Grandma’s Secret Dill Pickles ~ Recipe & Canning Tutorial

If you like a crunchy, slightly spicy, delicious dill pickle and like to can, this post is for you! The recipe for these pickles was handed down by my grandmother {who has been making them for as long as I can remember} and has ruined store bought pickles for me forever. In fact, when I was a kid in Germany, we used to take boxes of these pickles home with us on the airplane after our summer visits. The customs agents thought we were insane every time they inspected our pickles. I guess we’re really lucky they never broke!

Dill Pickle Canning Tutorial for a crunchy, spicy dill pickle from

I’m sharing this recipe with you because I love you. But you better not tell anyone else because these pickles are my key to fame and fortune! 😉

Grandma’s Secret Dill Pickles ~ Recipe & Canning Tutorial

To make these pickles, you need a lot of cucumbers. Preferably, straight, small ones (4-5 inches or so). I like to grow my own, but for whatever reason, I have not been successful growing cucumbers the last few years. These beautiful cucumbers were given to me by a friend and this is the first time I have been able to can pickles in several years. If you have any small, extra cucumbers, please send them my way!

First, prepare your water bath canner and get your pickle solution ready {recipe below}. Then, wash cucumbers well and cut off any bad spots.

Pack cucumbers very, very, very tightly into quart size jars. Squeeze in as many as you can  because once they are canned they will all float to the top and make it look like you could have fit at least 50% more in! It never fails.

Add garlic, hot pepper, dill,and alum. Don’t scimp on the alum ~ it’s what makes the pickles crispy.

Ladle prepared, boiling pickle solution (water, pickling salt, apple cider vinegar) into your jars. Leave 1/4 inch head space.

Add a washed grape leaf.

Put the lids on and tighten. Use pot holders because the jar will be really hot.

Put the cans into boiling water in a water bath canner and can for  ~10 minutes, just long enough to help the jars seal. Remove jars from canner, make sure they seal, then let them sit for 24 hours to cool. After they’ve cooled completely, store them for at least three weeks before eating.

Grandma’s Secret Dill Pickles ~ Recipe & Canning Tutorial
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  • 1 Peck cucumbers, straight, skinny, and small
  • 3 Pints cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups pickling salt
  • 4 1/2 Quarts water
  • Fresh dill
  • Grape leaves (1 per jar)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic (1/2 clove per jar)
  • Alum ( 1/2 tsp per jar)
  • Hot peppers (1/2 - 1 per jar)


  1. Prepare water bath canner and bring water to a boil.
  2. Sterile quart size canning jars. (I wash mine in dishwasher or boil them in the canner).
  3. Heat up lids and rings.
  4. Combine water, salt, vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Wash cucumbers and cut off any bad spots.
  6. Pack cucumbers extremely tightly into canning jars. Wide mouth jars are easier to pack.
  7. Add hot pepper, alum, dill, garlic to the jars.
  8. Ladle pickling solution into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  9. Wipe off mouth of jars.
  10. Tighten lids on jars.
  11. Place jars in waterbath canner and boil for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove jars from canner.
  13. Let sit to cool for 24 hours.
  14. Store pickles for 3 weeks before eating.
  15. Enjoy!

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    1. For more food preservation posts:
    2. What to do with a bumper crop of carrots
    3. What to do with a bumper crop of broccoli
    4. Homemade Strawberry Syrup Recipe & Canning Tutorial
    5. How to Can Roasted Tomato Sauce
    6. Lazy Person's Guide to Canning Crushed Tomatoes

    Do you like pickles? What’s your most favorite kind?



    1. Hi Michelle,

      We’re having our inaugural Eat Make Grow Blog Hop. We are looking for folks to link up who want to share what they have been eating with their families, growing in their gardens or making with all their creative impulses. If you’re interested, I hope you’ll hop on over and link up a couple of your posts. It’s a way for you to grow your readership and find other like minded mamas.

      Hope to see you there,


    2. Ok- Why couldn’t you post this 2days ago before I put up 9 pints of dill pickles!? 😉 Sounds like a great recipe, I will have to try it next time!

    3. So, how bad are they when you forget the alum??? I got distracted by my “helpers” and forgot the alum in 7 out of 11 jars (also was unable to find grape leaves at the local grocery store.) Are my pickles going to be terrible???

      • This sounds like something I’d totally do!! Argh! Alum is a pretty key ingredient as it’s what makes them crispy. Grape leaves are optional – I’ve left them out before and the pickles are fine. You might want to open up the jars without the alum, add the alum, and re-seal them with new lids (you can re-use the jars and rings). I’m not sure if that will work, but the pickles won’t turn out without the alum, I’m afraid, unless you like really mushy pickles. 🙁

        • I just came back to get the recipe for this year and I had to let you know that my pickles were great!!! Even with out the alum!!! I am determined not to forget the alum this year and that means I better make more. Because if they get any better I won’t be able to keep up with the demand!!!

          • Yay, Amanda! I’m so glad!! Thank you for coming back to tell me. I can’t keep up with demand either, especially since my cucumbers never survive due to squash bugs. Hopefully next year!!

    4. man! i’m so jealous of everyone canning their pickles! i’m moving across the country in 2 weeks and since we pay the movers by the pound (essentially), i didn’t can much this summer because canned food weighs a TON…. that being said, i did manage to make a few jars of bourbon soaked cherries for my drinks all year. haha. priorities, i guess.

      p.s. it

    5. Can’t wait to make these pickles. Having a bit of a problem… can find where you state how much dill…alum…etc goes into the quart jar. Thanks for your help

      • Hi Bryan, It’s 1/2 tsp alum per jar. The dill is sort of by eyeball. I just make sure I add a fresh dill flower that has lots of seeds on it as well as a lot of the whispy leaves that smell like dill. Sorry I don’t have a good answer for you on dill.

    6. Thank you so much for this recipe.It sounds fantastic and I cant wait to share it with everyone.

    7. whoops-just finished making the pickles and realized I put them in pint jars and did not cut the alum in half. Will this be bad?

    8. Michelle! I am so excited to make these! Reading through the rest of this page made me happy to see you are from Iowa! (And a mom of 4!) Me too(for both)!! Thanks for sharing!

    9. Thank you for the “Love” of this recipe. It is so nice to see young people sharing and enjoying the good old ways. God bless you and your family.


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