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This is a great all-purpose pickling spice recipe that you can use for our spicy refrigerator pickles. The flavors in the spice mix complement a wide variety of vegetables, not just cucumbers.

a bowl of pickling spice ingredients
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Why this recipe works

Whether you’re making garlicky dill spears or pickling a little further afield, this all-purpose mix is at home with virtually all vegetables. It takes the classic to the next level with:

  • Toasted, lightly crushed seeds to bring out the best in the coriander and mustard
  • A symphony of warming spices that complement both savory and sweeter pickles
  • Optional heat from the red pepper flakes

I first published this recipe here way back in 2009. It’s adapted from Michael Ruhlman via The New York Times. I’ve updated the post for clarity and made some changes to the recipe since the original publication.

Pickling spice ingredients

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Toasting the peppercorns, yellow mustard seed, and coriander draws out their best qualities
  • Small cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and allspice berries add a warm complexity to the mix. If you’re not familiar with whole allspice, you can learn about it here.
  • The red pepper flakes are optional, and you can control how much you add

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a great batch of our pickling spice recipe. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Heat the peppercorns, mustard seed, and coriander seed in a dry pan for a few minutes until toasty and popping.
  2. Crush the seeds a bit in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Pour the seeds into a small mixing bowl.
  4. Add the other ingredients, breaking up the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Stir thoroughly. Your spices are ready to use in pickling.
Homemade Pickles 780 | Umami Girl
Photo from original post in 2009

Expert tips and FAQs

How many pickles does this recipe make?

This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of spice mix. I use two tablespoons of mix per quart of pickles, so this recipe makes six quarts. For cucumbers, that’s about six pounds.

How long does this recipe keep?

If you start with nice fresh spices and store the mixture in an airtight container, it will keep well for up to six months without much loss of flavor.

More favorite spice blends

a bowl of pickling spice ingredients

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a bowl of pickling spice ingredients
4.80 from 5 votes

Pickling Spice Recipe

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This is a great, slightly leveled-up all-purpose homemade pickling spice. We tend to use it for our spicy refrigerator pickles, but it works equally well with a wide variety of vegetables. Makes enough for six quarts of pickles.
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 0.75 cup
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Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
  • 24 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves

Instructions 

  • Place peppercorns, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds into a small pan and set over medium heat.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, adjusting heat as necessary to ensure spices don’t burn. Keep lid handy in case seeds pop. Cool slightly before proceeding.
  • Pour pan contents into a mortar and crush a bit with the pestle.
  • Combine crushed seeds with other spices and mix thoroughly.
  • Store in a tightly sealed container for up to a few months.

Notes

  1. Use this homemade pickling spice in our Spicy Refrigerator Pickles.
  2. This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of spice mix. I use two tablespoons of mix per quart of pickles, so this recipe makes six quarts. For cucumbers, that’s about six pounds.
  3. If you start with nice fresh spices and store the mixture in an airtight container, it will keep well for up to six months without much loss of flavor.
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman via The New York Times

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 19kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Sodium: 27mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.80 from 5 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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