Homemade Claussen Knock-Off Pickles

It’s common knowledge that I have a salty tooth rather than a sweet tooth. When the weather does what it has been doing lately (making us all do our best Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego impersonations) I can’t think of a single thing I find more refreshing than an icy-cold, salty, crunchy pickle. Oh yes. You can keep your popsicles* and those icy squeezy pop things whose name currently escapes me. I’m on deck with the pickles.

*I will, however, fight you for fudgesicles. That’s just the way it is.

It’s not just me, it’s my whole family: mother, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, grandparents, kids, husband…  I married a man who loves pickles so much he eats the pickles and then drinks the juice from the jar. In fact, in an attempt to show my husband just how much she loved him, my mom made a special pickle juice drink for him at our wedding. And he drank it*. Happily.

*He drinks pickle juice regularly in hot weather. He claims it is “Gatorade for people who don’t like sweets.” I love him.

I grew up eating my Grandma’s homemade dill pickles like the supply was endless and moved on to canning my own pickles as soon as I had a kitchen of my own. My little sister, Jessamine, and I compare our homemade pickles from year to year the way some people compare wine vintages. But there is one pickle that stands head-and-shoulders (were pickles to *have* heads and shoulders) above all others. I’m talking about the pickles you see here.

These are homemade refrigerated deli pickles, also known as Lithuanian half-sours, also known (in the commercial equivalent) as Claussen dill kosher pickles, also known as the best pickles ever known to mankind.

Here’s the thing. While I do love my other homemade pickles dearly (otherwise why would I continue canning ninety-something quarts year after year after year), these are by far my all-time favourites. CRUNCH. That’s what you hear when you bite these. There is no flop, no squish, no slime. These things almost bite back.

Claussens were long the benchmark for which I aimed in pickle making. No matter what, a canned pickle is not going to end up like that lovely Claussen: crunchy to the point of making noise when you bite it, cold, and seriously garlicky. Canned, shelf-stable pickles can be chilled, maintain some crunch and be as garlicky as you want them to be, but they are never, ever going to be the same thing because of science. When you heat process a jar of pickles you are, in actuality, cooking it and a cooked pickle just plain can’t be as crunchy as an un-cooked one.

Here’s where we get into bonus happy territory. You don’t have to cook anything to make these pickles; not one single thing. The brine is stirred together, the cucumbers are rinsed, trimmed and stuffed into a jar with garlic cloves and spices. Please, please, please give these a go even if you have never made a pickle before.  There is nothing scary or intimidating here. (Do you hear me Saint Tigerlily? No spectre of THE BOTCH!) Wash, slice, stuff, stir, pour, sit, wait. Okay wait. Yes. That last bit is hard. The waiting is hard. On the plus side, the wait is only two to four days which is significantly less than the six week wait of the canned pickles. Besides, as I said, there is the crunch factor.

Get on the homemade pickle train, my friends, there’s plenty of room for all of us and if you don’t know what to do with the leftover brine, just pass it to my husband. He’ll “dispose” of it for you. Crrrrrrrrrrunch!

Homemade Claussen Knock-Off Pickles
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 gallons of pickles
Always crunchy and garlicky, this perfect homemade pickle requires no special equipment, no canning experience and tastes just like Claussen's refrigerated kosher dill pickles.
  • 35 to 40 small to medium pickling cucumbers
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices
  • ⅔ c. canning or kosher salt (Do NOT use iodized salt!)
  • 4 cloves garlic or more, to taste
  • 4 fresh dill heads ~or~ 4 tablespoons dried dill seed (not weed!)
  1. Wash cucumbers but do not scrub them.
  2. Trim ⅛-inch from the blossom end of each cucumber and slice in half lengthwise or into quarters, depending on how large your cucumbers are and how big you want them to be when they're done.
  3. In a gallon jar (or large, wide-mouth, food-safe container) layer the dill heads or seed, garlic cloves and sliced cucumbers.
  4. In a separate pitcher or bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients until the salt is dissolved.
  5. Pour the brine over the cucumbers, taking care to make sure all of them are fully submerged. If needed, place a plate or mug or other non-reactive heavy item on the cucumbers to weigh them down and keep them under the brine!
  6. Cover lightly with a lid just perched on top or secure a piece of cheesecloth over the jar with a rubber band to keep fruit flies away.
  7. Leave out of direct sunlight on the counter for two to four days*, or until the cucumbers taste like pickles throughout.
  8. Fix your lid onto your jar or container and chill. These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months provided you keep them covered with brine.
*If at any point in the proceedings "fuzz" or "foam" develops on top of the brine, use a spoon to remove it. If there is "fuzz" attached to any of the cucumbers, remove the ones affected and be sure the others are still fully submerged.




