Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

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Make these quick and easy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles with no canning equipment or fuss. These homemade pickles are made from garden fresh cucumbers, vinegar, and spices for an easy side dish for your summer cookouts.

Quick Pickles

I like making homemade pickles, but I don’t really enjoy canning. I’ve done it before, but it is time consuming, messy and I always worry about the possibility of messing something up and getting people sick.

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So when I make pickles, it is quick refrigerator pickles. These refrigerator bread and butter pickles are easy to make and will be ready to eat in 24 hours, so you can enjoy them the next day.

Close up of Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

Love pickles? Check out Pickled Zucchini, Pickled Daikon or Pickled Chard Stems for more fun pickling ideas!

Many recipes for Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles use lots of cucumbers and make a whole bunch of jars. This is fine if you are canning the pickles and preserving them for the winter, but I don’t have room in my refrigerator for 5 jars of pickles.

I made this recipe in 2 pint mason jars or it would fit into 1-quart jar. This leaves me plenty of room in the refrigerator for other things and is also a quantity my family can eat in a month. For refrigerator pickles, a small batch is plenty.

Two jars of homemade refrigerator bread and butter pickles

How to Make Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

I like to slice my cucumbers about 1/8″ thick for pickles. You can make them thicker at 1/4″ thick, but the thicker they are the harder it is to fit them into a jar. I usually use regular cucumbers so my pickles are larger, but some people prefer to use the smaller pickling cucumbers and have little pickles.

Colander full of cucumbers being drained for pickles

After slicing the cucumbers, the next step in making these pickles is to salt the cucumbers and let them sit for a few hours. Cucumbers have a high water content, and the salting helps draw the water out, which makes the resulting pickles crisp, not soggy.

Then the pickling brine is made by mixing vinegar with some sugar and spices and boiling it. Boiling the brine not only makes the sugar dissolve, it also releases the flavor in the spices and speeds up the pickling process. If you used cold brine, the pickles wouldn’t be ready for days.

Making refrigerator bread and butter pickles by pouring brine over the cucumbers

After the brine is boiled, the mason jars are packed full of vegetables, and the brine is poured over the top. Then the jars are capped off and cooled before storing them in the refrigerator. The cucumber pickles will be ready to eat in a day and should last for 3-4 weeks if properly refrigerated.

What Are Bread and Butter Pickles?

Bread and Butter pickles are a variation of a sweet pickle. Traditionally the cucumbers are combined with onion (I used a shallot) and pickled with vinegar and mustard seed.

Although the pickles are sweet, they are also tangy. They are served on sandwiches or burgers or just eaten plain. I don’t like pickles that are overly sweet, so my recipe has less sugar than many other ones, but they are still sweet.

Sandwich with a side of refrigerator bread and butter pickles

Why are They Called Bread and Butter Pickles?

Supposedly the name goes back to the Depression era, when food was scarce. The pickles were served as a sandwich filling paired with bread and butter for a cheap meal.

Cucumbers are easy to grow and prolific, so they were popular to serve in a fresh or pickled sandwich. I have never tried a pickle sandwich, but it would be interesting to see how filling it was.

Two jars of quick and easy refrigerator pickles

Recipe Tips

  • If you don’t have pickling salt or kosher salt, you can use table salt. The table salt has additives that can cause the pickles to become discolored or make the pickling solution cloudy. So they won’t look as pretty, but they are fine to eat.
  • You could substitute 1/4 cup of onion for the shallot.
  • If the brine doesn’t quite cover the cucumbers, add warm water to cover the vegetables fully. Because these pickles are not canned the vinegar-to-water ratio is not crucial, and a little extra water will not hurt the pickles.

Find More Pickle Recipes

4.46 from 35 votes

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

Published By Anne
Make these quick and easy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles with no canning equipment or fuss. These homemade pickles are the best for summer sandwiches.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings: 8
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  • Slice the cucumbers into 1/8″ slices. Finely dice the shallot.
  • Put the cucumbers and shallots in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Let sit for 2-3 hours.
  • Rinse the cucumbers and shallots off and let them drain.
  • Combine the cider vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seed and turmeric in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  • Place the cucumbers and shallots into two pint jars. Try to pack them tightly without squishing them. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the vegetables to within 1/2″ of the top of the jar.
  • Tap the jars lightly on the counter or gently run a rubber spatula around the outside to dislodge air bubbles.
  • Screw a lid on let the jars stand at room temperature for about an hour, then refrigerate. The pickles are ready to eat in 1 day and keep for about a month in the refrigerator.


This recipe is not appropriate for canning or long term storage. Nutrition facts are estimates.

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Nutrition Information

Calories: 41kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Sodium: 3mg | Sugar: 7g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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top view of bread and butter pickles

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

4 thoughts on “Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles”

  1. These are legit!! Only thing I did different was I used pickling spices instead of just mustard seed. Perfect flavor. Thank you ❤

  2. Delicious! First time pickler here and I nailed it. Really impressed some friends with this recipe. Thank you for sharing! I’m making my second batch now.

  3. I couldn’t find mustard seed at our store, they were out. Can I use pickling spice instead of mustard seed? Would I still use pickling salt?


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