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Homemade Pickle Relish: How to Make Simple Sweet Relish

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 9, 2020 • 2 min read

If you’ve ever made pickles before, homemade pickle relish will be a cinch. If not, it’s a great way to get started with preserving cucumbers.



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What Is Relish?

The word “relish” can refer to a wide variety of condiments including chow-chow, hot relish, and chutney, but in the United States, it almost always refers to pickle relish. Pickle relish is a jam-like condiment made from either pickled cucumbers or fresh cucumbers seasoned with vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. Like chutney and chow-chow, it’s fruity, acidic, and adds flavor to bland foods.

What Is Pickle Relish Made Of?

Pickle relish is made in much the same manner (and with the same ingredients) as pickles. The main difference? The cucumber pieces are much, much smaller.

  1. Cucumbers: For the best homemade pickle relish, start with fresh garden cucumbers. If your cucumbers are on the older side, revive them by soaking in cold water.
  2. Spices: Common relish spices include mustard seed, celery seed, and dill seed.
  3. Peppers: Red or green bell peppers are typical for dill relish.
  4. Vinegar: Use apple cider vinegar for a fruitier flavor, or use distilled white vinegar for a cleaner flavor.
  5. Sweetener: Some sort of sweetener is a must for sweet pickle relish. Make your homemade relish with sugar or honey.
  6. Salt: Pickling or canning salt is superfine and dissolves quickly in liquid.
  7. Onion: The other key difference between relish and chopped-up cucumbers is the addition of onion—almost all pickle relish recipes include onion for a sharp sweetness.
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4 Ways to Use Pickle Relish

You can serve your homemade pickle relish as a condiment alongside hot dogs and hamburgers, but you can also use it as an ingredient in:

  1. Potato salad: Relish is one of the key ingredients in classic potato salad, along with mayonnaise, mustard, celery, and bell peppers.
  2. Deviled eggs: Relish absolutely belongs in deviled eggs and egg salads, where it adds tang to an otherwise bland dish.
  3. Russian dressing: Russian dressing is similar to Thousand Island sauce, and at its most basic, it’s a combination of ketchup, mayonnaise, and relish. If you’re feeling ambitious, try making all three components from scratch.

Homemade Sweet Pickle Relish Recipe

1 cup
Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
5 min


  • 1 pound pickling cucumbers, finely diced
  • ½ cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole dill seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  1. In a large bowl, combine diced cucumber and onion with salt and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature until cucumbers have lost most of their liquid, about 1 hour.
  2. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain cucumbers and onions and discard liquid. Wrap cucumber and onion mixture in a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze over the kitchen sink to remove excess liquid.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine drained cucumber and onion mixture with all remaining ingredients, and stir to coat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until onions have softened and liquid has slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a jar or other airtight container. Relish will keep, refrigerated, about 3 weeks.

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