Do Pickles Need To Be Refrigerated


Do pickles need to be refrigerated? In this article we’ll focus on the factors that determine how you know whether you should store your pickles in the refrigerator. And by pickles we mean pickled cucumbers, though there are many food items that can be pickled for food preservation. We’ll also cover how to tell if your pickles have gone bad.

Do Pickles Go Bad?

Just like any food, pickles can go bad. But with proper storage you can maximize their shelf life and enjoy them for as long as possible. We’ll also describe the key indicators below for knowing if your pickles have gone bad.

How Long Do Pickles Last?

Unopened canned pickles that have been pasteurized can retain their quality for about 2 years, or a year past the best if used by date on the label.

After a jar of pickles has been opened, you can enjoy them for about 2-4 weeks if they’re stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Pickles that are purchased in bulk from a barrel should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within a week.

How to Tell If Pickles Have Gone Bad

Have Your Pickles Gone Bad? There are key indicators to look for to know whether your pickles have gone bad. If you see any of these signs, then you should throw your pickles away and not eat them.   

Eating bad pickles can potentially cause food poisoning or illness.


If the color of your pickles seems off, if they have changed color from their beautiful green hue, then it’s possible that your pickles have gone bad.


Mold is another indicator that your pickles have gone bad. If mold is present, throw them away as they’ve spoiled.

Bulging Lid

A bulging lid is another way of knowing that your pickles have gone bad. The bulge indicates that pressure has built up, which is the result of excessive fermentation or spoilage. Pickles with a budging lid should be thrown away.


If the smell of your pickles is off, then throw them away. They’ve spoiled.

Do Pickles Have to be Refrigerated After Opening?

Yes, pickles should always be refrigerated after opening to keep them from growing bacteria and from spoiling.

The other factor that would determine whether your pickles need to be refrigerated is if they were refrigerated at the grocery store, you should also refrigerate them at home.

This likely indicates that your pickles are unpasteurized. Refrigerating unpasteurized pickles helps to slow down the fermentation process and keeps them from becoming extremely tart.

Optimal Conditions for Non-Refrigerated Pickles

The optimal storage condition for non-refrigerated pickles is to keep them in a cool and dark location. This will help to maximize their shelf life.

How to Store Pickles

Pickles are typically stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator depending on how they were prepared or whether they’ve been opened. Let’s take a look at each method and solve determining whether to refrigerate pickles.

Pickles in Jars

Buying pickles in jars is one of the most popular ways to buy pickles at the grocery store.  Pickles stored in jars should be kept in a cool, dry location such as a pantry. After they’re opened, pickles in jars should be stored in the refrigerator.

Pickles in Barrels

Barrels of pickles should be stored in a cool, dry place until the desired sourness has been achieved. Then pickles should be transferred to a jar and sealed with a lid, stored in the refrigerator.

Freezing Pickles

We don’t recommend freezing pickles because when pickles are frozen their consistency is changed and you end up with rubbery or mushy pickles. The idea of a pickle is that they’re already preserved using a brine so why freeze them. It won’t necessarily lengthen shelf life.

What Do You Need To Make Pickles?

To make pickles, you’ll need the following ingredients.  See our full recipe here for instructions.

  • 3 lbs pickling cucumbers
  • 1 ½ cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tsp dill seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Easiest Way to Make Your Own Pickles

To make cucumber pickles at home, you’ll want to use good, firm cucumbers that are fresh. Young cucumbers that are smaller in size and are crisp tend to work best.

Pickle Basics

In order to make pickles, you’ll want to gather your ingredients and equipment and decide how you’ll want to seal the jars if you’re going for length of storage, for example you can use a water bath or a pressure cooker as a couple of options.

If you’re simply making quick pickles like we’ve mentioned above, then you don’t necessarily need to worry about sealing anything off and processing it for length of storage. They’re simply intended to be eaten in the short term and stored in the refrigerator.

See our homemade pickle recipe here.

What Are Pickles?

