.

Pickle tips and tricks

Thick or thin slices - that's up to you when you make your own pickles. I prefer a thicker slice, about ¼" thick. The thinner sliced pickles will not be as crisp and tend to curl up.

If you don't have canning jars, these pickles will keep well in an airtight container, such as a good sealing Tupperware. Just make sure to sterilize the container and lid.

It is super important to sterilize the containers and lids to prevent bacteria from developing. There are many methods, but this is what I do -

  • Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse well again in very hot water.
  • Set a rack inside a deep pot and cover the jars with hot water. If you don't have a rack, put a towel in the bottom of the pot and set the jars on it and then cover it with water.
  • Bring water to a boil, cover the pot and boil for 15 minutes; turn off the heat and let jars stand in hot water for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the jars from the hot water; I do this with tongs, then turn the jars upside down on a clean towel until ready to fill. Sterilize the lids in boiling water for 5 minutes.

How to hot pack pickles

Many of my readers have asked, and yes, these pickles can also be hot packed, which will make them last longer, and can be stored on a shelf for a year using this method.

For more information on home canning and hot packing, this USDA Home Canning guide can help you out.

  1. Clean and sterilize the jars and lids and prepare the canner.
  2. Pack the pickle and onion slices in the sterilized jars, then ladle the hot pickling liquid over the top, leaving ½" of headspace. Press down on the pickles with a spoon to remove any air bubbles.
  3. Wipe the jar rims and apply the lid and tighten.
  4. Bring the water to a boil in the canner and place the jars into the boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove to a towel and dry the jars.
  5. Let the jarred pickles sit for 4 weeks before eating—store for 1 year.
  6. For high altitudes, adjust the processing time to:

    • 5 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 ft
    • 10 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 ft
    • 15 minutes for 6,001 to 8,000 ft
    • 20 minutes for 8,001 to 10,000 ft

This small batch quick Bread and Butter Pickle recipe makes a nice addition to a cheese and bread plate; add some dry salami and some veggies for an appetizer or even for a light meal. My preference for eating these pickles would be straight out of the jar!

Bread and butter cucumbers
Pickles are great served with other appetizers

  • Make a batch of these homemade Savory Cheese Crackers to serve with soups or salads or for a simple snack.
  • Make a simple Cheese Board and add a bowl of these pickles for a crunchy bite.
  • This Creamy Herb Baked Ricotta Cheese is filled with fresh herbs and lemon, perfect for happy hour appetizers or set out at parties with crusty bread.
  • And here is a fabulous Pickled Cabbage recipe that you can serve right along with these crispy pickles.

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First Published: August 15, 2018... Last Updated: July 19, 2022, with an updated recipe.

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About Jere'

From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory family-friendly recipes for your cooking and baking inspiration.

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Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles
Recipe details
  • 2  jars
  • Prep time: 15 minutes Minutes Cook time: 5 minutes Minutes Total time: 20 min
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Cucumber Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds pickling cucumber I used 8 cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 small onion sliced and used to your taste
Brine Ingredients
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Wash and sterilize canning jars. Note: I have various sized jars but two 16 ounce-sized jars will work.
Wash and rinse the cucumbers very well in hot water.
On a large cutting board slice the cucumbers into ¼" slices using a chef knife or a crinkle-cut slicer.
Put the cucumbers in a large bowl and add the salt. Stir well to combine, then place in the refrigerator for one hour.
After an hour transfer the cucumbers to a colander and rinse well to remove the salt.
Put the cucumbers back into the bowl and add the onions.
In a medium-sized saucepan add the brine ingredients, both kinds of vinegar, both sugars, and the spices.
Cook the brining mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugars melt, then let simmer for five minutes.
Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers and onions and let sit in the bowl for one hour.
Put the pickles and onion slices in the sterilized jars then pour the brine into the jars then press down on the pickles to release any air pockets. If necessary, pour more brine over the pickles. Leave ½" space at the top.
You will probably have some left over brine.
Clean around the top of the jars and the threads and seal tightly. Store in the refrigerator for up to three months.
These pickles are ready to eat the next day. They just need a good chilling.
  • These are refrigerator pickles so they are not hot-packed. See the instructions above for hot packing and refer to this USDA canning guide for more information.
  • This is a small batch recipe enough for two 16 ounce jars
  • Follow this for a double batch recipe -note, if you double the brine you will have a lot left over, so instead of doubling those ingredients just multiply them by 1.5.
  • Double Batch Pickles
  • 2 pounds pickling cucumbers - I added 15
  • 2 ½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • The Brine
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 /2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons celery seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Follow the recipe above for the instructions.
  • I had ¾ cup of brine leftover after packing the pickles, which I poured over shredded cabbage and carrots for a quick slaw.
  • See the notes for using leftover brine and for brining the cucumbers directly in the canning jars.
  • One Hot Oven provides approximate nutritional information as a courtesy and cannot guarantee the accuracy of any recipe on this blog.
Jere Cassidy
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