The Best Pickles You Can Buy According to Our Test Kitchen
Our Test Kitchen experts set out to find the best pickles available. These are the tastiest, crunchiest spears out there.
If you’re picnicking, barbecuing or tailgating, one side dish needs to be part of your spread: pickles!
Salty and sour, pickles complement so many of our favorite foods, like burgers, Cuban sandwiches and Chicago hot dogs. Some unique pickles like the moonshine pickle and some interesting pickle snacks can take you by surprise. And unless you’re making your own pickles from scratch, it can be hard to find the absolute best pickles.
How We Found the Best Pickles
Now we know there are a lot 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. For all pickle brands, 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
The tasters in our Test Kitchen crunched, munched and debated. These are the pickle brands that came out on top.
Best Fresh Pickles: Grillo’s Pickles Classic Dill Pickle Spears
Taste of Home
You’ll find most pickle brands in the condiment aisle of your supermarket, but don’t forget to 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.
Crunchiest Pickles: Milwaukee’s Kosher Dill Pickles
Taste of Home
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.
Most Complex Flavor: Boar’s Head Kosher Dill Pickles
Taste of Home
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, look for Boar’s Head pickles in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.
Best Pickles for Garlic Lovers: Mt. Olive Kosher Dill Spears
Taste of Home
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.
Make the Most of a Jar of Pickles
The best pickle brands 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 serve alongside grilled hot dogs and hamburgers.
When you want to add a salty, briny kick to a dish, reach for that pickle jar!