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Pickle Dip Is the Holy Trifecta of Briny, Crunchy, and Creamy

bon Appétit logo bon Appétit 6/28/2022 Shilpa Uskokovic

The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy to make that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.

I remember my first fast-food burger not for the slick cheese or squishy bun but for the cool dill pickle tucked within—a refreshing counterpoint to and, in my mind, the entire point of the burger. In time I learned of bread-and-butters, half-sours, full-sours, garlic chips, spicy spears, picklebacks, pickle sundaes, and everything else I thought there was to know about cucumbers soaked in vinegar. But it wasn’t until a friend from the Midwest introduced me to dill pickle dip that I unlocked the last level in pickle paradise—a reason to have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without anyone rudely asking if you’re “with child.”

At its simplest, pickle dip is chopped dill pickles stirred into something creamy, seasoned with salt and pepper. This bare bones edition is certainly fine and will get you through many a meal. But it doesn’t take a lot more to catapult pickle dip into dinner-party worthy territory, an offering your guests will remember forevermore. Jump to the end if you’re just here for a recipe, or keep reading to make it your own.

Choose your base

Sour cream, whipped cream cheese, and whole-milk Greek yogurt (or their dairy-free alts) are top choices. All of these have enough body and heft to stand up to the moisture from the pickles without going watery in an hour or two. A big squeeze of mayonnaise stirred into any of the above is a welcome addition.

Pick your pickle

Garlicky, dilly, spicy, sweet—it matters not as long as it’s crisp and crunchy. The shape is also unimportant since you will chop them up. If I go with spears, I like to remove the seedy bellies, which tend to add too much moisture to the dip. Cornichons deserve special mention for being undisputedly crunchy with no soft centers. I also love canned Israeli pickles made with thin-skinned, dense-fleshed cucumbers. Chop the pickles into pea-sized bits, large chunks, or somewhere in between, depending on your preference. Stir as much or as little as you’d like into your base (too much is just enough—I like about 1 cup chopped pickles for 8 oz. base).

Include some or all of these bonuses

The zest of a lemon, finely grated with a Microplane, is non-negotiable in my book. It brightens the dip just enough for the rich dairy to feel positively refreshing. A hit of spice in the form of pickled jalapeños is my secret ingredient in pickle dip. It echoes the vinegary tang of pickles whilst bringing the heat. Crushed red pepper flakes, freshly cracked black pepper, or urfa biber all work instead of or alongside the jalapeños; start with a pinch and increase from there. A clove of minced or grated garlic (remove the bitter green shoot from the middle if you see it) or a sprinkle of garlic powder ties it all together.

Dress it up with herbs

A combination of fresh dill and chives is the very best. Parsley works in a pinch. Chop finely or tear by hand, and use copious amounts.

That’s it

That’s the dip. Set out planks of carrots, cucumbers, and radishes for dunking. Potato chips (double down with dill pickle flavor) are an obvious and excellent pairing. If you made your dip with cream cheese, you can use it on bagels or toast. Or thin out your dip with a splash of milk or water and serve it as a tartar sauce of sorts with breaded chicken or fish. You are officially a Pickle Person.

TL;DR: What's the Recipe?

Stir ½–1 cup roughly chopped dill pickles with 8 oz. sour cream (or Greek yogurt), ¼ cup mayonnaise, 1 finely grated garlic clove (or ¼ tsp. garlic powder), finely grated zest of 1 small lemon, and a pinch of kosher salt. Add 2–4 tablespoons roughly chopped pickled jalapeños and ¼ cup roughly chopped dill and chives. Stir and adjust seasoning with more salt, if needed. Top with more herbs.

In a pickle?

Sesame-Lemon Pickled Cucumbers

a cup of tea sitting on a table: See recipe. © Photo by Julian Cousins, food styling by Adriana Paschen, prop styling by Elizabeth Jaime See recipe.

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