No-Cook Overnight Refrigerator Pickles




About: I write books of hands-on projects for kids and adults that combine science, tech, history, and art! I also developed Robotics badges for Girl Scouts of the USA, and wrote materials for the Girl Scouts Cyber...

I made my first batch of pickles as a science experiment with my kids. But as with our homemade yogurt, this recipe was so simple and so yummy that I've been making it ever since. Adding vinegar (acetic acid) to your vegetables kills off bacteria that would cause them to decompose and breaks down their texture just enough to make them extra tasty. And unlike some other pickling techniques, these refrigerator pickles don't need to sit and ferment -- they're ready to eat the next day!

Every year I plant some hills of small pickling cucumbers in our Three Sisters Garden -- corn, climbing beans, and low-lying squash and other vine plants. Most years I harvest enough to fill a few jars for us plus extra for friends and family. If you eat the pickles as a condiment and not as an entree (tempting as it is), you may be able to make your pickle supply last all year. Here's how to make them. (This recipe also appears in my book Edible Inventions from Maker Media, Fall 2016.)

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Step 1: Ingredients

To make two quarts of refrigerator pickles, you will need:

  • 6-10 pickling cucumbers
  • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt (kosher or pickling)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons dill (dried or chopped fresh)
  • 2-3 cups white vinegar
  • 2-quart-sized canning jar with plastic screw-on lid (or appropriate number of smaller jars or containers)

Most years, I just buy generic pickling cucumber seeds and start my hills from scratch. In years when I get a late start, I take whatever seedlings the farmers' market has available. One year I grabbed some flats of Japanese cucumbers by mistake. These turned out to be quite long and thin, and very delicious -- with the added advantage of not blimping up if I didn't pick them in time. There was less risk of them developing tough seeds as well.

Step 2: Prepare Your Cucumbers

Wash your cucumbers. You do not need to peel them. Standard pickling cucumbers often have tiny black "seeds" on the skin when you pick them. Just rub them off when you wash them. Cut off and discard the ends. Slice the cucumbers thickly.

Step 3: Combine Ingredients

Place the sliced cucumbers in a large bowl. Add chopped onions, sugar, salt, mustard seed, and dill. Pour in enough vinegar to cover the ingredients. (It's fun to watch the sugar dissolve and seem to disappear when you add the vinegar. But don't worry it's still there -- what you see is a physical and not a chemical reaction!)

Step 4: Transfer Pickles to a Jar

Once everything's mixed together, transfer the ingredients to your storage jar. I use a canning funnel to make it easier. Add more vinegar to the jar if needed to be sure all the pickles and onions are covered. Because they float, you will probably need to fill the jar to the top with vinegar.

Step 5: Refrigerate and Enjoy

Close the top of your pickle jar (or other container) tightly and leave it overnight in the refrigerator. By the next day, your pickles should be darker, a tad softer, and extremely delicious. Serve them with hot dogs and hamburgers, or chop them into relish and add to sandwiches and salads. Your pickles should keep in the refrigerator for several months. Enjoy!

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10 Discussions


2 years ago

oh good, something else to try even! I think I would be safe to put garlic in this. I love the BANG of garlic.


4 years ago

These are easy and delicious


4 years ago

What if you can do it in as little as a minute?! Do you have a large basting syringe? Fill it with your ingredients, stick the plunger in, plug the needle end, and draw back on the plunger to create a vacuum... LESS than a minute later you've got pickles ready to eat! ;-)


4 years ago on Introduction


If you want crunchy cucs, you could try this Old African recipe that I found in a book named Wildboar. It works well with standard cucumbers and I guess should also work with picked ones. You should adapt proportionally the measures to your use...

It takes a week to be done, but deserves every minute waited.


1 Kg medium sized cumbers

3 TSP salt

1 Kg sugar

0.50 lt white vinegar

2 TSP black pepper grains

1 paprika, red pepper powder, laurel, garlic, etc. (your taste)


Wash cucumbers, and let inside a bowl.

Boil enough water to cover them.

Let them in the bowl every afternoon until daylight for 3 more days.

Every day repeating the same procedure.

Instead of dumping the water every morning when drying the cucs, I prefer to keep it to make some isotonic beverage. They work perfect.

At the 5 day, instead of boiling water, I boil the vinegar, with all the rest (sugar, pepper grains, paprika, etc.). I try to make the brim thicker by letting them boil for a long time.

In the mean time, I cut the cucs into half inch slices.

Then, I cover the cucumbers with the hot stuff.

I let them rest for two more days.

When the week is over (the seventh day since the start) I boil it all for good.

Then, keep them in jars. And should last for a very long time.

Please, enjoy this recipe. And tell us if it worked.



4 years ago on Introduction

I have tried to make my own pickling brine in the past. My results were pretty spotty though. Now I am a loyal fan of Mrs. Wages packages. Thankfully my cucumber vines are almost done here now. I've thrown out about 4 times as many cucumbers as I used. I used a lot more cukes than I wanted to too. Instead of chips I find spears to be more eatable. As far as eating a volume of pickles goes. I still must have 5 jars of pickles in my fridge now. I also like to sub in a little apple vinegar for some white vinegar with my pickles. I use the same vinegar volume overall, but just replace about 25% of the white with apple. That bit of apple vinegar just makes pickles taste more like pickles to me.


4 years ago on Introduction

Sounds wonderful and I hope it's not too late for me to try the Farmer's Market for those wee luscious pickling cucumbers and since I'm a sugar freak this recipe will be one of my favorites.


4 years ago

Nice. I just made pickled beets with a similar recipe. I also like to do the sliced cukes with just vinegar, salt and onion overnight.


4 years ago

Several months, but I have some that have lasted a year.


4 years ago

Hi this looks great, how long can they be kept in the refrigerator