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. says

    OMG….we are a pickle lovin’ family too and Clausen’s are our faves and guess what I have growing in my garden? Pickling cukes! I’m so making these! I know a jar will last like 10 mins in this house.

    I know I have told you this before but I have to say it again…I love your sisters name. Jessamine. I think if I had a girl I’d name her that, that’s how much I love it. My oldest is Jesse, so maybe I’m just stuck on a Jess thing.

    • says

      Saint Tigerlily- Holla!
      Carrie- Oh, you will soon enough… I make these hand-over-fist while my cucumber plants are at their peak production.
      Lisa- I love my sister’s name, too! And the pickles will disappear faster than you can make them. I’d advise starting a new batch every third day :-)

  2. says

    My family loves Claussen’s pickles – they were my very first one. My mom used to spear pickles on a fork and we’d lollygag outside during the summer with our delicious, cold, crisp, salty pickles. It was heaven. I can’t wait share this recipe with my family and try making them!

  3. Debora Cadene says

    Just found your site and absolutely cannot wait to do some of the canning you have listed. I don’t have a large enough container to put these into all at once, which I think is what you are saying. Would I be able to do this in individual jars? and how much dill and garlic would I put into each jar? And would they have to be in a fridge or could they go on the pantry shelf if the room is cool?
    Can’t wait to try some of your recipies.
    Debora Cadene,
    Atikokan Ontario

    • says

      I’m sorry it took so long to respond, Debora. You can certainly put them into smaller containers, just divide the ingredients between them. As to how much to put into each container, it sort of depends on the size you use. I’d say use four quarts instead and then you can divide everything into four!

  4. Jennifer says

    I love you! And my husband will too. I think we have 4-6 jars of Claussens in our fridge right now.

  5. Nancy says

    Thank you SO much for posting this recipe. I made them Friday and just had my first pickle of the batch today. Simply put, they are amazing! Thank you!!!

  6. kati says

    this is exactly what i was looking for!! i can’t wait to make these, i have cucumbers coming out of my ears, lol.

  7. Morgan says

    I am confused about the very last part too!

    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.

    Cover the jar lightly. Do not screw a lid into place!

    Do you mean to screw the lid into place??? Please help as these sound AMAZING I really do want to make them.

    • says

      Boy! I was wondering why everyone was so confused by that direction until I realized that the sentence I thought I had deleted had actually been moved to the bottom of the recipe. My apologies to everyone. The instruction to put the lid on lightly and not screw into place applies ONLY to the time it is on the counter top! You can put it on more tightly in the refrigerator. Of course, it being a naturally fermented product, it’s still going to give off a little gas, but as long as you’re opening the jar regularly to fish out a pickle or two it should be able to release those gasses enough :-)

  8. Heather says

    I just made these this morning. They are sitting on my counter now. I used my large stockpot and put a plate on top of the cucumbers to make sure they were all submerged. This is the first time I have ever made pickles, I hope they turn out good. I also put the pot lid on upside down since I didn’t have cheesecloth.

  9. Deja says

    I made these, and on the morning of the fourth day I woke up to foggy brine. They smell nice and fermented, taste fine (says my husband), but is that OK? I put them in the fridge right away, but are they safe?

    • says

      If they still taste fine, and there’s no “fur” on the pickles then they’re dandy! No worries. That happens as part of the fermentation process naturally sometimes.

  10. Deja says

    Thanks so much! I feel much better about serving these to friends now.

    Now if you have a salsa recipe safe for canning that does not include canned (store bought) tomatoes, my summer would be complete!

  11. says

    I LOVE this recipe….I’ve used it for years! In fact, if you *have* to can your pickles, you can use this recipe and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. They come out really good, even cooked!

  12. Patti King says

    Can these be made with whole pickles also? I prefer the smaller ones and not have to slice them, but most all the recipes I find tell you to slice, halve or quarter the pickles.

  13. Toni says

    I am trying to learn whether or not a jar of Claussen pickels- UNOPENED- which had set over night on the counter (unrefridgerated) might still be safe to eat??? Claussen says they are best kept cold and will not state clearly one way or another. If yo made you knock offs- how long could they set- after being sealed- before you would throw them out?

    Thank You for your time,

    • says

      I can’t say with confidence how good your pickles are, as it depends on many conditions. As for the knock-offs, they’ll hold until they grow fur or are slimy!

