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I Tried 7 Pickle Brands & The Best Was Crisp and Cold

Refrigerated or shelf-stable, sandwiched sliced or whole—see which pickle comes out on top.
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Pickling is all about preserving the bounty of summer produce to enjoy all winter. And though you can make tasty pickles out of nearly any firm vegetable, from carrots to green beans, cucumbers are the most popular to pickle.

If you don't want to preserve your own cucumbers in jars, you can find a wide array of pickles at any grocery store. Some are preserved in glass jars and can be found in the inner aisles of the store, while others are kept in the refrigerated section.

The difference between shelf-stable and refrigerated pickles is how they're processed. Pickles sold at room temperature have been treated with a hot water bath and sealed in an airtight jar that prevents the growth of bacteria. The cucumbers have essentially been cooked, which darkens their color and can soften their texture. This method extends cucumbers' shelf life significantly.

Refrigerated pickles, on the other hand, have not had the hot-water treatment. They're preserved in a salty, sweet, vinegary brine that keeps bacteria out. These cukes have not been cooked and, therefore, tend to be lighter colored and have a crisper, snappier texture.

It's easy to find both kinds of pickles at your local supermarket, but it's not always easy to know which will taste the best. So, to help you shop for your next jar, I sampled seven of the most common varieties of dill pickles. I included a selection of both shelf-stable and refrigerated pickles from different brands.

Here's how these seven popular pickles ranked in my test, in descending order.

B&G Kosher Dill Pickle Chips

b and g pickles
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (1 oz.): 0 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, <1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

These round pickle chips from B&G fell flat in the flavor and texture department. They're colored with yellow dye No. 5 and come in a shelf-stable jar.

The look: These ridged pickle rounds are thick-cut and have a yellowish-green tint. The cucumber skin is darker and pocked with natural spots. A fair amount of mustard seed is also floating in the clear green pickle brine.

The taste: These chips were, unfortunately, quite soggy and mushy rather than crispy or crunchy. The center was especially soft, and getting past this disappointing texture was hard. The thicker slice is also too large for a burger or a sandwich.

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Vlasic Ovals Hamburger Dill Chips

vlasic pickles
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (3 slices): 5 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 400 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

These ridged dill pickle chips from Vlasic looked and tasted the most similar to B&G, with a slightly improved texture. These pickles are colored with turmeric rather than artificial dyes.

The look: These pickles have a slightly yellow tinge in the corner. They're fairly thick-cut with deep ridges. The clear brine contains no visible flavoring agents, such as mustard seed or garlic.

The taste: These pickles have a slightly sweeter flavor (they contain a trace amount of high-fructose corn syrup) and are quite salty. Aside from salt, there's little nuance in the flavor, and they have a thick slice that's hard to manage in a burger or sandwich.

Claussen Kosher Dill Sandwich Slices

claussen dill pickles
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (1 oz.): 0 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, <1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein

Claussen's kosher dill slices are designed for maximum coverage in a sandwich. They're sold in the refrigerator section and are pickled with turmeric, garlic, and red pepper.

The look: These pickles are sliced into long, thin planks with those familiar ridges. The juice is clear and light-colored, and the slices are thinner than those of B&G and Vlasic. The pickles have an attractive pale green color.

The taste: These pickles are for salt lovers. They're highly seasoned, and despite the visible bits of crushed garlic in the brine, there isn't much more in the flavor department besides salt. That said, they have a nice crunch, at least around the edges (the center gets a bit soggy), and they taste lighter and fresher than the shelf-stable jars I sampled.

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Grillo's Pickle Chips

grillos pickles
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (5 chips): 5 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

These pale green chips are found in the refrigerated section. Each container is bursting with pickles and juice (beware of a splash when you open the lid). They're made with seven simple ingredients: cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, garlic, dill, and grape leaves. The grape leaves help cucumbers stay crisp.

The look: The pickle brine is full of good stuff, including tons of fresh dill fronds and garlic. The pickles are a pretty, pale green and are much more thinly sliced than the jarred pickles I sampled. They have the same ridges, and there's a bit more variety in the sizing, with some extra-long slices and other petite coins.

The taste: These pickles are garlicky! They're heavy on flavoring additions, including dill, and have an excellent snappy crunch. The thickness is ideal for slipping into a sandwich, and they'd add a great pop of savory flavor and saltiness to a juicy burger.

Bubbies Spicy Kosher Dill Pickles

bubbies pickles
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (1 oz.): 0 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, <1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

I had to try at least one whole pickle variety, and this jar from Bubbies had some spice. These pickles are kept in a glass jar in the fridge and are preserved with hot peppers.

The look: This was the cloudiest pickle brine in the test, perhaps because of the added peppers. The whole cucumbers are picked with sliced red and green chilis.

The taste: Unless you sample a pepper on its own, these pickles aren't overwhelmingly hot. They have a nice, gentle heat and a good amount of crunch, though the centers of the cucumbers are a bit soft. The added spice and larger size make these cukes more interesting and satisfying as a snack on their own than some of the other more basic pickles in this test.

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Maille Original Cornichons

maille pickles
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (7 pickles): 0 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

This elegant French jar contains the cutest little cucumbers that are just begging to be served on a luxurious appetizer board or in a savory cocktail.

The look: Rather than chips, spears, or slices, these pickles are whole cucumbers—adorable tiny ones, that is—also known as gherkins. The cukes are bumpy and hairy, but that's all part of their charm. The pickle brine is slightly cloudier in this jar than others, and the cucumbers are floating amongst tiny pickled pearl onions and a copious amount of red and yellow mustard seeds.

The taste: These tiny cukes are wonderfully snappy and savory. The sweet pickled onions make a nice addition, and despite having a slightly higher sodium content per serving, the pickles don't have an overwhelmingly salty flavor. Instead, you get a nice amount of allium flavor from the garlic and onions.

Horman's Kosher Dill Chips

hormans pickles
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (1 oz.): 0 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, <1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

I loved these refrigerated dill pickle chips' light, not-too-salty flavor, and crisp crunch. They'd easily elevate any sandwich or burger, but I'm happy eating them straight out of the jar.

The look: These pickles come in a tall plastic jar and must be refrigerated. They're in the middle of the thickness scale and have those deep ridges you expect from a classic pickle chip. The bright green center and darker skin color are all-natural.

The taste: These pickles are deeply savory and happily not overwhelmingly salty. They taste snappy and fresh, with a crisp texture that's not overcooked. I could easily snack on these as-is without developing an overwhelming thirst. The subtle garlic flavor is an excellent addition that keeps the flavor nuanced and refined-tasting.

Lizzy Briskin
Lizzy is a trained chef, food writer, and recipe developer for print and digital outlets including Insider, Real Simple, and the Chicago Tribune. Read more about Lizzy