  1. Kari says

    Hi! I Made these and the look great! I used a flat canning lid to keep the pickles down in the brine. On the second day they looked fine, on the third there was a little white fuzz above the lid, but not underneath on the pickles. Are these ok to eat if I get rid of the fuzz and refridgerate them right away?

    • says

      Bad throw them out, also this is way to much salt and I use Durris Farms cold pack, 3 level tblspns of pickling salt. More heart healthy. Salt pomotes the celluae breakdown of tomato to allow flavor to enter. Use less salt and you can taste pickles or green tomatoes at 6 weeks.

      • says

        Actually, these yield delicious pickles year after year after year. There is no tomato in the recipe either. I’m not sure where that’s coming into the picture.

  2. says

    The reciepe for the claussen pickle was followed but the juice turned cloudy after three. They also taste a little like perfume. Don’t know how else to describe the taste.

    • Ben says

      I made these, yum! I used distilled water instead of tap water & sterilized everything first. In my opinion, very close to claussen. I think if one were to play with the spices instead of mixed pickling spice, one could get even closer to claussen. That said, mine are a 8 out of 10. Very good & easy to make. I’m making more tonight.

  3. Karen B says

    I saw your recipe for the pickles on the Pioneer Woman’s website. I made them last Monday – let them sit on the counter until Friday. I did four jars and let me say they are fantastic. I’ve only tasted one jar so far and we just love them. After I made them my husband (who loves pickles informed me he doesn’t like homemade pickles) well he does now! Now I’m going to try your Pickle Dip – I’ve never heard of it either….I’m really enjoying your blog!

  4. Charles Fantl says

    Another dumb question. What is in “mixed pickling spices” or is such a mixture available at stores.

  5. Vicki says

    So after I make these pickles, I leave them on the counter for 4 days, taste, and if they are perfect, I then keep them in the frig, up to 6 months?.. thank you so much, looking forward to making these tomorrow…

  6. Andy says

    Just a note on an old wives tale. Kosher salt is the same thing as table salt. One is fine grind one is course grind. Iodized salt is usually kosher (approved by rabbis for observant Jews to consume) too; the iodine is made from kelp and in such trace amounts you can’t tell the difference. All salt except canning salt have additional minerals… occurring naturally, or added to help the salt from clumping. Pure canning salt usually isn’t designated kosher ( look for a K,P or U symbol or the words Kosher for passover) but I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be approved. Ps, Kosher Pickles (Like Kosher salt) is a style of pickle and not necessarily “Kosher” or approved by the rabbi’s for consumption. Yup, another fun fact!

    • Steven says

      Kosher salt is labeled as such for its long use of making meats kosher, not because it was made in accordance to kosher guidelines.

    • Robbie says

      Hey Andy,
      just to hone what you said and further clarify with a slight adjustment, different grind sizes of salt (ex..table vs Kosher) will ALWAYS measure out differently , making it easy to oversalt when substituting a larger kosher style crystal for a smaller table one. More table salt fits in a teaspoon than kosher salt. As for iodized….i HEARTILY disagree. You can and most definitely WILL taste the difference ; maybe not the iodine flavor itself, but it’s effect on the salt. It somehow makes salt SALTIER (and not in a good way!) and wreaks flavor-havoc in some dishes. Back in the old days iodine was affed to prevent goiters. I wish the manufacturers would stop killing perfectly good salt with it.

