Sweet Pickle Relish

This sweet pickle relish, made with cucumbers, sugar, onion, salt, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and cider vinegar, is perfect for hamburgers and hot dogs and potato salad and anything else. So long, Vlasic.

A white bowl and a mason jar of sweet pickle relish on a wooden table

The temptation come late summer to pickle every cucumber coming out of your garden can be overwhelming. This sweet pickle relish is a pickle of another sort, offering a different form of garden-to-piehole-delivery-mechanism for cucumbers. And it’s an undeniably superior alternative to the preservative-laden jars of store-bought pickle relish. Once you try your hand at making this simple sweet pickle relish recipe, there’s no going back.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Sweet Pickle Relish

  • Quick Glance
  • (7)
  • 45 M
  • 1 D
  • Makes 64 (2-tbsp) servings | 8 half pint jars
5/5 - 7 reviews
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In a large bowl, layer the cucumbers, onions, and salt. Add enough of the cold water to completely cover the vegetables. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Drain the vegetables in a large fine-mesh sieve or colander lined with a single layer of cheesecloth. Rinse well and drain again, pressing out the excess liquid.

In a 6- to 8-quart stainless steel pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, and celery seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Add the drained vegetables to the syrup and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. The mixture may look watery but that’s okay. Ladle the relish into hot pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp paper towel. Apply hot lids and screw bands.

If you’re simply stashing the relish in the fridge, refrigerate the jars of relish for up to a few weeks. If you’re properly canning the pickle relish, process 8-ounce jars in a water bath canner according to manufacturer’s instructions for 10 minutes and process pint jars for 15 minutes. Remove from the water bath canner and let cool for 12 to 24 hours. Check the seals and remove the screw bands. Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year. Originally published August 11, 2018.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

I'll admit that I've never been a sweet pickle relish fan, tending to reach for dill relish instead. This sweet relish recipe just might change that. It makes an excellent relish, and unlike most of the stuff at the supermarket, there's no yellow #5 involved. The recipe worked beautifully.

The relish looked a little watery when I ladled it into the jars, but 24 hours later, it had thickened to just the right consistency. The flavor is perfect, with each component coming through.

I did peel the cucumbers, but in the future, I won't bother, as, without the peel, the relish came out looking pale.

The water bath canning instructions and times given are spot-on, but you can skip the water bath as long as you store the relish in the refrigerator. Don't skip it if you want to store your jars at room temperature, or if you plan to give the relish away as a gift. I opted for smaller 8-ounce jars instead of pints.

This time of year we're pulling cucumbers from our garden each and every day. I'm certainly not complaining, but because of this, I'm always looking for new recipes to use up all these veggies. I love to make homemade pickles from our cucumbers but have never thought to make homemade relish.

This sweet pickle relish was wonderfully flavored with cider vinegar, celery seeds, and mustard seeds. My only change in terms of ingredients was that I only used 1 1/2 cups sugar and thought the relish was still plenty sweet.

I used pint jars, and the mixture fit into 4-pint jars perfectly. After I added the veggies to the mixture and cooked them for 10 minutes, they lost a bit of their vibrant green color and were tender, so I think 10 minutes was long enough.

Overall I was very pleased with the results of this pickle relish and love having another cucumber recipe in my recipe file to make again! Next time, I might add in some finely chopped red bell peppers for color along with the onions and cucumbers or maybe even a few red chile peppers for a touch of heat.


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. We had a huge overabundance of Armenian cucumbers. I didn’t want to waste them, we had given hundreds away to neighbors, but some of them had gotten too big to enjoy plain. I tried out this recipe and I didn’t know if the substitute cucumbers would work but it was wonderful. Since there was a lid shortage this year I couldn’t use all my canning jars, so I made huge batches of this relish with my overgrown cucumbers {took those seeds out of course}, put them in plastic containers, and gave relish to all my friends and neighbors. They absolutely loved it and several have requested the recipe. This is the best and easiest recipe for relish I have ever made.

    1. Carol, well, can we talk about how lucky your neighbors are?! Congrats on being frugal and not wasting. That’s an excellent use of an abundance of veggies.

  2. Silly question, I don’t mind mustard seeds in my bread n butter pickles because I don’t eat them. But in relish I’ve never seen them before. I know it makes the brine good but don’t want those crunchy seeds on a hotdog. How does this affect taste? Want a smooth texture like store-bougth but with my fresh cukes.

    1. Not a silly question at all, Jo! If you like the flavor of the mustard but just don’t like the crunchy seeds, you can substitute ground mustard. You’d need about 2 teaspoons of dry mustard for the 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed called for in the recipe. Most store-bought relishes do contain mustard, so to have a similar flavor, you should include the mustard, but it won’t harm the relish in any way if you choose to leave it out. Do let us know how it turns out!

    1. Shelly, there aren’t any cloves called for in the recipe. Are you referring to one of the other spices?

    1. Tammy, if you can’t have mustard, it’s perfectly fine to leave the mustard seed out of the recipe. If you enjoy the flavor of cumin seed, coriander seed, or caraway, any of those could also be swapped in. Do let us know how it turns out!

  3. So, during pandemic I guess everyone is canning because our town is out of many basics (like lids!). Specifically, I can’t find mustard seeds. Can I add ground mustard instead, and if so, at what exchange? Also, if I can in quarts instead of pints should I increase processing time by five minutes? Thanks for any advice to a new canner!

    1. Teresa, you can safely swap in mustard powder for the mustard seed, though be warned that your brine may be a little cloudy as a result. I’d suggest using 2 1/4 teaspoons ground mustard in place of the 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed. And yes, you should add an extra 5 minutes for canning quart size jars. Do let us know how they turn out!

