Crispy Fried Pickle Spears with Ranch Dipping Sauce

Company's coming? Meet your new signature appetizer.

crispy fried pickles in a basket with ranch dipping sauce
Photo: Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist Christine Keely
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
25 mins

Crispy and golden on the outside, tender and tangy on the inside, these fried pickle spears are the snack you've been searching for. Skip the fast-food versions for this homemade fried pickles recipe that is simple and comes together in under 30 minutes. A crunchy cornmeal breading flawlessly coats the spears, which are an excellent fry-like vehicle for the tangy and herbaceous buttermilk ranch dipping sauce.

While many states take credit for fried pickles, from Texas to Mississippi, the tasty snack originated in Atkins, Arkansas at the Duchess Drive-In where they first appeared on the menu in 1963. They later became synonymous with Texas state fairs in the 1980s, and today have migrated from a novelty to popular appetizer, with many fast-casual chains making them menu mainstays. They come in many forms: battered or dredged, as chips, or like in this recipe as spears. But no matter how you fry them, there's no denying they're delicious.

The key to keeping this recipe easy and hassle-free is a clean breading process. When breading the pickles (or any fried foods), designate one hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry to prevent a sticky mess. Another pro tip: don't forget to season the pickles with salt and paprika immediately after frying, this will help the seasonings adhere to the pickles.

Any brand of pickle will work for this recipe, but homemade pickles are extra credit. This recipe makes a great snack, but feel free to swap them for fries next time burgers are on the table or serve alongside barbecue.


  • ¼ cup mayonnaise 

  • ¼ cup sour cream 

  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives 

  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar 

  • ½ tsp. dried dill 

  • 1 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. whole buttermilk, divided 

  • 3 ½ tsp. hot sauce, divided 

  • 1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided 

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder, divided 

  • ¾ tsp. black pepper, divided 

  • Vegetable oil 

  • 1 ½ cups (about 8 7/10 oz.) coarse stone-ground yellow cornmeal  

  • ½ cup (about 2 1/8 oz.) all-purpose flour 

  • 1 (16-oz.) jar dill pickle spears 

  • Flaky sea salt 

  • Paprika 


  1. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, vinegar, dill, 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk, 1/2 teaspoon of the hot sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper in a small bowl until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Sauce can be covered and stored in refrigerator up to 7 days.)

  2. Pour oil in a large Dutch oven to a depth of 1 inch. Heat oil to 375°F over medium-high.

  3. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1 cup buttermilk and 3 teaspoons hot sauce in a shallow dish. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a separate shallow dish. Drain pickles, and pat dry using paper towels. Cut each pickle spear in half lengthwise. Working in small batches, dip pickles in buttermilk mixture, and then dredge in cornmeal mixture, pressing gently to fully coat. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet.

  4. Working in batches of about 4 pickles, add pickles to hot oil; fry, turning as needed, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate using a slotted spoon; drain. Garnish with flaky sea salt and paprika. Serve immediately with reserved sauce.

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