Try my recipe for no cook refrigerator pickles if you want a quick pickling recipe with no heating up the house. Just put your onions and cucumbers in a jar with spices, add the brine, and pop it in the fridge. These refrigerator pickles (no sugar) are a great fit for most special diets, including low carb, keto, gluten free, and vegan.
If you've never tried refrigerator cucumber pickles before, now might be a great time. I grow cucumbers, and cucumber season is wrapping up where I live. These refrigerator pickles without sugar are the best way to use garden cucumbers.
Old fashioned cucumbers and onions in vinegar are a tasty topping for burgers, or for snacking on alone! You’ll love this recipe for sugar-free refrigerator pickles if you want an easy recipe for no boil pickles. (Don’t miss the tips on making no cook sweet pickles and dill pickles in the FAQ section below!)
- 🥒 What is the difference between fridge pickles and traditional pickling?
- 📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- ⭐ Benefits
- 🥘 Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make No Cook Refrigerator Pickles
- ️🌡️ Leftovers
- 🥪 What to serve with pickles?
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 🙋 What are the healthiest pickles to buy?
- 👩🏻🍳 Other Pickled Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
🥒 What is the difference between fridge pickles and traditional pickling?
The main difference between old fashioned refrigerator pickles and classic pickles is that fridge pickles are not canned. While properly canned pickles can be safely stored at a cool temperature for months, fridge pickles must be refrigerated. In addition, these low sugar refrigerator pickles won’t last as long (only about a month).
“Traditional pickles” is often used to refer to fermented cucumbers. Beneficial bacteria in traditionally fermented cucumber pickles have been encouraged to thrive. This gives the pickles a sour or tangy flavor, and helps to preserve them.
The downside of traditional ferments is that they can take a long time to ferment (often weeks). We’re taking a shortcut with this pickled cucumber recipe. The vinegar brine gives the pickles a piquant flavor without the long fermentation.
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of no cook fridge pickles has 5 calories, 0.9 grams net carbs, and 0.2 grams protein. (This is for a few slices of pickles, enough to top a burger or sandwich.)
What are the benefits of making ice box pickles (no sugar)? Here are some reasons you’ll love this no sugar refrigerator pickles recipe:
- 10-minute refrigerator pickles: Thinly slice the veggies, mix everything together, and these pickles are hands-off until they’re ready. You could probably make this in only 5 minutes if you’re fast!
- Easy refrigerator pickles: This is a great recipe for cooking beginners. You don’t need any complicated culinary skills for this one, only the ability to cut and measure.
- No canning, no cooking: A lot of “no cook” pickle recipes still have you using the stovetop to heat the brine. This pickle recipe is so simple, you don’t need the stove at all! There’s no need to fuss with sterilizing jars as you would for canning.
- Low risk of food poisoning: A common question is: Can you get sick from refrigerator pickles? Unfortunately, you can get sick from just about any food that has spoiled. However, choosing refrigerator pickles versus home canning pickles greatly reduces your risk of botulism. (This is particularly true if you are not canning safely, i.e., ensuring adequate brine acidity and so on.)
- Special diet friendly: These whole30 pickles are naturally low carb, keto, vegan, dairy free, gluten free, and they fit clean eating diets. No adjustments to the recipe are needed! (They may or may not fit Paleo diets, depending on how you’re defining it.)
- Delicious: These pickles are crisp and tasty, not waterlogged soggy pickles (like many jarred pickles in supermarkets). If you want a tangy and refreshing pickle with some bite, this is the recipe for you!
What are the ingredients for homemade refrigerator pickles? Here’s the shopping list:
- Pickling cucumbers or English seedless cucumbers
- Red onion
- Brown mustard seeds
- Juniper berries
- Black pepper
- Bay leaf
- White vinegar
- Hot water
- Finely ground sea salt
Small Persian cucumbers don’t soften up as well and aren’t recommended for this recipe. They tend to work better if you’re making pickle spears.
I really like red onions for pickling cucumbers and onions. They turn the brine a lovely pink color and are a bit milder than yellow onions. Sweet onions are a nice alternative if you don’t want pink brine.
I always use white vinegar for pickles. It’s cheap and has a neutral flavor. You could substitute with white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or rice vinegar if you prefer.
You’re also welcome to play around with the herbs and spices. Skip the juniper berries if you can’t find them, add some dill, red pepper flakes for heat, etc.
Does the type of salt matter when making pickles? You should use canning salt for canned pickles. For refrigerator pickle recipes, using fine ground sea salt is fine.
To make no cook refrigerated pickles, you need a wide-mouth quart jar with lid (glass mason jar). You’ll also need a good knife to slice the vegetables.
A mandoline slicer makes quick work of slicing the cucumbers for pickles. That said, I always just use a knife and find it doesn’t take that much longer.
Do you have to boil jars for refrigerator pickles?
Since we are not canning pickles, you do not need to boil the jars to sterilize them. Regularly washing the jars (in the dishwasher or by hand) is fine for fridge pickles.
🔪 How to Make No Cook Refrigerator Pickles
Let’s make no sugar fridge pickles! I made a short video below which shows you the pickle making process from start to finish. You’re not going to believe how easy it is.
First, it’s important to cut the cucumbers thin since this is a no cook recipe. Don’t use whole pickles; the brine will take too long to penetrate them.
Cut the cukes into slices that are ¼-inch (0.6 cm) thick, discarding the stem end. Cut the red onion in half and slice ⅛-inch (0.3 cm) thick. Slice the jalapeno thin, and smash the garlic cloves.
