How many calories is in a dill pickle spear?

A dill pickle spear is a crunchy, tasty snack that many people enjoy. Pickles are commonly served alongside sandwiches or burgers, but they can also make a great low-calorie snack on their own. When watching your calorie intake, it’s important to know how many calories are in the foods you eat. So how many calories are actually in a dill pickle spear?

The Average Calorie Count of a Dill Pickle Spear

On average, a dill pickle spear contains about 5-8 calories. The exact calorie count can vary slightly depending on the size of the spear and how it was prepared. Here is a breakdown of the approximate calories in a typical dill pickle spear:

  • A 3 inch spear = 5 calories
  • A 4 inch spear = 7 calories
  • A 5 inch spear = 8 calories

As you can see, the calorie count increases slightly as the spear size gets bigger. However, even the largest 5 inch spear only has about 8 calories. So no matter what size spear you enjoy, you can feel good knowing it’s a low calorie choice.

Calorie Differences Between Types of Pickles

It’s also helpful to know how the calories in a dill pickle spear compare to other popular types of pickled cucumbers. Here’s a look at the average calories for a 5 inch spear of different pickle varieties:

  • Dill pickle: 8 calories
  • Sweet pickle: 13 calories
  • Bread and butter pickle: 17 calories
  • Kosher dill pickle: 7 calories
  • Polish dill pickle: 5 calories

This shows that while dill pickles are low in calories, other flavors like sweet pickles or bread and butter pickles may have nearly double the amount. Kosher dills and Polish dills tend to be the lowest calorie options.

Calorie and Nutrition Facts for Dill Pickles

To get a fuller nutrition profile, let’s look at the complete calorie and nutrition facts for a typical dill pickle spear. Keep in mind amounts may vary slightly between brands.

Nutrition Facts for a 5 inch dill pickle spear:

  • Calories: 8
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 283mg
  • Potassium: 36mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 0g

As you can see, dill pickles provide very few calories, fat, carbs, sugar and protein. The main nutrients are sodium and a small amount of potassium. The sodium content is moderate at 283mg per spear. Keep in mind the % Daily Value for sodium is based on 2,300mg per day.

What Makes Fresh Pickles Low in Calories?

There are a few reasons why fresh pickled cucumber spears are so low in calories:

  • Cucumbers themselves are very low in calories – only about 16 calories per 1 cup sliced cucumber.
  • The pickling process doesn’t add substantial calories. Pickles are pickled in a brine of vinegar, salt, dill and other spices.
  • The pickling liquid permeates the cucumbers so they absorb very minimal calories.
  • No oils are added during the pickling process. Oil is a concentrated source of calories, so its absence keeps the calorie count down.

Essentially, pickles are just pickled cucumbers. And cucumbers are made up of mostly water and fiber which leads to their low calorie density. The fresh pickling process preserves these properties.

Calories in Pickles vs. Cucumbers

Since pickles start as cucumbers, you may wonder how their calorie counts compare. Here’s a look:

  • 1 dill pickle spear (4 inches): 7 calories
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers: 16 calories

As you can see, an entire cup of sliced cucumbers is only around double the calories of a single spear. So cucumbers and pickles have very comparable low calorie counts.

Tips for Enjoying Low Calorie Dill Pickles

Here are some tips for enjoying dill pickles as a healthy, low calorie snack:

  • Read nutrition labels and choose plain dill pickles without added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The ingredient list should be simple.
  • Stick to 1-2 spears for a light snack or 3-4 spears with a sandwich. This will keep calories in check.
  • If you want a low sodium option, look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” dill pickles.
  • Rinse pickles briefly to remove some surface sodium, if desired.
  • Pair dill pickles with fresh veggies, turkey sandwiches, tuna salad or baked chicken.
  • Look for pickle spears packed in jars rather than plastic bags to minimize unnecessary packaging.

Health Benefits of Dill Pickles

In addition to being low in calories, dill pickles offer several health benefits:

  • Antioxidants – Pickles contain antioxidant compounds like flavonoids and tannins that can help neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation.
  • Probiotics – Fermented pickles provide healthy probiotics for improved gut and digestive health.
  • Hydration – The high water and electrolyte content in pickles can help you stay hydrated.
  • Minerals – Pickles provide small amounts of minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium.
  • Blood Sugar Control – Studies show vinegar-based pickles may benefit blood sugar control, especially for diabetics.

So don’t think of pickles as just a low calorie snack. They provide important nutrients and compounds that can benefit your overall health!

Pickled Veggies for Variety

For more variety, consider exploring pickled vegetables besides cucumbers. Many other veggies can be pickled for a delicious low calorie snack or sandwich topper. Some options include:

  • Pickled carrots
  • Pickled cauliflower
  • Pickled radish
  • Pickled onions
  • Pickled green beans
  • Pickled asparagus

The pickling process adds great flavor while preserving the naturally low calorie content of most vegetables. Just be mindful of sodium content, as some pickled veggies will be higher than others.

