Easy Refrigerator Pickled Vegetables

By Ann Fulton

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This quick and easy refrigerator method requires no canner or hot water bath and is a clever way to use any odds and ends in your produce drawer!





Pickles are summertime favorites that, in our house, vanish almost as quickly as I can make them. There’s a flavor for every palate (dill, sweet, seven-day, bread and butter—even horseradish-infused) and the seasonal bounty of crisp cucumbers begs to be transformed for enjoyment well into the fall.

So why not employ a similar method to perk up produce that’s readily available in the colder months?

I’ve long been a fan of the little dish of pickled vegetables that arrives before the meal at Isaac’s restaurants, and it’s those veggies that inspired this recipe. As much as I like traditional pickles, the occasional pieces of carrot and cauliflower that accompanying the cucumbers in the Isaac’s medley always taste so good.

I requested the recipe some time ago but, understandably, they wanted to protect their trade secrets. Even though the following recipe is not a spot-on replica, my family enjoys it every bit as much.

This quick and easy refrigerator method requires no canner or hot water bath and is a clever way to use any odds and ends in your produce drawer!

This quick and easy refrigerator method requires no canner, hot water bath, or concerns about properly sealed jars. The basic brine can be made easily with ingredients you likely have in your spice cabinet and offers a clever way to use any odds and ends in your produce drawer.

Pickled veggies add bright color, flavor, and crunch to any meal and can stand in for a salad when the crisper drawer is decidedly empty. My personal favorites are carrots, cauliflower, and red bell peppers, but feel free to experiment and determine what you like the best.

As a bonus, you can reuse the brine by simply adding more vegetables as the contents of the jar diminish. Noticeable flavor will develop after 24 hours and will continue to improve over several days.


And we all like a good shortcut, right? My husband and sons love pepperoncini (I buy those from the store rather than pickling them myself), and the thought occurred to me a while back that I could repurpose that brine, too. I’ve used it to pickle all of the veggies I mentioned above, as well as Vidalia onions. Baby carrots, sliced lengthwise, are a family favorite.⇩⇩⇩

This concept is truly as easy as it seems—simply add your trimmed veggie pieces to the brine and let them steep. There’s no need to blanch them first. You can experiment by adding vegetables beyond the ones I typically use—like thin asparagus, halved Brussels sprouts, or radish slices—or by employing this shortcut with any leftover pickle brine you happen to have in your refrigerator.

So now you have two tasty options: the shortcut, pictured above, or the still-quite-simple method, pictured below.

 No canner or hot water bath needed for these quick and easy refrigerator pickled vegetables. The flexible recipe will also extend the life of fresh produce or simply make good use of random odds and ends in your produce drawer!

Snack on these tasty bites, serve them with burgers and sloppy Joes, as a quick option to a green salad, etc.

Easy Refrigerator Pickled Vegetables
Yield: 2 quarts (recipe can easily be cut in half)
Pickling is a great way to preserve and enjoy a surplus of summer vegetables, but it's an equally easy way to enjoy your veggies all year long!
The Vegetables
  • 2 pounds (more or less) combination of cauliflower florets, green beans, carrots, pickling cucumbers, red bell pepper, and/or sweet onions*
  • Optional for spicy veggies: 1-2 jalapeño, Serrano, or red chili peppers (or 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper per jar, or more to taste)
The Herbs/Spices
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh dill (may substitute 1 teaspoon dried dill)**
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
The Brine
  • 4 cups water
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar***
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

To prep the vegetables: I like to cut the cauliflower into small, bite-size florets and either slice the carrots into thick rounds or lengthwise into sticks. Green beans can be trimmed and left whole. Remove the blossom end (and discard it—this contains an enzyme that makes pickles less crisp) from cucumbers and thickly slice. Onions should be peeled and sliced into rings or half moons. Seed the bell peppers and then chop or slice into strips.

In each of 2 clean, quart-size canning jars, place a few sprigs of fresh dill if using, and then pack the jars with your desired mix of raw veggies. Add the optional hot pepper to each jar. (I leave the pepper whole but make a slit down the side to allow the brine to penetrate; level of heat will depend of the variety and quantity of pepper used.) Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars (1/2 teaspoon each).  (It’s ok if they rest on top for now; they will be distributed when the brine is added.)

For the brine: In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat so the water simmers, and add the garlic. (Simmering the garlic cooks out sulfur compounds and bypasses the raw flavor that some people don’t enjoy. Keeping the cloves whole prevents the flavor from being too dominant.) Simmer the garlic for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar, and salt, and then raise the heat to return to a boil. Cook and stir just until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from the heat.

Remove the garlic from the brine and place 4 cloves in each jar. (You may have to lift some of the veggies to tuck them in.) Fill each jar with the hot brine. (For easy transfer, I use a cup-size glass measure with a spout. A ladle also works well, and you can use a funnel if you have one.)

