Bless This Pickle Sandwich

October  4, 2022
13 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • makes 1 sandwich
Author Notes

What I make when I don’t have time to make lunch. According to Google, a pickle sandwich means a sandwich on a pickle—like, a pickle instead of bread. This is not that. Instead, it’s much closer to the British pickle and cheese sandwich, which does include bread, as well as cheddar and a pickle-slash-chutney condiment, most likely Branston brand. This is not quite that either. But it shares the same belief system, that a good pickle and a good cheese are all you need for a stellar sandwich. (No offense to deli turkey.) In this case, I turn to half-sour pickles, my favorite, though you can certainly swap in bread-and-butter chips if you’d rather a sweeter bite. Whatever pickle you end up with, the trick is to use it not once, not twice, but three different ways. First: minced into a relishy situation, to stir with grainy mustard and mayonnaise. Second: a splash of brine to thin out and brighten up that sauce. Third: sliced into cold-cut-like slabs, to proudly pile on the sandwich. The whole thing comes together in about the time it takes for bread to toast. Which is to say, almost no time at all.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Pantry Mixing Bowls
- Five Two Essential Knives
- OXO Measuring Cups and Spoons

Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

This speedy pickle sandwich is part of our Big Little Recipes column, which showcases great meals with five ingredients or fewer. Here are some other minimalist dishes that would be perfect for a quick work-from-home lunch:

Tuna Artichoke Melt: From the Big Little Recipes cookbook, this open-faced sandwich is a good reason to always keep tinned tuna and marinated artichokes in the pantry. Besides cheddar, any melty cheese works, so use whatever you have around, like provolone, Pepper Jack, American, or smoked Gouda.

Tuna Avocado Toast: Another simple sandwich from the cookbook. Avocado toast is good, but tuna avocado toast is even better. Full of protein and umami, oil-packed tuna makes this super hearty and satisfying. Any bread works here, but something sour and seedy and grainy is especially nice.

Cream Cheese Omelet With Everything Seasoning: Ooey, gooey, and lightning-fast. Inspired by bagels (!), this omelet would be wonderful with a simple salad (bonus points for already-washed greens, like arugula or kale), or toast, or, yeah, a bagel.

Mustardy Escarole Salad With Grilled Cheese Croutons: The easiest—and cheesiest—croutons you’ll ever make. Just make a grilled cheese sandwich, then chop it into bite-size pieces. If escarole isn’t your vibe, any other sorta-bitter green would be happy to hop in. Try: romaine, arugula, radicchio, frisée, endive, you name it.
—The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon minced half-sour pickle
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickle brine
  • 2 slices seedy bread, lightly toasted
  • 1 half-sour pickle, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 layers sliced sharp white cheddar
  1. Combine the minced pickle, mayo, mustard, and brine in a bowl. Try it, then adjust the ratio to taste. Spread half of the sauce on each slice of bread. Add the pickles to one slice, top with the cheese, then close the sandwich. Slice in half on the diagonal.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Elizabeth Howard
    Elizabeth Howard
  • betty888
  • Jieh
  • Sara Goldstein- Lahyani
    Sara Goldstein- Lahyani
  • howcool
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

48 Reviews

Elizabeth H. July 3, 2023
And on Ezekiel raisin toast! Yum
MrsRiii February 17, 2023
I have been craving this since I noticed the video on IG. LOVE IT! I made extra. . . Because that is what I do. LOL. I had some cooked small shell pasta and mixed the two together. YUMMY! I envision adding grated cheese, too. Anyway, it is a perfect dressing for a pasta salad, I think.
betty888 January 4, 2022
My 7 year old pickle-loving niece said “this is awesome!” I think so too!
Lizhm December 29, 2021
There is no reason for me to mess with the simple perfection here. It is perfect as is and, should time allow, as @Russ points out, it's good as a toastie or grilled. Which brings me to my recommendation should you find a jar of good kimchi in your fridge: it is my belief that grilled cheese with kimchi is the ne plus ultra. Pickled things with melted cheese on bread leads to happiness.
Jieh June 30, 2021
*Pickle Sandwich Hack Alert* lacking mayonnaise and time I just slathered some hearty sandwich bread with pimento cheese (it's a delightful mix of shredded cheddar, mayo/cream cheese & spices for the uninitiate) and laid a sliced pickle on top. Boom! Less than 60 seconds to sandwich bliss. BTW it didn't hurt that the pimento was the very excellent variety made by the good folks at Sweet Grass Dairy in Georgia, luckily they export to NYC. Now if they would only do a spicy version... I just sprinkled on a bit of hot sauce instead.
Sara G. June 7, 2021
Yum. Added thinly sliced tomatoes and a handful of arugula. Delicious.
Russ May 12, 2021
Fun sandwich! .. And in the same spirit of the British version .. Makes for a great 'grilled' sandwich ("Pickle Melt"?!) .. or if you have one of those great 70s/80s "sandwich machines" or today's panini press .. a "Pickle Toastie"!
howcool May 5, 2021
Great sandwich! I've been making endless variations of pickle sandwiches for decades, and they rank high on my list of favourite midnight snacks.
One point, though... in Britain, you would never hear anyone refer to a "pickle & cheese sandwich". It's always "cheese & pickle", but the pickle is usually Branston.
phip May 4, 2021
Hello from Santa Barbara the home of Pacific Pickle Works that made the Bread And Buddha pickles with which I composed my sandwich. I used Trader Joe’s cheddar (that tastes like parmigiano) and a corn rye from our local Bobs Wellbread. What a great sandwich. Think I will grill it next time and stick in the pickle towards the end. Thanks
So S. May 4, 2021
Made this out of morbid curiosity, found myself a new fan

