Recipes » Canning and Preserving Recipes » Sugar Free Bread and Butter Pickles

Sugar Free Bread and Butter Pickles

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4.6 from 14 votes
Sugar-free bread and butter pickles using sugar substitute. A delicious combination of cucumbers and onions in a tangy-sweet pickling solution.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
A jar of bread and butter pickles.

These homemade Sugar Free Bread and Butter Pickles are the perfect accompaniment to a southern summer dinner of fried chicken, fresh peas, corn, and tomatoes. This tangy combination of cucumbers and onions is preserved in a spiced brine sweetened with a sugar substitute. Try them as a counterpoint to any sandwich or dice a few and toss them into your potato salad.

One of the joys of summer for me is preserving some of the abundance of fresh produce to use throughout the year. The ritual of getting out the canner, the tools, the jars, lids, and rings makes me feel so productive.

A jar of bread and butter pickles.

I usually do several types of fruit preserves along with our Favorite Kosher Dills and Pickled Okra. The only thing I don’t like about homemade preserves and sweet pickles is the amount of sugar that most traditional recipes require.

Most fruit preserves call for as much, and sometimes even more, sugar as fruit. Typically an exact pound for pound measure. And the same with sweet pickles.

I just feel so guilty pouring all that refined white sugar over that gorgeous fresh produce! That’s why I started looking around for a bread and butter pickle recipe without all the usual sugar.

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I really love bread and butter pickles with their mix of cucumbers and onions in that sweet, tangy solution. They’re one of my favorites! But my old standard recipe called for 2 1/4 cups of white sugar. Eeek!

I could just never feel good knowing I was eating all that sugar. So when I found a recipe that uses sugar substitute I thought I’d give it a try.

Now, these Sugar Free Bread and Butter Pickles don’t have the exact taste of a “B&B” made with sugar, but they’re really darned close. If you enjoy bread and butter pickles but want an alternative, then these might be just what you’re looking for, too.

If you’re looking for good canning recipes that use less sugar, some great resources include the University of Georgia’s National Center for Home Food Preervation, PickYourOwn.org‘s web site, and Healthy Canning. You’ll find really great information on all of those.

What You’ll Need to Make The Recipe

  • Pickling CucumbersPickling cucumbers are the short, plump cucumbers often labeled as “kirby” or “salad” cucumbers; do not use cucumbers that have been treated with wax.
  • OnionYour choice of yellow or white.
  • Kosher SaltI recommend Morton brand kosher salt.
  • White VinegarThe vinegar must be at least 5% acidity.
  • Sugar SubstituteThis recipe is tested and proven safe with Splenda brand sugar substitute; I have no information on using other substitutes for the recipe.
  • Mustard SeedWhole yellow mustard seed is available in most grocery stores’ spice aisle or may be ordered online.
  • Celery SeedAgain, easily sourced through your local grocery store or online. Be careful not to pick up celery salt – they’re often side by side and look very similar.
  • Ground TurmericTurmeric has a nice earthy flavor and gives a beautiful yellow color to the brine.
  • Whole ClovesPart of the distinctive spice profile for bread and butter pickles.

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

TIP: It may be more economical to purchase a canning set that includes all of the tools you’ll need except the canner, jars, lids, and seals.

How to Make Sugar Free Bread and Butter Pickles

Prepare the Cucumbers and Onions

Whole pickling cucumbers on a cutting board.
STEP 1.
  1. Prepare the cucumbers by washing them thoroughly to remove any dirt from the skin. Cut off a tiny 1/16 inch slice from the blossom end of each cucumber.

TIP: Make sure to select only pickling type cucumbers for your pickles. These are usually labeled as “kirby” or “salad” cucumbers. Avoid using cucumbers with a waxy coating. The coating will interfere with the pickling process.

TIP: Why remove that tiny sliver from the blossom end? Well, actually there’s an enzyme in the blossom end that can cause pickles to be too soft. Removing that tiny slice will help eliminate that problem.

Sliced cucumbers and sliced onion rings on a cutting board.
STEPS 2-3.
  1. Slice the cucumbers into rounds approximately 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Peel the onion and slice it into 1/4 inch thick slices as well. Separate all the onion rings.

