Want to learn how to easily pickle cucumbers in the refrigerator? This simple refrigerator quick pickling recipe uses four simple steps to make quick pickled cucumbers for flavorful and easy fridge fermented pickles without canning.
Love fresh pickles? We can’t get enough of crunchy pickled vegetables during the spring and summer growing season. However, we find canning to be a little intimidating, so thankfully there’s a super easy way to enjoy pickled cucumbers at home.
👉 To quick pickle cucumbers without cooking or canning, simply follow these four easy steps:
- Prepare the cucumbers by cutting off the stems and cutting into slices or spears
- Add the cucumbers and any herbs and spices to a jar
- Boil a salted vinegar brine and pour over the cucumbers
- Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and keep for up to one month
Ready to deep dive into how to make the easiest refrigerator pickles? Let’s do it!
🥒 How to make refrigerator pickled cucumbers (step-by-step)
1️⃣ Step One: Cut the cucumbers into slices or spears
The first step to making easy refrigerator pickled cucumbers is to prepare them by washing and cutting off the stems.
Next, you’ll want to decide whether you want sliced or speared pickled cucumbers. We had enough cucumbers to do both for this recipe, and cut cucumbers into ¼ inch (1/2 cm) slices and into 4 spears for each cucumber used.
👉 Sustainable cooking tip: Don’t waste those stems! Save your cucumber stem scraps to use in food scrap vegetable broth to bring extra flavor to stocks and soups.
2️⃣ Step Two: Prepare the pickling jar
Next, add the sliced cucumbers to a jar with dill or other herbs, mustard seeds, garlic, and red pepper flakes. You can also add other vegetables to the jar if you’d like, we like adding sliced onions (pictured), radish, bell peppers, or even lemon or lemon slices.
Make sure there is about ½ – 1 inch (2-3 cm) of space above the cucumbers and below the jar’s lid so that the pickling liquid will completely cover the cucumbers so it pickles evenly. Any pieces of vegetable that extend out of the top of the water will not be pickled and could grow mold or other bacteria while storing, so make sure there’s enough space.
3️⃣ Step Three: Prepare and add the brine
Now it’s time to make the brine, or the salted and sugared vinegar water that will work the magic of pickling your cucumbers.
The foundational vegetable pickling brine recipe we use is:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup vinegar (distilled vinegar, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are our favorites)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
We increase or decrease the amount of brine depending on the amount of cucumbers we’re pickling, but this is the general formula we use that always produces great tasting pickled vegetables.
To make the brine, simply add water, a vinegar of your choice, salt, and sugar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
Pour the hot brine into the jar and completely cover the cucumbers, then close the lid tightly and let cool completely on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
Which vinegar should you choose? For the mildest flavor choose distilled white vinegar. For more of a flavor punch try white wine vinegar (our favorite for cucumbers), red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Malt and balsamic vinegar have the strongest flavor, but we have found the taste of these vinegars is too strong when quick pickling.
4️⃣ Step Four: Refrigerate to quickly pickle the cucumbers
Once the jar of cucumbers is cool, store in the refrigerator and let the cucumbers pickle in the salted vinegar brine.
If you want to serve quickly we recommend letting the cucumbers ferment for at least 2 hours to let them soak up the brine, but for best results and flavor wait at least 24-48 hours. Pickled cucumbers are good for up to one month in the refrigerator.
❓ Questions about pickling cucumbers
What we traditionally refer to as pickles are actually fermented cucumbers, however any vegetable can be pickled, like asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, and radishes.
Any type of cucumber works well for pickling, though we like smaller Persian cucumbers for spears because they have a crunchier texture and bigger English cucumbers for slices because they get softer after pickling. Test out your favorite varieties to decide which is your preferred flavor and texture.
Choose a jar tall enough to store the pickled cucumbers spears with about ½ – 1 inch (2-3 cm) of space between the top of the spear and the lid so that the brine liquid can completely submerge the vegetable.
You can eat the pickled cucumbers as soon as 2 hours after pickling, however we suggest waiting a minimum of 24 hours for best results. If your cucumbers are thin, then less time is needed for good flavor. However, if your cucumbers are thick and crunchy then they may need more time to soak before they are fully pickled.
Pickled cucumbers last up to one month in the refrigerator as long as they are completely covered with the liquid brine. However, if the spears are sticking out of the water you’ll run the risk of bacterial growth, so make sure to choose a tall jar and to completely submerge them in the brine.