Didn't toast the bread and found that the softness went really nicely with pickles' crunch and held everything really well

Not sure I'd make this with regular pickles, I felt the half sour had a nice fresh cucumbery taste that I really liked and would miss if using regular pickles :)

Bonnie May 4, 2021
Glad to hear your thoughts on the half sour pickles. I got them to make this, but having never eaten them before, was wondering how it would be.
William C. May 3, 2021
If you're not packing this for lunch but you're eating it at home, don't toast the bread, grill the sandwich.

I make my own pickles.
Lisa May 3, 2021
I have been making this sandwich for years and love it so much but use dill pickle slices. My favorite are Grillo's pickles. What are half sour pickles?
Bonnie May 3, 2021
Wondering the same. I actually found some today at market. Curious to see what they taste like.
Amy T. April 30, 2021
Well, this sounds like my version of heaven. I will definitely try, probably with the Boars Head horseradish pickles. But I wanted to also give a shout out to a grilled cheese with extra sharp white cheddar with chutney; I'm partial to the Stonewall Kitchen apple cranberry chutney or the Old Farmhouse chutney. It makes the grilled cheese sandwich!
Nina L. May 1, 2021
Forgot all about those yummy Boars Head pickles. They most certainly will kick it up a notch. Has anyone tried the Grillo's pickles? Another great pickle. Even the brine tastes good. They have a recipe for a Dirty Martini. :-) Company is out of Boston. Just like homemade.
a4girl October 5, 2021
Grillo's is what I use to make my pickle & cheddar (Cabot Sharp) sandwiches AND the brine is soooo good in an extra dirty martini. I think I might have to try them together for dinner tonight. :)
Rhigh April 30, 2021
I made this today for lunch and it was terrific. I substituted the white cheddar for yellow because the white cheddar was three times the cost of yellow cheddar for some unknown reason. The Mayo mixture takes this sandwich to the next level.
jw64 April 29, 2021
I couldn't stop thinking about this sandwich after I saw this...made it today! I could eat this every day!!!!
kasia S. April 29, 2021
Finally got a chance to make this sandwich, exactly as recipe is written, and wow.. the sharp white cheddar and good, hearty seedy bread really make the whole thing work. Amazing!
AntoniaJames April 29, 2021
In our house, we have something similar called "The Aunt Patty Special," a tribute to my Aunt Patty, who shocked me when I was six years old by serving me a grilled cheese sandwich with a pickle on it. Back then, the bread was Wonder, the cheese was American slices, and the pickle was a sweet pickle "chip." I remember it vividly because it is the first time I realized that not everyone in the world prepared food exactly the way my mother did.

Our version these days is inspired by Nancy Silverton. I'm guessing this is from her Thursdays at Campanile book on sandwiches, but I'm not 100% certain. Our big little sandwich consists of artisanal bread (preferably one involving seeds), a pile of grated cheddar (or a combination of cheddar and gruyere, or whatever else we have on hand that seems appropriate) layered with a pile of coarsely chopped homemade red onion pickles, topped with another pile of cheese, topped with a slice of bread smeared with coarse Dijon mustard, cooked on a skillet with a pat of butter that has been melted and browned before the sandwich goes into the pan. Serve with homemade broccoli or tomato + carrot soup. ;o)
Susan April 28, 2021
This is a massive upgrade to the dill pickle and cheez whiz sandwiches that were my favourite as a child in the 1970s.
Erica G. April 28, 2021
Try with Boar's Head Horseradish Bread & Butter Pickle Chips! Amazing.
Ryan April 28, 2021
Making it with some marmite is tasty.
kasia S. April 28, 2021
Marmite spaghetti with butter and parm is so underrated too!
Ryan April 29, 2021
I need to try this, thanks for suggestion😎👍.
kasia S. April 29, 2021
My pleasure :)