Salt the Vegetables

Adding salt to a bowl with cucumber and onion slices.
STEP 4.
  1. Place the cucumbers and onions in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss so that the salt is distributed throughout the vegetables. Allow them to stand at room temperature for two hours.

Rinse and Drain the Vegetables

Photo collage showing the vegetables being rinsed in a colander and draining on paper towels.
STEP 5.
  1. At the end of the standing time, drain the cucumbers and onions in a colander. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and drain again. Spread the vegetables on a double thickness of paper towels and pat dry with additional paper towels.

Prepare the Jars and Lids

  1. Wash 3 pint (or 6 half-pint) standard canning jars in hot soapy water. Rinse the jars thoroughly with hot water. Prepare the lids and rings according to the manufacturer’s directions. Set the jars, lids, and rings aside on a clean kitchen towel.

Heat Water in the Canner

  1. Fill a canning pot 3/4 full of water. Set the canner on the stove, add the jar rack, along with the clean jars and bring the water to a low boil. Keep the lids warm in a separate small pan of water set over the lowest heat possible.

Make the Pickling Liquid

Ingredients for the pickling liquid in a saucepan.
STEP 8.
  1. Combine the vinegar, sugar substitute, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, and cloves in a large non-reactive saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add Cucumbers and Onions to Pickling Liquid

Cucumbers and onions added to the pickling liquid.
STEP 9.
  1. Gently stir the cucumbers and onions into the pickling liquid and allow it to return to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.

Fill and Process Jars

  1. For this part of the process, you will work with one jar at a time. Use a canning jar lifter to remove a jar from the boiling water in the canner, allowing the hot water to drain back into the pot.

    Use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables from the pickling liquid and lightly pack them into the hot jar. Fill the jar so that about 1/4-inch of space remains at the top.

    Ladle in pickling liquid to cover the vegetables. Use a canning funnel to make the filling process easier.
Canning jar filled with cucumbers, onions, and pickling liquid.
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  1. Wipe the rim of the jar with a moistened paper towel. Use a magnetic lifter to pick up a jar lid from the hot water where it was held and apply it to the top of the jar. Add a ring, tightening it only until you feel slight resistance. Do not overtighten the rings. Set the filled jar on the rack in the canner. Continue until all jars are packed.
  2. When all the jars are filled, lower the jars on their rack into the boiling water canner. The water in the canner should cover the tops of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Cover the canner and bring the water up to a gentle boil. Once the boiling point is reached, process the jars for 15 minutes.
  3. Use a jar lifter to carefully remove processed jars from the canner and place them on a clean, folded towel to cool completely. After the jars are cool, check to make sure the seals are complete. See FAQs below for how to test for a complete seal.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Refrigerate jars after opening.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to remove a small sliver from the blossom end of the cucumber?

You always want to remove about a 1/16″ slice from the blossom end of cucumbers before pickling. The reason is because of an enzyme in the blossom end of cucumbers that can cause pickles to be too soft. Removing that tiny slice will help eliminate that problem.

How do I test for a complete seal?

To test home canned goods for a complete seal, first remove the ring from the jar. Then, gently press the center of the lid. If there is any movement then the jar did not seal. Next, very gently pull upward trying to lift the jar by the edges of the lid. If the lid pulls away, obviously it didn’t seal. The pickles are still good and can be placed in the refrigerator, but can’t be stored outside of refrigeration.

Can I eat sugar free bread and butter pickles if I’m following a keto diet?

I am absolutely not an expert on the keto diet, but it is my understanding that these pickles are acceptable for those following keto since they don’t contain any sugar at all.

Why do I have to salt the vegetables before pickling?

Adding salt to raw vegetables draws much of the moisture out of them. This process helps the cucumbers and onions stay crispier after pickling than they would without salting. Be sure to measure the amount of salt carefully. Too much can affect the flavor of the pickles.

Do I have to do the boiling water process?

If you want to store the pickles in the pantry, you must process them using the boiling water process. This process heats the jars to temperatures adequate to destroy any microbes that might cause spoilage and forms an airtight seal to prevent further microbes from entering the jar.

