Grandma’s Dill Pickle Recipe
A classic homemade dill pickle recipe using fresh cucumbers, dill, spices, and brine. This recipe follows a simple hot water bath method.
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Dill pickles, they’re evocative of my childhood and weekends at Nana’s house. Each summer my grandmother would carry out the ritual of preserving the garden surplus and of everything she made, pickles were my favorite. Her pantry would be filled with bottles showcasing all the colors of the rainbow — red beets, orange carrots, green beans, and more. Without fail, there would always be jars of crunchy gherkins ready for a little blonde headed girl to crack into too. I loved them so much that I’d even sip the brine!
This dill pickle recipe follows her basic principle of canning pickles with dill, spices, and vinegar. You pack raw gherkins into jars, pour over the homemade brine, and water bath them to sterilize and seal them. Once made, your jars of homemade dill pickles will last about a year.
Homegrown Dill Pickles
To this day I still enjoy homemade pickles and not just for the nostalgia factor. They’re a relatively simple preserve to make and some of the ingredients are easy to grow in almost any temperate garden. I’ve found that one of the easiest ways that you can grow them outdoors is on a DIY Cucumber Pallet Trellis.
For me, they’re one of the best ways as a kitchen gardener to connect the dots between all four seasons. From sowing seeds in the spring to harvesting garlic, dill, and gherkins in the summer, to preserving the lot and enjoying them in the darkest days of winter. Each jar of pickles contains not only a savory treat but also a year’s worth of experiences.
Grow Your Own Cucumbers
Some people seem surprised to find that I grow cucumbers outdoors in the Isle of Man. It’s a cool to temperate climate here but I’ve found that some varieties do so well that they can produce mountains of fruit from just a few plants. Marketmore is one of my favorites but there are many varieties of cucumbers and gherkins that are suitable for preserving. For this dill pickle recipe, stick with gherkins or varieties marketed for pickling.
More Preserving Recipes
The way I grow my gherkins is by sowing seeds indoors at the end of April and then plant the small plants out into a sunny spot in mid-June. I’ve grown them trained up an old metal headboard before but this year I have them on a pallet cucumber trellis. It’s very easy to build as you can see in the video above.
Garlic & Dill as Flavorings
For this recipe, I’ve also grown the dill and garlic. In my garden, they can both be ready to harvest at about the same time as the gherkins. Though you can use shop-bought, growing both dill and garlic is easy to grow. When it comes to using homegrown dill in pickles, use the flavorsome leaves but add some of the flowers too. Both the flowers and seed have a more intense flavor than dill leaves on their own.
Grandma’s Dill Pickle Recipe
- Pickling cucumbers / gherkins
- 1 Tbsp Dill leaves per quart
- 1-2 whole Dill flower heads per quart
- 1/2 tsp Peppercorns per quart
- 2 cloves of Garlic per quart
- White vinegar
- Sea salt or Kosher salt
- Preserving jars & lids
- Sterilize your preserving jars with either boiling water or by placing them in an oven at 130°C/265°F for thirty minutes. Whatever your method of sterilization, allow the jars to cool before packing them with your ingredients. While they’re cooling, take your jar’s lids and place them in bowl of boiling hot water. Leave them there until you need to fit them onto the jars.
- Wash your gherkins and start packing them into your jars. If they’re small, pop them in whole but if medium to large cut them into slices. This helps to get more into the jar and also for easier serving once the jar is opened. For each quart of pickles you’ll add half a teaspoon of black peppercorns, two whole garlic cloves and plenty of dill.
- Make the brine: for approximately every four quarts of tightly packed gherkins you’ll need to bring two quarts of water and one quart of white vinegar to a boil. Add 1/2 cup of salt and stir until dissolved. Let this cool until just warm and then pour it into each of the jars, filling to a centimeter (just less than 1/2″) below the top of the jar’s brim.
