Serve these easy and impressive Sichuan-inspired pickled vegetables in place of an appetizer and your guests will thank you. And devour them.

You’ll love what happens to radishes and carrots in this pickle—one turns a sheer sunset pink while the other practically pulsates orange. Chinese pickles are a cook’s great cheat. In an elaborate Chinese menu, they save you from having to pull off time-consuming appetizers while they tune up palates for what’s to come.–Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

LC No Ordinary Pickle Note

No ordinary pickle—that’s what the complex taste of this simple recipe will no doubt leave you thinking. The cinnamon lends a unique and curious depth to the veggies. And though we like the heat, we confess to being tempted to toss in a few smashed Sichuan peppercorns in place of the chiles next time we’re hankering for some innocent intrigue. Certain to make you forget forevermore the classic Vlasic.

Three pickling jars with carrots and beets, a bowl on the side

Sichuan Pickled Vegetables

5 / 2 votes
This Sichuan pickled vegetable recipe is made from radishes, carrots, vinegar, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and chile.
Servings6 servings
Calories96 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • 2 1/2 cups distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 generous teaspoon medium-hot ground chiles such as mirasol, guajillo, New Mexico, or hot Hungarian paprika
  • 1 star anise broken into pieces
  • 1 (1 1/2-inch) piece ginger cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 (3-to 4-inch) piece cinnamon stick broken into pieces
  • 2 to 3 medium carrots cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick (12-mm) slivers
  • 8 to 10 red radishes cut into 1/8-inch-thick (3-mm) rounds


  • In a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, and chiles, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil for 1 minute.
  • Meanwhile, wash and rinse two 1-pint glass jars and lids with very hot water. Divvy the anise, ginger, and cinnamon between the jars, then place the carrots in one jar and the radishes in the other.
  • Pour half the hot vinegar mixture into each jar and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. The pickles keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.
  • When ready to serve, drain the pickles and place them in small bowls with toothpicks or as finger foods.
The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends

Adapted From

The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Weekends

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 servingCalories: 96 kcalCarbohydrates: 20 gProtein: 0.3 gFat: 0.1 gSaturated Fat: 0.01 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.03 gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.02 gSodium: 409 mgPotassium: 158 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 18 gVitamin A: 3442 IUVitamin C: 2 mgCalcium: 18 mgIron: 0.4 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Lynne Rossetto Kasper | Sally Swift. Photo © 2011 Ellen Silverman. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’ve been really into pickling lately so just had to test this recipe. It’s so simple yet adds a super crunch to dishes or is great eaten right out of the jar. I can’t possibly say which I enjoy more—the radishes or the carrots—as both are crisp and full of wonderful flavors from the anise, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper. The radishes are a glorious pink and carrots a robust orange. The ginger adds a touch of a kick as does the marisol chile but by no means too much. I’m going to make these again in a few days as I’ve run out. This is the kind of thing to have on hand always and that’s my plan. Doubling the recipe would be even better yet!

Here’s a way to take two fairly common run-of-the-mill vegetables and give them a bit of well-deserved special attention! A winning pickle recipe to go with Asian foods of all sorts, as well as fried foods in general. They’ll be great as a side, or equally fine as a finger food appetizer. And who doesn’t like a recipe that can be made ahead, then keeps for a month in the fridge?! Also, here’s a case where the time estimate is actually generous; I think my total active time was less than the 20 minutes cited—another fine plus for the recipe. With regard to the spices, I used hot Hungarian paprika and star anise. I also used plain-Jane orange carrots and round red radishes. The bunch of radishes I bought for these pickles consisted of small radishes, so I went ahead and used the whole bunch rather than having just a few left over, and this seemed fine. Not surprisingly, I’d like to play with the vegetable selection a little, trying perhaps yellow or purple carrots, and daikon or black radishes, then maybe also turnips when we’ve got them growing in the garden or they’re available at farmers’ markets. I additionally wonder if they couldn’t all be put into the same jar,rather than segregating the vegetables in two separate ones. An addicting addition to the pickle collection at our house!

At first glance I didn’t think I’d enjoy these since I don’t care for many savory recipes that call for star anise and cinnamon, but this was an exception and I’m glad I forged ahead and tried them. The ginger and pepper (I used Aleppo pepper since I didn’t have any of the others suggested) gave them a nice touch and I enjoyed them with the Chinese dinner we made to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Many in my family didn’t enjoy them so I guess these aren’t for everyone’s taste. My mother-in-law really enjoyed them, though. My son said he would’ve liked the radishes if I’d omitted the sugar, but I think that’d really make them too sour since I thought they were tart as is. I’ll be making these again for those of us who did enjoy them.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Campari Citrus Marmalade

A little sweeter (and a lot more vibrant) than traditional English marmalade thanks to the notable presence and complexity of the classic Italian apéritif. Here’s how to make it.

4 hrs 30 mins

Apple Cranberry Sauce

Apple cranberry sauce. Not quite as American as apple pie. Not until you taste this version, that is. Sweetly tart and superbly lovely with turkey and pork and so, so much more.

1 hr

Caramelized Onion and Tomato Jam

Not sure what to do with that mountain of sweet summer tomatoes? This sweet and savory tomato jam is the answer.

1 hr 30 mins

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


    1. Karen, the Japanese actually have all manner of pickles, including this simple but sensational Salt and Sugar Pickles recipe. Pickled ginger is traditionally made from just ginger, salt, sugar, and rice vinegar. Of course, you could try it with the spices in this recipe—if you do, do let us know. As for other veggies that would work with this very same approach, I can see baby turnips or sweet Japanese haruki turnips being quite lovely when pickled in this way. Same goes for wee onions or maybe even the whites of scallions. Pea pods? I’m not so certain, seeing as not only would the color fade to a drab olive green, but I worry what the pickling would do to the texture seeing as the pods are so thin…but I encourage you to experiment to your heart’s content! And please let us know what you find….