If you want to skip the boiling water process and just keep these pickles in the refrigerator, you’ll follow the recipe through filling the jars skipping the instructions to heat water in the canner. After filling the jars, allow them to cool completely and then store them in your refrigerator. The pickles will last up to 6 months in your fridge. They will get a bit softer the longer they sit, but should still taste good for a long time.

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Recipe

A jar of bread and butter pickles.

Sugar-Free Bread and Butter Pickles

Sugar-free bread and butter pickles using sugar substitute. A delicious combination of cucumbers and onions in a tangy-sweet pickling solution.
4.58 from 14 votes
Print It Rate It Text It
Course: Canning and Preserving
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 36 servings
Calories: 33kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pickling cucumbers
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 ½ cups white vinegar
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar substitute (cup-for-cup measure such as Splenda)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves

Instructions

  • Prepare the cucumbers – wash thoroughly removing any dirt from the skin of the cucumbers. Remove a thin (1/16 inch) slice from the blossom end of each cucumber and discard.
  • Slice cucumbers into rounds approximately ¼ inch thick.
  • Prepare the onion – peel the onion and slice into ¼ inch thick slices. Separate the onion rings.
  • Place the cucumbers and onions in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss so that the salt is distributed throughout the vegetables. Allow to stand at room temperature for two hours.
  • Drain the cucumbers and onions in a colander. Rinse thoroughly and drain again. Spread the vegetables on a double thickness of paper towels and pat dry with additional paper towels.
  • Prepare 3 pint (or 6 half-pint) jars by washing in hot soapy water and rinsing well. Prepare lids and rings according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Fill a boiling water canner ¾ full with water. Add the clean jars to the canner and bring to the boil. Keep lids warm in a pan of barely simmering water.
  • Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar substitute, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the cucumbers and onions and allow the mixture to return to a boil.
  • Working with one jar at a time, use a slotted spoon to pack vegetables into hot jars filling to ¼ inch of tops. Ladle in pickling liquid to cover the vegetables.
  • Wipe the jar rim with a moistened paper towel and apply a canning lid and ring. Rings should be just fingertip tight. Return the filled jar to the canner and continue until all jars are packed.
  • When all jars are filled, lower the jars into the boiling water canner. Water should cover the tops of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Cover the canner and bring the water to a gentle boil. Process for 15 minutes.
  • Remove jars from the canner and place on a towel to cool completely. After the jars are cool, check to make sure the seals are complete.
  • Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Refrigerate jars after opening.

Notes

Storage: Storage cool, sealed jars in a dark place for up to one year. Store in the refrigerator after opening.
  • Use only pickling type cucumbers for your pickles (often labeled “kirby” or “salad” cucumbers). Any waxy coating on the cucumbers will interfere with the pickling process.
  • When preparing the cucumbers, remove about a 1/16″ slice from the blossom end of cucumbers before pickling. The reason is because of an enzyme in the blossom end of cucumbers that can cause pickles to be too soft. Removing that tiny slice will help eliminate that problem.
  • Adding salt to raw vegetables draws much of the moisture out of them. This process helps the cucumbers and onions stay crispier after pickling than they would without salting. Be sure to measure the amount of salt carefully. Too much can affect the flavor of the pickles.
  • To test home canned goods for a complete seal:
    First remove the ring from the jar.
    Then, gently press the center of the lid. If there is any movement then the jar did not seal.
    Next, very gently pull upward trying to lift the jar by the edges of the lid. If the lid pulls away, obviously it didn’t seal. The pickles are still good and can be placed in the refrigerator, but can’t be stored outside of refrigeration.
  • You must process these pickles using the boiling water process if you wish to store them out from under refrigeration. The boiling water process heats the jars to temperatures adequate to destroy any microbes that might cause spoilage and forms an airtight seal to prevent further microbes from entering the jar.
 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 33kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 583mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 18IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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32 Comments

    1. Hi Tessa. I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking. Are you saying you’ve already made these pickles and had extra brine left over that you want to use for making more pickles? If so, yes you can save it. Put it in a sealed container and keep it in the refrigerator.

