Pickle & Preserve

Pickled Watermelon Radishes

February  5, 2015
7 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes 1 cup
Author Notes

Warning: Pickled watermelon radishes are not like traditional pickled radishes. Upon fermentation in the fridge, the radish slices undergo a dramatic transformation, releasing a smell that might make you shudder. That said, the slices themselves taste much milder than they smell, and with a little breathing time, their pungency tempers. I find them addictive -- they are the perfect condiment in a bánh mì sandwich or in a whole grain bowl or in anything that needs that acidic bite. These pickled radishes will last indefinitely stored in the fridge but are best eaten within 3 months.

Source: David LebovitzAlexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 1 to 2 watermelon radishes
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, lightly crushed
  1. Wash your watermelon radishes well, making sure to remove any dirt. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice your watermelon radishes into discs, then place in a clean canning jar.
  2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil, and simmer for one minute or until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the garlic and peppercorns. Pour the hot liquid including the garlic and peppercorns over the radishes.
  3. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Andylee48
  • robin lewis
    robin lewis
  • kathie c
    kathie c
  • cook.can.read
  • aargersi
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

33 Reviews

Sheltie_Mom_4ever January 30, 2023
This recipe is delicious!! Most recipes like this contain too much salt, but this one is perfection. I just ate a few slices of pickled radishes, using this recipe, and I had to stop myself from eating the entire jar! At least, it’s healthy, right? I had to find the recipe again to make more tonight! Yes, it smells, but I eat it when no one is around hehe!
Andylee48 July 13, 2022
Agreed, they are pungent for sure, but get past it, they are amazing and indeed snack worthy and bingeable. I grew my own radishes this year couldn’t find them anywhere!
robin L. September 4, 2017
These were so pretty, but did anyone find the garlic too overpowering? (I did, first time making them.)
Altaf K. April 11, 2019
yes, i did. And had to remove it later.
kathie C. September 3, 2017
Great comment! I should have taken that more seriously before embarking on my pickling project. Who ever thought such a pretty radish could smell soooooo bad. Maybe closer to a whale fart in the kitchen. Gifted four pint jars of pickled watermelon radishes to the compost pile today. Which smells a little funky, but like a rose compared to those radishes.
Alexandra S. September 4, 2017
Hahahaha, I love it :) :) :)
kathie C. September 3, 2017
Yes, I read the notes. Much stronger smell than I anticipated. We opened a jar last night to use for tacos. My husband and I were gagging....and laughing. Had to open windows and air the house out. Can't get past the smell. The jars look pretty, but not to be gifted. ;-) I'll stick with using them fresh. Thank you Alexandra!
Alexandra S. September 3, 2017
Definitely not to be gifted :) Did you see aargersi's comment below: "I love these too but MAN - when I opened the jar is seriously smelled like an elephant fart in the kitchen - fair warning - open them outside! The ARE delicious!"

Definitely potent!
kathie C. September 3, 2017
Ugh! Just made 4 jars with bounty from my garden. Look pretty! Smell AWEFUL!!
Alexandra S. September 3, 2017
They do indeed! Did you read the notes?
nancy7476 June 27, 2015
Has anyone tried this recipe with white radishes?
Alexandra S. June 28, 2015
I have not but I am sure it will work just fine! The original recipe from David Lebovitz calls for white radishes. And I have been using this basic brine to pickle lots of things: kohlrabi, carrots, daikon radish, to name a few.
cook.can.read March 6, 2015
The COLOR! I just bought a watermelon radish because I was curious and this is exactly what I will do with it.
Alexandra S. March 6, 2015
I know, aren't they gorgeous? Just know that (see Carolyn's comment below), that they lose their beauty upon being pickled. And they are very stinky. But I love them so! They are good in everything from turkey sandwiches to ramen to cheese/charcuterie plates. Here is a salad I made with unpickled watermelon radishes if you are looking for other ideas: http://www.alexandracooks.com/2014/12/24/watermelon-radish-orange-goat-cheese-salad/
cook.can.read March 6, 2015
I have been known to eat a whole pint of fermented garlic radishes in two sittings, so I don't mind lost beauty or stink. But I appreciate the warning. Thanks for sharing the salad recipe!
Alexandra S. March 6, 2015
Oh good, so happy to hear this :)
Carolyn V. February 28, 2015
These are great! The thinner ones are my favorites. The only thing is, all of the pink color from the watermelon radishes bled out into the liquid and the pickled slices are pretty uniformly pale pink. They aren't as pretty as the picture. Any suggestions? The radishes I got were pretty pale pink, so maybe I just need to try again with brighter radishes.
Alexandra S. March 2, 2015
Hi Carolyn,
I don't actually think there is anything you can do to prevent the bleeding. The radishes look beautiful for a very brief amount of time — it's such a shame, because I love the idea of giving these as gifts (despite the smell!) but they really don't look that appetizing after the first day. If you look at the last photo in the post: https://food52.com/blog/12240-what-to-do-with-an-overload-of-watermelon-radishes#jXSAa6:Wvb you'll see that my pickled radishes (on the cheese board) are uniformly pale pink, too. Wish I had better news for you!
Rob P. January 23, 2017
I pickled these and the colors ran, as expected. Then it occurred to me to try a method that's used for kimchi: cold pickling! You can still boil the ingredients as you've specified, but then let the mixture cool before adding the radish. You will need to let the radish slices soak for several hours, but it works. Best of all, the colors don't bleed quite as much. After sitting in a jar for too long, they will, but initially they will still be just as beautiful as they were when you sliced it.
Alexandra S. January 24, 2017
Genius! I can't wait to try this. I still have a ton of watermelon radishes from my CSA. Question: are they still stinky with the cold pickling?
Rob P. January 24, 2017
I pickled them with 2 parts kosher salt, 2 parts white sugar, and 1 part allspice. It seems that the allspice plays well with the bitterness, and also make them smell less bad. I've also noticed that it works best to drain the liquids after a few hours to preserve the colors.
Carolyn V. January 24, 2017
Great idea Rob! I'll try it!
Alexandra S. January 24, 2017
Awesome, thanks for all of this, Rob!
Paula February 21, 2015
So pretty! I used a spiral cutter to make ribbons of watermelon radish - it looks so pretty as a accompaniment to an appetizer
aargersi February 9, 2015
I love these too but MAN - when I opened the jar is seriously smelled like an elephant fart in the kitchen - fair warning - open them outside! The ARE delicious!
Alexandra S. February 9, 2015
hahahaha! I know, right? It is astonishing. I am amazed every time I eat one that they taste so good for as foul as they smell.
Julie H. February 8, 2015
thank you!!
Julie H. February 8, 2015
i want to know where you got the jars from lol
Alexandra S. February 8, 2015
I know, aren't they the best? The Provisions shop has a very nice selection of Weck jars: https://food52.com/provisions/search?q=weck+jars

I have so many in various sizes, and I use them all the time!
Carolyn V. February 7, 2015
This sounds great! How long do they take to pickle once refrigerated?
Alexandra S. February 8, 2015
I feel these are probably best used within 3 months, but theoretically, with all that vinegar, they should last indefinitely. I have a batch that is at least a month old now, and the radishes taste as crisp and refreshing as they did when I first pickled them.
Meaghan F. February 6, 2015
Delicious on a sandwich with sausage, cooked onions, and melted mozzarella! I've had people unfamiliar with them to think they're a fruit when put out with charcuterie though, so beware.
Alexandra S. February 8, 2015
Oh yum, that sounds good! And thanks for the head's up re confusion with fruit...I've been too shy to break these out for company yet :)