Basic Pickle Brine

Active Time:
10 mins
Refrigerate Time:
2 days
Total Time:
20 mins
4 cups (1 [32-oz.] mason jar)

Pickles are a stalwart favorite atop sandwiches or simply enjoyed on their own, but did you know you can easily master pickle brine at home? You only need four ingredients and 20 minutes of hands-on time to make this delicious pickle brine recipe. Vinegar, sugar, and salt make a balanced brine to transform any fruit or veggie into a delicious pickle.

cucumbers in weck jars with pickle brine
Will Dickey

What Is Pickle Brine?

Pickles were originally made as a method of conservation: The salt and vinegar in pickle brine allowed you to keep fresh fruits and vegetables around longer, even when you don't have easy access to modern methods of refrigeration. Even today, pickling remains a popular method of preserving seasonal produce so that you can enjoy the tastes of summer all year long.

A pickle brine is the liquid used to transform these veggies—not just cucumbers, but carrots, watermelon rind, tomatoes, or even fruits like apples—into flavorful, long-lasting pickles.

Basic Pickle Brine Ingredients

This master pickle brine calls for just four ingredients: white vinegar, sugar, salt, and water. The white vinegar provides a mild acidity that doesn't impart too much extra flavor on the fruit or vegetable you choose to pickle. A small amount of granulated sugar adds a balanced sweetness you'll love.

pickle brine ingredients

Kosher salt is preferred for this recipe, because it isn't iodized like table salt. Iodine can impart a distinct flavor to foods like pickles, whereas kosher salt has a clean saltiness that makes these pickles positively perfect.

How to Make Pickle Brine

To make this pickle brine recipe at home, all you need to do is dissolve the sugar and salt into the water and vinegar. Do this by combining all four ingredients in a medium saucepan and bringing to a boil over high heat.

Then, simply stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Cool 10 minutes off the heat before using to brine the fruit or veg of your choosing.

pickle brine

Also, bear in mind that this recipe is dubbed the Master Pickle Brine for a reason: Not because it's the pickle brine to end all pickle brines, but rather because it's a jumping-off point for you to riff to your heart's content. Some folks like to add the classic seasonings of dill and garlic, but coriander seeds, mustard seeds, or even turmeric can be welcome seasonings to add even more flair and flavor to your homemade pickles.

pickle brine

How to Use Pickle Brine

Once you've made your homemade pickle brine, you're ready to transform your favorite produce into a delicious pickle. Cucumbers are a classic choice for pickling, but this brine can also be used with cherry tomatoes, zucchini spears, okra, red onions, and more. Whatever you choose, simply place the washed and dried produce in a heat-safe container with a lid, and pour the hot brine over the top. Cover and store at least two days before digging in.

Once the pickles have taken on the flavor of the brine, they can be used as sides or snacks, or even as garnishes. Consider a pulled pork slider topped with homemade pickled onion, or a hot dog with a homemade cucumber pickle spear.

How to Store Pickle Brine

This pickle brine—and the pickled food in it—will keep for up to two months, provided you've done your due diligence. Before adding the brine to your vegetables, be sure to prepare your canning containers by sterilizing the jars and lids. Since you will be storing these pickles in the refrigerator, you won't need to bother with a water bath to seal them hermetically, but be sure to keep them cold.

Can You Reuse Pickle Brine?

Once you've finished your pickles, you can absolutely reuse pickle brine. Just bear in mind that over time, it will become less flavorful and will therefore result in less flavorsome pickles. It's really best to only reuse brine once before starting from scratch—and if your brine is murky or cloudy, it's best to begin again. Luckily, this recipe is so quick and easy that that's hardly a hardship!

Editorial contributions by Emily Monaco.


  • 1 cup water

  • 1 1/3 cup white vinegar

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt


  1. Stir together 1 cup water and all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes. Pour over vegetables or fruits. Cover with a tight-fitting lid; chill 2 days. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 2 months.

    pickle brine being poured into weck jars with cucumbers
    Will Dickey
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