Tangy pickled vegetables are one of the easiest ways to liven up your dishes. Unlike canning recipes, which require hours in the kitchen, quick pickled vegetables can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes.
After you understand the basics of quick pickling and find a brine that makes your tastebuds happy, you can pickle just about anything! Read on if you’d like to learn how to quick pickle vegetables and find inspiration for 5 quick pickled vegetable recipes.
How To Make Quick Pickled Vegetables
As the name implies, quick pickled recipes can be made and ready to enjoy quickly. It’s much less complex than the process of canning, which requires knowledge of water bath, steam, or pressure canning techniques.
Quick Pickled Vegetable Brine
All pickled vegetable recipes use the basic formula of vinegar, water, sugar, and salt.
The vinegar and water make up the pickling liquid. The acidity of the vinegar works to preserve the freshness of the vegetables and the water helps reduce the harshness of the vinegar. Sugar also helps balance the vinegar’s sour taste, and salt brings out the flavor of all the ingredients.
As a rule of thumb, pickling recipes call for equal parts water and vinegar. You can easily manipulate the pungency of your pickles by playing with the ratio of water to vinegar. More parts vinegar, more pungent taste; more parts water, less pungent taste.
For additional flavor, you can experiment with adding fresh or dried herbs, whole or ground spices, or hot peppers. Here’s a list of the most common ingredients you can use to flavor your pickles:
- Fresh rosemary or dill
- Dried rosemary, dill, oregano, thyme, or bay leaves
- Whole mustard seed, cumin seed, peppercorns, or red pepper flakes
- Ground turmeric or paprika
- Smashed or sliced garlic cloves
- Sliced ginger
- Jalepeños or serrano peppers
How Long Do Quick Pickled Vegetables Last
On average, quick pickled vegetables will technically stay fresh for up to 3 months. The vinegar’s acidity and the salt make the environment in the jar inhabitable for bacteria to grow.
But keep in mind, your pickles may start to lose their crunch if they soak in the pickling liquid for too long. For the best results, we recommend using your quick pickled vegetables within 2-3 weeks.
1. Quick Pickled Red Onion
The most basic quick pickled red onions require only water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. For this recipe, we suggest using 2 types of vinegar: apple cider and red wine.
The apple cider vinegar brings some sweetness and the red wine vinegar brings some tang. (Plus, red wine gives your onions that beautiful bright reddish, pink color.)
If you don’t have both kinds of vinegar on hand or prefer your onions non-colored, you can add a ½ cup of white distilled rice, white wine, or apple cider vinegar.
- 1 red onion, sliced
- ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup of red wine vinegar
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 clove of garlic
- Slice your red onion into thin half-moons. If you prefer your onions to have more of a crunch, cut thicker slices.
- Stuff your onions and the garlic clove into a mason jar or some other container that can be tightly sealed. (This makes storing easier.)
- Combine your water and both kinds of vinegar in a separate container, stirring in the sugar and salt until dissolved.
- Pour your mixture over the onions in your jar. Make sure the liquid covers all of the onions.
- Let it sit for an hour at room temperature, then store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
How To Serve Pickled Red Onion
There are so many ways to enjoy quick pickled red onions. They work best with Mexican cuisines like street tacos or pork carnitas, but they can also be used in Mediterranean dishes like grain bowls or gyros. They can even be added to sandwiches or salads for some extra flavor.
2. Quick Pickled Jalapenos
If you can’t take the heat of raw jalapeños, you have to try this recipe for quick pickled jalapeños! The acidity of the vinegar tames the fiery flavor and instead, creates a tangy, almost sweet taste.
- 3-4 jalapeños, sliced into rounds
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup of white distilled vinegar
- 2 tbsps of sugar
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ tsp of whole black peppercorn
- 2 pinches of salt
- Wash your jalapeños and cut them into thin rounds. (If you don’t like the spice, you can remove the seeds before cutting into rounds, but the vinegar will pull out some of the spicy flavor.)
- Place your slices into a jar with the clove of garlic and peppercorns.