    • Leslie Currie says

      I think putting them in the frig is a great idea…..i do it with mine and they’re delicious……….Crispy too with the cold brine. :)

  7. Rudi Pittman says

    I have the juice and jars from 3 jars of the claussen pickle slices…they were on clearance…any chance I could use that juice to make a follow up batch? Should I add some things? The juice tastes fine..heck I’m considering pickle juice martini’s as I type.

    • Beth says

      We’ve added our own cucumbers to the Claussen pickle juice. We actually boil the pickle juice first and let it cool. Pack the cucumbers in the jar and pur the room temp pickel juice back over and refrigerate.

      • says

        The only issues I have with that are that it cooks what was raw garlic, and it doesn’t get rid of the gnarly ingredients I am keen to avoid like HFCS.

      • Marty says

        l strain the garlic & spices out & reserve them. l then boil the Clausen brine and let it cool. l add cucumbers & green tomatoes & the bribe to a sterile jar & refrigerate. lf you love dill pickles, you may also like pickled green tomatoes.

  8. Jacquelyn says

    Any suggestions as to where I could buy pickling cucumbers in the off season? They are easy to find during the summer, but not in March!!!

  9. Jason says

    These are good pickles but they taste literally nothing like Claussen. The only thing these and Claussens have in common is that they’re both, in fact, pickles but that’s where it ends, you’d have to not have taste buds in your mouth to think they’re a good copy. Not that anyone cares but here’s what I think to get them closer to Claussen: eliminate the pickling spice, claussen’s don’t have it, add mustard seed, some red pepper flake and use WAY more vinegar, white vinegar not apple cider, and put them directly in the fridge, because these ones turned out soggy from sitting on the counter for 3 days. I can’t tell you in what quantities, you’ll have to experiment, but that’s what I’m going to try.

    • says

      Well, I guess this boils down to an agree to disagree moment. I use my own homemade pickling spice which omits cloves and cinnamon thereby more closely resembling Claussen… And if your pickles were soggy, you may have left the blossom end intact OR gotten old cucumbers. The beauty of food preservation at home is that every batch is just a wee bit different.

      • Sheila says

        I thought the taste was spot on. I got pickling spice from a farmers’ market and just pulled out the cloves. I made a 1-qt batch. They turned out perfectly after 3 days and we ate quite a few the first day. Within 3 days of being in the fridge, they were complete mush, like absolutely disintegrated. :-( Not sure what happened. I cut the blossom end off as written and they were super fresh cukes. Super bummed, but willing to try again!

        • says

          I hate to say it, but some cucumbers just behave badly. It’s just like canning pickles, sometimes it just doesn’t end up the way we want it to. One in about every fifteen batches goes funky for me.

    • TardiveZoar says

      A thought is to try the Trader Joe’s version. I like them a lot and think they are cheaper than Claussen and you are not supporting corporate America (Gen Foods).

  10. Mike says

    Just made this 3 days ago it doesn’t taste like the pickles I buy..there kind if spicy and there’s one flavor in there that’s super strong

  11. Stacy says

    Sorry if this is a dumb question but I have dill plants in my garden and I don’t know what you mean by a “4 heads” of dill. The flowering yellow heads at the top of my dill plants wouldn’t even fit in a gallon jar. I’m using the green new stuff below. How many sprigs per jar?

  12. stacy says

    I don’t know what went wrong…I followed the instructions to the letter and my pickles are too salty and lot of them have “mushy” spots showing up on them like they’re going bad while in the jars in the fridge…can you help?

  13. Jeniece Trueman says

    These taste wonderful, but I do have 2 questions.
    I did get some fuzz, and I cut off the ends that had fuzz and left the rest of the pickle in the jar.
    I had them out for 3 days, put them in the fridge, and the next day got them out to eat and the are fizzy? There are bubbles at the top and they give a little fizz sound, are they OK to eat?
    Thank you very much. I think next time I will put directly in the fridge or in a cooler darker spot.

  14. jessica says

    Not sure what happened. Day 1-2, all systems go. Day 3, brine started going cloudy and I had a fizz effect when I opened the jars (like they were carbonated). Still tasted like cukes and had read that cloudy and fizz was ok, so didnt worry and left them on the counter for one more day. Looked at them today, Day 4, more fizz and the tops of all of the pickles were mushy at the tops. What did I do wrong??

