The Best Pickles You Can Buy According to Our Test Kitchen

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Our Test Kitchen experts set out to find the best pickles available. These are the tastiest, crunchiest spears out there.

Whether you’re picnicking in the park, barbecuing in the backyard or tailgating at the stadium, there’s one side dish that needs to be part of your spread: pickles! (Pickle juice is even said to have some major health benefits).

Salty and sour, pickles complement so many of our favorite foods, like burgers, Cuban sandwiches and Chicago hot dogs. And unless you’re making your own pickles from scratch, it can be hard to know what brands offer the best pickles—unless you want a refrigerator full of pickle jars.

So you know that our Taste of Home Test Kitchen had to find the best pickles available.

How We Found the Best Pickles

Now we know there are a lot of types of pickles out there: slices, spears, chips, dill, sour, bread and butter and more. For this pickle taste test, we set out to find the best dill pickles. Dill is the most popular pickle variety. We bet you’ve got a jar of them in your fridge right now!

Our Test Kitchen stocked up on the eight most popular brands of dill pickles and tested them blindly. With each pickle, our picky pros kept these criteria in mind:

  • Flavor: Good dill pickles should taste of cucumber, vinegar, dill and other pickling spices.
  • Appearance: A good dill pickle should look appetizing; not unnatural in color but not dull or gray.
  • Crunch: This is an important factor when it comes to pickles. Our team wanted crisp, crunchy pickles.

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Dill Pickles

Our Test Kitchen crunched and munched and debated. These are the pickles that came out on top.

Best Fresh Pickles: Grillo’s Pickles Classic Dill Pickle Spears

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You’ll find most pickle options in the condiment aisle of your supermarket, but don’t forget to take a look in the fresh and deli section of your grocer. That’s where you’ll find Grillo’s Pickles.

Unlike many pickles, Grillo’s manages to retain a lot of that refreshing cucumber taste. Of course, layered on top of the cucumber was the taste of fresh dill—the most dill flavor of any pickle brand our Test Kitchen sampled. Testers also found that Grillo’s perfectly balanced the salty, sour and vinegary tastes that we associate with pickles.

But these pickles were more than fresh cucumber and dill flavor. They looked just like a good homemade pickle and they had a satisfying bite: crunchy with a snap.

Because these pickles are fresh, they don’t have as long a shelf life as traditionally canned pickles, but believe us when we say not a single spear will go to waste. These rank among the best pickles anywhere.

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Crunchiest Pickles: Milwaukee’s Kosher Dill Pickles

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Is there anything more satisfying than a cool, crunchy pickle? We think not! In this test, our kitchen pros discovered that Milwaukee’s Kosher Dill Pickles were the absolute crispiest and crunchiest.

These whole pickles were generous in size, but not so huge that you wouldn’t want to finish one (in fact, our testers were happy to go back for seconds). Biting into these mellow green pickles, our Test Kitchen samplers got a distinct snap. Along with the satisfying crunch, testers found Milwaukee’s dills have a pleasant vinegar bite with a nice balance of dill and other pickling spices.

In short: These were the perfect picnic pickle. Several testers said they could imagine cracking open a jar to enjoy alongside summer picnic recipes like macaroni salad and turkey sandwiches.

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Most Complex Flavor: Boar’s Head Kosher Dill Pickles

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If you’re a pickle aficionado, you’ll appreciate a spear that’s more than just dill and vinegar. Boar’s Head Kosher Dill Pickles fits the bill.

This jar was packed with generously sized pickles as well as carrots, garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, dill sprigs and other spices. Our testers thought the flavor combination was lively. Plus, a selection of pickled carrots are always welcome on your relish tray alongside pickles.

Besides packing a flavorful punch, these pickles were also pretty darn crunchy thanks to the cold pack pickling process. Like Grillo’s, these Boar’s Head pickles are found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

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Best Pickles for Garlic Lovers: Mt. Olive Kosher Dill Spears

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We know: Dill pickles should taste prominently of dill. But garlic is a must-have in many pickle recipes—especially in Mt. Olive Kosher Dill Spears.

These bright green pickles served up major garlic flavor. Our tasters got hints of mustard and dill too, but garlic was the primary seasoning in this jar of pickles. While these spears were definitely on the large size (picture those giant pickles you see at the deli cut into four wedges), our testers still got some crunch from the outside of the cucumber.

Overall, we’d recommend these pickles served up alongside your favorite sandwich, like a Reuben or turkey club.

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Make the Most of a Jar of the Best Pickles

When it comes to getting the most out of your pickles, we know you don’t need directions. Pickles make a great treat right out of the jar. They also are welcome on any relish tray along with other pickled vegetables and olives. Slice up these spears and serve them on a sandwich or keep them whole and serve them alongside your favorite dinner.

Whenever you want to add a salty, briny kick to a dish, reach for that pickle jar.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.