You Can Do *What* With Leftover Pickle Brine?

A scrappy way to look at the jar half-full.

December  4, 2018
Photo by Mark Weinberg

We’ve all been in this pickle: You've finished crunching the last dill, munched the lone cornichon, fished out the final gherkin from the jar—and now you have a half-full (let’s be positive here) glass of pickle juice. What do you do with it?

If you're like Senior Editor Eric Kim, you save it for picklebacks. Or maybe you're like contributor Grant Melton, who uses it for this mayo-free potato salad. I’ve saved half-full jars of pickle juice for my mom’s red beans and rice. And then there's Food Writer and Recipe Developer Emma Laperruque, who makes a delightful Pickle Martini. But it's good for many other things, as well.

If you're looking for easy ways to use up that brine, grab Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food from the James Beard Foundation, which gives more than a hundred delicious solutions for fighting food waste. (Yes, including pickle juice.)

The book features recipes from dozens of the foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change alumni. And in Chef Abra Berens’ Vegetable Salad, she tosses a crisper drawer’s worth of vegetables with a mixture of sour cream and pickle liquid. Simply whisk the two together in a 2:1 ratio, respectively, and season with salt and pepper, then dress to impress. It’s really that easy.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Not exactly food-related, but taking a few good-sized swigs of pickle brine is the quickest, most effective cure for muscle cramps (in my case, foot) that I have ever found. Mustard purportedly has a similar effect, but I have yet to test that one.”
— wg

And in case you still have some extra brine—no worries! Check out these scrappy ideas:

To Make Your Meat Nice & Tender

To Brighten Up Any Dish

To Kick off Happy hour

What's your favorite way to use pickle brine? Give us your best tips in the comments section below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • MBE
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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


MBE February 28, 2019
One of my favorite rye bread recipes (K.A. flour site) uses pickle juice as the liquid.
Tere February 19, 2019
When I saw this, I thought y'all were talking about fermented picks brine. There are a lot of uses for that, also, but that's probably for a different article.different
I usually ferment my dills, but I haven't found a way to ferment bread and butter pickles. After homemade fills
Tere February 19, 2019
Oops! I was trying to spell correct "fills" to "dills" and my tablet submitted before I was ready.
I was saying that bread and butter pickles seem so expensive after making my own fermented pickles for so long, I don't want to waste that juice, so I'll buy the cheapest sweet pickles I can find and dump them in the jar, and there you go.
Courtney L. January 4, 2019
Pickle soup!! It's essentially a potato soup but with pickle juice and diced pickles. Sounds a little weird, but it's absolutely delicious
AnneR December 9, 2018
I always put a splash into my tuna salad for sandwiches. That and I sub some of the mayo for good quality ranch dressing, and I am told I make the best tuna sandwiches. I might need to go make one now...
Linda T. December 9, 2018
When do you drink the pickle juice? While you are having the cramps?
Penny H. December 9, 2018
I was referring to the taste of pickle juice in the de-glazing liquid. However I've eaten dill pickles at night for leg cramps and it really works. It's been so long since I've had menstrual cramps (I'm 79) that I don't know if it would work or not. You could give it a try.
Penny H. December 9, 2018
Pickle juice works great as a de-glazer for any pan broiled meats. And no, it doesn't taste sour or of dill either.
Rose December 9, 2018
My mother used leftover dill pickle juice to make the best sauerbraten. Take a rump roast cut of beef and marinate in brine plus a bay leaf for several days. (I do up to five but at least three.) Be sure to cover meat completely with brim. Refrigerate. When ready to braise, dry meat and brown on all sides, return marinade to browned meat, cover pot and simmer several hours until tender. Thicken gravy with flour at end of cooking. So easy! Great with potato pancakes.
wg December 5, 2018
Not exactly food-related, but taking a few good-sized swigs of pickle brine is the quickest, most effective cure for muscle cramps (in my case, foot) that I have ever found. Mustard purportedly has a similar effect, but I have yet to test that one.
Ramona H. December 5, 2018
Works great. I get foot, leg and hand cramps really bad. A couple swigs dill pickle juice works wonders for me.
Linda T. December 9, 2018
Do you drink the pickle juice while you are having the cramp?
Terry December 9, 2018
Does anyone know why we get severe cramps when we get older, I ask the Dr once , said they don’t know what caused them. So frustrating
wg December 10, 2018
Yes...as soon as the muscle seizes up, I hobble to the fridge and take several gulps straight out of the jar (I live alone so I can easily get away with this behavior). For me, it clears up the cramp within 5 minutes or so. I hope it works for you if you decide to try it!
FrugalCat December 4, 2018
Sometimes I stuff a few small cucumbers (quartered, the long way) back into the jar. After a few days- a new batch of pickles!
Sharon January 14, 2019
Yep, been doing that. Works especially well with those small Persian cucumbers. I do the same with leftover brine from pickled jalapenos. Just slice up some fresh peppers and let 'em marinate for several days. Why waste it?
Jonny February 15, 2019
Yes I do this too. There is a particularly good sweet garlic dill pickle chip made by the Amish & sold at Rise n Roll in Valparaiso Indiana. When I've emptied the jar I use this juice for my regular dill pickles. Better than wasting the brine.

Also use it in potato salad, tuna, & chicken salad. Been thinking about using it as the base for a simple salad dressing with olive oil & Dijon.
Athena P. February 15, 2019
We do this with onion slices & our favorite hot pickle brine! Slice fresh sweet onion & add some brine with the onion in a saucepan, along with a couple of dried chilies japonesas to reinvigorate the heat, let simmer 3-5 mins then pack away with the rest of the saved brine in the pickle jar (writing date on lid with a Sharpie). This must be kept refrigerated for food safety. Makes a nice source of pickled onion slices for sandwiches, burgers & snacking!