  4. Angie, do you or any of your followers know of or have a recipe to water bath can potatoes without needing to use a pressure canner.

    1. Bob, I’ve never heard of any recipe or method for water-bath canning potatoes. They are such a low acid food that I’m not sure if there’s a way to do it safely. If any of our readers know of a method, we’d love to hear about it.

  5. I am new at this whole pickling and relish game but my brother found this recipe and well let’s just say for a girl whom thought she wasn’t going to get any cucumbers due to the large amount of rain we had at the beginning of the growing season, I have had plenty. This was my 3rd kind to make today and thank goodness for you comment about being watery or I would have thought I messed up! Can’t wait to give it a try along with the bread n butter pickles and Lady Ashburnham’s we made.

  6. Just a quick question…when I made bread and butter pickles, the recipe suggested that the pickles needed to sit 4-5 weeks to really be fabulous. Does anyone have the same thoughts about the relish? I’ve got 6 half-pints of relish staring me in the face, and my Mom is very impatient to taste her share! She’d have to wait until September 10th if she needs to wait. Thoughts?

    1. Sukie, the flavor will probably improve if you let it sit for a couple of weeks, but if you’re both anxious to enjoy it, there’s no harm in opening a jar now.

  7. I don’t have celery seed, can I omit it or will it affect the taste of the relish? Also, is it ok to use white vinegar rather than cider vinegar?

    1. Jessica, omitting the celery seed won’t harm the recipe, but it will change the flavor of the relish. Almost all sweet pickle relishes have mustard seed and celery seed in them, so without it, the flavor would likely be a little different. As for the vinegar, yes, you can substitute white vinegar.

      1. Angie I’m new at this. I’m a 65 year old man that has just found a fondness of canning. In this recipe do you leave the seeds in the cucs or do you cut them out? I’m anxiously waiting for your advice.
        Thank you

        1. What a wonderful thing to discover, Bob. I love canning as well, particularly anything involving garden cucumbers. If you’re using pickling cucumbers that just have small tender seeds in them, you don’t need to worry about removing them. If you have large cucumbers with large seeds then you’ll want to slice your cucumbers in half and scrape them out. Do let us know how your relish turns out!

  8. This was fun to make and I read the comments of others on the sugar. I tasted the brine with 2 c of sugar and opted to add another so 2.5 instead of 3.5. So I feel good to cut some of it. My 13 year old grandson had a taste and said “that tastes GOOD!”
    Now I am waiting to see how many jars seal.

    1. Thanks, Wendy! Your relish looks fantastic! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

    1. I love that you tried this with zucchini, Victoria, and that it turned out so well. It’s always handy to have another use for all that summer squash! Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

  9. I forgot to cover the cucumber mixture after I sprinkled the salt on. It sat for the two hours. Will this affect the relish.

    1. I would use whatever onions you like best, Sukie. Do let us know how it turns out!

      1. I was just curious. I use white onions in my bread and butter pickles, but the recipe called for that. Normally I use yellow onions when I am cooking them with meat and veggies… Guess I really don’t know onions that well…. Thanks! Sukie

        1. I double-checked the original recipe, and the type of onion definitely isn’t specified so I think it really becomes a matter of preference. I know when it’s time to make pickles here, it’s whatever onions are ready in the garden!

  10. Is this a crisp relish or somewhat on the soggy side. I’m asking because I usually soak my cucumbers in Alum before processing. Thanks!

    1. Doris, we can’t say for sure, as there are many factors that can affect the firmness of your relish, but we suspect you’ll find this has a similar texture to a store-bought sweet pickle relish. The saltwater soak does help to firm up the cucumbers, which will help to provide a little crunch. If you make them, do let us know how they turn out!

  11. This is a fantastic and easy recipe. I used 2 cups of sugar which gave it a perfect balance with the cider vinegar. Definitely give this a try. It’s an excellent addition to any cookout!

    1. Magnificent, Dorothy! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your photo and your kind words! Thrilled to learn that you love this as much as we do. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site—pickles or otherwise!—that you try next…

  12. I used your recipe to make my relish, the only thing I did add was some finely chopped red peppers. I had a few more cucumbers than the recipe called for and of course I increased the amounts to make sure that there would be enough of the syrup for them. I ended up with 6 pints. This is a really good and easy to follow recipe, I will be using it again!

    1. Nice, Deniece! We just had someone ask that very question about red peppers so we appreciate you sharing your experience. Love that you love this and appreciate you taking the time to share!

  13. I want to try this recipe. I planted pickling cucumbers this year and they are about ready to pick. What I want to know is this: How many pints does this recipe make? And, do you think adding some chopped red pepper would be good?

    1. Lovely, Ann! You’ll find that this recipe makes 4 pints. (You can always look the yield of our recipes toward the top of the recipe.) As for chopped red pepper, we didn’t try it that way, so I can’t say for certain, but if you like red pepper in your relish, chances are it’ll be fine!

      1. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! I see the “makes” note now. I just missed it before. I’ll let you know how mine turns out.

          1. I forgot to tell you; my pickle relish turned out fantastic. I did add some chopped red bell peppers which really made the jars look inviting. I used the smaller amount of sugar and still, even though the relish was divine, I think I will reduce the sugar a bit this year. I will also plant MORE pickles! We’re just about to use the last pint. I might even try a few jars using Lo Han, my favorite low carb sweetener. Come on summer!!

            1. Ann, I love all of this! Thanks so much for taking the time to share how well these worked out for you! Not surprised yet thrilled to hear it. And I especially love that you made the recipe your own. Wishing you much more happiness, the sort related to pickle relish as well as all other sorts. Come on summer, indeed!!

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