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.
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.
- 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.
- Heat the peppercorns, mustard seed, and coriander seed in a dry pan for a few minutes until toasty and popping.
- Crush the seeds a bit in a mortar and pestle.
- Pour the seeds into a small mixing bowl.
- Add the other ingredients, breaking up the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Stir thoroughly. Your spices are ready to use in pickling.
Expert tips and FAQs
This recipe makes about ¾ 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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- Use this homemade pickling spice in our Spicy Refrigerator Pickles.
- This recipe makes about ¾ 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.
- 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
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 19Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 27mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g