Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

Yanno what I run hot and cold on? Pickles. Sometimes I just love them and can’t get enough and then sometimes I couldn’t care less about them. But I always get a little excited in the summer when those little pickling cucumbers start to show up. Coz then I can show off a bit and make my faves. Like these Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles.

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles


I can really get behind the fresh, customized taste and the small batches when I whip these up at home. Now, I do already have a recipe for Sweet Tart Bread & Butter Pickles that I love. These are a more classic recipe for Bread & Butter Pickles, adapted from the Ball Canning Book. They’re a bit sweeter than the others and more along the line of what you’d expect when you buy a jar from the store. I guess if there’s one thing that might be said about the flavor, there is just a slight little kick from the ginger which I think is marvelous.

About Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles:

This really is a small batch, a pound of cucumbers, a little onion, and the spices. The recipe will give you two small jars or one large. And they’re fabulous, perfect on a sandwich (oh gosh, what they do to a fried chicken sandwich!) or burger or maybe just added to a cheese/meat tray. I might mention that finely chopped they’re just the thing in potato salad, egg salad or in deviled eggs.

I do have a disclaimer. These are softer and not as crunchy as some pickles; if that’s your end goal, keep in mind the process to get a crunchy or crisp pickle (although bread & butter pickles generally aren’t as crunchy or crisp as say, a good kosher dill) the process is more complicated than these easy pickles.

This is originally an actual canning recipe that I cut back to make just two small or one larger jar for the refrigerator. The difference between a refrigerator pickle and a pickle that has been canned, processed, or put up, is that a refrigerator pickle is made and meant to be stored in the fridge. A processed pickle is made, placed in the jars, and heated so it will force the air out, destroy any possible toxins that could grow at room temperature and seal, thereby rendering it safe to store at room temperature.

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles – This is the canned jar.

If You’d Like to Can Your Pickles:

Now usually, we think of canning as being a huge production and of course, if you’re putting up a harvest or stocking up your pantry till next summer, it is. But it’s actually pretty super simple to make just a jar or two of a little something like these pickles, either for the refrigerator or to can. You can easily go either way, and I actually did for this post. Since I made two jars of pickles, I made one for the fridge and the other I processed. Hint: the jar that is processed has the metal lid and is sealed, the refrigerator one has the plastic lid.

I’ll give options in the recipe, to either make these for the fridge or to process, probably with just what you have at home, no special equipment needed. Of course, if you’re making a larger batch (you can increase it with the multiplier in the recipe) you’ll probably want to go with actual canning equipment. But in a case like this, a jar or two, you can usually get by with fudging a bit and improvising.

It’s a great way to try your hand at canning, dip your toe in so to speak (not literally of course) without laying out any cash for actual equipment, investing a lot of time or money or even work up a sweat. I actually enjoy making a jar or two in a pot with a rack as opposed to pulling out my big canner which takes forever to bring up to a boil. Speaking of equipment, I was psyched when I discovered that the standard peanut jar lid fit on my canning jars! I used one on the jar destined for the fridge.

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

Salting the cucumbers & onion.

Making Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles:

It’s pretty standard when making any pickle like this to go through a salting process, which draws out the excess moisture from the cucumbers. It takes a bit of time (and a little room in the fridge), an hour or two, so you’ll want to plan ahead. I find the easiest way is to place a strainer in a bowl and then to the strainer add a layer of cucumber slices, a layer of onion, and then a little salt. Just repeat until all the ingredients are used.

Get in there with really clean hands and toss them around, then dump a few ice cubes on top. Stash them in the fridge and leave them for at least an hour and up to four.

To actually make the pickles, whether refrigerator or canned, there’s timing involved (there’s more timing if canning.) The steps are:

  • Rinse the salt off the cucumbers.
  • Bring pickling mixture up to a boil.
  • Add rinsed and drained cucumbers & boil for one minute.
  • Pack into pristinely washed jars that are still hot, leaving 1/4″ of headspace and running a very clean or sterile instrument around the outside edge to make sure there are no bubbles.
  • Jars just taken from the dishwasher is fine or carefully washed by hand in extremely hot water (make sure you’re using a clean rag, etc.) I personally place jars in a pan and bring it up to a simmer, although this is not really necessary. I’m just OG like that!

If you’re making refrigerator pickles:

  • Add the lid, refrigerate.
  • Leave for at least 24 hours for the flavor to develop (if can wait!)

If canning your pickles:

If you have a canner, use it if you wish or for this recipe if desired or for a jar or two, it’s easy to improvise.

  • You’ll want to have a deep pot of water, boiling by the time the jars are packed, with a rack on the bottom with at least 1/2″ of space and enough water to cover the jars by 2″.
  • Add the freshly washed lids to the jar and tighten the rim finger tight only, lower into the water, and once the water is back up to a boil, time it according to your altitude. Allow to boil the specified number of minutes and remove.
  • Place on towel on the counter (to prevent shocking the glass) and allow to sit, undisturbed until cool. Usually, you’ll hear a pop come from the jars as they seal, and notice that if the top is pressed, it will no longer pop back up.

If you are canning, I highly recommend reading this page from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Read the links, too, on that page. It will tell you everything you need to know. I refer to them frequently because I don’t can all the time and always need to refresh my knowledge. And remember to work clean! Wash your hands, your equipment and follow and all safety precautions. But that being said, pickles are def among one of the easiest products you can put up at home.