A pickle can be any kind of fruit, vegetable, or meat that’s preserved in a liquid or salty brine. But in this article, we’ll focus on pickled cucumbers which are commonly referred to and sold as “pickles” in the US.


A quick pickle is made from vinegar which. Is an acetic acid, rather than using lactic acid from fermentation. Quick pickles are perfect for making pickles in just a few days and are ideal for short term storage and consumption in just a few days.


A salt-brined pickle is made from a form of saltwater brine that creates lactic acid microbes which assist in a beneficial fermentation and preservation.


Vinegar brined pickles are one of the most popular kinds of pickles.

Can You Freeze Pickles?

Pickles are an already preserved food, and freezing them changes the consistency to being soggy and mushy. Because pickles absorb a fair amount of liquid when you freeze them they turn to crystalline. We don’t recommend freezing pickles.

Can Old Pickles Make You Sick?

As is true with any food, pickles are perishable and if eaten spoiled they have the potential of making you sick.

Types of Pickles

There are several flavors and varieties of pickles. Here are some of the popular types of pickles:

bread and butter
cucumber relish
pickled veggies

Ways To Enjoy Pickles

If you love pickles, you’ll know that there are a variety of ways they can be enjoyed. Here are a few ideas of ways to enjoy pickles:

Plain or as a side dish
Sliced on your burger
Use the pickle juice to make Chick-fil-a grilled nuggets
Finely chop them for relish for potato salad
Use them as a pizza topping
Chop them for egg salad
Enjoy them on a peanut butter and pickle sandwich

What are some other ways you enjoy pickles? Leave us a comment in the box below.

Does Pickle Brine Prevent Bacteria Growth?

The purpose of pickle brine is to help prevent bacterial growth, however if conditions are right, bacteria growth will develop anyway.

For example, if the brine is not balance with a high enough acidic level, or the pickles are left unsealed, or if they’re stored at too high of temperature these factors can each promote bacteria.

Do Pickles Need Preservatives?

The vinegar and pickling brine in pickles acts as the preservative. When balanced to the proper acidic level it’s what preserves the pickles and lengthens their shelf life.

The Real Reason Some Pickles Are Sold Refrigerated

You might notice that some pickles in the grocery store are sold in the refrigerated section. This is because they haven’t been pasteurized and fermentation is still taking place.

They are stored in the refrigerator to slow the process down and keep them from rapidly turning into super sour pickles.

Are Pickles Safe to Use After the Best-Before Date?

Sometimes pickles are safe to use after the best before date. The best before date refers to quality rather than safety. If you want to use pickles after the date has past, just examine them to make sure they don’t show any of the key indicators of spoilage listed above.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to do pickles need to be refrigerated. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

Are pickles good for you?

Whether pickles are good for you depends on your dietary restrictions.  Pickles tend to be high in salt content, so they should be eaten in moderation just like any other food item. And if you’re on a low sodium diet, you might want to avoid pickles altogether.

Are pickles cucumbers?

Pickles are made from cucumbers.

Are pickles fermented?

It depends. Some pickles are fermented, and some are not. It depends on the type of pickles. Quick pickles aren’t fermented, but pickles that are stored in a jar on your grocery store shelf at room temperature are typically fermented.

How are pickles made?

Pickles can be made in a variety of ways, depending on their type. Usually, they’re made by soaking them in an acidic solution and salty brine until they’re fermented.

Are pickles keto?

Yes, pickles are keto friendly if they’re made with no sugar added.  

Are pickles vegetables?

Pickles can be considered both a vegetable and a fruit. They can be classified as a vegetable because they’re made and stored in a liquid brine.

A pickle is also considered a fruit because of its seeds and the method by which the flower of the plan and seeds develop. For more information about is a pickle a fruit, read our post here.

Is it bad to eat pickles every day?

It could be bad to eat pickles every day, depending on your dietary restrictions. Pickles tend to have a high amount of sodium and if you’re on a low sodium diet, eating pickles every day could be bad.

Eating a frequent diet of pickles can also affect your gut health. It has the potential of causing discomfort and creating excess gas.

Why are the pickles mushy?

