These Spicy Cucumber Pickles are a fantastic, easily-made condiment that will elevate the flavour of many dishes. With the cucumbers, we include the vibrant flavours of onion, fragrant star anise, spicy dried chilli flakes and the warmth of fresh ginger to take these Cucumber Pickles to new heights.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
When cucumbers are abundant at the height of their season, I like to make the most of the produce.
Just one way I do this is to make some Spicy Cucumber Pickles. They are quickly and easily prepared, providing you with a condiment to enjoy through the months ahead.
You will love these Spicy Cucumber Pickles because:
- They are easily made from ingredients that are readily available.
- It is the perfect way to preserve an ingredient at the height of the season and enjoy it throughout the months ahead.
- Homemade Pickles are quick to prepare and vibrant in flavour – and best of all? You know exactly what is going in them, and can adjust the flavours to your liking!
- These delicious pickles are perfect to serve with your favourite burger, grilled meats, crispy fried chicken or just to enhance a salad!
- Recipes like our Spicy Cucumber Pickles are great to have in your repertoire. They make a great edible gift – that is, if you can resist eating them all!
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Baby cucumbers – we use Lebanese cucumbers, also known as Persian cucumbers. They are a small variety with thin, edible skin and few seeds. They are crisp and sweet. Look for cucumbers with firm, unblemished skin and avoid any cucumbers which feel soft. We also use these cucumbers in our Bread and Butter Pickles or Dill Pickled Cucumbers.
Brown/yellow onion – this is an all-purpose onion, that adds great flavour to the pickles. You can use a white onion if you prefer.
Salt – ensure you use coarse cooking salt. Regular table salt is finer, much stronger, and may contain anti-caking agents. We use the salt to draw out the excess moisture from the cucumbers and soften the onion.
White vinegar – for pickling, we use white vinegar with an acidity of 5%, but you can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you prefer.
White sugar – we use regular granulated white sugar to help preserve the pickles and balance the acidity of the vinegar. You can also use caster/superfine sugar.
Star Anise – a spice that is warming, slightly sweet with a hint of licorice.
Chilli flakes – these Spicy Cucumber Pickles get their heat from dried chilli/red pepper flakes. Add more to your liking if you wish!
Ginger – fresh ginger adds a warm, spicy note which is perfect for this recipe.
How To Make Spicy Cucumber Pickles:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
1 – Slice the cucumbers and onions:
Start by sterilising your jar or jars (see how to do this below). Keep them warm.
Wash and dry the cucumbers. Remove both ends. Cut into slices approximately ½ cm (⅕ inch) thick. Peel the onion and cut it in half before thinly slicing each half into half-moons.
2 – Add them to a bowl:
To a medium size bowl, add the cucumbers, onion and salt. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate for 4 hours.
3 – Drain the cucumbers and onions:
Tip the cucumbers and onions into a colander and drain the excess liquid.
4 – Add to a jar:
Add the cucumber and onion to the warm sterilised jar.
5 – Prepare the pickle brine:
In a non-reactive pan, add the vinegar, sugar and seasonings. On a medium heat, stir to dissolve the sugar. (Details regarding non-reactive pans are included in the recipe below).
Once dissolved, simmer for 3 minutes.
6 – Add to the jar:
Add the vinegar mixture to the jar with the cucumbers. Seal the jars immediately and allow to cool on the bench before refrigerating.
Tips for success and FAQs:
When making your own pickles and preserves, always ensure you sterilise the jars you will store them in. This is very simple to do, and I have given full details in the recipe. As well, I recommend that you use a jar with a wide opening to make it easier to fill with the pickles.
You will get the best result by using good quality ingredients. I have used Lebanese cucumbers, also known as Persian cucumbers They are a small variety that has crisp, sweet fruit with thin, edible skin and few seeds. When selecting cucumbers, look for those with firm, unblemished skin and avoid any which feel soft.
Stored in the fridge, the pickles will last for three months. Keep in mind that the longer you keep the pickles, the softer they will become.
For a clear flavour, I have used white vinegar with an acidity of 5 %. You can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you prefer.
Cucumbers contain approximately 95% water, and that water can dilute your pickling solution, so we salt them to draw out some moisture. This helps keep them crisp and concentrate their flavour. As well, I like to use small cucumbers as their water content is a little lower. The salt helps to soften the sliced onion.
Absolutely, or you could try one of our other pickled cucumber recipes, which are milder: Bread and Butter Pickles or Dill Pickled Cucumbers.
You will find many ways in which to enjoy the Spicy Cucumber Pickles. Some suggestions are:
- In a hamburger.
- For bright flavour in a sandwich.
- To balance the richness of salmon.
- With bread and matured cheese.
- To accompany cold roast meats.
- Give a jar as a gift. You can even print out your own label, as seen in the photos! Simply right-click and save the image below to print out.
I hope you will give these delicious Spicy Cucumber Pickles a try. Be sure to let me know in the comments below – I would love to know what you think!
More delicious recipes for you to try:
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Spicy Cucumber Pickles
- 1 x 700ml (23 fluid oz) Jar
- 400 g (14 oz) baby/pickling cucumbers – I use Lebanese Cucumbers See Note 1
- 1 medium brown/yellow onion
- 1 ½ tablespoon coarse sea salt See Note 2 and 3
- 3 teaspoon red chilli pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon ginger – freshly finely grated See Note 3
- 1 cup (250 ml) white vinegar See Note 4
- ¾ cup (165 g) sugar
- 1 star anise
For accuracy, we recommend weighing your ingredients. This will produce the best results.
