This recipe makes a BIG batch of homemade bread and butter pickles. These can be made as refrigerator pickles, or they can be canned for later!
Creating This Homemade Pickle Recipe
Growing up, we were a house of dill. Everything I ate had to have a dill pickle on it. My lunchtime tuna sandwich wasn’t complete without long slices of kosher dills (plus one or two on the side.) My after school snack of Triscuits, liverwurst, mustard and dill hamburger chips was my favorite treat as I watched Gilligan mess up the rescue attempts of Ginger and MaryAnn every. single. episode. And I will never, ever be able to eat a cheeseburger without some sort of cucumber stick topping (can I get extra pickles please?) thanks to the memories of stacking my mom’s homemade dills high on just-off-the-grill summer cheeseburgers.
My first taste of spicy-sweet bread and butter pickles was in my husband’s grandmother’s root cellar. Long lines of mason jars with all sorts of slightly dusty, canned produce resting on old wooden shelves — and dappled with a few cobwebs here and there— is where I spied jars and jars of pickles.
Standing on the dirt floor with just a bare light bulb shining the light — cue singing angels — we used a screwdriver to pry open a jar of bread and butter pickles right then and there. My love affair with dill was over. I had a new crush: spicy-sweet bread and butter. Just like most crushes, I spent the next fifteen years searching for the same pickle-love I experienced in that delicious underground pickle lair.
When we first moved back to Utah from Los Angeles, I was all getting-back-to-my-roots. I was going to make my own laundry detergent (I didn’t, but I did segue from Tide to Mrs. Meyers.) I was going to prepare raw dog food every week (yes, I did do that— for about 2 months until they said it was safe to buy bagged dog food again.) And I was going to can up a storm to fill up the shelf-lined cold storage pantry nearly every Utah home’s basement possesses.
Canning was one thing I definitely wanted to give a whirl. It was my year. My sister-in-law Ginni — a fan of Grandma’s pickles too — said she knew the recipe and so we went for it, channeling Grandma Tilly, to recreate her homemade bread and butter pickles.
Let’s just say they weren’t Grandma Tilly’s. What they were was a bit more like a pickle mush. At least the jars that I took home were. Apparently we were a little nervous about the amount of time we processed them for thanks to the altitude ’round these parts. But I still ate them. Every last non-crunchy one.
Every year I’m inspired to give them another go but just haven’t made it happen yet due to the season getting away from me or my general lack of motivation. So I was totally stoked to raid my friend Sherrie’s stash of freshly pickled bread and butters she spent the weekend canning a few weeks ago. But would they stand up to Grandma Tilly’s?
Oh glory be! Yes. They. Do.
Although I doubt any pickle will ever beat my first taste/mouth-memory I hold dear, these zesty nibbles are pretty darn close. I’ll be pulling out my canner as soon as the three bottles I “borrowed” from Sherrie are gone.
Which means I should have about three more sandwiches worth of pickles. Remember…I’m a picklehead.
What’s in Bread and Butter Pickles?
As with any homemade pickle recipe, these bread and butter pickles require a variety of pickling spices to give them their unique flavor. For this particular recipe, you’ll need:
- Red bell peppers
- Cider vinegar
- Mustard seed
- Celery seed
- Whole cloves
- Ground turmeric
How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles
Once you’ve thinly sliced all the veggies, add them to a large bowl or Dutch oven along with the salt. Give the mixture a good stir and let it sit for three hours.
In a separate Dutch oven or saucepan, add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Once boiling, drain the liquid from the cucumber mixture and carefully add to the boiling vinegar. Remove the pickles from the heat just before they come back to a boil (otherwise you’ll cook the cucumbers).
Transfer the homemade bread and butter pickles to sterile jars and either refrigerate or can for later.
What Type of Cucumbers Should I Use?
You can use really any variety of cucumber for this bread and butter pickle recipe. But if you’re really worried about which cucumbers to buy, look for ones that have thick skin (such as Kirby cucumbers).
How Do I Can Pickles?
I’m not a canning expert, so I recommend checking out a book on canning from your local library or reading through this guide to canning pickles. If you’ve never canned before, remember that you can enjoy this recipe as refrigerator pickles as well!
Tips for Making Bread and Butter Pickles
When making homemade bread and butter pickles, you want to slice the cucumbers and other veggies quite thinly. You don’t want them to be so thin they turn to mush in the hot brine, but they should be thin enough to easily soak it up. If you have a mandoline, definitely use it to slice the cucumbers. It makes the job so much easier!
I don’t recommend using another kind of bell pepper in this pickle recipe. I love how the sweet red bell peppers complement the tangy pickle brine — the flavors go so perfectly together that I hesitate to use anything but red peppers here.
Lastly, you’ll want to use yellow onions (or another sweet onion) in this bread and butter pickle recipe. Again, the sweet onion paired with the tangy brine is to die for.
More Pickle Recipes to Make
- Killer Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles
- Sweet and Sour Asian Pickled Cucumbers
- Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)
- Pickled Beets
- Spiralized Refrigerator Quick Dill Pickles
Zesty Bread and Butter Pickles
- 25 cucumbers ¼-inch slices
- 6 onions thinly sliced
- 2 red bell peppers thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 cup salt
- 3 cups cider vinegar
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons mustard seed
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- Mix cucumbers, onions, red bell pepper, garlic and salt in a large bowl or dutch oven and let stand for 3 hours.
- In a large dutch oven or large saucepan bring cider vinegar sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, cloves and turmeric to a boil. Drain liquid from the cucumber mixture and add to the boiling vinegar. Remove from heat just before the mixture comes back to a boil so not to cook the cucumbers.
- Transfer to sterile containers and refrigerate or can your goods with instructions from a pro like Marisa of Food in Jars.
More Pickle Recipes to Try
Pucker up people. It’s time for more pickles.
Rebecca takes care of her salt-tooth—rather than sweet-tooth—shares a homemade version of a grocery store favorite in Foodie With Family’s Homemade Claussen Knock-off Pickles
Jennifer reminds me that canning isn’t essential to enjoy a fantastic, crunchy pickle with Use Real Butter‘s Refrigerator Pickles
Happy to see that Hannah shares the same sort of birthday present I’d welcome every year with Honey & Jam’s recipe for cinnamon spiked Quick Sweet Pickles
And oh yes sir. We had to go there. Fried Pickles with Lisa’s sneaky, secret dredge on Homesick Texan. ‘Nuff said now pass me the Ranch dressing.
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