It’s possible that your pickles turned mushy because they’re stored at room temperature too long, were cooked too long before they were canned, or they’ve spoiled. If you suspect your pickles might not be any good, just throw them out.

Does boiling your vinegar make the pickles last longer?

No, boiling your vinegar doesn’t make the pickles last any longer when making homemade pickles. That factor is unrelated.

Do pickles expire even if they stay packaged?

Yes, like any food pickles are perishable and will expire and eventually spoil even if they stay packaged.

What happens if I eat expired pickles?

If your pickles are simply expired, it’s possible that they’re not yet spoiled. Check them for our key indicators of spoiled pickles listed above. If stored properly, and left unopened, it’s possible that your pickles can last for up to one year past the expiration date.

Why do dill pickles go cloudy?

A cloudy appearance in your pickles can indicate that table salt was used to make the brine, rather than pickling salt. If your pickles are also soft, it could indicate that they are spoiled due to yeast fermentation.

How do you know if homemade pickles are safe?

If homemade pickles have the proper acidic levels, are stored properly, don’t have any of the spoilage indicators listed above, and are consumed within a year or two, then they’re likely safe.

Do pickles help you lose weight?

The vinegar or acidic content in the pickle juice or brine is the factor that can potentially assist with weight loss.

Can you get Botulism from pickles?

It’s possible that you can get Botulism from pickles if they’re not acidic enough. If making your own pickles, be sure to follow proper storage methods and recipe instructions to reach the proper acidic levels for safety purposes.

What happens if you drink pickle juice every day?

Drinking pickle juice every day can lead to potential discomfort and medical problems. The consumption of too much pickle juice is thought to be the cause of electrolyte imbalance, gas, cramps, or digestive problems.  

How to freeze pickles for the winter by yourself?

Before you freeze pickles, we’d like to ask you to reconsider.  The outcome of frozen pickles causes them to change in consistency and the result is a mushy pickle. Pickles are well preserved already and don’t need to be frozen.

Can pickles be frozen for the second time?

We don’t recommend freezing pickles for the first time, or the second time, or at all.

How long can you leave pickles in the fridge?

When determining how long to leave pickles in the fridge, you’ll want to pay attention to the best if used by date and whether any signs of spoilage are showing. If there is concern as to whether the pickles are safe to eat, simply throw them away.  

When, if ever, do pickles need to be refrigerated?

There are two main indicators that your pickles should be refrigerated. The first is to refrigerate them if they were stored in a refrigerator at the grocery store.

The other indicator to refrigerate pickles is if they’re opened. Always store an open jar of pickles in the refrigerator.

How long do pickles last once opened?

Pasteurized pickles purchased in a jar stored at room temperature at the grocery store will typically last 2-4 weeks after they’re opened and stored in the refrigerator.

How long do homemade pickles last?

Homemade pickles that are canned and brined to the correct acidity level should last for 1-2 years when stored in a cool, dry place and sealed properly.

Do homemade pickles need to be refrigerated?

Yes, homemade pickles that are made as quick pickles should be kept in the refrigerator because they don’t have the appropriate acid levels to be stored at room temperature. Or pickles that are canned for a long shelf life that have been opened should be stored in the refrigerator.

Does Branston pickle need to be refrigerated?

Yes, Branston pickles should be refrigerated once they’re opened.

Do Vlasic pickles need to be refrigerated?

Yes, Vlasic pickles should be refrigerated, once they’re opened.

Do Claussen pickles need to be refrigerated?

Yes, Claussen pickles should be refrigerated once they’re opened.

Do Kosher dill pickles need to be refrigerated?

Yes, Kosher dill pickles should be refrigerated once they’re opened.

Do canned pickles need to be refrigerated?

Yes, after they’re opened they should be refrigerated, or if they were purchased from the refrigerator section at the grocery store they should be refrigerated once you bring them home.

How long do pickles stay fresh in the pantry?

Pasteurized pickles stored in a cool, dark place such as a pantry will typically last 1-2 years if they’re sealed and left unopened.

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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