These classic small-batch spicy refrigerator dill pickles have fresh dill, garlic, and an added KICK! Make them as spicy as you like!
One of the most popular recipes on my site in the summertime is my Best Ever Refrigerator Dill Pickles — I’ve had friends request them as gifts and even had a crazy internet-famous moment where someone in real life recognized me from the blog because she had been making my pickles all summer!
They’re simple to make and scalable so whether you have just a handful of ripe cukes from your garden or are making a dozen jars you can easily make just what you need.
So I figured it was about time to add some spicy refrigerator dill pickles to the mix this year. My husband (my official taste-tester) is always saying recipes “could use a little bit of a kick” so I knew these would be right up his alley. Even yours truly, who can (and does) eat regular dill pickles by the jarful thought these were pretty darn tasty and addictive.
Adding heat to your dills
This spicy dill pickle recipe is pretty similar to my classic dill pickle recipe, with a couple additions. I’ve added some whole coriander seed to the pickling mix and of course, some heat.
I tried a couple different ingredients for adding some spice — either dried red pepper flakes, which are nice because you probably already have some in your pantry, or some fresh peppers. Both worked but I think I liked the version with fresh peppers a bit better. I’m including quantities for either option in the recipe card so you can choose what works for you — if you’re growing peppers in your garden along with cucumbers, this would be a great use for both!
I used serrano peppers, split long-ways down the middle, but you could use another kind of pepper if you’d like. Just be aware not all peppers are created equal in terms of spice, so you may need to add more or less if you use a different kind of pepper. I used one and a half serrano peppers per jar and felt the spiciness was just enough to add a clear kick without making me reach for a glass of milk to diffuse the heat.
Serranos are spicier than jalapenos, so you may want to include more to reach the same level of heat, whereas cayenne, thai, and (heaven forbid) habanero or ghost peppers are spicier, so you’d want to reduce the number accordingly for those.
Here’s a really nice Scoville scale (which ranks peppers based on how hot they are) that includes the most commonly used peppers.
Making Spicy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Making spicy refrigerator dill pickles couldn’t be easier. There’s no special canning equipment involved because these just sit in the fridge without being shelf-stable.
All you have to do is bring the brine and pickling spices to a boil (a mixture of vinegar, water, salt, sugar, garlic cloves, and a few whole spices) in a non-reactive saucepan.
What is non-reactive cookware?
Non-reactive cookware could be ceramic, enamel, glass, anodized aluminum, pans with a nonstick coating, or stainless steel.
Reactive cookware includes raw aluminum, unlined copper, and cast iron, meaning they react to acidic ingredients and can impart a metallic taste into your pickles.
Beware also of lined reactive pans (like copper with a non-reactive tin lining) pans whose linings may have scratched, exposing the reactive metal underneath.
Cut your cucumbers into spears or slices, stuff into clean pint-size mason jars along with some fresh dill and either your fresh peppers or red pepper flakes, spoon over the spices and fill the jar with brine.
My classic refrigerator dill pickles are ready to eat in about 24 hours but I found these were much better after two or even three days to fully infuse the pickles with the heat.
What kind of cucumbers should I use for refrigerator dill pickles?
My favorites to use are Kirby cucumbers, which are a classic pickling cucumber. They’re short and fat and perfect for pickle spears. I cut them into quarters, or if they’re really fat cucumbers, maybe even six spears each. Choose ones that are no longer than the height of your mason jar, or just slice off a couple slices from the ends if you need to make them fit. Then throw the slices in the jars too for good measure!
If you can’t find Kirby cukes, you can use any thin-skinned seedless variety of cucumber. English cucumbers (the super long ones you find encased in plastic wrap at the grocery store) would work, or mini seedless cucumbers, which I often find packaged in a ziplock bag or tray of multiple cucumbers.
For long English cucumbers, just cut them into the lengths you need to fit in the jar and then spear them. The mini cucumbers are really cute but they make really skinny spears. You might leave them in halves or even whole for a more substantial pickle. Just be aware leaving them whole may require a little extra time for the brine to permeate the pickles.
One kind of cucumber to avoid is anything with a thick skin and a waxy coating. That’s not what you want to be snacking on and the brine really can’t get through that waxy skin!
You can cut them into spears (my favorite) or slices for using on burgers. If you want crinkle pickle slices, you can either use a mandoline slicer with the crinkle blade attached for consistent slicing (super useful if you’re making a bunch!) or a simple handheld crinkle cutter.
These will keep in the fridge for a couple months but they will get slightly less crisp over time.
If you have cucumbers from your garden or your latest farmers market haul, don’t hesitate to make these bad boys! So fresh with just the perfect kick!
Want more refrigerator pickles?
Check out these other recipes for easy small-batch refrigerator pickles!
Spicy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
For spice (choose one)
- 1.5 serrano peppers sliced in half lengthwise (see note)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Wash cucumbers and cut into spears or slices. Pack into a wide-mouth pint-sized canning jar, or any clean glass jar. Since these are refrigerator pickles a canning jar is not necessary. Tuck several sprigs of dill in between the cucumbers. If using fresh peppers, add between cucumber spears or slices, evenly distributed throughout the jar (I put one half on each side of the jar and one in the middle).
- In a non-reactive saucepan (see note), combine the vinegar, water, garlic cloves, salt, sugar, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and coriander seeds. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Pour liquid over cucumbers in the jar. Make sure to include all the mustard seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and garlic. (If making multiple jars, include two cloves of garlic per jar and divide the seeds and peppercorns approximately evenly between jars.) If you are using red pepper flakes for spice, add in 1/2 tsp per jar now. If you are using a slightly larger jar and the liquid doesn't fully cover the pickles, fill the rest of the jar up with water.
- Close the jar and refrigerate for a minimum of 48 hours. Enjoy!