- Clean the tops of the jars then fit on your preserving lids and screw the rings on. Most every preserving recipe will tell you to not over-tighten the rings but in my experience I’ve found that it’s best to twist them on fully but not super tight. If they’re too loose then the contents of your jars can leak out in the water bath.
- Place a metal preserving rack or towel at the bottom of a deep preserving pan and then place the jars inside. The jars should be at least an inch apart and the pan needs to be deep enough to have the jars inside with over an inch of water comfortably covering the tops.
- Cover the jars with warm/hot water from the tap then bring the pan to a boil. Boil the jars for fifteen minutes then lift them out of the water. If you’re using a towel at the bottom of the pan then you’ll need a ‘jar lifter’ tool available at many kitchen shops. Set the jars on the counter and allow to cool. You’ll know that the jars are properly sealed when you hear the lids popping.
- Allow the pickles to infuse with the brine for at least two weeks before eating them. Stored in jars in a cool pantry your pickles will last up to a year, though I doubt you’ll be able to let them sit there that long.
* You’ll notice that my preserving lids in this recipe are white plastic rather than traditional metal. That’s because I’m using Tattler Reusable Regular Size Canning Lids, a BPA free alternative to the ones more commonly used.
I have a steam canner for making pickles. Do you think this will work for this recipe? I usually steam pickles in my canner for 10 minutes, but I work with a boiling brine. Should I use your recipe with room temperature brine and steam for 15 minutes, as when using a hot water bath?
Hi Mike, and I’m not familiar with using steam canners. However, if you’ve used one before to make pickles, then you could probably use this recipe too. Speak with a rep from the manufacturer, though, to get better advice.
Can I substitute dill seeds for fresh dill? If so, what would the amount be per quart?
Yes, you could, and though I’ve not tried it before, I’d try by using half the amount of fresh dill leaves.
When do you start timing the 15 minute boil? As soon as you turn on the flame or once it comes to boil? Last time I made pickles it was mush! TY.
Hi Pepper, you can boil from 10-15 minutes, but it needs to be a rolling boil the entire time. The main causes of mushy pickles are many though, and include cooking too long and making pickles with the wrong type of cucumbers. For really crisp cucumbers, try to use smaller gherkins and add a tannin to the jar too. The tannins in grape leaves, horseradish leaves, and even oak tree leaves can help keep pickles crunchy over time.
When processing multiple batches can you drop the jars in the water bath while it boiling or do you need to cook it down first? My pot will hold 6 jars at a time and it take forever to bring it to a boil.
The water must be boiling for the entire processing time. Hope this helps.
Can you add the pickle crisp to this to help keep them crisp or ensure they are?
I don’t use pickle crisp so can’t give much information on that product but from what I understand you can add it directly to the brine. Should work fine :)
Also how long before I can open a jar to taste? Some recipes say 5days to a week. Others say 2 weeks.
There’s no exact time but the longer you can wait, the better the pickles will be.
Such a great pickling recipe, I used this last fall and I’m at it again this year. I’m picking green beens with it today.
My dill plant has plenty of leaves, but only one head. I can’t find fresh dill heads anywhere, but I do have dried dillweed. If I use the fresh leaves per instructions, how much dry should I add to each jar as substitute for fresh dill heads? Thanks so much! Hoping to can this weekend. Laura
When using dried herbs to replace fresh, you use half the amount :)
I made these last night I’m so excited to try them in a few weeks. Like the other woman that posted I also had a lot of the brine left over. I’m planning on making more tonight with the leftover Brine do I need to heat it up first and let it get to room temperature again or can I use it just as it is?
It’s better to warm it first but as long as you water-bath the jars, using room-temperature leftover brine should be safe.
Sounds amazing! I’ve made your dill pickle pasta before and I was a huge fan. I’ll have to try your Dill Pickle recipe next. Thanks for sharing!
How long will the pickles last in the pantry ?
Dill pickles have a shelf-life of one year. After that time they can still be edible but the pickles may go soft.