Let the vegetables cool and then cover and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good after one day, and the flavor will continue to improve over several days. They’ll keep for 2-3 months but are unlikely to last that long.


*Depending on which vegetables you choose and how they are cut and packed, you may have some leftover, but this is a good approximate starting point. Additional veggies can be added to the brine as the pickled ones are eaten. Just keep in mind the new additions will take a few days to soak in the flavor.

**I have made these pickles with fresh dill and dried and enjoy them both ways. If you enjoy a predominant dill flavor, I recommend seeking out fresh dill. For those who find the flavor of dill to be overpowering, dried dill blends with the other spices and is quite subtle.

***The last time I made this recipe, I cut the amount of sugar by half and the end result was still quite good. Feel free to try with 2 tablespoons total sugar if you are looking to keep added sugar as low as possible—or skip it entirely for a tangier end result.

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    1. Ann Post author

      The pickles will taste good after one day, although the flavor will continue to improve over several days. As for storage, vinegar is a good preservative, so they’ll keep for 2-3 months…but they’ll likely be eaten before that!

  1. Jill Post author

    I am doing a Thanksgiving trial run with your fantastic pickle recipe using yellow cauliflower! I have to try it with purple cauliflower once I find some. That would brighten up my table for sure. Thanks for this tried and true recipe.

    1. Ann Post author

      I love the use of yellow cauliflower, Jill, and I bet purple would be beautiful as well. So happy you’re a fan of this recipe!

      1. Linda Upton

        Would purple cauliflower not turn green once it comes in contact with the hot brine as when you cook purple cauliflower you loose the color as it reverts back to green.

        1. Ann Post author

          Hi Linda, I haven’t pickled purple cauliflower to know for sure. I have pickled red cabbage, however, and it becomes even brighter in color–as opposed to the more muted color that results when cooked. If you try, feel free to report back!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi James, As I mentioned in the ingredient list, I use 6-8 sprigs between the two jars, so 3-4 per jar. I aim for sprigs that are fairly filled out, so if they’re skinny I might use two for one. It’s not an exact science, so feel free to go a little higher or lower based on how big your sprigs are and how much you enjoy the flavor of fresh dill.

  2. K Holmes

    can you water pack them like canning and keep in the cupboard for a while longer or just leave them in the fridge?

    1. Ann Post author

      I’ve kept a jar for several months in the refrigerator with good results. I haven’t canned this recipe myself, although I am optimistic the outcome would be good if you wanted to try.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Brian, From what I have read, a pickle recipe that calls for as much or more vinegar than water and has at least ¼ cup of 5% acid vinegar per pint jar of pickles can be safely made without salt. Sweet pickles generally taste better without salt than dill pickles. I haven’t made this recipe with no salt myself, but if I were to try, I’d change the ratios to 3 cups each water and vinegar in order to increase the acidity. If you try, feel free to report back!

    1. Ann Post author

      I’m so glad you like them, Stephanie! The vinegar acts as a good preservative, so they will last for quite a few weeks. For the sake of determining this, I’ve managed to keep a jar for three weeks…and then it was found and devoured!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Jim, I packed the vegetables in the jars pretty well, but surprisingly, I don’t end up with a lot of excess brine.

  3. Bertie Brown

    could some fresh lemon juice be substituted for some of the vinegar? I remember back in the day when I could find lemon pickles – so yummy !

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Bertie, I love the combination of vinegar and citrus in vinaigrettes, so you may just hit upon something delicious with that idea! I think that could work, and you could experiment with the ratio depending on desired flavor. Also, for more lemony flavor without the tartness of the juice, you could add a healthy amount of lemon zest. If you try, I’d love to know what you do and how you like it!

  4. Martha

    I have made this recipe several times and it varies from time to time (either more sweet or more spicy or more dilly depending on how much I eyeballed certain ingredients!), but it has been unfailingly good. We started with batches of veggies and it looked beautiful, but now we pretty much do separate jars for each. Our favorites are cauliflower, asparagus, and beets. Beans are good too. Carrots don’t seem to take up the flavor as much, but add nice color. Thanks.

    1. Ann Post author

      Martha, I’m delighted that you’ve become a fan of this recipe and thrilled that you’ve experimented with so many vegetables. I haven’t tried beets yet, so you’ve inspired me!

  5. Liz

    Hi these pickled veggies look so good!! I can taste them already I would love to have this recipe please! As it is always nice to put something new on the table that you made by some one else in there kitchen,
    Thank you

  6. Billy

    These pickled vegetables look absolutely delicious! I love pickling and think it is such a great way to add a tangy flavor and added health benefits to different stuff! Onions are probably my favorite – but cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower come right behind. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  7. Helen S.

    I have been looking for something simple for refrigerator style pickles for a long time! Thank you! I’ll be trying this recipe soon.

  8. Alicia Post author

    I am SO excited to make these. They seem super easy and I love how you can use your favorite veggies and keep adding more to the brine. Thank you!