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
  • (4)
  • 45 M
  • 1 D
  • Makes about eight 8-ounce jars
5/5 - 4 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. 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.


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  1. 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!

  2. 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…

  3. 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!

  4. 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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