I have been using this recipe for the past 2 years. My family loves it. The local stores don’t have fresh dill with the flowers so I just use the leaves and dried seeds. I also add 1/4tsp mustard seed to each quart jar. And I have tried spicy by adding a little crushed red pepper or even fresh sliced jalapeños.
Great additions — really pleased you and your family love the recipe :)
Crispy, garlicky, homemade dill pickles — hope you enjoy the recipe!
I’m wondering if there’s any way to reduce the salt? Any time we can cut out some, I like to try. Thankss
Thanks for such a great recipe! Can’t wait to try it at home the next time I decide to tackle a pickling project!
Did you have extra brine? I had 6 quart jars so I half doubles the reciepe. I used 3 quarts water to 1.5 quarts vinegar and o had a lot of brine left.. I just hope they still turn out
They will do Tekia — just so long as the jars are filled up.
Interesting recipe but I am a little confused about the quart. a quart of what? I have figured out that a quart is a little less than a litre but does it refer to the vinegar, the water, the gherkins? Thanks in advance.
A quart is a way of measuring units of liquid – it’s two US pints.
Or 4 cups.
Have you ever used grape leaf when canning pickles?
Made these and they got 8 thumbs up from my family. We wee able to try some just before it was time to can the next batch. Your recipe will be my 100% go to for yummy dill pickles from now on. THANK YOU!!!!!!!
Really pleased to hear they were enjoyed Donella :)
I don’t have cucumbers, but lots of zucchini, so I’m going to try to make dill pickles out of some of them as an experiment. Worth a try I have so much squash to find a use for.
I’m interested to learn how they turn out. I don’t think they’ll have the ‘crunch’ but they will probably be tasty.
I have a lovely curry recipe for pickeling zucchinis which my mum used to make. I can send it to you if you are interested.
I just made these pickles. I hope they taste as good as the dill smells!
This is the same wonderful recipe that has been in my family for years . At least 100. The only different thing that we do is add a grape leaf to the very top just before putting on the lid. These are just sooo good.
Love this recipe so much! Thanks for sharing. Is there any way to reuse the brine after enjoying the pickles?? Just curious if you have maybe tried it or had any success with that. Thanks again!
I remember drinking it as a kid! haha :) I’m sure there’s a use for it but haven’t tried myself. Keep in mind that it’s been cooked in the jar, opened, and possibly left in the fridge for a while though. It might be best to just make more brine if you need some.
Yes, I have a recipe for lentils which uses pickeling brine. Every time I make lentil salad I use some brine instead of vinegar ad it tastes really good. I am sure you could substitute it for vinegar.
any suggestions if I do not have the dill leaves and heads?
Dill pickles without dill? You could use dried dill if you don’t have access to fresh (most large grocery stores should have both).
Where can I get dill leaves? I am not growing the cucumbers myself.
Try a local Farmers Market if you can’t find fresh dill available at your local supermarket.
Hi! I see you used the Tattler lids… how tight do you screw on your bands? They recommend not too tight. But I personally, am having issues when I don’t. Do you recommend putting the bands on tight?
Thank you in advance!
Thanks so much Heather! :)
Thanks for sharing the recipe ~ I can't wait to try it! Do you have a table for how long they need to be int he canner for based on location? I am at over 6000ft above sea level. Thanks!
Howdy! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one? Thanks a lot!
Oh my goodness I have been obsessed with making pickles! I posted something recently as well. I just can't get enough of them! However, I've been doing refrigerator pickles for the extra crisp — have yours retained the crispiness in the water bath?
I've opened two jars already and they're crisp and tasty :) Though as time goes on they will soften a bit.
I just found your site–It's fantastic! We're off-grid in Northern New Mexico. One of my goals (along with fifty others) is to grow all the ingredients for making pickles. This will involve a greenhouse and more rainwater catchment, so it's a next-year-goal… But now I have an awesome recipe when I'm ready. Thanks for this!
