fried chicken sandwich with pickled slaw and avocado mayonnaise

Upgrade Your Next Meal with Pickled Vegetables and Fruits

Last Updated on September 16, 2021

Looking to add intense flavor to your meals? Look no further than pickled vegetables and fruits. Pickling is the act of preserving foods with acidic liquid or a saltwater brine, and the technique has been around for thousands of years. It not only prevents fresh foods from spoiling, but it’s also a great way to level up home cooking. Use the following pickled ingredients to transform your favorite recipes.

Pickled Red Onions in Tacos and Sandwiches

cod tacos with spicy crema and slaw

Onions host a variety of flavor potential. Raw onions are crisp and crunchy, with a strong, pungent taste. Cooked onions are soft, smooth, and sweet. By contrast, pickled onions highlight the crunchiness and sweetness of the root vegetable. They also add in a layer of tangy tartness. Pickled red onions—be they store-bought or homemade—are excellent as a garnish atop beef or fish tacos, or nestled into the layers of a fried chicken sandwich.

Pickled Blueberries, Avocados, and Peaches in Everything

Like pickled vegetables, fruits can be delicious and interesting choices for pickling. Pickled blueberries work great on a salad or served with goat cheese as a tart, creamy appetizer. Pickling avocados is the perfect solution for rock-hard, unripe avocados, and the protein-rich fruit can be used in everything from tacos to sandwiches as well as served on a piece of toast. Pickled peaches bring a delightful salty essence to the sweet, juicy fruit, and are best served over savory dishes like pulled pork.

Pickled Hot Peppers on Pizza and Nachos or in Cocktails

mexican-style chorizo crumbled in between layers of nachos

One of the easiest ways to spice up your recipes is with pickled hot peppers. Depending on your spice tolerance, choices range from the milder side—banana peppers, pepperoncini peppers, or poblanos—to lip-blistering choices like habanero or serrano peppers. The process of pickling is bound to reduce some of the natural heat while keeping the crunchiness and adding that familiar pickled tanginess. Pickled peppers work well as a pizza ingredient, a nachos topping, or a spicy garnish to a Bloody Mary cocktail.

Pickled Green Beans in Salads and as Snacks

One of the most underrated pickled vegetables is the green bean. While not seen commonly in stores, pickled green beans are a great choice if you’re looking to venture into the world of home pickling. Use these salty treats as a crunchy addition to a salad, charcuterie spread, or simply as a tart, nutritious snack.

Pickled Garlic Cloves in Chili and Mashed Potatoes

beef and kidney bean chili with guacamole, limes, and tortilla chips

Munching on a whole clove of garlic may not be your first choice as a snack. But a pickled garlic clove is a different story. The pickling process alters the flavor of garlic, bringing out the sweetness while tampering its pungent flavor. Pickled garlic goes great in a pot of homemade chili, or blended into mashed potatoes for a different take on the creamy comfort food.

Jonathan is a freelance writer/editor and rock climbing route-setter based in Boston, MA. When he’s not wielding words or making people fall off walls, he’s probably outside somewhere, hiking or climbing or surfing poorly. He’s been known, on occasion, to drop everything and travel the world for months at a time. Learn more about Jonathan at