Dilly Beans (Just Like Grandma’s)

updated about 1 hour ago
summer
Dilly Beans Recipe

Turn fresh green beans into crisp and dill-flavored quick pickles.

Makes1 quart

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mason jar of pickled dilly beans with fresh green beans in background
Credit: Jeff Roffman

My grandmother kept a tidy little vegetable garden outside her New England home. While she did a decent job of growing summer squash, cucumbers, and some tomatoes, her best results always came out of her snap bean plants.

This also meant my annual August trips to visit her were filled by snapping beans on her porch (a job reserved strictly for grandchildren) and putting jars of quick-pickled green beans in her refrigerator. She never taught me her recipes, but many years later I’ve mastered the art of turning fresh snap beans into tart dilly bean pickles.

Why You’ll Love It

  • They’re quick-pickled. Quick pickles (or refrigerator pickles) are vegetables stored in a mixture of vinegar, water, salt, and sometimes sugar. After just a few days in the refrigerator, these quick-pickled dilly beans are ready to eat.
  • They’re crisp and tangy. Because the dilly beans are quick-pickled, you’ll get to enjoy their crisp texture and bright, tangy flavor.
Credit: Jeff Roffman

What Types of Beans Are Best for Dilly Beans?

  • Snap, string, or green beans. These are all terms used interchangeably to describe pole or bush beans that grow in the spring and early fall. These are the best beans to pickle for dilly beans.
  • Yellow or purple string beans. Sometimes you can find yellow or purple hued beans at the market (although they will lose their purple hue when cooked).

We don’t recommend using haricots verts, which are a smaller, thinner French varietal. They’re best eaten lightly cooked and they don’t hold up as well to pickling.

Do You Need To Blanch Beans For Dilly Beans?

Blanching means to quickly cook in boiling water, then shocking the food in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Some recipes for making dilly beans call for blanching the green beans under the assumption that this will maintain the beans’ color and snap once pickled.

While blanching can improve the color of these beans slightly, I haven’t found blanching worth the effort. Instead, add hot pickle brine to jars of green beans to render the beans tender without the extra step of blanching. If the color of the beans is highly important to you, cook them for three minutes in boiling water and quickly chill in an ice bath before adding them to the jar.

Key Ingredients in Dilly Beans

  • Green beans: You can use green, yellow, or purple string beans.
  • Garlic: Use 2 cloves for punch of garlic flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes: For a bit of heat.
  • Yellow mustard seeds: Use yellow mustard seeds, which are commonly used in pickling spice mixes.
  • Fresh dill: It wouldn’t be dilly beans without fresh dill!
  • Distilled white vinegar: You’ll need 1 cup of distilled white vinegar.
  • Kosher salt: You can also use pickling salt, if you prefer.

How to Make Dilly Beans

  1. Prepare the jars. Wash 1 wide-mouth quart or 2 wide-mouth pint canning jars, lids, and rings in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Set aside to dry or dry completely by hand.
  2. Prepare the beans. Rinse the green beans under cool running water and drain well. Trim the stem ends from the beans and halve them if using 2 pint-sized jars. Leave them whole if using a quart jar.
  3. Add the spices to the jars. Place the garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and yellow mustard seeds in the jar(s).
  4. Pack the green beans into the jars. Place the jar(s) on its side. Place the dill sprigs down first, then stack the beans in the jar, orienting them so that they will stand up straight when the jar stands upright. Pack the jar(s) as tightly as possible. Stand the jars upright again.
  5. Make the pickling brine. Bring the white vinegar, water, and kosher salt (or pickling salt) to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Pour the brine over the green beans, filling each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top. You may not use all the brine.
  6. Remove the air bubbles. Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if needed. Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.
  7. Cool and refrigerate. Let the jars cool to room temperature. Store the pickles in the refrigerator. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.

Storage Tips

  • For the best flavor, refrigerate the dilly beans 2 days before eating.
  • These quick-pickles are not canned and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

For Canned Dilly Beans

If you prefer canned dilly beans, we’ve got you covered with our shelf-stable pickled green “dilly” beans recipe.

More Quick Pickles to Try

Dilly Beans Recipe

Turn fresh green beans into crisp and dill-flavored quick pickles.

Makes 1 quart

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    green, yellow, or purple string beans

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    yellow mustard seeds

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh dill

  • 1 cup

    distilled white vinegar

  • 1 cup

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt or 2 teaspoons pickling salt

Equipment

  • Chef's knife

  • Cutting board

  • Colander

  • 1 wide-mouth quart or 2 wide-mouth pint jars with lids

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Canning funnel, optional

Instructions

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  1. Wash 1 wide-mouth quart or 2 wide-mouth pint canning jars, lids, and rings in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Set aside to dry or dry completely by hand.

  2. Rinse 1 pound green, yellow, or purple string beans under cool running water and drain well. Trim the stem ends from the beans and halve them if using 2 pint-sized jars. Leave them whole if using a quart jar.

  3. Place 2 peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds in the jar(s).

  4. Place the jar(s) on its side. Place 2 fresh dill sprigs down first, then stack the beans in the jar, orienting them so that they will stand up straight when the jar stands upright. Pack the jar(s) as tightly as possible. Stand the jars upright again.

  5. Bring 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 cup water, and 1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons pickling salt to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Pour the brine over the green beans, filling each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top. You may not use all the brine.

  6. Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if needed. Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.

  7. Let the jars cool to room temperature. Store the pickles in the refrigerator. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.

Recipe Notes

Storage: These pickles are not canned and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. If you process and can the jars, they can be stored at room temperature unopened.