Taco Refrigerator Pickles
Yield: 1 quart-size jar (or 2 pint jars)
For a bigger snacking bite, I slice the cucumbers into thick chunks; you may slice them into traditional rounds or spears if preferred. If you like the chunk idea, be aware that the bulkier pieces don’t pack into the jar quite as efficiently. On that note, you can reuse the brine. When adding fresh cucumber, just allow several days for the cold brine to infuse the slices.

For the pickles:

  • 14 ounces pickling cucumbers (3 to 3½ cups, sliced)
  • ½ cup fresh dill sprigs (lightly packed; about 4 nice sprigs)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro sprigs (lightly packed; about 6-8 sprigs)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 3-4 thin wedges onion (about ¼ cup; I use red, could use yellow)
  • 1 jalapeño, serrano, or chili pepper of choice, sliced (seeded for less heat; or use 2 with seeds for extra heat)

For the brine:

  • 1¼ cups (10 ounces) water
  • ¾ cup (180ml) distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (store-bought or homemade taco seasoning)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns


  1. Snugly pack the cucumber, dill, cilantro, garlic, onion, and jalapeño slices in a large mason jar. I intersperse the herbs, jalapeños, etc., with the cucumbers.

    Meanwhile, place the water, vinegar, sugar, taco seasoning, salt, and peppercorns in small pot over high heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil. It’s not essential that a full boil be reached; just be sure the salt and sugar have dissolved. Let sit for a minute or two—just long enough so the mixture doesn’t spatter when poured—and then stir well to incorporate the spices (they will settle to the bottom of the pot) and pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers in the jar. Cool slightly, and then screw on the lid and refrigerate overnight.

    The pickles will be ready to eat the next day, although the flavor will continue to develop and improve over the first 3-4 days. (Helpful hint: Because the spices settle to the bottom of the jar, I turn the jar upside-down on occasion over the first few days—make sure the lid is screwed on tightly—to allow them to redistribute through the brine.)

Notes & Tips

For crispest pickles, slice off and discard the blossom end of the cucumber. It contains enzyme that can make pickles softer.

For best results, use pickling cucumbers, which have less moisture and fewer seeds than conventional slicing cucumbers. These are often available year-round in the produce section of larger grocery stores and are abundant at farm markets (and backyard gardens!) in the summertime.

Don’t have a canning jar? You can use another large container. Ceramic or glass work well. Avoid plastic or metal.

Don’t have a jalapeño or another variety of fresh hot pepper? For a backup, you may use red pepper flakes. Plan on ¾ teaspoon to provide heat similar to one jalapeño pepper.

Can you use a different vinegar? I have tried this recipe with apple cider and red wine vinegar. Though the resulting pickles aren’t bad, I do prefer the more neutral flavor of basic white vinegar stipulated in the recipe by a wide margin. A white wine vinegar may be a better sub, and in a pinch, apple cider vinegar would be my choice over red wine vinegar.

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