what to do with leftover pickle juice (with 9 pickle juice recipes)
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Once you finish a jar of pickles, what do you do with the abundance of tangy, salty brine left behind? If you’re like most people, the probable answer is: throw it down the sink and toss (maybe recycle) the empty jar. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Far more than just another method to reduce food waste, repurposing that liquid gold leads to lots more flavor in the kitchen.

Piquant pickle juice may also have probiotic benefits (as long as it’s from fermented pickles and not the “quick pickled” kind), and mini bottles of pickle juice are even sold as sports drinks, alleged to alleviate cramps. But the main benefit, of course, is the effortless way leftover pickle brine injects more flavor into so many different dishes.

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Even if you shudder at the thought of guzzling the stuff straight-up (so no pickleback shots or pickle juice vodka for you), you can find ways to incorporate it, because while it can be a star ingredient, it can also be a secret supporting player that adds a little extra something-something that you’d be hard-pressed to identify unless you’re already in the habit of adding pickle brine to your food. Which you probably will be, once you try it.

One note: just as dill pickles are more savory than significantly sweeter bread and butter pickles, their respective brine will vary in sweet and sour levels too; taste first and adjust as needed. Here are some ideas on how and where to use your new favorite secret weapon in the kitchen:

Pickle Juice Vinaigrette

pickle juice vinaigrette

Chowhound

You can swap in pickle juice basically anywhere vinegar is called for, and salad dressing is no exception. If you’re more of a creamy dressing fan, try pickle juice ranch, but for those who like a leaner salad lubricant, this vinaigrette is great, and works as an all-purpose sauce of sorts too. Get the Pickle Juice Vinaigrette recipe.

Leftover Pickle Juice Pickles

quick pickles using leftover pickle juice

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Yes, you can use your leftover pickle juice to make even more pickles! Simply drop sliced onions, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, garlic, zucchini, and other vegetables, or even hard-boiled eggs, into the brine and let sit for a couple days (at least), then start taste-testing to see if they’re strong enough for you. You can use the brine from pickled beets in this way too, which imparts a lovely color. Get the Leftover Pickle Juice Pickles recipe.

Pickle-Brined Keto Fried Chicken

Although the merits and specific methods are hotly debated, brining meat is widely considered a great way to add flavor and encourage a tender texture—and pickle juice is basically ready-made wet brine, so use it to marinate all sorts of protein, from steak to chicken; even tofu picks up the flavor. Pickle juice is rumored to be a secret ingredient in Chick-fil-A’s coveted chicken recipe, which this paleo version aims to replicate. Get the Pickle-Brined Keto Fried Chicken recipe.

Pickle Juice Deviled Eggs

You can stir a sneaky soupçon of pickle juice into almost anything that could benefit from a bit of zest, from egg salad and sandwich spreads to more unlikely edibles like hummus and barbecue sauce. If those sound a little suspect, deviled eggs are a good starting place. Lots of Southern deviled egg recipes include sweet pickle juice in the filling, but this version also has another stealth ingredient: butter, to amp up the richness. Oh, and bacon, if you’re so inclined. Get the Pickle Juice Deviled Eggs recipe.

Pickle Juice Potato Salad

basic potato salad recipe

Chowhound

Pickle juice perks up all kinds of creamy dishes like pasta salad and coleslaw, but potatoes are a particularly good blank canvas for picking up the flavor. To that end, try pickle-brined french fries too, but if you need something for a potluck, picnic, or casual dinner party, potato salad is the way to go. A scant spoonful or two will do to lend a little zip, but this one isn’t so timid; it calls for a full 3/4 cup of dill pickle brine. Get the Pickle Juice Potato Salad recipe.

Dill Pickle Bread

This uncommonly delicious bread puts a new spin on the idea of sourdough by using warmed dill pickle juice in place of water to activate the yeast. The top is garnished with pickle pieces for good measure, but if you left them off, you could keep everyone guessing about the mystery ingredient. Get the Dill Pickle Bread recipe.

Dill Pickle Soup

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A professor in college once told me to "write in a way that scares you a little." Honestly, it's so much easier to steer absolutely clear of controversial subjects, since so many are easily offended these days. However, have you ever read a really good book that didn’t challenge your personal outlook in someway? My professor also said, "good writers don't get hung up on how their audiences will react to certain themes or characters and instead write what feels right." Sigh. Those were the days before internet trolls existed, something I get so bored dealing with every, single, day. So, instead of writing about controversial subjects, I decided cooking contentious food was WAY more fun. This delicious DILL PICKLE SOUP has been one of my more "controversial recipes". I attribute its crazy popularity to the fact that people could not decide if they loved it or were completely disgusted by the thought of it. This soup's tumultuous history has made it the most popular recipe on my site for six years running. It has appeared in newspapers, countless articles, been cooked and eaten by famous chefs on TV, the video has been viewed over 40+ million times and it has been made in kitchens across the globe. It even helps fund my child's college education. 😃😛 This DILL PICKLE SOUP has been good to me, regardless of its provocative history and the trolls that love to rip it apart pickle by pickle (without ever having tried it). This recipe is loved by more than it is hated and for that I am SO grateful. This soup taught me to cook what I love, even when it's scary. And not to bend to other people's palettes. Just be me.🙋 Grab the recipe from the link in my profile @NoblePig or go here: https://noblepig.com/2013/03/dill-pickle-soup/

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If you’re not shy about making pickles the main event, this soup is perfect, since it uses both the brine (nearly 2 full cups!) and the pickles that swam around in it. Perhaps an acquired taste, but worth trying at least once. Get the Dill Pickle Soup recipe.

Pickle Juice Whiskey Sour

If you just want a little zing without actually tasting pickles, try stirring a dash of brine into a Bloody Mary. Conversely, if you’d like to explore the full flavor effects of pickle juice in drinks, try a puckery pickle juice martini, or make a simple syrup with sugar and bread and butter pickle brine to use in a nontraditional whiskey sour—then experiment with it in other cocktails too. Get the Pickle Juice Whiskey Sour recipe.

Pickle Popsicles

Like it or not, pickle desserts are taking over. If you’re into it, you can easily make your own pickle popsicles at home. And if you happen to have a jar of fruit punch pickles, the brine from them would make an especially interesting variation on this dubious summer treat. Get the Pickle Popsicles recipe.

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Jen is an associate content producer at Chowhound. Raised on scrapple and blue crabs, she hails from Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived in Portland (Oregon) for so long it feels like home. She enjoys the rain, reads, writes, eats, and cooks voraciously, and stops to pet every stray cat she sees. Continually working on building her Gourmet magazine collection, she will never get over its cancellation. Read more of her work.
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