  14. Lisa says

    I just made my first ever batch of pickles yesterday thanks to how easy you made this! Great photos by the way…
    The smell of the brine is already out of this world. Can’t wait to try them!

    On a side note, I stuffed the jar so tightly that I don’t have to worry about any not being covered by the brine. There is plenty of room between the sliced cukes, but they won’t float, which is great and I don’t have to worry about any touching the air.

  15. Shelly says

    Does the brand of pickling spice matter? I’m not a snob about much of anything…but I’ve always only liked Claussen Kosher Dills. (I’m a pickle juice drinker, too, and as a kid, my favorite sandwich was peanut butter and pickles! ha! ) But I don’t even like other dill pickles. All that to say, if your pickles taste just like Claussen’s, I want to be sure to get it right. My husband is thick in garden-planning mode right now, and I know if I don’t have my recipe ready, we’ll be up nights this summer canning pickles I won’t eat :(. Tragedy, indeed. ;-) So, could you divulge your brand of pickling spice, please???

    • says

      Well, Shelly… I honestly don’t know the brand I use. I buy the bulk packages up at my local Amish grocery. One thing, though, is that I pick all the cloves and cinnamon bark out of the pickling spice. I don’t like those flavours in my pickles. I’d say that as long as your pickling spice is pretty standard (McCormick’s, Spice Islands, Frontier, etc…) you’ll be fine!

  16. Chelsea says

    I love this recipe, it’s the only one I’ve found that dosent have sugar in it and I love claussen’s pickles… but, how would you recomomend going about re-sizing the batch for a smaller amount, such as 1-2 pint jars of pickles?

  17. Pat says

    Oh, wow…I can hardly wait until summer to try this recipe!! I’ve made pickles for years using the boiled vinegar method. Sometimes, they turn out good and crunchy and sometimes for no reason, they are mushy with an off taste. My only thing is…if they only last 6 months in the fridge, what will we do for the rest of the winter till we can make more???!!! :o)

  18. Kat says

    These look awesome. Just one question though. Should regular apple cider vinegar be used or the raw kind like, Bragg’s?

  19. Allison says

    This is the exact type of recipe I’ve been looking for! But can I process it for a longer shelf life? I know Claussen’s need to stay refrigerated, but I don’t think I have enough room in my fridge for so many pickles. Also, my friend’s always want pickles as gifts! So, processing- yay or nay?

    • says

      Allison- I am so sorry to tell you this, but you might need to buy a pickle fridge. :-) Unfortunately, these do not process well. They’re meant to be a fresh/fermented pickle.

  20. D. Morin says

    I concur with everyone above..these pickles look awesome. Can these be made without the salt? is it part of the pickling process or just for taste? I’m on a 1/4 of sodium per day ration.

  21. Alyson says

    Hi Rebecca,

    I accidentally let my pickles sit out/ferment on the counter for 6 days. For some reason I thought they were supposed to sit out for that length of time. I tasted one this morning and it seemed to be fine. Other than the brine looking murky I never saw any fuzz. I went ahead and put them straight into the fridge with the lid on. Do you think they are OK after sitting out for a week?

    • says

      Hi Alyson… I think you’re fine! You just took it a step further and made full sours instead of half sours (think deli lingo.) Of course, use your own judgment based on smell, taste, appearance, etc… but if they are as you say they are, they should be safe.

  22. Sharon says

    Is there any way to process these pickles for long term storage. I would like to make a large batch, but do not have the room in my refrigerator to keep them all. Any information would be deeply appreciated.

  23. Janet says

    I am trying your receipe today, I can’t wait! Fresh kirby cucumbers from my garden. Can I save the leftover brine? I only have enough cucs for 2 quarts. I put some in a canning jar, but I’m not sure if I should leave it out or refridgerate? thanks

  24. heather says

    Every year I try my hand a making pickles and every year I get that cloudy area at the bottom of the jar and I toss them out because I don’t know how to tell if they are still good or if I am growing some bacteria that will land my family in the hospital.
    What is that cloudy area? Is it safe? Can I make pickles without it?

    • says

      Heather, my research shows that the cloudy area in fermented pickles (such as these) indicate the presence of lactic acid (a by-product of fermentation.) That is backed up by several cooperative extension groups’ literature (like this: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/food_safety/preservation/hgic3101.html ) However, and this is a big one, you need to be the one who makes that decision. Mine are almost always cloudy, but I’m serving a family that has hearty immune systems and is not prone to getting ill. If my family had any immune-compromisation going on, I would be infinitely more cautious. It has to be your call!