Make the brine with very hot tap water (as hot as you can get it). Add the vinegar and salt to the hot water, and stir until the salt is dissolved.
Layer the ingredients in the glass canning jar in this order: herbs and spices, garlic, jalapeno, onions, and cucumbers. Pour in the brine, completely covering the cucumbers. (You won’t need all the brine; feel free to discard the extra.)
Leave about 1-inch (2.54 cm) of headspace in the jar. This will give you room to shake the jar in a moment. If the jar is overpacked, you can take some veggies out (but you should not need to do this).
Screw the lid on the jar tightly and give it a good shake. Put the lidded jar in the fridge, and let it sit for about a week undisturbed.
You can start noshing on the pickles after 3-5 days, but they’re so much better after a full week. Be patient! Even quick pickles are a bit of a slow food.
How long do refrigerator pickles last? Homemade pickled cucumbers last for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator. They must stay submerged in the brine to stay fresh.
These no sugar pickles should not be frozen. Freezing and thawing will change the texture of the cucumber pickles so they’ll no longer be crisp.
Watch for signs of food spoilage: off color, off odor, slimy texture, etc. If you suspect that the pickles have spoiled, they should be thrown in the trash. Always follow the food safety rule “when in doubt, throw it out.”
🥪 What to serve with pickles?
So, you’ve made these old fashioned pickled cucumbers and onions. Wondering what to do with them? Here are main dishes that go with pickles:
- Air Fryer Turkey Burger
- Frozen Burgers in Air Fryer
- Sardine Salad Sandwich Wrap
- Homemade Egg Salad
- Chicken Salad with Apples and Pecans
Or do what I usually do, and enjoy them by themselves as a salty plant-based snack! Yum!
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The nutrition information for this recipe includes the cucumbers, onions, jalapeno, and garlic only. (Note: Though you are likely not consuming the brine, the sodium content of this recipe will be higher than listed below since the veggies do absorb some of the salt.)
Cucumber pickles with no added sugar, as we have here, are an extremely low-calorie food. They fit most special diets (aside from low-sodium diets), and they add a great flavor to meals. I enjoy them as a snack as well.
Cucumber pickles (though botanical fruits) count towards your non-starchy vegetable intake. Most of us in the U.S. don’t get enough veggies in our diets, so why not include some pickles?
The electrolyte losses associated with very low carb and keto diets can lead to electrolyte imbalances if the diet isn’t planned well. The salt in pickled and naturally fermented veggies can help replenish sodium. Though many of us overconsume sodium, it’s also an essential mineral that is needed for good health.
Most sodium in the American diet comes from ultra-processed foods and restaurant meals. If you are cooking at home and prioritizing whole foods, your diet may not be very high in sodium. Enjoying some cucumber pickles now and then is a good way to include more of this nutrient on healthy eating plans.
You can also make no cook refrigerator bread and butter pickles and other sweet pickles. One easy sweet pickle recipe is to make a brine of vinegar and sugar (no water), stirring until dissolved. You could also experiment with using Swerve or Lakanto monkfruit sweetener instead of sugar.
To make no cook dill pickles, replace the seasonings used in this recipe with fresh dill and smashed garlic. Dried dill can also be used, but fresh dill looks much nicer in the jars. Also, fresh dillweed doesn’t stick to the cucumbers as much.
You should not eat pickles that are left out of the fridge for more than 2 hours. An exception to this is if they’ve been canned and the jar hasn’t been opened. These no cook refrigerator pickles have a vinegar to water ratio of 1:3 and are not safe for canning. Cucumber pickle recipes that are safe for heat processing must have a higher acidity.
I don’t recommend reusing pickle juice to make pickles, as the later batches lose out on flavor. That said, try throwing some carrot sticks in storebought pickle brine for a few days. It makes an unusual and delicious snack!
🙋 What are the healthiest pickles to buy?
Store bought pickles can be a good option if you want to stay out of the kitchen. For a quick pickle that is similar to what I’d make at home (no food coloring, sugar, etc.), I love these Grillo’s pickles. Bubbie’s pickles are a fabulous choice for naturally fermented pickles (and they sell other vegetable ferments too).
👩🏻🍳 Other Pickled Recipes
Want more recipes for pickled vegetables and fermented vegetables or fruit? Don’t miss these:
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
No Cook Refrigerator Pickles (No Added Sugar!)
- 10 ounces pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced (284 grams; 1-2 cucumbers)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ jalapeno, sliced
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 3 cups water (very hot from tap)
- 1½ tablespoons finely ground sea salt
- Cut the cucumbers into slices that are ¼-inch (0.6 cm) thick, discarding the stem end. Cut the red onion in half and slice ⅛-inch (0.3 cm) thick. Slice the jalapeno thin, and smash the garlic cloves.
- Stir the vinegar, hot water, and salt together until the salt has dissolved. Set this brine aside.
- Layer all of the other ingredients in a wide-mouth quart jar as follows: spices and herbs, garlic, jalapeno, onions, and cucumbers.
- Pour the brine over the top, filling the jar to the bottom of its neck and completely covering the cucumbers. You will not use all of the brine.
- Put the lid on the jar, give it a gentle shake, and refrigerate. These pickles are best after sitting in the fridge for around a week, but you can start enjoying them in 3-5 days if you're feeling impatient. 🙂