You know what’s really sad?
Grabbing the jar of pickles from the fridge and realizing there’s nothing left but brine and spices.
Or am I the only one who absentmindedly puts empty pickle jars back in the fridge?
In any case, eating that last pickle, as sad as it may be, leaves you with a jar full of possibilities. If you make your own pickles, it’s hard to justify dumping your hard work down the drain.
Save that jar full of delicious brine, and use it to add flavor and punch to any number of tasty treats.
These days, I’m wise to the brilliant ways you can use pickle juice.
Now those jars of nothing but pickle brine in the fridge are there on purpose, not because I’m absentminded.
(Uh-huh, sure, Tracey.)
Here are 24 creative (and delicious) ways to use leftover pickle brine.
Don’t forget; this applies to pickled veggie brine in general, not just cucumbers. One of my favorite leftover pickle brines comes from spicy dilly beans. I use it specifically for #10 on the list.
If it’s been sitting in the fridge for a while, you’ll want to make sure the brine is still good. Check to see if there is mold floating on the surface or the sides of the jar. If there’s no mold, you’re good to go.
1. Drink It
Seriously. Pickle juice is great to sip all on its own. Strain it to remove any of the spices, and enjoy it over ice. It’s the perfect thirst-quenching summer sipper.
2. Relieve Muscle Cramps
When I was younger, anytime you would get a muscle cramp – a Charlie horse, a foot cramp, you name it, grandma would hand you the pickle jar and tell you to take a good glug.
And the odd thing was, it worked.
To this day, I still take a shot of pickle juice if I find myself with a particularly stubborn muscle cramp.
Research shows this has more to do with the potent tang of pickle juice rather than the actual ingredients. But it does work.
3. Make More Pickles
If there are no more pickles, clearly, it’s because you liked them. Make some more by tossing some sliced veggies into the leftover brine. Softer vegetables work best, like thinly sliced cucumbers or canned vegetables (think green beans or artichoke hearts). You could even toss in a few hard-boiled eggs. Get crazy and try pickling a veggie you’ve never pickled before.
Obviously, it won’t be as strong as the original batch, but give it a week or two, and you’ll have tasty pickles to snack on again.
4. Pickle Juice Marinade
The vinegar in pickle brine helps to tenderize meats, and it’s already packed with flavor from the pickling spices. Use that leftover brine to marinate chicken, pork and beef for your tastiest and tenderest dishes.
For the most incredible fried chicken you’ve ever tasted, marinate your poultry in pickle juice for 24 hours before you batter and fry it.
5. Salad Dressings
Making salad dressings from scratch always leads to something tastier than any bottled dressing at the store. Not to mention it’s cheaper. Kick things up in the flavor department by using pickle juice instead of vinegar—no more boring salads for you.
6. Replace Vinegar with Pickle Juice
Speaking of replacing vinegar with pickle juice for salad dressing, this works universally in cooking. If you’ve got a recipe that calls for vinegar and you’re all out, swap it with pickle juice instead. Or if you just want to give a recipe a bit more zip, go for the pickle juice instead of vinegar.
7. Boiled Potatoes That Aren’t Boring
Nothing says bland like boiled food—especially potatoes.
Unless, of course, you boil them in pickle brine. Add a healthy glug of pickle brine to your potato water and boil as usual. Your potatoes will pop – as in right into your mouth, bite after bite. Don’t expect to have any leftovers.
8. The Best Potato Salad
And while you’re boiling your potatoes in pickle brine, use them to make potato salad. Add another splash of that zingy pickle juice to the mayo, and you’ve got potato salad that’s anything other than ordinary.
Yeah, don’t expect leftovers with this either.
9. Make a Killer Bloody Mary
Ahem, sometimes known as the “hair of the dog” after a night of overindulgence, this brunch staple is easily improved with pickle juice added to the mix. Skip the alcohol, and it will make your Virgin Mary that much more flavorful too. In any case, pickle juice makes Mary better.
