This is the easiest sweet and spicy pickles recipe ever! These refrigerator pickles are crispy, tangy, and the perfect way to spice up your next burger or sandwich. There is no cooking of the brine mixture necessary to make this recipe.
You will love this sweet heat pickle recipe. They are so fresh-tasting, once you start making your own you will skip the grocery store pickles. Give these zucchini garlic dill pickles or pickled jalapenos a try too!
Why This Recipe Works
- It is a great recipe! It's quick and easy to make; no cooking or hot water bath is required.
- The pickles stay crunchy since there is no heating process that can make pickles soggy.
- They are super fresh and delicious, you just might eat the entire jar in one sitting.
Here is What You Will Need
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This is an overview of the ingredients and instructions that you will need to make this recipe. Scroll down a bit further for ingredient substitutions, and complete cooking instructions which are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Jalapeno Pepper
- Pickling Spice
- Sea Salt
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- One Pint Jar & Lid
- Vegetable Knife
- Crinkle Cutter
Here is how to make sweet and spicy pickles with jalapenos
Prepare the ingredients: Rinse the cucumbers and jalapeno peppers, measure the seasoning blend and the vinegar. Grab a clean pickling jar or two depending on how many jars you plan to make. Each pint jar will take one to two cucumbers.
Step 1. Slice the vegetables
Cut the cucumbers into slices about ½ to ¾ inch thick, and slice the jalapenos into rings.
Step 2. Fill the Jar
Stuff the cucumber slices and peppers in alternating layers into a one-pint jar.
Step 3. Add the spices
Top the cucumber and pepper combination with pickling spice and salt.
Step 4. Add the vinegar
Add the vinegar, honey, and water. Cover the jar and lightly shake it up.
Note: This recipe is a small batch recipe and will make a one-pint mason jar of pickles. For multiple jars of pickles, double or triple the ingredients.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Cucumbers. You can use any type of cucumber that you have available to make this spicy pickle recipe. I like to use Kirby cucumbers, they are smaller in size and have thick skin which helps to keep the pickle chips crispy.
When Kirby or fresh from my garden cucumbers aren't available, I use the small Persian or English cucumbers.
Jalapeno Peppers add heat to the pickle brine. If you don't like the heat and prefer bread and butter pickles, leave the jalapeno peppers out.
Substitute jalapeno peppers with ½ to 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes or a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and adjust to your taste.
Pickle Spice. Look for a good quality store-bought pickling spice or you can make your own, here's my recipe for homemade pickling season.
Apple Cider Vinegar. Is my preferred vinegar for making pickles. We like the tart flavor and health benefits that it adds to the pickle brine.
Apple cider vinegar can be substituted with an equal amount of white vinegar.
Honey. Since the brine is not heated, I like to use a liquid sweetener such as local honey because it will dissolve faster.
If you don't have honey, you can substitute it with an equal amount of real maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar.
Cinnamon Stick. Adds a nice flavor to the pickle chips. If cinnamon sticks aren't available, you can use a pinch of cinnamon chunks or leave them out.
Sea Salt. Fine-grain sea salt is my preference for making refrigerator pickles because it dissolves nicely in vinegar and water. You can also use pickling salt or kosher salt to make these pickles.
Tips for making the best sweet and spicy pickles
Even though these pickles will stay crunchy, here are a few more tips to ensure that your pickles stay crisp.
- Thick sliced cucumbers will stay crisp longer, slice the cucumbers about ¾ to 1 inch thick for best results.
- Add a grape leaf or black tea leaf to the top of the jar. The leaves both contain natural tannins in them which helps to keep the pickles crispy.
- Trim the ends off of the cucumbers before placing them in the jar. The blossom that can be at the end of the cucumber contains an enzyme that can lead to softening of the cucumbers in the brine.
- If you prefer less heat in your refrigerator pickles, add a few slices of the jalapeno pepper to the pickle jar instead of the entire pepper.
For pickle chips with ripples, use a wavy crinkle cutting tool.
