Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning (2024)

Some days I just want a pickle, and nothing compares to a perfectly crisp home canned pickle. They top my burgers and hot dogs all summer long, but more importantly, in the winter time, they remind me that summer will come again.

Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning (1)

The very best pickles cant be bought in a grocery store.If you want a good pickle, you’ll have to ask grandma for a jar or learn how to make them yourself. I kick myself every time I don’t can quite enough for a full year. In those years, I find myself scanning the supermarket shelves, hoping for anything that might qualify as a real pickle.

I’m always disappointed. How can they get away with charging $8 for a jar of wilted, slimy excuses for pickles? On top of that, they’re loaded with preservatives that have no business in pickles. Every time I reach this point I vow that next summer there will be more pickles.

Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning (2)

My secret to the perfect pickle is to select small cucumbers, about the size of your pinky finger. Whether you’re making slices of whole dills, the size of the cucumber is key. Anything bigger is best suited to pickle relish or hog feed. (If you have really super tiny baby cucumbers, try making miniature gherkins (cornichons), which are made with a very different recipe.

When you select cucumbers for canning pickles, the seeds should be barely visible. The picture below has a cross-section of 3 different cucumbers. The top one has fully formed seeds, and they’re already beginning to fall out a bit. If you can this cucumber, the center would fall out and the outside would never be crisp. If all you have is giant cucumbers, try making refrigerator dill pickles.

The bottom two cucumbers are both acceptable for canning but choose the smaller slices on the left for best results.

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The top cucumber is only suitable for hog feed. The one at the bottom right will work, but the bottom left cucumber will give the best canned pickles.

If you have very large cucumbers and your heart is set on canning, you can also try making either dill pickle relish orbread and butter pickles. Both of those recipes are designed to accommodate large overripe cucumbers. The cucumbers are layered with salt for about 2 hours before canning, which draws out extra moisture and removes bitterness from the overripe cucumbers. Added sugar in both recipes also helps mask any residual bitterness, and a bit of turmeric makes up for thefading color as the cucumbers are past prime.

Jar size also makes a big difference for home canned pickles. You can have the best pickle recipe in the world and the freshest tiny cucumbers, but if you can in quart jars they’ll be overcooked. Always can in pints rather than quarts. Quarts require longer processing times and are liable to produce mushy pickles.

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There’s an old-school practice of soaking pickles in pickling lime before canning, and this helps keep them crisp during the canning process. It’s a complicated process, and involves a lot of time and mess, soaking and rinsing. Not to mention a lot of lime.

These days, most canners substitute something called pickle crisp. It doesn’t have anything funny in it, just calcium chloride. The calcium helps to reinforce the cell walls in the cucumbers, and that keeps them from popping during the canning process. The end result is firmer pickles without a lot of extra work.

It doesn’t take a lot of calcium chloride to get the job done. Roughly 1/8th tsp per pint or 1/4 teaspoon per quart. Just spoon it into the bottom of the jars along with the spices. Pickle crisp is optional, but it will help ensure crisp home-canned pickles.

Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning (5)

The spices in my pickle recipe include fresh dill, mustard seeds, dill seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns. Note again the small cucumber slices, with seeds barely visible.

Making pickles at home is simple, assuming you have the right ingredients. I includefresh dill, mustard seeds, dill seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns. If for some reason I can’t find fresh dill, extra dill seed will work. Fresh dill tends to come in large bundles from the grocery store or farmers market, and if you have extra, try making dill pickled green beans, known as dilly beans here in Vermont.

Start by packing spices, cucumbers, onions and garlic tightly into jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Cover with hot brine, and water bath can. Wait at least 2 weeks for flavors to infuse, and ENJOY!

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If you’re giving them out as gifts, consider some cute labels. Chalkboard labels are all the rage these days, but I stick to ball canning’s dissolvable labels because they’re easy to remove so that you can reuse the jar once it’s empty.

If you really want to save money on pickling, buy your canning supplies in bulk. While rings and jars can be reused, lids should be new each time to ensure a good seal. We buy our canning lids in bulk onlineand bring our canning unit costs down considerably. If you’re looking for a quick fix, you can also try a pre-made dill pickle spice mix, just make sure your cucumbers are fresh and tiny.