10. Dirty Martini
Martini lovers have all enjoyed a good dirty martini made with olive brine. But, oh my friends, that’s just the beginning. I use my spicy dilly bean brine specifically for dirty martinis. If you want a dirty martini to remember, try pickle brine from something other than olives.
And maybe even save a pickled dilly bean for your garnish.
If you’ve never had a pickleback, you need to try it at least once. It’s a shot of bourbon followed by a shot of pickle juice.
I know; I made that face too the first time I had heard of it.
But as far as shots go, this one is pretty good. It offers a more sophisticated flavor profile other than something super fruity you did in your 20s. Very umami and savory.
12. Seafood? Skip the Lemon
If you usually squeeze lemon on your seafood, try a little pickle brine instead. If you’re looking for that perfect drizzle that you get from squeezing a lemon, pour some pickle brine in a ramekin, then dip your clean fingers in it and flick the pickle brine over your seafood.
Easy and delicious.
13. Steamed Fish and Veggies
Speaking of seafood, use that pickle juice to steam fish and veggies for a brighter flavor. Dill goes great with most fish anyway. So what’s not to love?
14. Deviled Eggs
Knock your deviled eggs out of the park by adding a healthy dose of pickle juice to your recipe. That zing mixes well with the other ingredients and makes for a deviled egg filling that pops.
15. Homemade Chutney
If you’ve made chutney, you know one of the important ingredients is vinegar. Try adding pickle brine to your homemade chutney to give it depth and expand the flavor profile. You can add a splash in addition to the vinegar or get crazy and swap it out for the vinegar entirely. Strain any spices from it first.
16. Marinate Soft Cheeses
Try making your own mozzarella; you can do it in under thirty minutes. Make small mozzarella balls, or slice a larger ball into bite-sized pieces; then pop them in leftover pickle juice, and you’re only a few days away from a zesty treat. Goat cheese and feta are great too.
17. Deglaze a Pan
Wine is often used to deglaze a pan and make a quick sauce to accompany a dish. Depending on the flavors of our dish, you can try using pickle brine to deglaze your pan. You’ll end up with a brighter, tangier sauce in the end. Drizzle it over veggies, chicken or pork.
18. Pickle Juice Popsicles
Just try it.
But wait until it’s the kind of heat that makes moving to Alaska sound good.
I told you so.
19. A Savory Mocktail
Club soda and bitters.
That’s the old standby if you didn’t want to drink but wanted something other than a sugary soda. These days mocktails are just as popular as their alcoholic counterparts. While many of them are still very sugar-forward, you have the option for something a bit more savory. Mix pickle brine with club soda for a more sophisticated non-alcoholic mocktail.
And you can still add the bitters.
20. Make a Shrub (Drinking Vinegar)
Oh, my friend, if you’ve still not made a shrub, you need to. Here, I’ll even show you how. (It’s easy, I promise.) Now that you’ve made one, make another with your leftover pickle brine. You’ll be amazed at the intense flavors you get from all the spices in the brine.
Meatloaf – it’s one of those entrees where you can play around with the ingredients and flavors. Add pickle brine to create a meatloaf you won’t forget. Tender, moist, and tasty.
22. Pickled Soup
When you put pickle brine in your broth-based soups, you’ll be amazed at what happens. The broth mellows out the tang and punch of the pucker. And in its place, you get a warm richness and a brighter flavor. It will take the boring right out of boring ol’ chicken noodle.
23. Ice It
Pour that leftover pickle brine into ice cube trays, and then save them in resealable bags in your freezer. You’ll get your jars back, ready to reuse, and you’ll have a freezer full of cold flavor-infused cubes ready to go for any of the items on this list.
24. Clean with Pickle Juice
And finally, if you don’t want to eat it or drink it, you can always use leftover pickle brine to clean greasy stovetops and copper-bottomed cookware. (Here’s another easy way to clean copper.)
Just strain it first, and you’ve got a vinegar solution that’s ready to make your kitchen sparkle and shine.
Once you start using pickle juice here and there, you’ll quickly find it’s a condiment all on its own. And wondering what to do with ‘leftover’ pickle juice will become a thing of the past.