Bread and Butter Pickles

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I used to be a self-proclaimed pickle-hater.  As a child, my first order of business upon receiving a cheeseburger, especially from McDonalds, was to de-pickle.  I would carefully inspect every inch making sure no pickle remnants remained and only then would I commence eating.  If I skipped this crucial step and bit into a pickle, I acted as though I had been poisoned.  My eyes would go wide, I’d grab my throat in horror and with my best nine-year-old imagination, I’d die.  My hatred for pickles would even go so far that if a restaurant put a pickle on my plate and that pickle happen to touch my fries, the fries would be condemned, taken off my plate, and go uneaten; which in my mind was a real catastrophe. 

I went about hating pickles through most of high school until one fateful night at a friend’s house.  His mother had just finished making sweet pickles and was trying her best to convince me to eat one.  I, still having a bit of my nine-year-old pickle-hating/dying mentality, refused.  Luckily for me, even though I didn’t see this at the time, she chased me down and forced me to eat one. 

It tasted like no other pickle had ever tasted before.  The taste was sweet, salty, spicy, and tangy all at once.  It was love at first bite.  From there on out, bread and butter pickles were my thing.

This recipe I’m sharing with you today is special for many reasons.  I feel like I missed out on so many years of eating these pickles even though I’m sure my mother didn’t object-she got all the pickles for herself.  This recipe originally came from my great aunt and we assume the recipe was passed down to her from her mother and grandmother, dating back sometime in the 1800’s.   

While I love the history behind the recipe, I love even more how we make these pickles.  My family is not one for a lot of tradition or rituals.  Holidays come and go without much fuss and most other things don’t really excite us.   

Pickles have become our tradition using this recipe that has been passed down from one generation to the next.  My mother and I head to my grandma’s and from there, we make pickles together.  At first my grandmother would make the pickles, while my mother and I would join in where needed.  Now, as time has passed, I do more of the pickle making while my mother and grandmother help when needed.  Sure, I could just as easily make pickles by myself but really that’s not the point.  It’s about being in the kitchen, together.  

These are the memories I cherish.


Bread and Butter Pickles

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 60 mins
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8 pints 1x


  • 8 medium cucumbers
  • 2 green peppers
  • 8 small white onions
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • Pickling Syrup:
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 5 cups apple cider vinegar


  1. Wash cucumbers, onions, and peppers well. Slice cucumber and onions thing (a mandolin works well for this) and cut peppers into fine shreds. Mix vegetables with salt and a few handfuls of ice cubes. Place in a stone crock, cover with plate, and let stand for three hours.
  2. Drain crock thoroughly, removing any pieces of ice still left. Mix sugar and spices with vinegar. Add cucumber mixture to a large roasting pan or pot and pour vinegar over. Place over low heat and stir occasionally. Heat mixture to scolding but do not boil.
  3. While mixture is heating, sanitize 8 pint jars. I do this by washing them with hot soapy water, pouring hot water in each, and then placing in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Place lids and rings in a separate pot with water and bring to a boil with funnel and ladle (sanitizing everything.) Pour hot pickle mixture into sanitized jars and seal. Let cool and jars will suction themselves.*


*The original recipe does not call for an additional water bath to help seal the jars. My family has always let the jars sit out until cool and the lids always seal. However, due to health department concerns, most pickle recipes I see often have a processing time of 10-15 minutes after the lids have been sealed.
**If you have any questions on canning 101- check out this helpful post!

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18 comments on “Bread and Butter Pickles”

  1. I totally could have written this! I hated pickles when I was younger, especially when they were hidden in burgers. Now I like most of them, but bread and butter pickles are my absolute favorite.

  2. I'm another one who was a pickle hater as a child - I wouldn't even eat a burger if a pickle had gone anywhere near it because I was convinced that I could still taste the pickle! I love the photos here, memories to really treasure.

  3. I was the opposite, I'd sit and eat the whole jar of pickles :).

    What a nice family tradition - these look delicious!

  4. On a hot summer day when I was a kid, I loved pickles so much that I would walk 4 long ci5y blocks to Sunshines Delicatessen, clutching my allowance quarter, to buy one of their delicious barrel cured dill sour pickle, only to munch on it all the way back home.

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I too have enjoyed family closness in the kitchen in preparing and learning about food.

  5. Lovely stories about your childhood and family tradition - thank you for sharing those precious memories. I'm in the process of making some now - without celery seeds, as I can not find them where I live - and will think of the times I ate bread and butter pickles with my Dad as a child.

  6. Hello, here in Holland we don't do much pickling (I think) so I don't know too many ways to use them (except hotdog/hamburger). How do you use them? And why are they called 'bread and butter'? Dutch greetings, Gerry

  7. What a fantastic recipe Erin! Thank you for sharing the story behind it with us as well, treasured family recipes like this are the best as they come with so many memories.
    I wasn't brave enough to can myself but since your recent 101 post I put on my brave shoes and made countless jars of jam with all the lovely summer produce. Here in Holland we don't have any akin to a farmer's market so it has taken me a while to find a fresh-off-the-land farmer's shop that's also affordable. Now that I have found one, as well as discovered my passion for canning (or, rather, the prospect of having fresh and delicious summer produce all throughout the drab winter) I am unstopable!
    This recipe I am definitely making as well on my new quest to explore the wonder that as canning as I just love pickles. I loved them as a child (at McDonald's I was the child that always wished there were more than 2 on my hamburger) and this day I love them even more. No longer on a hamburger as I am now a vegetarian but I love them as a snack or on a sandwich with cheese and some dijon mustard. Yum!
    All the ingredients for your pickles, as well as the jars, are sitting in my pantry. The only thing I can't find in this culinary-challenged country that is The Netherlands (no kidding, I can't even get jalapeno peppers without buying them per 2kg from a farmer who doesn't, really, sell to consumers directly) are the celery seeds. Can I skip those, or perhaps replace them with something else? I honestly have no clue what they taste like and, thus, what they bring to the syrup.
    Thanks for blogging Erin, I always look forward to your updates with it's enticing stories, beautiful photograpphy and above all else deliciously sounding recipes I simply MUST make asap.

  8. I've cut refined sugar out of my diet and am wondering how you feel this would work with honey substituted in for sugar?
    Just a sidenote: I've been obsessively reading your blog the last few days, am going to buy your flour cookbook, and have been inspired to start canning. Thanks for the beautiful photos and recipes!

    1. Hi Stephanie, Thank you for the kind comment about everything! As for the pickles, I'm *really* not sure what the honey would do with the flavors or with the texture of the pickle itself. You could always try a small batch of refrigerator pickles (like 1-2 jars) to test it out!

  9. Hi I am a born South African,now an permanent resident of Canada ,I remember back in SA that my previous Mother in-law and I used to hang out in the kitchen making pickled onions,curried green beans ,butter milk rusks etc we had a special bond and I do miss her .Have loads of cucs so I will try your bread and butter ones asap take care

  10. Thank you for the recipe that does not require water bath. My sister gave me a recipe like this years ago but I have misplaced it. I really don't water to do the water bath if I can avoid it. I will also be making tomato juice in my dad's memory. I just have to wait until I have enough ripe tomatoes. 🙂


Welcome to my little internet nook. On this site you'll find over a thousand vegetarian recipes, pantry knowledge, and more. I'm ever obsessed with food from gardening, cooking, and preserving. I hope you'll find endless inspiration on these pages and visit often. 

Virtual hugs, Erin (aka: e.l.l.a.)

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