How to Quickly Pickle Vegetables

If you are like me you, you are always looking for fast ways to liven up a meal. One of my favorite ways to do that is with a quick pickle. The bite, the snap, and the zing they have can really wake things up.

Pickled vegetables in a glass jar


 

Sometimes I don’t have the time to make homemade pickles or take time of canning green beans. So forget the to-do of canning, grab whatever veggies you have in your fridge, and get pickling – quickly! 

Step-by-step instructions on how to quickly pickle vegetables for salads, sides and any dish that needs a little pick me up. Plus ideas for the best vegetables to pickle! 

Think of quick pickles (sometimes called refrigerator pickles,) as the less time-consuming cousin of the classic pickle. Don’t want to sterilize jars? No problem. Don’t have canning equipment? Not to worry. Don’t have a ton of veggies? Don’t stress.

You don’t need much more than vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and a handful of veg to make these.

Make sure you PIN How to Quickly Pickle Vegetables!

Let’s talk basics. Pickling is a form of fermentation. Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance, in this case, food. The process that makes pickles and quick pickles is the same one that gives us beer, wine, and liquor.

The pickling liquid that is fermenting your veggies is also called “brine”. Think of brine as a salty vehicle for flavor.

Start by picking your vegetable. Forget the humdrum cucumber (although delicious and a great for a quick pickle!) and think bigger. Step outside that comfort zone.

If the veggie would normally go great with a dish, pickle it and see just how much more it gives the dish. Here are some of my ideas to help get those pickle juices flowing:

  • carrots
  • radishes
  • onions
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cauliflower
  • fennel
  • beets
  • fresh corn kernels
  • green beans
  • spicy peppers like jalapenos
  • cabbage

Next, prep your veggies. Take care to scrub them clean. Remove any roots or thick skins or stems that you wouldn’t normally eat. Then (and this is important) break them down into smaller pieces.

If the vegetables are too thick, your brine won’t permeate through. Remember it’s a quick pickle so time is of the essence!

How to pickle vegetables for pinterest

How you break them down will depend on the vegetable and your personal preference. I love a thin slice, matchsticks, coins, and quarters for long veggies. If what you are using is small enough, you might even be able to leave them whole. (Ahem, green beans.)

Then it’s time to make your brine aka your pickling liquid. There are lots of recipes for quick pickles. I use this basic one below and change it up depending on what type I am making:

  • 1 cup of vegetables
  • ½ cup of vinegar – I love using unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of white granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt

Add the vinegar and water along with the sugar and salt in a small saucepan and whisk everything together. It should be just about to boil and all the granules should be dissolved. Take it off the heat. 

This step is optional. I repeat, optional. If you are feeling adventurous or experimental, now is the time to play around. Sometimes I will add things like:

  • whole fresh herbs – dill or cilantro are great!
  • whole spices (think coriander or peppercorns)
  • whole garlic cloves
  • hot chilies – halved or whole is fine

And then, pickle! Pour the hot liquid over the veggies and along with any optional ingredients. Allow everything to come to room temp before using the pickles.

This can also be made ahead. Just allow it to come to room temp, then cover it and transfer it to the fridge.

Your quick pickles can last up to two weeks in the fridge. If they start to lose their snap, it is time to whip up a new batch.

There is no right or wrong way to quick pickle. If you want some inspiration, here are a few of my favorite ways to use quick pickles:

  • thinly sliced cucumbers for backyard burgers
  • carrot or radish matchsticks for rice bowls
  • hot peppers cut into coins for nachos or tacos
  • whole green beans with a meat and cheese board

Quick pickles are a great way to make the most of your vegetables if you see something that might not make it to the end of the week. Mix and match your veggies, try different flavors in your brine – the quick pickling possibilities are endless! 

close up of pickled vegetables
pickled vegetables on a wood counter

How to Quickly Pickle Vegetables

4.33 from 40 votes
Step-by-step instructions on how to quickly pickle vegetables for salads, sides and any dish that needs a little pick me up. Plus ideas for the best vegetables to pickle! 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Cooling time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetables
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Instructions

  • Add the vinegar and water along with the sugar and salt in a small saucepan and whisk everything together, bring to a low boil or until sugar and salt have dissolved.
  • Take it off the heat.
  • Pour the hot liquid over the veggies and along with any optional ingredients. Allow everything to come to room temp before using the pickles.
  • If you’ve tried this techinque, come back and let us know how it went!

Nutrition

Calories: 64 kcal, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Protein: 1 g, Fat: 1 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Sodium: 1774 mg, Potassium: 138 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 12 g, Vitamin A: 5345 IU, Vitamin C: 1.9 mg, Calcium: 19 mg, Iron: 0.3 mg
Calories: 64
Course: Condiment, Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to pickle, pickled vegetables
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. Was a little too tart for me. Had to add extra sugar. Next time world use 1/2 the amount of salt….a little too salty

    1. Kabob is the accepted American spelling while kebabs is the British spelling. Both are considered to be acceptable.

    1. Yes, the vinegar won’t penetrate if you don’t, it will only pickle the part actually in the liquid.

  2. Do you have to use kosher salt I only have regular salt and I can’t get out to get any thanks to this virus please let me know as soon as possible

    1. A little between. More dill, I would say. It isn’t super sweet at all, just enough to cut the acidity. Most pickle recipes, even spicy ones, have a little.

          1. Hi Diane! I just grabbed mine at Michael’s craft store. These were 8 ounces.

  3. If you have decent quality water from the tap, you can skip the heating step. Just stir the salt and sugar into hot tap water until dissolved, then add the rest of your ingredients. I made some fantastic pickled red onions this way, adding peppercorns, allspice, and cumin seeds.

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve been trying to find new ideas of stuff to pickle. I see green beans on your list, I haven’t done those yet so I think I’ll try them! Your pictures are really beautiful btw! Thanks!

    1. You should do a search for Dilly Beans. They are so good and so easy. It is green beans in case you didn’t know.