Homemade Pickles (No Sugar or Additives)

Store-bought pickles are ready-to-go grabs to add to your cart when you’re on your way to a BBQ potluck...

a hand pouring pickling brine from a pot into a mason jar of homemade pickles

Store-bought pickles are ready-to-go grabs to add to your cart when you’re on your way to a BBQ potluck, or need a convenient way to add the familiar dill-flavored snappiness to pulled pork sandwiches, tuna salad, or pickle potato salad. That said, the flavor of homemade pickles can’t be matched by shelf-stable pickles.

You exchange some things for that convenience: suspect chemicals or preservatives and often added sugars.

When you try to follow a low-glycemic, glucose-stabilizing lifestyle, pause to read ingredient labels more closely. I scrutinized the ingredients labels of five different brands of ready-made pickles and every brand contained chemical additives (mostly to preserve the pickles and keep them crunchy) and some with added sugar.

I prefer to make my own pickles. Granted, you can’t bring them home from the store, pop them open, and eat right out of the jar, but you get to pick your own ingredients and flavor your pickles any way you’d like.

The process is easier than you might think—and completely customizable.

How to Make Homemade Pickles

Use small clean mason jars to store your pickles. You don’t need to worry about canning—these pickles include an easy five-step preparation process:

  1. Clean, prepare, and slice the cucumbers or vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients you plan to use
  2. Pack small clean mason jars with the sliced cucumbers or vegetables, herbs, and any ingredients that don’t get added to the brine. Leave ½-inch of space at the top of the jar
  3. In a small pot, heat the vinegar, water, spices, and garlic to a simmer over medium heat for two minutes then remove from the heat
  4. When the brine has cooled to warm, pour the brine into the mason jar until the ingredients inside are submerged
  5. Close the lid tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

Homemade Pickles

Easy to make and customize with any ingredients you like, homemade pickles require nothing more than some slicing, a 5-minute brine, and a day to marinate in the refrigerator. The taste will make you forget the convenience of store-bought pickles.


  • 3 pickling cucumbers, (about 4" each, sliced evenly)
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, (thinly sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves, (peeled)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. allulose
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard or fennel seeds
  • 3-5 sprigs fresh herbs, (such as dill, thyme, rosemary)


  1. Pack a clean mason jar with sliced cucumbers, onions, and any herbs you like. Leave a ½-inch of space at the top of the jar for the pickling liquid.
  2. Heat a small pot on the stove over medium heat. Add vinegar, water, garlic, and spices. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. Cool the brine to warm and then pour it on top of the cucumbers in the mason jar until everything is covered.
  4. Close the lid tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

Nutrition information for the entire recipe (12 servings):

nutrition info for homemade pickles

Homemade Pickles: Your Questions Answered

How long are homemade pickles good?

Store your homemade pickles in tightly sealed mason jars for up to two months in the refrigerator. Note: Because our homemade pickles don’t contain calcium chloride—used in store-bought pickles to preserve crunchiness—the longer these pickles sit in their brine, the less crunchy they become.

Do homemade pickles need to be refrigerated?

Yes, store your homemade pickles in a tightly sealed mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator.

How can I make my homemade pickles spicy?

Spice up your homemade pickles by adding crushed red pepper flakes or chopped hot peppers (Thai bird chilies, jalapenos, habaneros, etc.) with their seeds to the jars before sealing and refrigerating them.

How do you make homemade pickles crunchy?

Nobody wants a mushy pickle. These three tips will help you get that snap you crave:

  1. Use small, firm cucumbers, ideally pickling cucumbers. Save the big boys for salads or veggie platters and slice up the small frys for pickle spears or disks.
  2. Pick the freshest baby cucumbers. Grow ‘em in the garden? Fab. Pluck them off the vine in the morning and pickle them right away. Buy yours at the store? Fine. Pickle them soon after you bring them home rather than forgetting them in the crisper drawer. Don’t have time to pickle right away? Soak the cukes in ice-cold water for 30 minutes before pickling.
  3. Cut the blossom end off of the cucumbers before pickling. The blossom end is the opposite end of where the pickle was attached to the plant.
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About the Author

Sabrina Tillman Headshot
Sabrina has more than 20 years of experience writing, editing, and leading content teams in health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. She is the former managing editor at MyFitnessPal.
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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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