Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Not Enough Cucumbers

This is one of the most frustrating things about gardening: waiting. We planted about about 9 pickling cucumber plants this year. They have been flowering for a few weeks now, but I can not get more than 3 or so pounds at a time.  Up until this week, I have been able to make 7 pints of bread and butter pickles.  We’ve had a very hot June (temps in the mid to upper 90’s) and the garden has not been too happy about it. So, when I only harvested 3 lbs of cukes this week, I decided to heck with it; I’m making refrigerator pickles!

Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles

Unlike processed pickles, refrigerator pickles go into your fridge to marinate. I don’t know about you all, but canning is not my absolute favorite thing to do. In fact, I only process jars if I have several dozen to do. I can not justify boiling a huge pan of water and heating up the house for a few jars.  This is why refrigerator pickles are a great alternative!

This year we also grew a bunch of dill. They have since passed their peak and not we are letting the seeds set on the plant. We are some pickle eating fools in this house and dill is a favorite. After dill flowers, it sets these pretty yellow-green seeds. You have to wait until those seeds turn brown and dry before you harvest. We have enough dill seed for dozens of jars of pickles; just need the cucumbers to cooperate and produce!

Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

The Best Pickle Flavorings

In addition to salt, vinegar and dill, I like my pickles with an extra kick to them.  We have several chili peppers growing in the garden. I decided to go with serrano. The hot pepper definitely has a kick to it, but it’s not so overwhelming that you do not taste the fruitiness of the pepper. You can use any chili pepper you like or even crushed red pepper.  As with almost anything I cook, I included our homegrown  garlic.

Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

How to Make Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Start with 3 lbs of pickling cucumbers (like ‘Kirby’). Wash them thoroughly and slice them lengthwise.  Even though you will not be processing the cans in a hot water bath, you will still need to sterilize them.  Soak them in boiling water or run your jars and lids through a dishwasher cycle (high heat).  Once they have been sterilized, add the dill seeds, garlic and chili at the bottoms of each jar. You will need three pint mason jars for this recipe.

Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Add the vinegar, water and salt to a sauce pan and bring to a  boil. Stir the mixture until the salt is dissolved. Pack in the sliced cucumbers. Get them in there tight, but not so tight that you bruise the cucumbers. It’ s fine if your cucumbers are not perfect spears. I wedged the smaller ones in between larger ones and added some small ones on top. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the sliced cucumbers. Make sure you leave a 1/2 in of headspace in the jar (fill to just below the threaded part of the jar). Add the lids and let them cool slightly. Stick them in the frig for at least 48 hours before you sneak one.  How long will they last? About 2 months. However, in my house, I’ll be impressed if they make it a week!

Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles


  • 3 lbs pickling cucumbers
  • 1.5 cups vinegar (white or cider)
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 tbs salt (pickling or kosher)
  • 1 chili pepper (I used Serrano, but a jalapeño will do too)
  • 3 tsp dill seed
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 glass pint canning jars with lids


  1. Wash and slice the cucumbers lengthwise (trim there top and bottoms, they are bitter).
  2. Sterilize the glass canning jars in boiling water. Remove them from the hot water and sit them on the counter.
  3. Add the water, vinegar and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Mix it until the salt dissolves.
  4. Add a clove of garlic and a teaspoon of dill seed to each pint jar.
  5. Slice the chili and divide among the jars.
  6. Pack in the sliced cucumbers and pour the brine on top. Make sure to keep a half inch space at the top.
  7. Put on the lid and let it sit for 48 hours in the fridge. They will last up to 2 months.

30 thoughts on “Small Batch Refrigerator Dill Pickles

  1. This looks like a great recipe! Thank you for sharing – I love making pickles in small batches just to have enough for a week or two for the family. Can’t wait to try your recipe at home!

  2. A great recipe for using up the end-of-summer produce that isn’t very pretty or very big. I just did a batch with cukes and a couple small summer squash from my dying squash plants. Can’t wait to chow down! I also used a grape leaf in each jar to make the pickles crisp- you can use a leaf from a domestic or wild grape, and if you don’t have those you can use an oak leaf. The trick is to use a (non-poisonous!) leaf with a high tannin content so that the proteins in the pickles cross-link and become crisp instead of soft.

  3. just wanted to let you know that this is my FAVORITE pickle recipe. my four year old helped me make some this past weekend after a friend gave us some pickling cucs from their garden and they were delicious. i also like to add in some sweet or red onions to pickle in the jar as well and they are so good.. plus the red onions turn everything a pretty color. 🙂 i love that this makes a few jars because it’s so fun to share them with friends. thanks for sharing this simple and super tasty recipe!

  4. Trying this with our kindergarten class, how much fresh dill weed should be used per jar? Dill seed would be 1/2 tsp.
    Thank you

    1. Joyce,
      1/2 tsp. of dill seed = 1 head of fresh dill. The leaves are much milder and the flavor a bit different than the heads/seeds. 1 tsp dried dill weed = 1 Tbsp fresh.

  5. I made these 3 days ago and tried one pickle today. The vinegar taste was so strong I couldn’t even finish the pickle. I followed the recipe as written. Any ideas for me to save the jars of pickles I have?

    1. Leslie,
      It’s the same recipe I use for canned pickles. Just double check the recommending processing time on your local extension website.

  6. Do you have to put the garlic in them? Someone made me some a few years ago and I don’t remember them having garlic.

    1. Erica,
      No need to put garlic in the pickles if that flavor is not for you. Adjusting the flavor to please your palette is part of the fun. Enjoy.

  7. This sounds delicious and I’m so glad I happened upon it 🙂 I had a quick question: my husband is sensitive to spicy foods — would this taste ok if I left out the peppers, or perhaps there a mild pepper you might suggest?

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