Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles

by M Caroline
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How to make and can spicy bread and butter pickles that are perfectly crispy and sweet. These tangy bread and butter pickles with onions are the perfect blend of sweet and crunchy.

I grew up eating pickled, well, pretty much pickled anything.

spicy bread and butter pickles

Our house was always overflowing with dill pickles, pickled veggies, and even pickled herring (yuck to that one!). The pantry was filled with pickled beets, pickled cauliflower, and all sorts of pickled veggies every year.

My Mom would make pickles almost every year, and I grew up seeing mason jars of homemade pickles lining the pantry. Friends would pop over with gifts of spicy dilled pickles.

Whenever we had company, Mom would bring out our special pickle dish, and fill it to the brim with whatever pickle variety was in the fridge that day.

zesty bread and butter pickles

Every fall, we had boxes filled with cucumbers from our garden, ready to can. The kitchen was filled with mason jars, sealing rings, big pots, and the sound of water boiling.

These bread and butter pickles are canned in a water bath, making them perfect for storing in your pantry.

What is the difference between dill pickles and bread and butter pickles?

Bread and butter pickles get their sweetness from added sugar, while dill pickle recipes usually don’t include any sugar. Dill pickle recipes also include dill spice, while bread and butter pickles don’t include dill.

I find there’s a huge difference between dill pickles and bread and butter pickles. Bread and butter pickles are sweet, and I also find them a lot less vinegary than dill pickles. Dill pickles have a stronger vinegar flavor, and are often flavored with garlic as well. Bread and butter pickles don’t use garlic as a seasoning.

sweet and crispy bread and butter pickles

Why do they call it bread and butter pickles?

I always assumed that bread and butter pickles got their name from eating the pickles on slices of buttered bread. Turns out, the name actually came from a different source.

Mrs. Fanning worked out an agreement with a local grocer, who gave her groceries — including bread ‘n butter — in exchange for the pickles.

What are bread and butter pickles good with?

I grew up eating bread and butter pickles in sandwiches made with soft white bread lightly buttered with salted butter. As I got older, I added a slice of real cheddar cheese to the sandwich, and sometimes swapped out the butter for Miracle Whip. So good!

Bread and butter pickles are delicious in a charcuterie board. I love them as a part of a snack-for-supper, with plenty of crackers, cheeses, olives, tortilla chips, and our own homemade canned chunky salsa.

My favorite way tot eat bread and butter pickles these days is as a late night snack, sandwiched between slices of cheddar cheese.

What gives bread and butter pickles their flavor?

Bread and butter pickles are made with a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices. It’s the sugar that gives the bread and butter pickles their signature sweet taste.

The spices used vary between specific recipes, but usually include turmeric, cloves, allspice, celery seeds, salt and mustard seeds. Some recipes use a cinnamon stick and crushed red pepper seeds.

bread and butter pickles in mason jar

Do bread and butter pickles need to be refrigerated?

Canned bread and butter pickles are stored on the shelf as long as the canning seal is intact, for a couple of years.

Once the canning seal is broken, store bread and butter pickles in the refrigerator. They’ll keep a couple of weeks once opened.

How do you keep bread and butter pickles crispy?

We soak cucumbers in ice to keep the cucumbers crispy. Canning them just the amount of time required to safely preserve the cucumbers is also key, since overcooking them can make the pickles softer.

Jalapeño bread and butter pickles alternative. If you’re not a fan of red pepper flakes, substitute it with two fresh jalapeño peppers, finely chopped. Add the jalapenos to the spice mixture.

Tip: The quality of the pickling cucumbers you use is hugely important in this recipe. Use the freshest pickling cucumbers that you can find. The fresher the cucumbers are, the crispier and more colorful your pickles will be. If you use tired, old pickling cucumbers, the color and crispiness of your pickles will suffer.

bread and butter pickles in jar

What are the health benefits of bread and butter pickles?

Like cucumbers, pickles have a lot of water, and very little protein or fat. They’re also a source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, calcium, potassium and vitamin C (Source: WebMD).

Homemade Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe

This is an easy, tasty recipe for canning homemade bread and butter pickles. These sweet and spicy bread and butter pickles are perfect in a sandwich, or as a snack by themselves or with cheese.

The spiciness in this recipe comes from red chili flakes.

Grocery list for spicy bread and butter pickles

Here’s what you’ll need to make these pickles:

  • pickling cucumbers
  • white onions
  • apple cider vinegar
  • white vinegar
  • white sugar
  • water
  • ice
  • pickling salt or kosher salt. You can use table salt in a pinch, but the anti-caking ingredients sometimes can make pickle liquid a little more cloudy, and iodine in table salt may make pickles a little darker. I’ve used regular table salt in this recipe before, when I didn’t have pickling salt on hand, and the pickles turned out perfectly.
  • mustard seeds
  • celery seeds
  • red pepper flakes
  • turmeric
  • black pepper

Equipment you’ll need for canning

These pickles are made in a water bath, so you’ll need canning equipment. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 7 pint size mason jars, with screw bands and rings and new canning lids
  • large canner, with rack
  • jar lifter
  • small saucepan (for sterilizing lids)
  • magnetic lid lifter
  • ladle

How do you make spicy pickles from scratch?

