Grandma’s Secret Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning


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This dill pickle recipe for canning was handed down by my grandmother {who gave it to me in the form of a newspaper clipping} and has ruined store-bought pickles for me forever. If you like a crunchy, salty, slightly spicy, delicious dill pickle and like to can, this post is for you! 

quart jars of homemade crunchy dill pickle recipe with fresh cucumbers in front

I’m sharing this recipe with you because I love you. But you better not tell anyone else because these pickles are my key to fame and fortune! 😉

Grandma’s Secret Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning

These pickles are such a family favorite. When I was a kid in Germany, we used to take boxes of them home with us on the airplane after our summer visits. The customs agents thought we were insane every time they inspected our pickles. I guess we’re really lucky they never broke! 

You won’t regret making this dill pickle recipe if you like salty, spicy, sour pickles! Here’s how to get started canning pickles – especially if you’re a beginner.

Best Pickling Cucumbers

You need a lot of cucumbers to make pickles. They should be straight and small (4-5 inches or so). I like to grow my own, but for some reason, I have not been successful growing cucumbers the last few years.

These beautiful cucumbers in the pictures were given to me by a friend. This is the first time I have been able to can pickles in several years. If you have any small, extra cucumbers, please send them my way!

There are many varieties of cucumbers out there. As a beginning canner, it’s important to understand what will give you the best jars of pickles. A lot of people use their large, overgrown pickles to make pickles but these will end up being floppy and not as tasty.

I generally use these cucumbers in my garden:

Pickling cucumbers are often firmer than other varieties and have thinner skin. The flesh and seeds are usually equal.

If you don’t have your own supply of cukes, buy them in bulk at the grocery store. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly to remove the waxy coating or buy them directly from other farmers. The key to a crispy pickle is quality ingredients and following the correct process.

Cucumbers in stainless steel sink being washed and prepared for pickling

Processing Pickles

There are two main methods to making pickles. Quick pickling is the technical term for refrigerator pickles. This method uses cucumbers, a brine, and pickling spices. Pickles are stored in the refrigerator, but they become softer the longer they are in the fridge.

The other method is what I’m teaching you here – processing pickles with a water bath and heat. The heat kills bacteria and gives you shelf-stable jars of pickles.

Steps to Canning Pickles for Beginners

First, prepare your water bath canner and get your pickling brine ready {recipe below}. Next, wash cucumbers well and cut off any bad spots. Also cut off just the blossom end tip to help the pickles stay crunchy after canning.

Washed and dried cucumbers stuffed in pint jars and ready to pickle.

Pack cucumbers very tightly into quart size jars. Squeeze in as many as you can. Once they are canned, they will all float to the top and make it look like you could have fit at least 50% more in! It never fails.

Garlic, hot pepper, dill, and alum  in glass pint jars with cucumbers ready for pickling brine

Add garlic, dill seeds, dill, hot pepper, mustard seed, and alum. Don’t skimp on the alum ~ it’s one secret of crispy pickles. Add more peppers to this dill pickle recipe if you want – up to two hot peppers for a super spicy pickle.

Woman pouring pickle brine into a blue funnel over a quart jar of fresh homemade crispy pickles.

Ladle prepared, boiling pickle solution (water, pickling salt, apple cider vinegar) into your jars. Leave 1/4 inch head space.

Washed grape leaf added to the mason jars of dill pickles before sealing for added flavor.

Add one washed grape leaf per jar. The tannins in grape leaves also help keep these pickles crispy. If you can’t find any, I have read you can substitute an oak leaf or loose black tea, but I have never tried that myself.

Woman using hot pads on hot jars of freshly made dill pickles to seal them

Put the lids on and tighten. Use pot holders because the jar will be really hot.

Woman lifting jars of homemade pickles out of water bath canner

Put the cans into boiling water in a water bath canner and can for  ~10 minutes, just long enough to help the jars seal. Remove jars from canner, make sure they seal, then let them sit for 24 hours to cool. After they’ve cooled completely, store them for at least three weeks before eating.