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If you’re just getting started canning, but plan on making canning and preserving food part of your lifestyle long term, try investing in an online canning course. Pioneering today has a canning with confidence course that takes you through the ins and outs of canning from basic canning safety all the way through to pressure canning meat at home. The course covers:

  • Canning Safety – Safe techniques to for home canning
  • Water Bath Canning – Jams, jellies, pickles, tomatoes, and other high acid fruits and vegetables including low sugar, no pectin variations.
  • Pressure Canning – How to safely operate a pressure canner at home to can almost any type of food for long-term preservation
  • Troubleshooting and Storage – Figuring out why a recipe just didn’t work, and maximizing storage of your home canned goods.

Take a look at Canning with Confidence if you’re planning on investing heavily in long-term home food preservation.

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Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning (9)

Yield: 5 Pints

This dill pickle recipe yields crisp pickles and is easy for beginning canners.



  1. Start your water bath canner in a pot big enough to hold 5 one pint mason jars.The water (and the pot!) should be deep enough once the jars are added there is at least 1 inch of water above the top of the jars.Bring the pot to a boil.
  2. Prepare a brine by bringing 4 cups water, 4 cups vinegar and 1/2c salt to a boil.
  3. While the brine and canner are coming up to a boil, gently wash cucumbers to remove any dirt and nip off both ends.Either leave the cucumbers whole or slice into 1/2inch slices.
  4. At the bottom of each wide mouth pint mason jar, add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, dill seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns and the dill heads or fresh herb sprigs.
  5. Pack tightly with pickles and a few slices of onion.Top 2 with 2-3 garlic cloves.Be sure to leave 1 inch of headspace above the pickles.
  6. Cover with brine to just submerge the vegetables, being sure to leave 1/2inch of headspace above the top level of the brine.
  7. Cap and band mason jars to just finger tight and place into boiling water in your water bath canner.Process for 10 minutes for pints (or 15 min for quarts) below 1000 feet of elevation.(15 minutes for pints at 1,000-6,000 feet)


  • This recipe makes slightly more brine than you need to can 5 pints of pickles, to make sure you have enough to properly fill all the jars. Store any extra in a mason jar at room temperature for later use.
  • The spices can also be adjusted without affecting canning safety, based on your preferences.
  • The salt is not necessary for preservation in this recipe, and can be adjusted to your tastes. Salt levels in pickles are a very personal thing, and I've seen recipes that use A LOT more salt, and just a few that use less. Around 1/2 cup is a good middle ground, but if you like them REALLY salty add 3/4 cup (alternatively, use 1/4 cup for lower salt pickles).
  • DO NOT use table salt, it has additives that don't work well for canning. Lacking pure canning salt, use kosher salt.
  • DO NOT adjust the vinegar/water ratio to lower the amount of vinegar. The acidity in the vinegar is what preserves the pickles and makes them suitable for water bath canning. For a more sour pickle, you can increase the amount of vinegar (but never reduce it).

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For more information on the specifics and safety of canning pickles and pickled vegetables,
check out the USDA Guide to Home Canning.


Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning (2024)


How do you keep dill pickles crisp when canning? ›

Secrets To Crispy Dill Pickles
  1. Use Cucumbers Designed For Pickling. ...
  2. Pick Young and Often. ...
  3. Use Only Fresh Picked Cucumbers To Make Crispy Dill Pickles. ...
  4. Cut Off The Blossom End Of Each Cucumber. ...
  5. Avoid Over Processing. ...
  6. Skip the Alum. ...
  7. Use A Grape Leaf In Each Jar.
Jun 8, 2021

Do you have to boil pickles when canning? ›

Most fruit preserves and pickles are sufficiently high in acid to be canned via a method called water bath canning, where jars are submerged in boiling water for a prescribed amount of time. This destroys any pathogens in the food, and creates a seal, thereby rendering the jars shelf-stable.

Do homemade pickles need to be pressure canned? ›

It's important to note that hot water bath canning does not work for all vegetables. the hot water bath method can be used for jams and jellies, tomatoes, applesauce/apple butter, and pickles. Other vegetables (corn, green beans, asparagus, carrots, etc.) require a pressure canner.