Saving Money on Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles:

It’s always surprising how inexpensive it is to make your own pickles, provided the cucumbers are ones you’ve grown, been given or purchases at a great price. It always seems like a loaves and fishes proposition to me. What goes in never seems like much but the final product seems like more!

Canning to me is satisfying. I actually consider canning as being a bit of entertainment and a fun little accomplishment with an actual payoff! Ok, maybe not cocktails on a cruise fun…but you get my drift!

I hope this post is finding you safe and sound, you and your loved ones. I’ve been feeling a lot of frustration between politics and the coronavirus, and the heat waves we’ve been having doesn’t help. Neither, I’ve found does social media! I find myself making comments sometimes, on the most outrageous things I see, then I feel hopeless, helpless and hapless and remove them! Be kind to yourself and to others, which is something I have to constantly remind myself, too! Maybe you’ll want to share a jar of these pickles with someone!

Take care, all!


Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles


Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

  • Author: adapted from the Ball Canning Book
  • Total Time: 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours plus rest
  • Yield: 2 8 ounce half pint or one 16 ounce pint jar 1x
  • Category: Condiments
  • Cuisine: German


  • 1 pound pickling cucumbers, washed and thinly sliced 3/16th of an inch
  • 1/4 pound onion (1 small, cut in half pole to stem then across into half moons)
  • 4 teaspoons canning salt (or kosher salt)
  • 3/4 cups vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns


Combine layers of cucumber, onion, and salt to a large strainer over a bowl big enough to hold it off the bottom by several inches.  Cover with Ice cubes (about 2 inches) then with a clean towel and let sit for one to two hours, preferably in the fridge.

When ready to make the pickles, place vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, ginger, and peppercorns in a large saucepan (large enough to hold the cucumbers which you’ll add in a bit) and bring to a boil. Drain and rinse cucumber and onion, add to the saucepan, and return to a boil.

Pack cucumbers into clean hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top.

  • If making refrigerator pickles, lid, and then place in the fridge. For best flavor, wait 24 hours before using.
  • If processing, use the water bath method and follow the directions below.


Have a large pot of boiling water with a rack at the ready, timed to be at a boil when the pickles are packed. Run a plastic utensil around the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jar clean. Add the lid (screw on only finger tight) and lower into the boiling water. The water should be at least two inches above the top of the jar.

Count timing when the water returns to a boil. Adjust time according to your elevation.

  • Elevation  0-1,000 process 10 minutes
  • Elevation 1,001-6,000 process 15 minutes
  • Elevation above 6,000 process 20 minutes

Keywords: Condiments, Cucumber, German, pickles, Preserving

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23 thoughts on “Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

  1. Yum, bread and butter pickles are my favorite! I usually go straight for bubbies but I’ve been wanting to try out my own. Can’t wait to see how they turn out thanks for sharing!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I bet they tasted great, though!~ I think salt is part of it but there’s a more involved process for canning them that starts with putting jars in boiling water that only goes part way up the jar and then gradually filling the canner with more water. It’s precise for food safety but my guess is that they spend less time in the heat that way and it helps preserve the crunch. Also the cucumbers for pickling are better these days too!

  2. basketpam

    I remember when the only way you could have these is if someone in your family made them. I had a great aunt that made jars and jars of them every summer. She was always supplying our family with them. I’ve always loved them. I’ve been a pickle lover from way back. I was very glad when they finally began appearing on a commercial basis probably in my 20s in the 1980s in supermarkets. Someone was finally wise enough to want to share them with the world.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oh my gosh, what a labor of love! You were so lucky to have her! It seemed like all kinds of products started appearing more around that time period…and then eventually all the small guys would get taken over by the big companies! These days it’s rare to see anything but name brand at least in the big supermarkets in my city, but still, I wouldn’t turn one down if you know what I mean! Dill pickles have their place, but bread & butter are my fave!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Good morning Rick. That’s a great question, and I wonder now why I didn’t address vinegar type in the post. I use either apple cider or white wine vinegar and have used plain old white vinegar before, too. Apple cider is a little more robust than white wine and apple cider is my favorite in these pickles, especially since they’re a little sweet. I like the balance..Plain old vinegar is sharper than either apple cider or white wine and I tend to not use it in most of my recipes as a first choice.

      You can’t go wrong with any of them, though, so pick your fave!


      • Rick

        Thanks, Mollie. I have made the pickles years ago and used apple cider, but I thought I would check. I also just used the commercially available pickling spice mixture (McCormick..?). I also made them them with a bit of jalapeno for a spicy sweet pickle.

        • FrugalHausfrau

          You’re a genius!! My next batch (I already have more cucumbers!) is going to have jalapeno!! I don’t usually buy pickling spice because I have SO many spices already. I made pickles once from a packet that came from my corned beef and they were great!! 🙂

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Sophie, thanks! I take it that Bread & Butter Pickles aren’t a big thing where you live? Some say they became popular here in our Great Depression, eaten on bread with butter as a meal.

      • Hi Mollie, Growing up in NY…nope definitely not….and it definitely is not something that is known in Europe. But I still think it is an interesting idea. 🙂

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