Other Ways to Enjoy Pickles

Don’t limit yourself to eating pickles as just spears or slices. Get creative with these tips for working more pickled cucumbers into your diet:

  • Add chopped dill pickles to tuna, chicken or egg salad.
  • Use pickle brine in place of vinegar in cooking and dressings.
  • Make quick refrigerator pickles to flavor veggies.
  • Blend pickles into gazpacho or cucumber soup.
  • Mix finely chopped pickles into potato salad or coleslaw.
  • Top burgers or tacos with sliced pickles instead of condiments.

Are Pickles Good for Weight Loss?

Pickles can be a smart food choice when trying to lose weight due to their extremely low calorie content. A few spears of pickles contain minimal calories, so they can help satisfy cravings and hunger between meals without jeopardizing your weight loss plan.

Plus, studies show that vinegar-based foods like pickles may:

  • Increase satiety and fullness.
  • Delay stomach emptying.
  • Increase insulin sensitivity.
  • Reduce fat storage by the body.

These mechanisms can potentially aid weight loss. However, to see results you still need to follow an overall healthy reduced calorie diet and exercise program.

Are Pickles Good for a Low Carb or Keto Diet?

Pickles can definitely fit into a low carb ketogenic diet. Some key reasons why pickles work for low carb/keto:

  • Pickles contain just 1-3g net carbs per serving.
  • They are very low in natural sugars.
  • Pickles provide few calories from fat or protein.
  • Dill pickles offer the electrolytes sodium and potassium which are important on keto.
  • Fermented pickles provide probiotics to support gut health on a low carb diet.

Just pay attention to nutrition labels, as some pickled products may contain added sugars or high fructose corn syrup.

Negative Effects of Eating Too Many Pickles

While they are low in calories and provide some benefits, eating too many pickles can potentially lead to adverse effects for certain people. Some downsides of overindulging in pickles include:

  • High Sodium – Pickles, especially those made with table salt, are very high in sodium from the brine. Too much sodium can exacerbate high blood pressure.
  • Digestive Issues – Some people may experience diarrhea or digestive upset from large amounts of acidic pickled foods.
  • Gastric Damage – The vinegar used to make pickles can damage the lining of the stomach when consumed in excess.
  • Kidney Problems – Excess oxalates from overindulging in foods like pickles could contribute to kidney stones over time.

Moderation is key when enjoying pickles. Stick to 1-2 spears at a time and be mindful of sodium consumption if you have high blood pressure.

How to Make Low Calorie Pickles at Home

Want to control the ingredients and sodium content in your pickles? It’s easy to quickly pickle vegetables at home with just a few simple steps:

  1. Mix the brine – Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar (optional), and any spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil to fully dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Wash vegetables – Rinse and scrub fresh cucumbers, carrots, peppers or other vegetables you want to pickle.
  3. Slice – Cut vegetables into desired size and shape. Spears, rounds and sticks are common pickle cuts.
  4. Pack jars – Place vegetables into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Pour hot brine over vegetables to cover.
  5. Remove air bubbles – Use a chopstick or skewer to remove any air pockets or bubbles from the jars.
  6. Seal lids – Wipe rims clean, place lids and rings on jars and tighten to seal.
  7. Refrigerate – Allow jars to cool, then refrigerate. Enjoy pickles once flavor has developed, usually within 1-2 days.

With this easy process, you can customize pickles to your taste and dietary preferences. Omit added sugar and reduce salt to make them healthier.

Buying Low Calorie Pickles

When purchasing prepared pickles, read nutrition labels closely and look for these characteristics for the lowest calorie options:

  • No added sugars in ingredients
  • “No salt added” or “low sodium”
  • 45 calories or less per serving
  • 0g fat per serving
  • 3g carbs or less per serving
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • Kosher or Polish dills tend to be lower cal than bread & butter style

Reputable health-focused brands like Mt. Olive, McClure’s and Van Holten’s offer great lower calorie pickle options to look for in stores.


Dill pickle spears make for a super low calorie snack or sandwich topping. On average, a dill pickle spear contains just 5-8 calories depending on the size. Even the highest calorie options clock in at less than 10 calories for a 5 inch spear.

Pickles provide few calories because the base vegetable – cucumbers – are naturally low in calories. The pickling process in brine adds very minimal calories, fat, carbs, protein or sugar. Without added oils or sweeteners, fresh pickles retain their low calorie density.

Enjoy pickle spears as a crunchy low calorie snack, in salads, or on sandwiches. Stick to just 1-2 spears at a time and opt for no salt added or low sodium varieties if blood pressure is a concern.

With their high water content, low carb load, and plenty of flavor, fresh pickles are a smart choice if you’re watching your calorie intake or following a diet for weight loss or better health.

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