  25. says

    Just brought home a nice load of picklers from the local farmer’s market yesterday, got my jars washed, and about to start mixing up the brine to try some of these. They look and sound wonderful!

  26. chris says

    You say use 1 gallon of water, do you mix the gallon of water with the 2/3 cup of salt and vinager and then use what brine it takes to fill up the gallon jar that has the pickles already in it.

  27. scott manion says

    Rebecca, In the interest of canning these pickles for long time storage without loseing the crunch,, do you suppose that “pickle crisp” could be used without fouling the recipe??I was thinking about adding it After fermentation was complete, just before the hot water bath to seal the lid??? Your thoughts???

    • says

      Hi Scott. To me, the appeal of this particular pickle is the fact that it isn’t processed. I really haven’t tried heat-sealing them. When I do heat sealed pickles, it’s the other recipe I have up here on the site. I’d love to know how it goes if you try them, though!

  28. Tom says

    I must be missing something. If I fill a gallon jar with cucumbers, how is a gallon of water, plus a cup of vinegar, plus 2/3 cup of salt going to fit in the jar?

    • says

      Hi Tom, Good question. The answer is that it won’t. On the plus side, the brine stores well in the refrigerator for a later batch of pickles (assuming you make another.) :)

  29. Tom says

    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Taken in that context your recipe is very similar to the one I have used for years: Two quarts of water, 6 Tbs salt, 3 Tbs vinegar. This makes the exact amount of brine needed for a gallon of cukes. I let them ferment for about two weeks before refrigerating. We’re definately on the same page.

  30. Marlo says

    Can you slice them into slices you’d use for like a burger or do they have to be spears?

    So excited to try this!!!

  31. Tom says

    Marlo, I can’t speak for others, but when I make my pickles I slice them the long way only once, giving me two halves. After the pickles are cured & ready to eat you can cut the thin slices as needed.

  32. says

    So, I made these and the taste is divine but they are incredibly mushy. The cucumbers came fresh to me from a farm, so they weren’t the problem. Any ideas?

    • says

      There are a couple possibilities, Jamie… The most likely is that you didn’t trim a bit off the blossom end of the cucumbers. The less likely issue (but still a possibility) is that it was just that batch of cucumbers.

  33. says

    Hmmm. I cut both ends, actually. Any chance it was the amount of time in the brine? Left it in for four days, until they were not greeny cukey colored but pickley colored, then refrigerated in brine in Ball jars. I cut into spears. I used considerably less cukes than suggested. Wonder if any of that affected the result?

  34. says

    Wow, I have been searching all over for a crisp, claussen type pickle and you have provided the right recipe! I made some last week and they are so good I can hardly believe it. I made my own pickling spice from a recipe I found and added this to my brine. I also added fresh dill and lots of garlic. I am impressed that they are not too salty, as some dills are. I just got done with another batch, hoping this turns out as good as the first. They really are very crunchy! I am saving the brine to make a batch of bloody marys with it…if it lasts that long! CRUNCH!

  35. Diego says

    I’ve been trying to make a small batch actually 2 pint jars of pickles using smaller size like med. Can anyone help me with correct proportion for this small amount i want to try it. I bought the mccormick pickling spice andk i dont want to over do it. Please advise it would greatly be appreciated

  36. Dee Dee Noble says

    I’ve used your recipe for the first time. I,m hoping for a good turnout. I put the pickles in a gallon jar for the four days you suggested. I want to transfer them to smaller jars but am not quite sure what to do with all those spices. Can I rinse off the spices and cover with a fresh brine without the spices for clear liquid in the jars.


    • Linda says

      You will not water bath or pressure can these. You package them into jars, crocks or plastic pickle jars and do not heat them. The Cucumbers will be soggy if you do. Pack them put juice in, close lid and put them in the fridge, About a month later…ENJOY!!!

  37. Josh says

    Kind of dumb question here, but when I layer the dill, garlic and cucumbers, does it matter what is on the bottom and top?

    • says

      You’ll love ‘em, Pamela. I say exercise patience just a bit longer and wait until they’re chilled clean through to eat them. You won’t regret it!


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