These bread and butter pickles are made using a water bath canner, making them perfect for storing in your kitchen pantry.

Prepare the cucumbers and onions

First, wash the cucumbers, and cut into slices. Thinly slice onions, and place cucumbers and onions into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Cover with ice and water. Let sit three hours.

cucumbers and onions for spicy bread and butter pickles with onions

The salt draws out extra liquid from the cucumbers and onions, making them extra crispy, while the ice keeps the onions and cucumbers crunchy as well.

Sterilize canning equipment

Next, wash and sterilize canning jars and lids, and sterilize canning equipment, including ladle and bubble remover.

Make bread and butter pickles

In a large saucepan, add sugar, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, pepper, red pepper flakes, cider vinegar, and white vinegar. Heat to a low boil, and let boil for five minutes.

spices ready for making bread and butter pickle recipe

Drain and rinse the cucumber and onions. Add drained cucumber and onion slices to the spice and vinegar mixture in the saucepan. Return to a boil, and let boil for five minutes. Reduce heat and keep warm until you’re ready to use.

Next, can the spicy bread and butter pickles

Using a ladle, spoon pickles and pickling liquid into the sterile canning jars. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace.

Center canning lids on the canning jars. Screw on canning bands lids, and remove air bubbles with the bubble remover.

Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth, and place sterilized jar lids on top. Screw on canning jar bands until finger tight.

Place jars carefully into the water bath canner, using the jar lifter. Next, add water until water level is 2 inches above the jars.

Add cover to canner, and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.

Once the water has reached a full, rolling boil, process pickles for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat, and carefully use jar lifter to place jars on kitchen towels on canner.

Let jars cool for a few hours. Test jars to make sure that they’ve sealed. The center of the canning lid should be pushed down, indicating the lids have sealed.

If the center of the lid is still pushed up, the jar hasn’t sealed. Place these jars in the fridge, and use within a week.

Canning lids usually make a satisfying “ping” sound when they seal!

Remove screw on bands from sealed jars. Label, date, and store in a cool, dark place. Use within a year.

Looking for some more yummy snacks?

Spicy and Zesty Bread and Butter Pickles

spicy bread and butter pickles

These spicy bread and butter pickles are the perfect combination of sweet and crispy.

Prep Time 2 hours 5 seconds
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes 5 seconds

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 pounds pickling cucumbers
  • 1.5 pounds white onions
  • 1/3 cup pickling salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups ice
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup white vinegar

Instructions

    Prepare cucumbers and onions

    1. Wash cucumbers and slice into 1/4 inch slices.
    2. Thinly slice white onions, and place in a large bowl with sliced cucumbers.
    3. Sprinkle canning salt over the cucumbers and onions. Cover with ice and water, and let sit for three hours.

    Get canning equipment ready

    1. Wash canning jars and lids in warm and soapy water, and rinse.
    2. Place jar rack in canner, and place empty canning jars on the rack. Add water to cover the jars.
    3. Bring the water to a boil, and let boil for 10 minutes to sterilize the jars.
    4. Carefully sterilize ladle and bubble remover in the boiling water.
    5. Sterilize canning sealing lids according to package directions. Add about 3 inches of water to smaller saucepan. Bring water to boil, and boil for a few minutes. Take saucepan off the heat, and let lids sit in water until ready to use.

Prepare spicy bread and butter pickles

    1. In a large saucepan, add sugar, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed, pepper, red pepper flakes, cider vinegar, and white vinegar. Heat to a low boil, and let boil for five minutes.
    2. Drain and rinse the cucumber and onions. Add drained cucumber and onion slices to the spice and vinegar mixture in the saucepan. Return to a boil, and let boil for five minutes. Reduce heat and keep warm until you’re ready to use.

Canning bread and butter pickles

    1. Remove warm jars from the canner, draining water back into the canner. Set jars on a kitchen towel on the counter.
    2. Using a ladle, spoon pickles and pickling liquid into the canning jars. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace.
    3. Center canning lids on the canning jars. Screw on canning bands lids.
    4. Remove air bubbles with the bubble remover.
    5. Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth.
    6. Top with sterilized jar lids, and screw on canning jar bands until finger tight.
    7. Place jars carefully into the water bath canner, using the jar lifter. Add water until water level is 2 inches above the jars.
    8. Add cover to canner, and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.
    9. Once the water has reached a full, rolling boil, process pickles for 15 minutes.
    10. Turn off heat, and carefully use jar lifter to place jars on kitchen towels on canner.
    11. Let jars cool for a few hours. Test jars to make sure that they’ve sealed. The center of the canning lid should be pushed down, indicating the lids have sealed.
    12. If the center of the lid is still pushed up, the jar hasn’t sealed. Place these jars in the fridge, and use within a week.
    13. Canning lids usually make a satisfying “ping” sound when they seal!
    14. Remove screw on bands from sealed jars. Label, date, and store in a cool, dark place. Use within a year.

Notes

If you’re not a fan of red pepper flakes, substitute red peppers for two fresh jalapeño peppers, finely chopped. Add the jalapenos to the spice mixture before boiling.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

70

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 24Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g
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