How to Make Canned Pickles to Stock Your Pantry with Flavor

Whether you're a dill pickle fan or a bread and butter lover, follow these tips to make pickles and can them so you can enjoy them for months to come.

If you're the type who adds pickles to virtually every burger, casserole, sandwich, and brat, or just eats them straight from the jar (guilty!), you need to know how to can cucumbers. Luckily for you, the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen has the inside scoop on all things canning. And once you know how to make pickles, you'll be able to spice them up with all kinds of flavors (think dill, bread and butter, or even Thai chile!) that will rival jars you buy at the store. If you don't have the patience for making pickles and canning them, you can also learn how to make easy refrigerator pickles that are ready to eat in no time. We see a lot of sandwiches topped with pickled cucumbers in your future!

Best-Ever Dill Pickles
Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD

How to Can Pickles

Dill is probably the most prominent flavor of pickles you'll find at your grocery store. To get the hang of how to make pickles and the process of canning pickles, we'll show you how it's done with our easy pickled cucumber recipe. The recipe makes 6 pints of homemade dill pickles, so you'll have plenty for stacking on sandwiches now and in the future. In addition to your canning supplies and equipment, here's what you'll need to make a basic canning pickles recipe:

  • 3 to 3¼ pounds 4-inch pickling cucumbers
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup pickling salt
  • 6 Tbsp. dill seeds

Step 1: Prep the Cucumbers

Thoroughly scrub the cucumbers. Remove the stems and the blossoms, and slice off the blossom ends. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into quarters.

Test Kitchen Tip: If small pickling cucumbers aren't available, cut regular garden cucumbers into 4-inch spears. If you purchase cucumbers to pickle, be sure they haven't been coated in wax, which impedes the pickling process.

Step 2: Mix Up the Pickling Liquid

In a 4- to 5-quart stainless-steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and pickling salt. Bring the mixture to boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Step 3: Pack the Cucumbers

Pack the cucumber spears loosely into six hot sterilized pint canning jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Add 1 tablespoon of dill seeds to each jar.

adding liquid to pickles in jar

Step 4: Process the Pickles

Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, maintaining the ½-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims; adjust the lids and screw bands. Process the filled jars in a boiling-water canner such as the Granite Ware Canning Pot ($20, Sur La Table) for 10 minutes (start timing when the water returns to boiling). Remove the jars from the canner and cool on wire racks. Let stand at room temperature for 1 week before serving.

Bread and Butter Pickles
Scott Little

How to Can Bread and Butter Pickles

Unlike dill pickles, bread and butter pickles are a type of sweet pickle made with thin-sliced cucumbers. As their name suggests, they're popular on sandwiches and burgers (anything with bread, really). You can mix up the spices and seasonings you use to give your pickles different flavors, but if you're new to the pickling game, you can start with our classic recipe. Canning bread and butter pickles is nearly the same as our 4-step process above, only you'll have to give them a quick chill before the water-boiling canning process.


  • 4 quarts sliced medium cucumbers
  • 8 medium white onions, sliced
  • ⅓ cup pickling salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved
  • Cracked ice
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1½ teaspoons celery seed

Step 1: Combine the cucumbers, onions, pickling salt, and garlic. Add 2 inches of cracked ice. Refrigerate for 3 hours; drain well and remove the garlic.

Step 2: In a large kettle combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, turmeric, and celery seed. Heat the mixture to boiling. Add the cucumber mixture. Return to boiling. Pack the cucumber mixture and liquid into hot sterilized pint jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids.

Step 3: Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when the water returns to boiling).

Overnight Cucumber Pickles
Blaine Moats

How to Make Refrigerator Pickles

If you don't have time to wait a week and want to start enjoying your pickles now, you can! Instead of going through the entire canning process, try refrigerator pickles instead. Refrigerator pickles won't keep nearly as long as canned pickles will, but you can start enjoying them a lot sooner.

After you've got the basics for pickling cucumbers down, whip up some pickle poppers for a tasty appetizer or make a mouthwatering Cubano sandwich for lunch. Or move on from cucumbers and learn how to pickle asparagus and sweet potatoes or preserve lemons.

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