13 Types of Pickles You Should Know (and Try!)
Learn all the types of pickles —from bread and butter to classic dill. Plus, we've included plenty of pickle recipes, so you can make your favorites at home.
What Are Dill Pickles?
Dill pickles are the most popular type of pickle. You’ll find plenty of dill options in the grocery aisle: whole pickles, spears, chips, slices—every iteration imaginable. These pickles are, quite simply, brined cucumbers flavored heavily with dill.
Recipes for dill pickles vary. Some include garlic, pickling spice or even spicy peppers. All, though, rely upon dill whether fresh, dried or in seed form. If you’d prefer store-bought to homemade, try our Test Kitchen’s favorite dill pickles.
What Are Kosher Pickles?
Just like Kosher salt, Kosher pickles aren’t necessarily Kosher in terms of preparation. The term here refers to a style of pickling using a salt brine (made with Kosher salt, of course) and generous amounts of garlic and dill.
While dill pickles may have garlic, Kosher pickles need to have garlic—it’s part of the traditional recipe. That’s what makes them different!
What Are Sweet Pickles?
Sweet pickles are pickled cucumbers that are made with a brine containing sugar. The brine gives these pickles just a touch of sweetness (don’t worry—these types of pickles aren’t candy-sweet).
Recipes vary and call for all sorts of spices and aromatics. All recipes for sweet pickles, though, will call for vinegar, sugar and—quite often—thinly sliced onion.
What Are Bread and Butter Pickles?
Despite the name, bread and butter pickles don’t taste like bread or butter. These thinly sliced pickles are actually a type of sweet pickle thanks to the sugar used in the brine. The name “bread and butter” comes from a farming couple who wanted to trademark the name for their signature pickles back in the 1920s.
Today, bread and butter pickles walk that perfect line between sweet and sour. The brine calls for plenty of vinegar as well as sugar to get that just-right mix. These recipes typically call for mustard seed and celery seed, too, but as with any pickle, there are lots of delicious variations.
What Are Sour Pickles?
Sour pickles are made in a vinegar-less brine. They’re fermented in a mix of water, pickling salt and spices. When eaten within the first six weeks of fermenting, these pickles are called half-sour. After that, you’ll find them canned and called sour pickles.
Unlike other pickles, they don’t have that vinegar bite or sweetness. Quite simply, they’re sour!
What Are Gherkin Pickles?
A gherkin is a small variety of cucumber. They are bumpier than their traditional cucumber cousins and are picked and pickled whole while quite small—typically under two inches long. You can grow these plants yourself or buy gherkin pickles right at the store. They may be advertised as petite or baby dills.
What Are Cornichons?
Cornichons and gherkins are the same thing! You’ll often hear these petite pickles referred to cornichons in French recipes. Use the terms interchangeably.
What Are Polish/German Pickles?
Polish or German pickles are similar to dill pickles but usually involve herbs and spices like caraway seeds, mustard seeds and/or peppercorns. The extra spices add a kick you won’t usually find in other types of pickles. These are also usually pickled in wooden barrels for a distinctive taste, though they’re sold in glass jars.
What Are Hungarian Pickles?
Hungarian pickles, also known as kovaszos uborka, are unique because they actually use bread to help along the pickling process (maybe they should be the new bread and butter pickles?). Fresh cucumbers are put in a glass with water, salt and spices, then left out in the sun. The yeast in the bread does the job of pickling in the place of vinegar.
What Are Kool-Aid Pickles?
Kool-Aid pickles are exactly what they sound like—pickles infused with a healthy dose of Kool-Aid powder, vinegar and sugar. This Southern delicacy was all over TikTok recently, and it had some seriously mixed reactions.
What Are Cinnamon Pickles?
Another Southern creation, cinnamon pickles involve not just cinnamon sticks, but also Cinnamon Red Hot candy. The pickling solution is about what you’d expect for sweet pickles, except for this, you’d also add a bunch of cinnamon sticks and Cinnamon Red Hot candy. Many recipes also call for red food coloring to get the look just right.
What Are Lime Pickles?
Nope, there are no citrusy limes involved here—the lime here refers to pickling lime, a white chemical powder that was used in old canning recipes to add a dash of crispness to the finished product. However, this method isn’t recommended any longer, because it can make you very sick!
The pickling lime itself isn’t the problem. Vinegar, which is usually used in pickling, is acidic and kills off bacteria. Leaving too much pickling lime, an alkaline substance, before canning can neutralize the acidity and allow bacteria to grow.
What Are Refrigerator Pickles?
Making refrigerator pickles is a quicker way to preserve vegetables. This quick method doesn’t require the preciseness of traditional canning or a lot of the gear (though you’ll still want a few canning tools to help you along).
Refrigerator pickles are made by soaking fresh veggies in a brine of vinegar and spices. You pop the veggies and brine into jars, cover them and store in the refrigerator. This type of pickling isn’t shelf-stable—you’ll have to keep your makes in the fridge and eat them within a few weeks.