Freshly made jars of homemade dill pickles on a countertop wtih cucumbers and dill in the foreground

Dill Pickle Recipe Ingredients

Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning

  1. Prepare water bath canner and bring water to a boil.
  2. Sterilize quart size canning jars. (I wash mine in dishwasher or boil them in the canner).
  3. Heat up lids and rings.
  4. Combine water, salt, vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Wash cucumbers and cut off any bad spots.
  6. Pack cucumbers extremely tightly into canning jars. Wide mouth jars are easier to pack.
  7. Add hot pepper, alum, dill, garlic to the jars.
  8. Ladle pickling solution into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  9. Wipe off mouth of jars.
  10. Tighten lids on jars.
  11. Place jars in water bath canner and boil for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove jars from canner.
  13. Let sit to cool for 24 hours.
  14. Store pickles for 3 weeks before eating.
  15. Enjoy!
What is the best vinegar for pickles?

I use apple cider vinegar in this recipe but white vinegar will also work. The important thing is to make sure the vinegar is 5% acidity for proper preservation and food safety. Different types of vinegar will give different flavors to the pickles.

Where can I buy grape leaves for pickles?

If you can’t find grape leaves from neighbors or drive to the country, you can buy them. Grape leaves are commonly sold at Mediterranean markets. If that’s not an option for you, try your local farmer’s market or a winery.

How long can homemade pickles be stored, and where should I keep them?

Properly canned pickles can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Always write the date on the lid or make a jar label so you don’t forget when you made the pickles.

What recipes can I make with my homemade pickles?

Homemade pickles are a snappy addition to sandwiches, burgers, salads, and even as a zesty snack on their own.

For more ways to preserve your summer garden bounty:

Homemade Strawberry Syrup and Canning Instructions

Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

The Quick and Easy Guide to Canning Crushed Tomatoes

Homemade Gourmet Vinegar with Garden Fresh Herbs

Pineapple Jalapeno Relish 

There’s something uniquely satisfying in the snap of homemade pickles. Not only are they delicious, they also hold our memories of summer, hopes for our garden, and pride of trying canning for the first time. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll have jars of pickles in your pantry year round.

Do you have a favorite pickle? Share it in the comments.

Yield: enough brine for 7 quarts

Grandma's Secret Dill Pickle Recipe for Canning

Dill Pickle Canning Tutorial for a crunchy, spicy dill pickle from

This dill pickles recipe canning tutorial makes the most delicious homemade dill pickle ever! Even beginners will love this dill pickles canning tutorial!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes



  1. Prepare water bath canner and bring water to a boil.
  2. Sterile quart size canning jars. (I wash mine in dishwasher or boil them in the canner).
  3. Heat up lids and rings.
  4. Combine water, salt, vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Wash cucumbers and cut off any bad spots.
  6. Pack cucumbers extremely tightly into canning jars. Wide mouth jars are easier to pack.
  7. Add hot pepper, alum, dill, garlic to the jars.
  8. Ladle pickling solution into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  9. Wipe off mouth of jars.
  10. Tighten lids on jars.
  11. Place jars in waterbath canner and boil for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove jars from canner.
  13. Let sit to cool for 24 hours.
  14. Store pickles for 3 weeks before eating.
  15. Enjoy!


If you're having a hard time finding grape leaves, take a drive in the country. They grow wild a lot!

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 300Sodium: 138465mgCarbohydrates: 12gSugar: 5g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram tagging @simplifylivelove! I love to see your photos!

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. Hi Michelle,

    We’re having our inaugural Eat Make Grow Blog Hop. We are looking for folks to link up who want to share what they have been eating with their families, growing in their gardens or making with all their creative impulses. If you’re interested, I hope you’ll hop on over and link up a couple of your posts. It’s a way for you to grow your readership and find other like minded mamas.

