Try this simple Refrigerator Pickling Brine for Vegetables, our go-to brine made with water, vinegar, salt, and sugar for refrigerator pickled veggies. Easy and tasty!

hot brine being poured into a jar of carrot ribbons, dill and other spices

Love pickling vegetrables? So do we! Try our go-to quick pickling brine that can be used as the foundational pickling brine for any vegetable. Super easy and ready in under 10 minutes.

👉 Ready to learn how to make a homemade brine for pickling vegetables? Let’s do it!


🧂Ingredients

  • Water: regular tap water or filtered water work best
  • Vinegar: most any vinegar will do for quick pickling, but we like white vinegar or white wine for most vegetables (see our vinegar recommendations section below)
  • Salt: kosher salt is best, but any salt will do
  • Sugar: granulate white or even brown sugar will work
  • Additional flavorings: fresh herbs like dill or thyme, mustard (stone ground or seeds), garlic cloves, red pepper flakes
fresh peppers, cilantro, and bowls of water, vinegar, salt, and sugar on a white marble table
Ingredients: vinegar, water, sugar, salt, herbs, spices

How to make (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Prepare and add the pickling brine

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.

Our go-to refrigerator pickling brine formula is usually:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (granulated white or brown)
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. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until the salt and sugar has dissolved.
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

2️⃣ Step Two: Pour over vegetables in a jar

After the sugar and salt has dissolved in the brine, pour the hot brine into a pickling jar and completely cover the vegetables.

Then close the lid tightly and allow it to cool down on the counter until it reaches room temperature.

brussels sprouts in a pickling brine in a glass jar on a white table
Pour brine into jar with vegetables

3️⃣ Step Three: Refrigerate onion pickling jar

Once the jar is cool, put the jar into the refrigerator and allow the onions to pickle in the vinegar brine for at least two house, but for best flavor pickle them for at least 48 hours.

two jars of whole and sliced pickled radishes in a the refrigerator
Refrigerate for 2-24 hours

🥒 How long do pickled vegetables last in the refrigerator?

Refrigerator pickled vegetables are good up to two weeks in the refrigerator as long as they are submerged in the vinegar water.

vinegar brine pouring into a jar of green beans and bell peppers

👉 The best vinegar for quick pickling vegetables

With traditional canning and pickling, you want to choose a vinegar that is at least 5% vinegar for food safety reasons to avoid harmful bacterial growth.

However, quick pickling — or refrigerator pickling — is not the same as true canning and pickling as it only soaks the vegetables in a vinegar-based brine for flavor, and doesn’t truly pickle the vegetables. So any vinegar will work because you’re only storing the vegetables for under two weeks.

The best vinegar for quick pickling vegetables is whichever vinegar has the best flavor! Here are some of our favorites:

  • White distilled vinegar: The plainest vinegar in taste, white vinegar is the foundational vinegar that can be used with any vegetable. It is light in taste and goes well with brines that include many other additional flavorings like herbs, mustard, and spices.
  • White wine vinegar: Another light vinegar, but has a distinct wine flavor. Best for light vegetables like onions, shallots, zucchini, etc.
  • Red wine vinegar: A very particular tasting vinegar and pairs better with sturdier vegetables. Great with red onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Very strong apple flavor, apple cider vinegar goes best with very hardy vegetables like carrots, parsnips, brussels sprouts or even with fruit like apples and pears.
  • Rice vinegar: Very light in flavor, rice vinegar is usually used in Asian-inspired pickling recipes like scallions and daikon radishes. However, it’s a great flavor choice for most any vegetable.
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

❓ Questions and quick tips

Do you have to have 5% vinegar for refrigerator pickling?

Traditional pickling requires 5% vinegar for food safety reasons to prevent bacterial growth, but refrigerator pickling does not so you can enjoy any vinegar when quick picking vegetables. Our favorites include white vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and rice vinegar.

How much water and vinegar should you use in a quick pickling brine?

Most pickling brines call for a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar, but for quick pickling vegetables we like a 2 part water and 1 part vinegar brine for a lighter flavor. However, play with the ratios and see what flavor you like best.

How much salt and sugar should you put in a quick pickling brine?

Most traditional pickling brines call for 1 to 2 tablespoons each of salt and sugar. We chose a lighter brine with 1 tablespoon of both sugar and salt, but you can add more to your personal tastes.

pickling brine pouring into a jar of sliced peppers

🧅 Recipes using quick pickling brine

We love quick pickling vegetables here at Fork in the Road! Here are a few of our favorites:

Refrigerator Pickling Brine for Vegetables

Try this simple Refrigerator Pickling Brine for Vegetables, our go-to brine made with water, vinegar, salt, and sugar for refrigerator pickled veggies. Easy and tasty!
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cups vinegar, see notes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Optional flavorings: vegetables of choice, garlic clove, mustard (seeds or dijon), fresh herbs (dill, etc.), red pepper flakes

Instructions 

  • Prepare brine: In a medium saucepan bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil. Once boiling, pour into a jar with vegetables and any desired optional ingredients (garlic, mustard, herbs, red pepper) until the liquid completely submerges them. 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 vegetables pickle for at least 2 hours before serving, but for best results serve after at least 24 hours. Quick pickled vegetables are good up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Vinegar: White vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc. will work, depending on the vegetable used
  • 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: Pickling brine is best when hot and fresh, so do not prep ahead.
  • Nutrition notes: Nutrition information is calculated with all brine ingredients (including full amount of sugar, salt, etc.), however when you pickled vegetables they won’t absorb as much sugar and salt as you put into the brine so the actual nutrition information is less than listed here.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 92kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Fat: 0.04g, Sodium: 7005mg, Potassium: 7mg, Sugar: 12g, Calcium: 34mg, Iron: 0.2mg