Small Batch Bread and Butter Pickles

July 19, 2017(updated on August 30, 2021)

Last night, I spent an hour in my kitchen making bread and butter pickles and talking to my phone (otherwise known as doing a live broadcast via Facebook). I answered questions, used a mandoline slicer without injuring myself, and at the end had three and a half pints of tasty pickles for my efforts.

I’ve published a few different variations on bread and butter pickles over the years, but have never managed to get one up on the blog. Well, let’s change that. This is the exact version I made last night. It doubles and triples beautifully if you’ve got even more veg to use up. And it’s the perfect thing for this month’s hot pack challenge!

5 from 2 votes

Small Batch Bread and Butter Pickles

Servings: 3 -4 pints


  • 6 cups cucumber slices shoot for about 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 cups sliced red peppers about 2 peppers
  • 2 cups sliced onion about 1 large onion
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves


  • Prepare a boiling water bath and enough jars to hold between 3 and 4 pints.
  • Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a non-reactive pot large enough to eventually hold all the vegetables.
  • Set the pot on the stove over high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the mustard seed, celery seed, red chili flakes, and cloves.
  • Bring the brine to a boil and add vegetables. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes, until everything is fully heated through.
  • Fill prepared jars with the vegetables using tongs and then cover with brine, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. After all the jars are full, use a wooden chopstick to work any trapped air bubbles out of the jars. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.
  • Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  • When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.


My batch made 3 and a half pints. I'd suggest preparing enough jars for 4 pints, but prepare for the possibility that your yield might be a little less.

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30 thoughts on "Small Batch Bread and Butter Pickles"

  • Exactly what I need today! The last of my cucumbers are coming off the vine (we’ve had too much rain, so the plants quit producing). I need a fast b&b pickle recipe… we still have dills left from last year! I have more more cuke starts to go into the garden this week, though! Never enough cucumbers… I’ve been freezing them for green smoothies and fizzy coolers for hot days.

  • I hate to say this, but last time I made b&b pickles like this, they were mushy. Do you have a recipe for crispy b&b pickles?

      1. There are a couple of ways to prevent vegetables processed in a hot water bath from becoming mushy. MOST IMPORTANT! Cut the blossoms off your cucumbers! The blossom contains an enzyme which can cause your pickles to become mushy.

        Some use Pickling Lime which is Calcium Hydroxide. Pickling lime helps to improve the firmness of pickles by introducing calcium. The calcium reinforces the pectin in the vegetable being pickled which helps retain it’s firmness. In using it, a vegetable such as cucumber is soaked first in water mixed with the pickling lime for up to a day. Then the food to be pickled is rinsed thoroughly multiple times, at least 3 times before the actual pickling process begins. Pickling lime is alkaline which if present weakens the acidity of the pickling batch. The correct acidity is critically important in preventing the growth of botulism. Personally I don’t use Pickling Lime.

        What I’ve found works best is simply soaking the cucumbers in ice water bath for at least 4 hrs or overnight before packing your jars and processing. If using garden picked cucumbers, pick cucumbers in the morning (usually before 10am) and you may be able to skip soaking if processing the same day. This helps to rehydrate the vegetables which results in vegetables staying much firmer and crunchier during processing.

  • Hi! Which ‘model’ of Ball jar is on the lower left in the picture? It’s a great size but I don’t see it on their website. Thanks!

    1. That looks like the Ball “Elite” wide-mouth 16-oz. They’re on the Fresh Presercing website, and they’re $7.99 for a pack of 4 jars. My Walmart carries them. The website also has a Ball Elite “Special Occasion” 16-oz jar that looks identical, currently on sale for $4.99 for a pack of 4. Not sure what the difference is. They look identical and both can be used for canning.

  • I really appreciate your small batch recipes. There are only 2 of us in the house and we just don’t eat that many jars of anything. Plus, I have a very small garden. I often don’t have enough produce, after the critters take their share, to can anything. Farmers markets in my area are quite expensive too. So small batch recipes really fit the bill. Thanks!

  • So I just picked up a bunch of padron peppers from the farmer’s market – evidently like but spicier than shishitos – how do you think they’d taste, used instead of red ones, which I don’t have?

  • Brine the cucumbers, onions and peppers overnight with pickling salt covered with ice. Rinse well before jarring with pickling brine. You can also add an 1/8 tsp per pint of pickle crisp to each jar.

  • I’m growing “Tours” winter squash this year, and I’m wondering if they are suitable for the bread and butter pickle recipe on your website. Thanks.


  • Hello! Big following of your recipes, as I have all three of your canning books. I just made these delicious pickles but I didn’t have enough of the brine to fill my jars. I thought I measured everything perfectly (and I’m not a newbie in the kitchen), so I’m not sure what happened.

    When I realized I wouldn’t have enough liquid to fill each jar, I quickly cooked up another batch of brine and ladled it into the jars. Before I make another batch, I’d love some advice–is this what you’d suggest, too?

    Thank you!

    1. It could be that your veg was drier than mine. Or perhaps you didn’t leave it on the stove long enough for the veg to express enough liquid in to the pan. Or that you didn’t pack your jars as tightly as I did.

      1. Come to think of it, the cucumbers are quite dry. they are fresh from the farm, but they small little cukes without much liquid–i believe you definitely solved my little dilemma. Unless you have a different idea, I will make extra brine from the start next time, to ensure I have enough for canning. Thank you!

        1. For what it’s worth, I always make extra brine. There’s a lot of variation in ingredients, so you never quite know how things will turn out, and it doesn’t hurt. I’m just now finishing up a doubled batch of these pickles (they’re processing right now, and I have high hopes!), and while Marisa says she got 3 1/2 pints out of one batch, I doubled the batch and got 5. I packed pretty tightly, so that could be it, but I’m guessing they’ll still taste pretty good. (I wound up not using the extra brine. 🙂

  • I made these pickles from the Food in Jars book last year, and assumed this was the same recipe, but it’s not!

    This one has only half the sugar, and they turned out much too acidic. Not edible. I’m glad I tasted them before giving them out as gifts, but I’m bummed to have made 18 pints of inedible pickles.

  • Are white and red onion interchangeable in this recipe? (I don’t have enough white onion to match my available cucumbers!)

  • I’ve just made your version of these that’s on the Serious Eats website for the second year in a row. They are so delicious! Exactly what I want in a b & b pickle. So crunchy, with a bit of spice, and they stay crunchy throughout the months. I loved them so much – and so did others – that I made a double batch this year. I notice that in the recipe here, you use cucumbers, whereas in the Serious Eats recipe you call for pickling cucumbers. Is that what makes the difference in crispness? This was also my first attempt ever at preserving, and that it was so successful has inspired me to keep at it. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I’ll be making these every year!

    1. Yes. In this recipe, the sugar is simply a flavor element so it won’t change the consistency or keeping ability to reduce it.

  • I love using this brine for bread and butter garlic pickles. This yeah, I’ve added a few jars of bread and butter cauliflower to the mix, as well.

    Thanks for the great recipe, Marissa!

  • 5 stars
    I been making your recipe since about 2012. It is the best although t I don’t put the cloves in. Everything else goes in.. I can never make enough of these pickles.