Quick Pickled Garlic, an easy refrigerator pickled garlic recipe in a light vinegar brine. A tasty and easy way to preserve your garlic without canning!

a jar of pickled vegetables on on a white table

Love garlic? Try pickling it! This simple and quick refrigerator pickled garlic cloves recipe takes only 2 hours to perfectly pickle garlic to use as toppings for burgers, salads, and tacos.

👉 Ready to learn how to quick pickle garlic cloves? Let’s do it!

garlic bulbs and bowls of water, vinegar, salt, and sugar on a white table
Ingredients: garlic, herbs, water, vinegar, salt, sugar

How to make (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Prep garlic cloves

The first step is to peel the garlic cloves! Simply break apart the garlic cloves from the bulb and then use the flat side of a knife or the underside of a glass to smash the individual cloves. Once smashed you can easily remove the garlic peels.

👉 Can you pickle garlic bulbs whole? You could…but then you’d have a mess of garlic peels to deal with after pickling. It’s much easier to take the time to peel garlic cloves before pickling.

garlic cloves on a cutting board with sugar and salt bowls
Peel garlic cloves

2️⃣ Step Two: Prepare the pickling jar

Next it’s time to prepare the jar that you will pickle the garlic in. Choose a large, wide jar so that you can leave 1/2 inch of space after you fill the jar with the brine.

Add the garlic, herbs (if using), mustard, and red pepper flakes (optional, but we highly recommend if you like a bit of spice).

garlic cloves in a pickling jar on a white table
Add garlic to pickling jar

3️⃣ Step Three: Prepare and add the pickling brine

You can't make pickled vegetables without brine! This is what adds the “pickled” flavor to vegetables and fruit.

Our go-to refrigerator pickling brine formula is usually:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar (distilled vinegar, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are our favorites)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (granulated white or brown)

We increase or decrease the amount of brine depending on the amount of vegetables we’re pickling, but this is the foundational recipe we use that always produces great tasting pickled vegetables.

a small sauce pan with salt and sugar inside on a white table with a measuring glass of water and a bottle of apple cider vinegar
Add salt, sugar, vinegar, and water to pan

To make the brine:

  1. Add water, a vinegar of your choice (see our tips for vinegar below), salt, and sugar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Pour the hot brine into the pickling jar and completely cover the garlic, then close the lid tightly and allow it to cool down on the counter until it reaches room temperature.

💡 Want more tips for making pickling brine? Check out my full recipe, tips, and advice for making a refrigerator pickling brine here.

a small sauce pan filled with water and apple cider vinegar brine on a stovetop with a wooden spoon
Boil the brine, the pour over vegetables

👉 Which vinegar should you use for pickling garlic? We like a light vinegar for pickling garlic, so we opt for white vinegar or white wine vinegar.

bottles of red wine, white wine, distilled, rice, apple cider, and balsamic vinegars on a wooden table
Test out different vinegars to find your favorite brine recipe

4️⃣ Step Four: Refrigerate garlic pickling jar

Once the jar is cool, put the jar into the refrigerator and allow the garlic to pickle in the vinegar brine for at least 2 hours (see below for time recommendations).


👉 How long to quickly pickle garlic

If you want to serve quickly, let the garlic cloves pickle for at least 2 hours. For best results, we recommend letting them soak up the brine for at least 24-48 hours.

These refrigerator pickled garlic cloves are good up to two weeks in the refrigerator as long as they are submerged in the vinegar water.


❓ Questions and quick tips

What jar should I use for pickling garlic?

Choose a small but wide and tall jar. There should be about 1/2–1 inch (1-2 cm) of space between the top of the garlic and the lid so that you can completely submerge in the brine liquid.

How long before you can eat pickled garlic?

You can eat pickled garlic after it has been in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. However, we suggest waiting for 24-48 hours for the best results.

How long do pickled garlic cloves last?

As long as garlic cloves are completely covered with brine, they will last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. If any piece of the garlic is 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.

How do I know if my pickled garlic has gone bad?

Quick pickling vegetables and fruit in the refrigerator does not come with the same food safety hazards as traditional pickling and canning. However, to make sure your garlic stays safe while stored in the refrigerator, make sure to completely cover it in the liquid brine and to feel it before eating. If the cloves are slimy, throw them out.


💡 Ideas for serving

Here are a few recipes and ideas to get you started:

  • Add on top of burgers. Add pickled garlic on top of veggie burgers for an acidic flavor kick.
  • Top tacos. Sprinkle a few sliced pickled garlic cloves on top of tacos for a flavor contrast.
  • On a pickable platter. Add a bowl of pickled garlic cloves to a platters with dips and snacks.
pickled garlic in a jar on a white table

🧅 More quick pickling recipes

Love quick pickling vegetables? We've got you covered:

Quick Pickled Garlic

Quick Pickled Garlic, an easy refrigerator pickled garlic recipe in a light vinegar brine. A tasty and easy way to preserve your garlic without canning!
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Ingredients

  • 2 whole garlic bulbs, about 1 cup cloves after peeling
  • 2 tablespoons mustard, stone ground or seeds
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Optional: fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, peppercorns

Instructions 

  • Prep the garlic: Peel garlic cloves and set aside.
  • Prepare the pickling jar: Add garlic cloves to a large jar with mustard, and optional add-ins like herbs and red pepper flakes.
  • Prepare and add the brine: In a medium saucepan bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil. Once boiling, pour into the jar until the liquid completely submerges the garlic. Let the jar cool on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
  • Pickling instructions: Once cooled, close the lid on the jar securely and put the jar into the refrigerator and let the garlic pickle for at least 2 hours before serving, but for best results serve after at least 24 hours. Quick pickled garlic cloves are good up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Vinegar: White vinegar, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are the best vinegar choices for this recipe.
  • 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: Refrigerator pickled garlic should be made 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 garlic cloves don’t absorb all of the liquid so the actual nutrition information is less than listed here.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 28kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 0.3g, Fat: 0.3g, Saturated Fat: 0.02g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Sodium: 1834mg, Potassium: 15mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 5IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 0.2mg