Can you add spice to store bought pickles?

Many people enjoy the tangy, sour taste of pickles, but find store-bought varieties to be lacking in flavor. An easy way to jazz up a jar of pickles is to add your own blend of spices. This can provide a flavor punch and allow you to customize the pickles to suit your personal tastes.

Should you add spices to store bought pickles?

Adding spices to store bought pickles is absolutely something you can do. It’s a simple way to inject more vibrant, dynamic flavor into otherwise boring, flat-tasting jarred pickles. The key things to keep in mind are:

  • Make sure to drain off any excess brine before adding spices. This prevents dilution of the spices.
  • Start with just a dash or two of spices and taste after mixing them in. You can always add more if needed.
  • Stick to dried spices rather than fresh herbs, which could spoil when stored in the brine.
  • Give the flavored pickles time for the spices to fully absorb – at least a few hours, or ideally overnight in the fridge.

As long as you follow these basic guidelines, there’s no reason you can’t customize store bought pickles with extra spices to create more exciting flavors.

What spices go well with pickles?

There are many spice blends that pair deliciously with pickled vegetables. Some top options include:

  • Dill: This herb is a classic pickle accompaniment. A bit more dried dill weed enhances the distinctive dill flavor.
  • Garlic: Granulated garlic or garlic powder gives pickles a robust bite.
  • Onion: Similarly, onion powder boosts flavor.
  • Mustard seed: Whole or ground mustard seeds add zing.
  • Coriander: This warm, citrusy spice works well in pickling mixes.
  • Peppercorns: For some heat, try black, white, Sichuan, or a blend.
  • Bay leaf: Adds an earthy note.
  • Cloves: A little goes a long way of this strong, pine-like spice.
  • Allspice: Just a pinch lends warmth.
  • Cinnamon: A shake of ground cinnamon creates complexity.
  • Ginger: Fresh or ground ginger root gives a little kick.

Mix and match spices based on your preferences to develop a custom pickled flavor. Start with small amounts and increase increments until you achieve the desired blend.

Should you rinse store bought pickles before adding spices?

Rinsing store bought pickles before adding spices is optional, but can help enhance the flavor in some cases. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros of rinsing pickles before spicing:

  • Removes excess surface salt, which can allow other spice flavors to come through more clearly.
  • Washes away the brine film on the pickles, so spices can directly adhere to the vegetable surfaces.
  • Helps reduce the level of garlic or dill flavoring if the store bought variety is too strong.

Cons of rinsing pickles before spicing:

  • Can dilute the overall salty, acidic pickle flavor.
  • Loses some of the added preservatives and spices from the original brine.
  • An extra step that takes a little more time and effort.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. For a fresher, cleaner slate to add spices to, rinsing is advised. But if you want to maintain the original tangy pickle essence, spices can be added directly to unrinsed pickles. Let your taste preferences guide you.

How long do spiced pickles last?

Pickles flavored with added spices will generally last 1-2 months stored properly in the refrigerator. Here are some tips for maximizing spiced pickle shelf life:

  • Use pickles packed in vinegar as they withstand mold better than those in salt brine.
  • Use dried spices rather than fresh herbs to prevent spoilage.
  • Make sure pickles remain fully submerged in brine after adding spices.
  • Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.
  • Discard if you see any mold, softness, mushiness, or bad odors.

The acidic environment of pickle brine helps inhibit bacterial growth. As long as the pickles remain refrigerated with proper brine coverage, the spices should last 1-2 months before losing potency of flavor. Discard and remake a new batch if they start to smell or look off.

Can you reuse pickle juice after adding spices?

Yes, the brine or “pickle juice” from a jar of store bought pickles can typically be reused even after adding extra spices. Here are some tips:

  • Strain out any solid pieces of added spices through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
  • Taste the brine and make sure the flavor still tastes pleasantly acidic without off-notes.
  • Store reused brine in the fridge just like the pickles.
  • You may need to top off with a bit of white vinegar if some brine is absorbed by the pickles.
  • Discard and make fresh brine if it ever smells foul or looks cloudy.

