Bread and Butter Pickles

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Sam Jones/Quinn Brein
The Editors
About 8 pints or 4 quarters
Preparation Method
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Bread and butter pickles, a beloved staple, offer a sweet and tangy twist to any meal. Whether enjoyed straight from the jar, layered in a sandwich, or paired with charcuterie, bread and butter pickles add a delightful burst of flavor to any dish.

This recipe for Bread and Butter Pickles is very simple and easy to make. Make some extra and give them away as gifts!

“Bread and Butter” pickles got their name from Omar and Cara Fanning in the 1920s. The Fanning family made a living by growing vegetables—mainly cucumbers—and during a particularly poor growing season, Mr. Fanning decided to use the meager cucumbers he harvested to make an old family recipe for sweet and sour pickle chips. Mrs. Fanning was able to trade these pickles for things she needed at the local grocer, including bread and butter. 

Here are a few pickling tips:

  • Use “pickling” cucumber varieties from your garden or farmers’ markets—no waxy grocery store types. Learn more about how to grow cucumbers at home.
  • Look for uniform sizes to make it easier to put pickles in jars. Smaller and firmer is better.
  • If you’re growing cucumbers, pickle as soon as possible after picking, preferably in the morning. If you can’t pickle right away, soak fresh cucumbers in a tub of ice water for at least 30 minutes or store overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Cut off the blossom end (bottom) of the cucumber (at least 1/16 inch) before pickling to avoid bitterness and mushy pickles.

See our complete How to Pickle Guide for more tips, techniques, and recipes!

This recipe is adapted from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, Guide 6 Preparing and Canning Fermented Foods and Pickled Vegetables.

12 cups sliced pickling cucumbers (about 6 lbs. of 4- to 5-inch cukes)
8 cups thinly sliced onions (about 3 pounds)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
4 cups pure white vinegar (5% acidity)
4-1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp mustard seed
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1-1/2 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon ground turmeric (optional)
1 tablespoon Picking Crisp (TM)

1. Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch off blossom end and discard. Cut into 1/16-inch slices. 
2. Combine cucumbers and onions in a large non-metallic bowl. Add ½ cup canning salt. Cover with 2 inches crushed or cubed ice. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours, adding more ice as needed. 
3. Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, cloves, celery seed, ground turmeric and pickling crisp™ into a large stainless-steel pot that will also hold the cucumber and onion slices. Bring to the vinegar and spices to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. 
4. Drain the cucumbers and onions and add slowly to the vinegar. Reheat to boiling. 
5. Fill hot pint jars with the cucumber and onion slices and the cooking syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. 
5. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed with vinegar that has been heated to boiling in a microwave oven. 
6. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Variation: Squash bread-and-butter pickles. Substitute slender (1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter) zucchini or yellow summer squash for cucumbers. 

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The Almanac Chefs

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