Taste Test: The Best Pickles

We taste-tested dozens of pickles from the grocery store and online to find our favorites.
pickles

BEST DILL

Claussen Kosher Dill Spears

There were plenty of awkward silences during our dill-pickle taste test -- many contenders failed to make that loud, satisfying crunch. These noisemakers from Claussen, found in the supermarket refrigerated case, stood out for their "nice snap" and "clean, not-too-salty" taste. Panelists also praised the "pleasant balance" of garlic and dill. "You can actually taste the cucumber!" ($3.50 for 24 ounces, at grocery stores)

BEST SOUR

The Pickle Guys Sour Pickles

Tasters loved these old-fashioned pickles: They're brined in barrels with salt and spices -- no preservatives -- using a traditional Eastern European recipe. The result is a "slightly zesty blend of sour and garlic" and a "solid crunch." Eat one straight from the barrel at the little New York City shop, or order a jar -- The Pickle Guys ship to just about anywhere. ($5.75 for 32 ounces, 888-474-2553)

BEST BREAD AND BUTTER

Del Monte Organic Sweet Bread & Butter Chips

Del Monte swept the bread and butter competition with these "sweet and spicy" chips. "They'd be great in a sandwich," one taster said. "They're just like my grandma's." ($3.25 for 24 ounces, at grocery stores)

BEST HOT

Wickles Pickles

These winners start off sweet and end with a bang, thanks to a blend of dill, garlic, cider vinegar and fiery chile peppers. An Alabama family started selling the pickles, made from a secret 78-year-old recipe, just 8 years ago (before then, they just gave them away as gifts). Judges loved the "supervinegary" taste and "serious kick." Raved one, "They taste homemade." ($5 for 16 ounces, wickles.com)

BEST GHERKIN

Heinz Sweet Midget Gherkins

Gherkins -- made from immature cucumbers grown especially for pickling -- are often too sweet or too soggy, but Heinz's were just right: "tangy, not too sugary" with an "excellent crunch." They've certainly stood the test of time: Heinz started making them in 1871. ($2.40 for 8 ounces, at grocery stores).

BEST ATTEMPT AT HEALTH FOOD

Pickle Juice Sport

This dill-flavored sports drink was inspired by a Philadelphia Eagles game: The team won in reported 120°F heat by staying hydrated with, yep, pickle juice. ($1 for 8 ounces, picklejuicesport.com for stores)

BEST PRENATAL PICKLE FIX

Dynamite Dill Midnight Cravings Ice Cream

The pickle-and-ice-cream duo is no joke to one Pennsylvania pickle company. Dynamite Dill blends cinnamon ice cream, dark chocolate chunks and cinnamonclove pickles. ($8 per quart, dynamitedill.com)

BEST PICKLE IN A PICKLE

Twang Pickle Salt

Sprinkle this dill-flavored salt on chips, burgers or anything else. It's the next best thing to a big, fat pickle. ($18.75 for 250 packets, twang.com)

Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in August 2007.

 

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