    Hope to see you there,


  2. Ok- Why couldn’t you post this 2days ago before I put up 9 pints of dill pickles!? 😉 Sounds like a great recipe, I will have to try it next time!

  3. So, how bad are they when you forget the alum??? I got distracted by my “helpers” and forgot the alum in 7 out of 11 jars (also was unable to find grape leaves at the local grocery store.) Are my pickles going to be terrible???

    1. This sounds like something I’d totally do!! Argh! Alum is a pretty key ingredient as it’s what makes them crispy. Grape leaves are optional – I’ve left them out before and the pickles are fine. You might want to open up the jars without the alum, add the alum, and re-seal them with new lids (you can re-use the jars and rings). I’m not sure if that will work, but the pickles won’t turn out without the alum, I’m afraid, unless you like really mushy pickles. 🙁

      1. I just came back to get the recipe for this year and I had to let you know that my pickles were great!!! Even with out the alum!!! I am determined not to forget the alum this year and that means I better make more. Because if they get any better I won’t be able to keep up with the demand!!!

        1. Yay, Amanda! I’m so glad!! Thank you for coming back to tell me. I can’t keep up with demand either, especially since my cucumbers never survive due to squash bugs. Hopefully next year!!

  4. man! i’m so jealous of everyone canning their pickles! i’m moving across the country in 2 weeks and since we pay the movers by the pound (essentially), i didn’t can much this summer because canned food weighs a TON…. that being said, i did manage to make a few jars of bourbon soaked cherries for my drinks all year. haha. priorities, i guess.

    p.s. it

      1. thank you for taking the time to link up with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Blog Hop Michelle! We hope to see you again this Wednesday with more fantastic seasonal & real food posts 🙂 xo, kristy

  5. Can’t wait to make these pickles. Having a bit of a problem… can find where you state how much dill…alum…etc goes into the quart jar. Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Bryan, It’s 1/2 tsp alum per jar. The dill is sort of by eyeball. I just make sure I add a fresh dill flower that has lots of seeds on it as well as a lot of the whispy leaves that smell like dill. Sorry I don’t have a good answer for you on dill.

    1. Hi Bryan, I’ve never used dried dill, but you probably could? I don’t know how much you would need to add though. Sorry!

  6. Thank you so much for this recipe.It sounds fantastic and I cant wait to share it with everyone.

  7. Can’t wait to try this recipe. The last time I tried to make canned pickles, they came out funky tasting and soggy.

  8. whoops-just finished making the pickles and realized I put them in pint jars and did not cut the alum in half. Will this be bad?

    1. I think it will be fine! 🙂 they might be extra crunchy, but they’ll still taste great. Good luck!

  9. Michelle! I am so excited to make these! Reading through the rest of this page made me happy to see you are from Iowa! (And a mom of 4!) Me too(for both)!! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you for the “Love” of this recipe. It is so nice to see young people sharing and enjoying the good old ways. God bless you and your family.

  11. Thank you, I want to try this recipe this year.
    It is very simlar to my Dad’s recipe. He also uses his for green peppers stuffed with cabbage. He gets one to two stuffed pepper per quart depending on size of pepper. They are delicious!

  12. I just used your recipe to make my first ever batch of pickles! I could not find any grape leaves in our tiny grocery store. What are they for?
    Thank you so very much for sharing this!

  13. I would like to know what the grape leaves are for and where can I find them. I have wild grape leaves in my yard and I grow grapes. Could I use those?

    1. Hi Nedra, the grape leaves help with the crunchiness and you can certainly use the leaves from your wild grapes plants! Good luck! 🙂

    1. Grape leaves can come straight from the vine. I have never tried pickle crisp so I am not sure.

  14. I can’t find grape leaves!! Can I substitute something else? Will it hurt to leave it out? Add more alum? I’m just full of questions. Thanks!

    1. The grape leaf has tannins which help the pickles stay crispy. If you can’t find any, I have read that an oak leaf might be a good substitute, but I have not tried this myself. Good luck! If you have any country ditches nearby, you might be surprise at all the grapevines growing in them!