What to serve with refrigerator pickles
Serve your sweet and spicy pickles with your favorite burgers like this grilled caramelized onion burger, a turkey Reuben burger, veggie sandwich or a grilled cheese sandwich.
They also taste great as a snack or add them to your favorite charcuterie board.
How to store homemade spicy pickles
Store your refrigerator pickles in the refrigerator for up to a month in a tightly sealed glass jar.
Sweet and spicy pickle variations
Balsamic Sweet and Spicy Pickles. Use 3 tablespoons of white or regular balsamic vinegar instead of apple cider or white vinegar.
Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles. Swap out the cucumbers with slices of zucchini.
Sweet and Spicy Pickled Vegetables. Steam or blanch green beans, cauliflower, carrots or asparagus. Rinse them off with cold water and add them to a jar and cover them with brine and seasonings.
Change up the Peppers. Use a different type of hot pepper such as habanero, cherry peppers, or slices of poblano peppers.
Add Garlic and Onions - add a clove or two of smashed garlic or a handful of sliced sweet or red onions.
Leave out the pickling spice and add a teaspoon of celery seed or mustard seed and black peppercorns with a sprig of fresh dill.
Your Questions Answered
Here are the most commonly asked questions about this sweet and spicy pickles recipe. If your question isn't answered below, leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Refrigerator pickles are quick pickles that don't go through a canning process. They are usually made in small batches. The ingredients are combined in a jar and stored in the refrigerator.
The canning process is more time-consuming and is usually made in larger batches. The benefit of canning pickles is that canned pickles have a longer shelf life and don't need to be refrigerated until they have been opened.
These homemade pickles are made with simple wholesome ingredients. There are no added food dyes or preservatives, and you can control the amount of added salt and sugar when you make them yourself.
Yes, you can re-use the pickle brine for a second batch of refrigerator pickles as long as they haven't been in the refrigerator for longer than 2 weeks. Once the cucumber slices are gone, add more fresh cucumber slices and adjust the flavors. Store them in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.
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Click on serving size to scale this recipe
- 1 to 2 small to medium kirby cucumbers.
- up to 1 small to medium jalapeno pepper
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice
- Enough water to fill up the jar.
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
- Slice the cucumbers into ½ to ¾ inch thick slices and slice the jalapeno pepper into rings
- Layer the slices of cucumbers and the jalapeno slices into a one-pint mason jar.
- Add the pickling seasoning and sea salt.
- Next, add the vinegar and honey; fill the jar with water.
- Gently shake the jar to mix everything together.
- Store the pickles in the refrigerator for at LEAST 4 hours, and 24 is best.
- For crisp pickles, add a grape leaf to the top of the jar.
- Substitute jalapeno peppers with ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili flakes.
- For less heat, use ½ a jalapeno or leave it out.
- Substitute the honey with an equal amount of any liquid sweetener such as maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave nectar.
- Apple cider with an equal amount of white vinegar.
- Honey with an equal amount of maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave nectar.
- Cinnamon stick with a pinch of cinnamon chunks.
- Sea salt with pickling salt or kosher salt.
- Try balsamic vinegar for an even sweeter flavor.
- Swap out the cucumbers for zucchini.
- Change up the peppers, use habanero, cherry or poblano peppers.
- Add a few cloves of garlic and ¼ cup sliced onions.
- Leave out the pickling spice and use a teaspoon of celery or mustard seed and black peppercorns with a sprig of fresh dill.
- Change up the vegetables and use steamed or blanched green beans, carrots, cauliflower or asparagus
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used
Hi! I couldn’t find the amount of honey listed anywhere. It’s not written in the ingredients. Thanks!
Hi Katie, Thanks for your comment, I just updated the recipe. You will need 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey in this recipe. If you like a sweeter taste, add 2 tablespoons.
When do I add the honey? It’s not listed in the instructions.
Hi Sonya! The honey is added when the vinegar is added, I just updated the recipe card. Thanks for letting me know!