Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

A quick batch of crunchy, sweet-and-sour refrigerator bread and butter pickles to go on burgers, in salads, or eaten straight out of the jar.

2 jars filled with refrigerator bread and butter pickles with 3 cucumbers on side

As I meandered around the Farmers Market this past week, I couldn’t help but notice how supply and demand are happily brimming this time of year. Buying a 20-pound box of pickling cucumbers is considered normal. Digging through boxes and boxes of cucumbers to find the desired size is a battlefield with hands flying everywhere (I will choose my own, thank you). And when a farmer declined my request to buy only half a bushel of cucumbers, I stood there dumbfounded; you know I want to pay you, right?

With cucumbers toppling over my counter, I usually veer away from making Bread and Butter pickles. Mainly because of the damn tumeric; it stains everything. The countertops. My hands. The towels. My apron (if I remember to wear it). Need I go on? This year I felt nostalgic for bread and butter pickles and decided to make them; with reservations, of course.

2 jars filled with refrigerator bread and butter pickles with 3 cucumbers and a napkin on side

I plastic wrapped my kitchen counter, put on a plastic kids smock, and developed the quintessential refrigerator bread and butter pickle that is worth having in the refrigerator all year. These are classic bread and butter pickles we all know and love with mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, and just enough sugar to lessen the bite from the vinegar. Skipping the canning step ensures the coveted sweet and tangy crunch stays in tact while also lessening the hassle and mess; we are dealing with turmeric, after all.

ingredients for bread and butter pickles on a marble background

How to Make Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

  1. Slice the cucumbers into 1/8″ coins.

    cucumbers sliced on a mandoline on a marble background

  2. Salt the cucumbers. Let sit for 30 minutes.

    Sliced cucumbers in a large bowl topped with salt

  3. Rinse the salt off of the cucumbers.

    Sliced cucumbers in a sieve that is placed in a large bowl of water

  4. Add the vinegar, water, mustard and celery seeds, turmeric, and ginger to a medium pot. Bring to a boil.

    Pickle brine boiling in a medium saucepan

  5. Add the rinsed cucumbers and onion slices to the brine. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the cucumber mixture to cool.

    A medium saucepan fill with cucumbers, onions, and pickle brine

  6. Fill the sterilized jars with the cucumbers and liquid.

    Spooning the cucumbers and liquid into glass jars

  7. Cap and refrigerate for 2 days before consuming.

    bread and butter pickles in a glass jar

Possible Substitutions

YELLOW MUSTARD SEEDS. Brown mustard seeds work great too. 

GROUND GINGER. Fresh ginger gives an extra welcoming kick to these pickles! Finely grate a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger in place of ground ginger.

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles: Frequently Asked Questions

What is different about bread and butter pickles?

Bread and butter pickles are a sweet pickle due to the addition of sugar while dill pickles forgo the sugar and incorporate dill weed as a main ingredient.

What kinds of cucumbers should I use for bread and butter pickles?

Slender cucumbers such as Japanese, Persian, and small pickling cucumbers work best. Find the freshest cucumbers possible for the best results.

How long do bread and butter pickles last in the refrigerator?

After opening the jar, eat within 3 months. Unopened pickles can last up to a year if using a sterilized glass jar.

What do you eat bread and butter pickles with?

Bread and butter pickles are great on burgers, alongside pulled pork and barbecued sides, in egg salad, potato salad, slaw, and homemade tartar sauce, or even fried. You also can’t go wrong with eating them straight from the jar, with a fork of course.

2 jars filled with refrigerator bread and butter pickles with 3 cucumbers and a napkin on side



Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

A quick batch of crunchy, sweet-and-sour refrigerator bread and butter pickles to go on burgers, in salads, or eaten right out of the jar.

  • Author: Kim
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Marinade Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 pint jars 1x
  • Category: Side Dish and Condiment
  • Method: Pickling
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1.5 pounds pickling cucumbers, rinsed and scrubbed 
  • 1.5 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 small sweet white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (230g) white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (67g) white sugar*
  • 1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Slice the cucumbers. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the cucumbers into 1/8-inch thick coins. Discard the ends of the cucumbers (they can have a bitter taste).
  2. Salt the cucumbers. In a large bowl, combine the sliced cucumbers and Kosher salt. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Sterilize the mason jars, optional and highly recommended for long-term storage. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a simmer (180°F, not boiling). Place the empty glass jars right-side-up in pot. Heat the jars in the water for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the jars from the water with tongs or a jar lifter and discard the warm water inside the jars. 
  4. Rinse the cucumbers. Dump the salted cucumbers into a strainer. Rinse out the large bowl used for salting the cucumbers and fill it with cold water. Place the strainer in the large bowl filled with water. The cucumbers should float in the water while remaining in the strainer. Stir the cucumbers to rinse off the excess salt. Lift the strainer with the cucumbers out of the bowl and discard the water. Fill the large bowl with fresh water and repeat this process 2 more times. Taste a cucumber after rinsing to ensure the cucumbers are thoroughly rinsed. If they taste salty, repeat the rinsing process until cucumbers have a slight salty taste. 
  5. Make the brine. In a medium saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water with the vinegar, sugar, ginger, mustard and celery seeds, turmeric powder. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the cucumbers and onions to the brine and stir to combine. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the cucumber mixture cool at room temperature. 
  6. Pack the jars. Fill the sterilized jars with cucumbers and brine, pressing down on the cucumbers to submerge them in liquid. Cap and store in the refrigerator. 


WHITE SUGAR. For a sweeter version, increase the sugar to 1/2 cup (100g). 

Keywords: Small Batch Bread and Butter Pickles, Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles, Crunchy Bread and Butter Pickles

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