    2. @Michelle, Alum is an Aluminum salt…same thing I avoid in deodorants and toothpaste in case it is true it contributes to Alzheimer’s…here is a link explaining, but no direct links in medical pubs…some say correlation likely, others say they simply don’t know…this link also supports your thoughts on oak leaves…

      Plan on pickling for first time this year and will use your recipe with oak leaves…

      QUESTION…what would be an anticipated shelf life?

      1. Ball Canning says self-life is around 1 year on canned goods. In my experience, they’ll last at least 2 years. But after that, they do start to lose some crunch.

  15. Just tried the recipe…. will give you a verdict in 3 weeks… but I did cut the salt to 1/2 cup … made a batch with different recipe 3 weeks ago and it called for the same salt amount and it was way too salty for me…. will give an update in 3 weeks! cant wait

  16. This recipe looks fantastic! I can’t wait to give it a try. Would it work for pickling other vegetables as well? Thank you for sharing!

  17. What kind of hot peppers do you use and how many quarts do you get out of one batch typically? This recipe looks yummy!

    1. You can use any kind of hot pepper you want. We typically use jalepenos. It makes 7 quarts, I think! 🙂

    1. One sprig or head of dill per jar – plus I always make sure to add a few of the wispy fronds as well. 🙂

    1. No, you can store them in your pantry like you would any other canned goods (as long as the jar sealed properly). I do put the jar in the fridge before I want to eat though as we think they taste better cold. 🙂

    1. Hi Debbie, the grape leaf helps the pickles stay crispy. A wild grape leaf will work just fine. 🙂

  18. I personally dill pickles too salty. If I reduced your salt my half or 1/3, would it affect the texture of the pickles?

    1. Hi Anita, I just googled this because I didn’t know, and that is what I found: “The USDA Complete Guide (2015) says salt is not required for fresh-pack (vinegar) pickle recipes, but that it absolutely is required for safety with fermented pickles: In the making of fresh-pack pickles, cucumbers are acidified quickly with vinegar.”

      “With the exception of cured or smoked foods and most pickled products, salt is not necessary for safe processing of home-canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. Its addition does help retain the natural color and texture of the canned product. It is primarily added for flavor.” –

      So I think it’s safe for you to reduce the amount of salt in this recipe. 🙂

  19. The vinegar to water ratio of 1:3 is too small for these to be safe. Some university websites say it should be at least 3:4. Others say 1:1.
    Otherwise, they taste good…

    1. @Michelle Marine,
      I found this definition of brining:
      Brined or Fermented Pickles
      In the first method, the vegetables go through a curing process in a salt and water brine solution for one or more weeks. Lactic acid produced during this fermentation process helps preserve the product. Once fermentation is complete, these foods must be refrigerated or canned for safekeeping.
      Regarding the ratio:,up%20all%20the%20covering%20liquid%E2%80%9D.

      I will definitely use this recipe again, but will increase the vinegar.

  20. I’m trying to figure how much ingredients I need, but I can’t find how many jars of pickles this recipe, and it’s ingredients list, is intended for. I’m just planning on a half gallon worth of finished product for occasional consumption, but the recipe seems to be for much more. For example, I might need to purchase more cider vinegar, or alum, but I just don’t know. Rather than wait for a response, I’ll wing it.

  21. How long does extra pickling solution last? I have quite a bit leftover as I didn’t have as many cucumbers as I thought I had and don’t want it to go to waste. Also, could I make this same recipe with zucchini to use up the solution? Would you do anything different if using zucchini in place of cucumbers? Thanks! This is a simple and yummy recipe 🙂

    1. I’ve never tried with zucchini so I don’t honestly know. I have used it with green beans though – to make a dilly bean type thing and it was really good. 🙂 As far as how long it lasts? I’ve kept it for a few weeks. There’s nothing anything in it that would spoil, I don’t think. But I don’t have an approved answer for that either.