    • says

      I think it sounds like it should’ve gone into the refrigerator on Day 3… You could lob off the mushy bits and put them into the fridge in time to save most of them, though, I think!

    • Sabastina says

      I think that you went wrong by screwing the lid on tightly. If you heard a fizz like a carbonated drink, that means that the air in the jar was trapped too tightly. The recipe says to “Cover lightly with a lid just perched on top or secure a piece of cheesecloth over the jar with a rubber band to keep fruit flies away.”

      Also, I’m pretty sure that having a great deal of pressure in the jar will also push against the pickles and that may have made them soggy…

  15. cecil says

    I can’t get kosher dills here in Sweden, so I am very grateful for this! And the pickles turned out marvellously- the only problem was that I can’t keep them for long as they get eaten! I found with my second batch that just putting them straight in the fridge for four days was great. Now, I just wonder how I am going to get the cucumbers for pickling now that winter is coming…

    Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

  16. Chloe says

    How would I break down this recipe if I only wanted to make a jar or 2? Not surw I have any gallon sized containers, and/or dont have access to that many pickling cucumbers.

    • says

      If you’d prefer just to make a quart or two, you can certainly divide the spice amounts and amounts for the brine recipe by half or reduce by 3/4. It’ll definitely work!

  17. Matthew says

    So you say there’s “no spectre of the BOTCH”. How are you preventing it? I’m just curious as I’m starting to get into canning and want to know more!

    Do you think you could use this to pickle other things? I’m interested in doing this to all sorts of vegetables.

  18. Jill says

    How does the recipe yield 2 gallons of pickles when all the cucumbers are placed in a gallon container? I mixed up the brine and only half of it fit into my gallon container.

    • says

      The BRINE portion of the recipe yields enough for 2 gallons. You’d need twice the cucumbers specified in the recipe to use up all the brine.

  19. Angela says

    Hi, I was just wondering if this recipe could be used and the pickles could be made via water bath canning to make them last longer? I have A LOT of cucumbers… Thanks!

    • Angela says

      Also… if you can do the water bath canning method, would you have to tweak the recipe or use hot water vs cold? Any differences in the recipe? THANK YOU!!

  20. Chris says

    This is my second year using your recipe as a base. I go almost verbatim but I add a little more dill and a lot more garlic – usually a whole head. And my signature touch is 3 ghost peppers – enough to put 1/2 in each finished jar. I use my garden fresh ones in season and dried ones from the fall before when pickling in the early summer (super hots don’t start harvesting until late August in the midwest). I use 4 when they are dried just make sure they have that punch. I sell my extras at work and never make enough to keep up with demand! Thanks for an A+ recipe.

  21. Amanda Andrew says

    Hi there! I just made 20 jars of these as they are war less intimidating then processing them… But I think I misread the part about keeping them in the fridge. I sit only after opening a jar that they need to be in there or do I need to find a way to fit 20 jars in the fridge now as its been 5-6 days since we made these. They are currently in a cool (not cold) room in my basement. They taste great and I’d hate to lose them. TIA

  22. Karen says

    I want to make these, love Clausen pickles. Can the amount of salt be reduced as I am on low Salt diet, if so this will be awesome. Thanks.

  23. Lee says

    For a true FERMENTED half sour follow recipe as written but only add ACV AFTER 2 to 4 days on counter. That’s what I do and have great results with this recipe. Google recipes for half sour pickles and you will find vinegar interferes with fermentation.

  24. says

    Thank you so much for this amazing recipe! I live in Japan and it’s so difficult for me to get the dill pickles I know and love. Claussen Pickles are my absolute favorite and I always felt like I had to eat as many as possible whenever I visited home. But I tried this recipe last week and I was so happy – a great imitation of Claussen! Would you mind if I linked this recipe (with credit to you of course) in a blog post on my website?

  25. Jason says

    Remember when you’re making fermented pickles that the cucumbers must be completely submerged beneath the brine. Otherwise you may get furry bits.


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