Dilly Bean Recipe

updated Aug 31, 2023
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 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 upon jars of canned and pickled green beans in her cellar. 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.

Credit: Jeff Roffman

What Types of Beans Are Best for Dilly Beans?

Snap, string, or green beans 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. Sometimes you can find yellow or purple hued beans at the market (although they will lose their purple hue when cooked). Buy fresh green beans for pickling and be sure to remove the stem end before cooking.

Haricots verts are a smaller, thinner French varietal that is best eaten lightly cooked and doesn’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.

Are Dilly Beans Quick Pickles?

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, quick pickles like these dilly beans are ready to eat. They don’t have the same flavor as fermented pickles, you’ll get to enjoy them quickly and without the effort of canning.

How To Fill Jars for Pickling Green Beans

For a pretty jar of dilly beans, tilt the jar on its side when filling. First, lay the stems of dill on the side of the jar, and then add the beans on top of it. Pack the jar as tightly with beans as you can. A full pound will fit in a quart-sized jar. Alternatively, cut the beans in half and layer them into two pint-sized jars.

How Long Do Dilly Beans Need To Sit?

Refrigerate the dilly beans for 2 days before eating.

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

  4. Pack the green beans into the jars. 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. Make the pickling brine. 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. 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.

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.