What is the secret to crisp dill pickles? ›

Add a Source of Tannin

Tannins work against softening enzymes and help keep pickles crunchier. They can be found in various sources, such as grape leaves, oak leaves, raspberry leaves, black tea, etc. Add some directly to your jars!

What ingredient makes pickles crisp? ›

Look on the jar of Heinz Dill Pickle Chips (my favorite), and you will see the addition of the CaCl2 as a listed ingredient. It's is what keeps the crisp in pickles. It's a cheap addition.

How to make pickles crunchy when canning? ›

Soak Cucumbers In Ice Water Beforehand

If you're not canning your cucumbers immediately, leave them in an ice bath or in your refrigerator overnight to maintain firmness. Doing this before you start canning them will give you the crunchiest pickles you've ever had!

How long should homemade pickles sit before eating them? ›

Label and date your jars and store them in a clean, cool, dark, and dry place such as a pantry, cabinet, or basem*nt. Don't store in a warm spot! To allow pickles to mellow and develop a delicious flavor, wait at least 3 weeks before eating! Keep in mind that pickles may be ready to enjoy earlier.

Why do you soak cucumbers in salt water before pickling? ›

This salt treatment draws water out of the cucumbers and flavors them, so it's critically important. After layering or mixing in plenty of sea salt, I cover the salted cukes with ice cubes and a tea towel and forget about them for a few hours.

Do jars have to be fully submerged when canning? ›

In a water bath canner, your jars must be completely submerged in simmering water, which can be anywhere from 3-4 gallons. When using a pressure canner, you only need about 3-4 inches of water (there is usually an indicator line on the inside of the canner), which is about 1½ gallons.

Do you have to do a hot water bath when canning pickles? ›

All pickles and pickled products are subject to spoilage from microorganisms, particularly yeast and molds, as well as enzymes that affect flavor, color and texture. Processing in a boiling water-bath canner will prevent both of these problems. Standard canning jars with self-sealing lids also are recommended.

How do you seal mason jars for pickling? ›

Mason jars are made for canning food. You don't want that food to spoil. You seal the jar by sterilizing the jar, and by putting hot food in it and putting the seal on, then screw the lid on. As the contents cool, the air inside will contract causing the lid to seal tight.

Why do my canned pickles get soggy? ›

It may be a normal reaction during fermentation caused by bacteria. If the pickles are soft, they are spoiled from the yeast fermentation. Don't use them. Using too weak a salt brine or vinegar solution may cause soft or slippery pickles, as can using moldy garlic or storing the pickles at too warm a temperature.

Can you pickle with just vinegar? ›

For quick pickles, a basic brine is equal parts vinegar and water, but you can adjust the ratio to your preference. Any basic vinegar is game — white vinegar, apple cider, white wine, and rice vinegar all work well. You can use these vinegars alone or in combination.

How long do you boil pickles for canning? ›

Place jars in a canner or large pot lined with a wire rack at the bottom. Once all of the jars are in the pot, add boiling hot water, to cover jars with 1-2 inches of water. Process/boil for 15 minutes. Carefully remove jars from the water using a jar lifter and leave at room temperature undisturbed for 12-24 hours.

How do you can pickles without making them soggy? ›

One of the simplest methods of firming pickles is to use ice. Soak cucumbers or other vegetables in ice water or layer with crushed ice for 4 to 5 hours before pickling. Sometimes this step is combined with a salt solution indicated by the recipe.

Why are my canned dill pickles soggy? ›

Pickles are soft or slippery.

This can happen when the blossom ends of the cucumbers are not removed. Cut 1/16-inch off blossom ends of cucumbers. The blossom end contains an enzyme that may cause softening. This can also happen if the brine or vinegar was too weak.

How do you keep cucumbers crisp until pickling? ›

Once you've washed and wrapped them, the best way to store cucumbers is in the crisper drawer (a.k.a. produce drawer) of your fridge, set on high humidity with the fan closed. High humidity helps the ethylene-sensitive fruit retain moisture and keeps it from wilting.

Does alum keep pickles crisp when canning? ›

If good quality ingredients are used and up-to-date methods are followed, firming agents are not needed. Alum has little crispness affect on quick-process pickles. Alum will increase firmness of fermented pickles when used at levels up to ¼ teaspoon per pint, but greater amounts will decrease firmness.

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