To Sterilise the Jars:
- Sterilise the jar or jars you'll be using to store the pickles. Choose glass jars with an airtight, metal lid and ensure they have been washed by hand in hot soapy water then rinsed well. Check that the metal lids do not have rubber inserts – if they do, allow them to air dry, instead of placing in the oven.Preheat the oven to 130 Degrees C (270 F) and place the jars in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Keep the jars warm.
For the Spicy Pickled Cucumbers:
- Wash and dry the cucumbers. Remove the top and end.Thinly slice – approximately ½ cm (⅕ inch) thick.
- Peel the onion and remove the tip. Cut the onion in half, and thinly slice into half moons. Discard the root end.
- In a large bowl, add the cucumbers, onion and salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 4 hours.
- Tip the cucumbers and onions into a colander and drain the excess liquid. Discard the liquid. Place the cucumber and onion slices into the warm, sterilised jar.
- In a non-reactive saucepan (See Note 5), place the vinegar, sugar, red chilli pepper flakes, star anise and ginger. On a medium heat, stir to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, simmer the liquid for 2 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, and carefully pour the pickling liquid into the jar with the cucumber and onions.
- Seal the jar immediately, and allow to cool on the bench before placing in the refrigerator. The Spicy Cucumber Pickles can be enjoyed once cool, but I recommend leaving them for 24-48 hours to allow the flavours to develop.
- Cucumbers: I have used baby Lebanese Cucumbers in this recipe. Baby/pickling cucumbers are best to use for their size and crispness.
- Coarse sea salt: ensure you use cooking salt or coarse sea salt. Regular table salt may contain caking agents and is much stronger.
- Tablespoon: we use a standard Australian tablespoon which is 20 ml (4 teaspoons).
- Vinegar: I have used white vinegar that is 5% in acidity. You can also use apple cider or white wine vinegar – just ensure the acidity level is 5%.
- Non-reactive saucepans: are those which are ceramic, stainless steel, glass or enamelled cookware. Copper, iron and aluminium pans are reactive. Acidic foods, such as lemons, may take on a metallic taste and discolour if cooked in such pans.
- Storage: once the jars have cooled, store the pickles in the fridge for up to three months.
- Nutritional information: is based on the entire jar, and includes the pickling liquid.
The nutritional information is an estimate only, and is derived from online calculators. For accurate results, we recommend calculating the nutritional information based on the ingredients and brands you use.
This post was originally published in August 2020. It has been updated with more information and new photos. Minor improvements have been made to the recipe.
Excellent recipe with the perfect amount of heat! I made these for my husband this summer when we had an abundance of pickling cucumbers in our garden. He loves this on his burgers and hot dogs and has since requested I make them again. The ginger and star anise really adds a wonderful flavor that makes these better than any store bought pickles. I highly recommend everyone try this!
Hi Claire, thank you for your fantastic feedback on our Spicy Cucumber Pickles. It’s so special that you were able to use your homegrown cucumbers! 🙂
Why metal lids with no rubber?
You can still use lids with a rubber seal – just don’t put them in the oven as part of the sterilization process, as it could damage the seal.
Just wash and air dry the lid.
This was absolutely delicius! Just wondering if I could cut the sugar down a bit? Or would that affect the preserving?
So happy you enjoyed the pickles. I haven’t tried cutting down on the sugar before – I don’t think it would affect the preserving, given the quantity of vinegar and fridge storage. It may alter the taste, however.
If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how you get on.
Many thanks, Alex
I just made mine and it’s such a delicacy. I added 1 sliced carrot to the spice mixture and not only did it add color but the crunch as well.
Thanks for the recipe.
Thank you! I am sure the carrot will be a great addition – enjoy!
WOW! The ginger and red pepper flakes add so much flavor to these pickles! I served these as part of a crudite platter and they were gone in no time! Amazing!
Hello Bonnie, I am so pleased that you enjoy our Spicy Cucumber Pickles. They are a favourite of mine also. 🙂
This is perfect with coconut rice – so delicious!
Thank you, Charla!
I love the spice in here, particularly the slight warmth from the star anise. A very tasty variation on pickles.
I appreciate that, Caro! Thank you!
Katerina I Once a Foodie
These look and sound fabulous, Alex – I really need to try some of your pickles! We love adding them to the side of our plates for most meals but they are so cheap to buy. I need to finally find some time to make my own! Thanks for the ongoing inspiration!
I do hope that you try making some pickles Katerina. There is a great deal of satisfaction even though they are very easy to make. 🙂
This recipes delicious, i love the sweet, acidity, spicy combination and its so simple to make.
Thank you, Jack! So pleased to know you enjoyed the pickles.
This is yummy! I love cucumber pickles and I’m never one to say no to a spicy kick!
Emmeline, I feel the same way. The spices in these pickles add great flavour and some heat. So good! 🙂
Will the crispness last if you can this recipe???
Hi Peggy, this pickle does not require canning. The vinegar and sugar act as preservatives and you keep the jar of pickles in the fridge for up to 3 months. Canning would definitely destroy the crispness. I hope this helps. Kind regards, Alex