Quick Pickled Apples, an easy refrigerator pickled apples recipe with an apple cider vinegar brine. A tasty way to preserve the apple harvest!
Love pickled fruit? Try pickling apples in the refrigerator! This easy recipe takes only 2 hours to quickly pickle apples for a tasty sweet, seasonal treat.
👉 Ready to learn how to quick pickle apples? Let’s do it!
- Apples: any apple varietal will work, but we like pickling honey crisp and gala apples
- Vinegar: we chose apple cider vinegar, but white wine or plan white vinegar are also tasty
- Water: helps to dilute the brine and flavors to pickle the apples
- Vanilla: adds a touch of warmth and sweetness to the pickling brine
- Cinnamon: cinnamon sticks in the pickling jar add fall flavor to the apples
- Star anise: adds a depth of flavor and fall flair to pickled apples
- Sugar and salt: adds sweetness and salty balance to the brine
🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)
1️⃣ Step One: Prep the apple
The first step is to wash and prep the apples for pickling. To do this, simply wash the apples and remove the stem before cutting.
To cut the apples, turn each apple on its side and cut into round slices, core and all, and remove seeds. Alternatively you can also use an apple coring tool and then slice.
👉 Can you cut apples into wedges or cubes? Yes! You can cut the apples however you’d like, in wedges, slices, cubes, etc. We like the flat look of the thin round slices, but this recipe works for any cut of apple.
2️⃣ Step Two: Prepare the pickling jar
Next it’s time to prepare the jar that you will pickle the apples in. Choose a large, wide jar so that you can fit more apples and seasoning ingredients into the jar (a skinny jar won’t allow for the apples rounds).
Add vanilla extract, cinnamon stick, and star anise pods to the jar, then set it aside and make the pickling brine.
3️⃣ Step Three: Prepare and add the brine
You can’t make pickled apples without brine! This seasoned vinegar water is what adds the “pickled” flavor to vegetables and fruit, and typically it includes more salt for vegetables but we’re making a sweeter flavor for the apples.
Our go-to refrigerator pickling brine for fruit is:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup vinegar (apple cider vinegar and white wine vinegar are our favorites for fruit)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar*
We increase or decrease the amount of brine depending on the amount of produce we’re pickling, but this is the foundational recipe we use that always produces great tasting pickled fruit.
To make the brine:
- Add water, a vinegar of your choice (we’re using apple cider vinegar), salt, and sugar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Pour the hot brine into the pickling jar and completely cover the apples, then close the lid tightly and allow it to cool down on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
👉 Which vinegar should you use for pickling apples? We like a sweeter vinegar for pickling fruits, so we opted for apple cider vinegars. You can also choose a milder vinegar like white wine or simple white vinegar as well.
4️⃣ Step Four: Refrigerate to quickly pickle the apples
Once the jar is cool, put the jar into the refrigerator and allow the apples to pickle in the sugar vinegar brine.
⏱ How long to quick pickle apples
If you want to serve quickly, let the apples pickle for at least 2 hours. For best results, we recommend letting them soak up the brine for at least 24-48 hours.
The refrigerator pickled apples are good up to one month as long as they are submerged in the vinegar water.
❓ Questions and quick tips
Choose a jar that’s wide and tall enough to store sliced apples rounds. There should be about 1/2 – 1 inch (1-2 cm) of space between the apple slices and the lid so that they can completely submerge in the brine liquid.
You can eat pickled apples after they have been in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. However, we suggest waiting for 24-48 hours for the best results. If your apples were sliced thin, then less time will be needed for the best flavor.
As long as apples are completely covered with brine, they will last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. If the apples are sticking out of the water, there is potential for bacterial growth, so make sure to use a tall jar and to completely submerge them in the brine.
Quick pickling vegetables and fruit does not come with the same food safety hazards as traditional pickling and canning. However, to make sure your apples stay safe while stored in the refrigerator, make sure to completely cover them in the liquid brine and to feel them before eating. If they’re slimy, throw them out.
💡 Ideas for serving
Here are a few recipes and ideas to get you started:
- On a large fruit, vegetable, and nut board. Use quick pickled apples as a pickable snack on a large platter or board with assorted seasonal fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, crackers, and other pickled veggies (try our Fall Harvest Snack Board).
- Enjoy as a condiment. Grab a few pickled apples and enjoy on top of toast or salad. It’s a yummy switch-up from traditional pickles!
- Mix into a salad or bowl. Use as a topping for salad or grain bowls.
- Munch on for a snack. Pickled apples make a great simple snack. Pair with a handful of nuts or seeds for a balanced plant-based treat.
♻️ Sustainable kitchen quick pickling tips and tricks
While pickling apples is a great way to reduce food waste in itself, here are tips to make this recipe even better for the planet:
Take advantage of apple season! The best time to pickle apples is at the peak of apple season. In most areas that’s in the late summer and fall, but check out Seasonal Food Guide’s produce seasonality calendar to find when apples are in season where you live.
Keep jars to use for quick pickling. We’re always looking for jars to keep on hand for pantry and food storage. Look out for larger jars that you can remove the label from and save to use for pickling later (try our simple method for removing labels using natural ingredients).
👉 More quick pickled fruit recipes
Want to try your hand at pickling more fruits? We’ve got you covered:
FREE MeAL PLANNING GUIDE
Quick Pickled Apples
- 1 sauce pan
- 1 medium jar
- 2 medium apples gala, honey crisp, etc.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or granulated sugar
- Prep the apples: Wash apples and remove the stems. Then each apple on its side and cut into round slices, core and all, and remove seeds. Alternatively you can also use an apple coring tool and then slice. Set apple rounds aside.
- Prepare the pickling jar: Add apples, vanilla extract, cinnamon stick, and star anise in a jar (see notes for jar recommendations).
- Prepare and add the brine: In a medium saucepan bring the water, apple cider vinegar, salt, and maple syrup or sugar to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Then pour the brine into the jar with the apples until the apples are covered.
- Pickling instructions: Let the jar cool on the counter until it reaches room temperature. Once cooled, put the jar into the refrigerator and let the apples pickle for at least 2 hours before serving, but for best results serve after at least 24 hours. Pickled apples are good up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
- Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar and white wine vinegars are the best vinegar choices for this recipe, but most any vinegars will work.
- Recommended jar: Choose a large and wide jar with about 1/2 - 1 inch space (2-3 cm) below the lid.
- Other recommended tools: small saucepan, cutting board, knife set
- Prep ahead and storage: Apples should be pickled at least 2 hours before serving, but for best results make at least 24-48 hours ahead. Keep the jar refrigerated and it can be enjoyed for up to two weeks. Do not freeze.
- Nutrition notes: Nutrition information is calculated with all brine ingredients (including full amount of sugar, salt, etc.), however the apples don’t absorb all of the liquid so the actual nutrition information is less than listed here.