These easy refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles taste exactly like the ones my mom used to can. Except, these Refrigerator Pickles are no muss, no fuss!!!

If you’re new to canning or don’t have all the proper equipment for the full-fledged canning process, this simple recipe for homemade sweet pickles is the perfect place to start!

Two jars of Easy Bread and Butter Pickles, one without a lid

Easy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

Each summer, we’d pile into our unairconditioned station wagon and take the eight-hour trek up to visit our North Dakota relatives. There were no seat belts nor radio in that car, either. My dad was a frugal man! We’d kill time by picking out our favorite farmhouses and playing license plate games as we headed north on I-35. Once our trip corresponded with a total eclipse of the sun, so we drove across the Canada border for an awesome show by Mother Nature.

More typically, we’d create our own adventures with our cousins. We climbed into the barn lofts, visited the dogs and horses, ate homemade caramels and tacos, and helped make bread and butter pickles. My dad was more of a dill and garlic sort of guy, but, like my mom and her clan, I loved those sweet pickles flavored with mustard and celery seeds.

I’m certain my aunt, Angela, actually canned hers, but I took the easy route with these easy bread and butter pickles. At that age, I was much more interested in eating refrigerator pickles than paying attention to the process, but I’m delighted it was so easy to replicate the taste.

Two jars of Easy Bread and Butter Pickles plus a white bowl filled with pickle slices

Tips for How to Make Bread and Butter Pickles

If you’re lazy like me and don’t want to go through the full routine of actually canning pickles, these refrigerator pickles are perfect for you! The process will still take a few hours, but it’s a very simple procedure. Happy preserving!

Buying and Prepping Your Cucumbers

  • Use the freshest, unblemished cucumbers you can find. Pickling cucumbers are smaller than the variety you may use in your salads, so look for those.

The Pickling Process

  • Wash your cucumbers without soap before brining to remove any dirt or contaminants.
  • To make these pickles, slices of cucumber and onions were heavily salted and covered with ice. Over three hours, the ice began to melt and the vegetables were brined.
  • A double rinse is needed to remove excess salt and then, the cukes and onions were added to a hot pickling mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices.
  • The ratio of vinegar and sugar can vary among recipes as well as the spices used. This recipe hits the mark of perfection for me! Feel free to tweak it to your taste buds. For example, these sweet pickles are pretty sweet, you may want to decrease the sugar, but I find these perfect!

Storing Your Refrigerator Pickles

  • These bread and butter pickles were packed in jars and cooled before screwing on the lids and refrigerating. Now isn’t that simple?
  • Since this method did not involve sterilization, they should be eaten within a couple of weeks.
  • If you grow pickle sized cucumbers in your garden, make an extra batch and share these with your friends and neighbors!
3 jars of Easy Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Refrigerator Pickles?

Unlike true canned pickles that need to be processed in a water bath to make them shelf safe, refrigerator pickles are actually heated at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time. This does not hermetically seal them, so they must be stored in the refrigerator for a limited amount of time.

What Are Bread and Butter Pickles?

These refrigerator pickles are nothing more than a subclass of sweet pickles. The origin of their name may come from the Great Depression when they were possibly used as a sandwich filling when combined with bread and butter.

Note: I purchased my canning labels from Felix Doolittle. Watch for sales around the holidays.

More Pickle Recipes You’ll Love:

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This recipe was first shared in August 2014. Photos and text were updated in 2020.

Two jars of Easy Bread and Butter Pickles plus a white bowl filled with pickle slices

Easy Bread and Butter Pickles

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 1 1/2 quarts

Easy, refrigerator bread and butter pickles like my mom used to make!


  • 2 pounds pickling cucumbers, sliced
  • 8 pearl onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • A pinch of ground cloves


  1. In a large container, combine the cucumbers, onions and salt. Cover with crushed ice and mix well. Let stand for 3 hours. Drain; rinse and drain again.
  2. In a large pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, and cloves and bring to a boil.
  3. Add cucumber mixture, then return to a boil. Remove from the heat.
  4. Carefully ladle hot mixture into jars.
  5. Let cool, then screw on lids and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  6. If you'd like to store them longer, refer to a canning manual or website for directions.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 73Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1180mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g


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Skinny Tip

I’m offering a series of Skinny Tips. How I keep slim is one of my most frequent inquiries. I’ll feature tips on some of my upcoming blog posts.

Tip #35: This tip is courtesy of my friend, Christy, from Confessions of a Culinary Diva. Shop the perimeter of the store. That’s where you’ll find the meat, produce, and dairy. Avoid premade, packaged convenience foods in the center of the market, since they tend to be higher in calories and lower in nutrients.