I Cooked Rice in Pickle Juice and It’s So Bizarrely Good, I’ve Already Made Two Pots This Week

published Mar 14, 2024
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Rice cooked in pickle juice with container of pickles beside.
Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

I always feel bad throwing out pickle juice — it seems so precious and full of unrealized possibilities. Standard practice is to add leftover pickle juice to a cocktail (like a Bloody Mary or a dirty martini) for an extra bump of flavor (I guess I just eat more pickles than I drink cocktails because if that’s all I ever used it for, my whole fridge would just be half-empty containers of brine.)

But, without a drink, pan of roasted chicken thighs, or even a pot of soup to give my pickle juice new life, I turned to the internet for inspiration and came across the idea of cooking rice in pickle juice. I’d never heard of such a thing, but because I love rice and I love pickles, I figured this could be another tasty way to use up all that leftover pickle juice! Here’s how to do it and how it went. 

How I Chose the Pickle Juice

I will mention here that I’m actually pretty fussy about pickles, and while I will eat a Vlasic or Claussen pickle if it’s on offer, I generally prefer a pickle of the fresher variety, and since I didn’t have any homemade pickles on hand, I opted for my favorite readily available brand, Grillo’s. 

Grillo’s pickles are made using a “fresh pickling” process and are not fermented or shelf stable. They’re sold in the refrigerated section of grocery stores and are made with refreshingly few ingredients with no preservatives or added color. I opted for the Dill Pickle Chips for my little experiment, whose ingredients are cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, garlic, dill, and grape leaves. This simple flavor profile seemed like a better option to me than something that would be even tangier (from the fermentation process) and likely impart the rice with an unfortunate neon green hue. I was hoping to add subtle flavor to the rice and not feel like I was eating a pickle in rice form. 

How to Cook Rice in Pickle Juice

Following the guidance of those who have tried this before me, I cooked 1 cup of basmati rice with ¾ cups of water and ½ cup of pickle juice (using all pickle juice seemed like a recipe for disaster). I cooked the rice as I normally would on the stovetop with the caveat that I did not add salt to the cooking liquid. I worried that once the mixture reduced, the brine would make it overly salty.

Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

My Honest Review

Pickle rice (pickle juice rice?) has definitely earned its way into my rotation. The rice has a pickle-y tang without being overpowering and a subtle flavor of garlic and dill. I will add a pinch of salt to the cooking liquid next time, as it was a little bit under seasoned, but you could just as easily stir some salt into the cooked rice. I will certainly be making this rice again, and it’s a great way to use leftover brine. I ate mine with a splash of soy sauce and a fried egg, which were great pairings. The soy sauce added salt and umami, and the egg’s richness was a perfect foil to the tangy flavor of the rice.

Tips for Making Rice with Pickle Juice

  1. Choose the right pickle. For a balanced rice opt for a pickle with flavors that will complement other foods, like garlic, herbs, or spice. This is a great use for brine from fresher (or homemade) pickles as opposed to supermarket brands that will impart a much stronger sour flavor. 
  2. Dilute the brine. Don’t be tempted to cook your rice in 100% pickle brine. A rough 2:1 ratio of water to brine will result in well-flavored rice that isn’t over the top sour. Feel free to play with the ratio of brine to water and adjust the flavor to your liking. The strength of the pickle flavor will vary from brand to brand. Cook your rice the same way you usually do, whether on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. 
  3. Consider your meal. This rice is delicious, but it’s not going to pair well with just anything. Try serving it with dishes that can provide a strong savory or rich contrast to the brightness of the rice, like hearty chili, crispy chicken, or grilled Halloumi.