It's amazing how different gardening spaces are around the world but there's one thing they all share in common – challenges. For me, it's getting enough sunshine. In your area it's probably the opposite! Hope you have luck growing your dill pickle ingredients next year :)
The only problem with pickle making is the fumes given off by boiling vinegar which is why my husband makes the pickles outside on a camping stove!
You could try heating without boiling to keep the fumes down…you just need the brine warm enough that the salt dissolves. The boiling/sterilisation part would take place in the hot water bath.
First off, let me say that seeing the "Made in the USA" label on your bottle tops made me smile – it's nice to know we manufacture more than just war these days.
Also – I'm pinning this recipe – it seems easy and yummy and straight to the point – all hallmarks of great recipes, in my humble opinion. Yay, tradition!
I just made bread and butter pickles along with my first run of dills, and both recipes were good, but nothing to write home about. I'm always on the hunt for new recipes!
Thanks for the pin Lindsey and hope you have luck with this recipe…it's simple but classic :)
And LOVE the Tattlers…I wish they were easier to get a hold of here.
I love dill pickles, especially homemade ones. My grandmother always made them in a crock. My recipe is similar to yours. I haven't made them in a few years but plan on it this year. Yummy.
Love your pictures. Made me hungry for a dill pickle right now.
That's the other way to make pickles…fermenting in a crock! Have fun with your own batch Rose :)
Have made your receipe and used grape leaves from my vines washed my batch was crispy and tasty now I’m going to make 24 quart jars thanks so much for the simple recipe fresh dill as well maureen Liebman la Quinta calif
They look delicious and your instructions are so clear and easy to follow.
I must give this a try.
Your Tattler lids are interesting – that's the first time I've seen them.
They're not available in the UK and I only found out about them through another blogger, Sunnybrook Farm. Love them though!
Think it is a special gift to your nana to follow in her footsteps,that generation lived the green life.
The parcel arrived early in the week full of soaps,HB insists we always have the lavender soaps
on hand for his baths/showers!
Wish I could have visited your stall beautifully laid out as shown in your post,yummie honeys.
Hope your BH w/e is having better weatherthan here we have thick cloud with a sharp north east
Really great to hear Judith! I smiled when reading that HB loves the lavender soap :) Maybe one day you'll be able to visit my stall to say hello if you ever make it to the island. Enjoy the soaps! :)
They look delicious Tanya. You are right, it is lovely to have things from the summer put by to eat in the depths of winter. I'm rapidly running out of space in the freezer for things though, so pickles are a great idea. How is your allotment doing?
Allotment is doing great but is getting a bit out of control at the moment! I hope to spend more time weeding/harvesting this week!
Mmmm, yum. I love the taste of pickles but, sadly, don't have the storage space to can lots of veg. Yours look glorious and love the timing of growing it all together – as nature intended!
Shame about that Caro…it seems that storage is your main challenge! Do you not have any room in your kitchen cupboards? How about under the bed?
Now I want pickles! Your photographs are just beautiful – that deep green and the greeny-gold dill. Lovely.
Vegetables are such easy subjects…they're naturally delicious looking :)
They look delicious! Thank you for he recipe.
Where was this recipe two weeks ago when I was pickling my gherkins, it looks delicious. I do have some more gherkins ready to go so I will try it out xxx
There you go :) What recipe did you use for your first batch Fran?
Those look really nice, I can smell them from here. That is so neat that you got some of the Tattler lids, they cost more but you will have the use of them for years so it is a good deal.
Our cucumbers couldn't handle the wet weather, I guess disease spreads quickly, so like tomatoes I will try again next year. Are you really going to wait until winter to eat them?
Thanks again for recommending them to me! I couldn't find them for sale in the UK but fortunately was able to purchase them through a US Ebay seller.
Shame about your tomatoes and cucumbers…I certainly know what it's like as a gardener having to contend with wet weather (last year was the worst!). And yes, there should be plenty left for the winter…my plants are popping out gherkins left and right :)