Reusing brine with added spices can save you time and effort while still preserving that tangy pickled flavor. As long as the brine still tastes and smells pleasantly sour, the acidity should continue to safely preserve pickles stored within it.

What’s the best way to add spices to store bought pickles?

Here is a simple step-by-step method for easily flavoring store bought pickles with spices:

  1. Drain the jar of pickles, reserving the brine in a separate container. You can strain and reuse this brine.
  2. Rinse the pickles if desired to remove excess surface salt and brine residue.
  3. Pat the pickles dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  4. Measure out your chosen spices and mix together in a small bowl. Start with 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon of each spice per pint jar as a guideline.
  5. Add the spice blend to the drained pickles and toss gently to evenly coat.
  6. Pack the seasoned pickles back into the jar. Pour the reserved brine over to cover.
  7. Seal the jar and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before serving to let flavors meld.

This easy spicing process lets you customize the flavor while still retaining the pickle’s signature crunch and tang. Adjust seasonings to taste and enjoy!

Pickle spicing ideas and recipes

Here are some irresistible flavor ideas for spicing up store bought pickles:

Dill & Garlic Pickles:

  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black peppercorns

Spicy Pickles:

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Indian Spiced Pickles:

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of asafoetida powder

Cajun Pickles:

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne and black pepper

Middle Eastern Pickles:

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Feel free to mix and match spices to create your own signature flavored pickles!

Which vegetables work best for spiced pickles?

Most pickled vegetables pair well with added spices. Some particularly good options include:

  • Cucumbers – The classic pickle, takes on spices very nicely.
  • Carrots -Complement warm spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger.
  • Cauliflower – Stands up to bolder spices like mustard seed, chili powder.
  • Onions – Versatile for nearly any savory spice blend.
  • Green beans – Great with garlic, peppercorns, dill.
  • Radishes – Mild flavor lets spices shine through.
  • Asparagus – Pairs well with lemon-pepper seasoning.
  • Green tomatoes – Take on most spice mixes with their firm texture.

Choose your favorite crunchy vegetables and start experimenting with spice combinations until you find ones you love!

Storing and using your spiced pickles

Here are some tips for storing and enjoying your homemade spiced pickles:

  • Keep stored fully submerged in brine in a sealed container in the fridge.
  • Use within 1-2 months for best flavor.
  • Rinse or pat dry pickles to remove excess brine before serving if desired.
  • Chop/slice spiced pickles to add zesty flavor to salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, etc.
  • Skewer with cheese, meat, or vegetables for a spicy pickle party appetizer.
  • Garnish bloody mary cocktails with a spiced pickle spear.
  • Add pickle brine to vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces for a tangy kick.
  • For gifts, pack flavored pickles in a decorative jar with a bow.

Amp up the flavor of your favorite everyday meals with these zippy, homemade spiced pickles!

Common questions about spicing pickles

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about adding spices to store bought pickles:

What about canning spiced pickles?

For long term room temperature storage, it’s safest follow an approved canning recipe specifically created for flavored pickles rather than just adding spices to a store bought jarred pickle product.

Do the spices change the texture?

The spices themselves don’t affect the texture, as long as the pickles remain crisp and crunchy to start with. Discard if any pickles go soft.

Is it okay to use fresh herbs and garlic?

It’s best to use dried spices, as fresh ingredients could potentially introduce bacteria or spoil faster in the brine.

Can I adjust or remove the spices later if I don’t like them?

Yes, you can strain out solid spices at any time. For powders, you’d need to rinse the pickles and make fresh brine.

Should I use kosher vs. pickling salt?

Either is fine, as the pickle’s saltiness mainly comes from the original brine. Use pickling salt if making brine from scratch.

Feel free to get creative and add your favorite spice blends to customize store bought pickles to your unique tastes!


Jazzing up the flavor of boring store bought pickles is easily done with the addition of dried spices. Tailor the blend to your personal preferences, allowing time for the seasonings to infuse. In a matter of hours, you can transform a jar of ho-hum pickles into a delicious snack bursting with customized spicy, savory flavor. Just be sure to store properly and use within a 1-2 months. With a little creativity, the possibilities for amped-up pickled flavors are practically endless!

Leave a Comment