Pickled cucumbers are healthy! Per the USDA Food Nutrient Database, one cup of cucumbers has 2 grams of plant-based protein and 1.5 grams of fiber. However, the brine is high in sodium due to the salt needed to pickle the vegetable, so serve pickles as a compliment to meals or eat a few cucumbers spears as a snack with a well-balanced diet.
Quick pickling vegetables does not come with the same food safety hazards as traditional pickling and canning. However, to make sure your cucumbers stay safe while stored in the refrigerator make sure to completely cover in the liquid brine and to feel the cucumbers spears before eating. If they’re slimy, throw them out.
💡 How to serve refrigerator pickles
Quick pickled vegetables like cucumbers are great additions to salads, bowls, or are even a great simple snack. Here are a few recipes and ideas to get you started:
- On a large fruit, vegetable, and nut platter. Use quick pickled cucumbers as a pickable vegetable on a large platter with assorted seasonal fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and crackers.
- Add to a salad or bowl. Top a salad or grain bowl with pickled cucumbers, like this Leftover Broccoli Stem Salad or Crunchy Celery Apple Salad.
- Snack on pickled cucumbers spears. Grab a few pickled spears and a handful of nuts or seeds for a deliciously salty plant-based snack.
♻️ Sustainable kitchen quick pickling tips and tricks
While pickling seasonal vegetable is sustainable in itself, there are a few tips and tricks you can learn to make this cucumbers recipe even more environmentally friendly:
Take advantage of cucumber season! The best time to make fast pickled cucumbers is during the height of cucumbers season. In California that’s April through November, but check out Seasonal Food Guide’s produce seasonality calendar to find when cucumbers are in season near you.
Save tall food jars to use for quick pickling vegetables. We’re always on the lookout for great jars to keep around the house for pantry and food storage, so keep an eye out for a taller jar you can save to use for pickling cucumbers (tip: we used an empty Costco sun-dried tomato jar after using up the oil in our favorite leftover oil salad dressing!).
Save the cucumbers stems for soups and broths. Don’t throw out the cut off cucumbers stems, save them to flavor soups and broths like our food scrap vegetable soup.
👉 More quick refrigerator pickled vegetable recipes
Check out our other easy pickled vegetable recipes:
- Quick Pickled Asparagus
- Quick Pickled Green Beans
- Refrigerator Pickled Cauliflower
- No-Canning Quick Pickled Peppers
- Dill Pickled Radishes in the Refrigerator
- Refrigerator Pickled Beets (Red and Gold!)
Did you make this no cook pickled cucumbers recipe? Leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it turned out. Save this side dish recipe for later by pinning to your favorite side dish Pinterest board and make sure to tag me on Fork in the Road’s Instagram to show me your cucumber creations!
No Cook Refrigerator Pickles Recipe
- 1 pound cucumbers spears
- ¼ cup dill or other herbs
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 2 whole garlic cloves sliced thin
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Cut the cucumbers: Wash cucumbers into and cut into ¼ inch (1/2 cm) slices or for spears, cut each cucumber into four pieces lengthwise.
- Prepare the pickling jar: Add cut cucumbers to a jar tall enough to stand spears (if using) with some room above for brine. Add dill or other desired herbs, mustard seeds, garlic, 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 cucumbers. Close the lid on the jar tightly.
- 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 cucumbers pickle for at least two hours before serving, but for best results serve after at least 24 hours. Quick pickled cucumbers are good up to one month in the refrigerator.
- What type of vinegar? White vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are the best vinegar choices for this pickled vegetable recipe. We used red wine vinegar in the post instructional photos.
- Recommended jar: Because cucumbers are a tall vegetable, choose a tall jar so that they fit with about ½ – 1 inch (2-3 cm) space below the lid.
- Other recommended tools: small saucepan, cutting board, knife set, glass jars
- Prep ahead and storage: Refrigerator pickled cucumbers should be made at least 2 hours before serving, but for best results make at least 24-48 hours ahead. Keep pickled cucumbers refrigerated and they can be enjoyed for up to one month. Do not freeze pickled cucumbers.
- Nutrition notes: Nutrition information is calculated with the full amount of salt and sugar from the pickling brine, however the actual amounts absorbed by the cucumbers is much less.
UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in June 2020 and was updated for clarity in January 2022.