      1. You mention they taste different than regular bread & butter pickles, can you explain how?

      2. I was responding to someone who asked for a substitute for the whole cloves in the recipe and explained that she could possibly substitute cinnamon but that it wouldn’t taste the same. Sorry if that was confusing.

  1. Hello,
    Can you freeze these pickles? I can find many freezer pickle recipes but none without loads of sugar.

  2. Hey there. My brother follows a keto diet and had to give up his beloved bread and butter pickles. I was thinking of making these for him as a nice Christmas gift. He prefers to use Swerve sugar substitute when he makes things from scratch. Do you think that Swerve would work in this recipe instead of splenda? Also, are the cloves necessary to the flavor profile? I never would have thought that cloves are needed but then again I don’t really eat B&B pickles so maybe they are?

    1. Hi Jen. That’s an interesting question and one that I don’t have a definite answer for. I’ve never worked with Swerve so I did some reading on it. It says that it’s a cup-for-cup sugar substitute which is the same thing Splenda claims. However, I never recommend making changes to a proven canning recipe because of the risks involved in changing the pH and making the entire recipe unstable for shelf storage. What I *can* recommend is that you make the recipe with Swerve and just refrigerate the pickles rather than going through the canning process. That way you’d be assured that the pickles would be stored safely.

      To answer your second question — yes, cloves are absolutely necessary for the traditional flavor profile of B&B pickles. They wouldn’t taste like B&Bs without them.

      Good luck finding pickling cucumbers this time of year! But then, maybe you’re in the southern hemisphere where it’s warm :-)

      1. Thank you! Yes, I would say that if the recipe works out and my brother enjoys them that they would not last very long in the refrigerator because he would demolish them. I think I will do a test batch and see how things go! Assuming I can find the cucumbers that would be needed. Thank you for your help and insight.

  3. 5 stars
    These are amazing! I made them three days ago and didn’t can them, I just let them cool and popped them in the fridge. Half of them were eaten in a day. I made another batch yesterday and didn’t can them since I feel they will be eaten soon too!

    Thanks for this amazing no sugar recipe! Yum!

  4. Am I reading this right? No added sugar, but nutrition info reads 9gr sugar and 0gr fiber. Is there that many grs in just the cukes & onions?
    Thanks. Donna

    1. This recipe is made using Splenda sugar substitute. The components of Splenda are maltodextrin and sucralose, both of which are carbohydrates. Carbs break down into sugars, thus the resulting sugar content in the nutrition information calculation. Far, far less than bread and butter pickle recipes that use granulated white sugar.

  5. I am new to canning! Are these pickles ready to eat immediately? Or do they need to set for so long? If so how long?

  6. I just made up a bath of these today. I want to congratulate you on the PERFECT measurements. I prepared an extra 4th pint jar based on some of my last experiences, ,but this was right on! Thanks. I can’t wait to give these a whirl.

  7. Hi there! I pinned this great recipe last summer and I have a question on my pin: is it eleven and one/fourth cups splenda or one and one/fourth cups? I was pretty sure it was eleven but I have never worked with Splenda so I wasn’t sure. Here’s the link to the pin! http://www.pinterest.com/pin/257338566180681037/

    If you could answer it, I would appreciate it! Thanks, Kelli

      1. Thanks so much! I commented on the pin and I’m sure the young woman will be able to make them now!

  8. Between myself and our youngest daughter, we could wipe you clean of bread and butter pickles. Yum!!

  9. Hmm, interesting and something I might never have considered doing for fear of messing with the canning Gods. I sure do love B&B pickles but I sure would love to not have them include so much sugar…thinking I might have to try this for a couple of jars…thanks Lana.

    1. I know just what you mean, Barb. I rarely will use a canning recipe that hasn’t been tested and approved by the USDA. Unless you have a lab and know how to do the testing, you really can’t state with authority that a recipe is safe. That being said, however, based on about 30 years of canning experience I feel 99.9% sure this would be completely safe. The solution is pure undiluted vinegar with spices and sugar substitute added. The vinegar should easily make the product shelf stable. However, if you’re ever unsure you can always just refrigerate your jars from the very outset.