- Combine your water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve.
- Place your saucepan on the stove over medium heat and bring it to a boil.
- Immediately remove it from the heat and pour over your jalapeños until they’re fully submerged. (Leaving the vinegar in the boiling pot for too long won’t give your pickles the same punch.)
- Let the contents of the jar cool, cover, and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
How To Serve Pickled Jalapeños
Much like pickled red onions, quick pickled jalapeños taste delicious with Mexican food like tacos, nachos, or burritos. When finely chopped, they can also be used in salsa or even in guacamole if you don’t have any limes on hand. Also, try them as a burger topping or to give your sandwiches or subs some extra heat.
3. Quick Pickled Cucumbers
We couldn’t create a list of quick pickled vegetables without including cucumbers — after all, they’re the image that most people visualize when they think of classic pickles.
To make quick pickled cucumbers that still pack a crunch, we recommend using cucumbers with thick skin like Kirby or English. These usually hold up best as they soak in the brine liquid.
- 1-1 ½ cups of cucumbers, sliced
- ¾ cup white distilled vinegar
- ⅔ cup water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp mustard seed
- ½ tsp peppercorns
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh dill
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- Slice your cucumbers by your preference: chips, spears, or ribbons. (We usually choose chips.)
- Optional: for the ultimate crunch, place your cucumber chips in an ice bath for 20 minutes. Pat them dry and transfer them to the jar.
- (If you skipped step 2) Transfer your sliced cucumbers to a jar with the mustard seed, peppercorns, dill, and garlic.
- Combine your water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and mix. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, and remove from heat immediately after it reaches a boil.
- Pour the hot brine over the contents of the jar and let it sit at room temperature for half an hour or until it’s cool.
- Cover with the lid and store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
How To Serve Pickled Cucumbers
Burgers, sandwiches, deli meats, salads — the options are endless to enjoy your quick pickled cucumbers. With some small variations in ingredients, you can make these cucumbers to enjoy with Asian or Swedish cuisines.
4. Spicy Quick Pickled Radish
This quick pickled radish recipe has a kick of spice. If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, you can still follow the recipe. Just skip the red pepper flakes or substitute them for another ingredient like fresh dill or mustard seeds.
*If you’re leaving the red pepper flakes out, we also recommend reducing the amount of sugar to 1 tbsp. We increased the sugar measurements to balance out the spiciness of the red pepper flakes. Too much sugar without the pepper flakes won’t produce that same tangy flavor that quick pickled vegetables are known for.
- 8-10 radishes, sliced
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup warm water
- 2 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp peppercorns
- ½ tsp cumin seed
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- Thinly slice your radishes into chips. Any thickness will do. (If you prefer a thin, even slice, we recommend using a mandolin.)
- Transfer your radishes into a jar with the peppercorns, cumin seed, and garlic.
- In a separate container, combine your vinegar, warm water, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Pour your brine over the jar of radishes.
- Let the jar cool at room temperature for an hour or until no longer hot.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
How To Serve Pickled Radish
Similar to many of the recipes on this list, your quick pickled radish can be served on tacos, sandwiches, or in a salad. But we also recommend trying them for breakfast on some avocado toast!
5. Quick Pickled Cabbage
Pickled cabbage is a great way to enhance the flavor of almost any dish. For some color, use red cabbage for this recipe. The deep pink hue makes any meal look gourmet — and tastes like it too!
- ½ head of red cabbage, thinly chopped
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp of salt
- ½ tsp of peppercorns
- 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Slice your cabbage into thin strips.
- Stir your vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, garlic, and red pepper flakes together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat.
- When your pickling liquid reaches a boil, stir in your sliced cabbage for approximately a minute.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- When your pickled cabbage is cool, transfer it to a jar and cover it with a lid. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
How To Serve Pickled Cabbage
There are plenty of ways to use your pickled cabbage. It helps to think of it as a condiment. You can use it as a topper for tacos, burgers, pulled pork, or salads. If you’re a fan of coleslaw, you might even enjoy your pickled cabbage on its own as a snack!