It was a weird request. My friend Mary Ann asked if she could borrow some pickle juice. Huh? Who keeps pickle juice? The purpose of pickle juice is to keep the pickles fresh and flavorful. And when the pickles are gone, out goes the juice, right? That practice makes Mary Ann cringe.
Here’s the deal: Mary Ann is famous for her potato salad. She makes ten pounds at a time and it disappears faster than homemade ice cream on a hot summer day. Her secret (which she confides to only a chosen few) is sweet pickle juice. Not pickles, not relish—only the juice. And lots of it.
So, I wondered if there might be other uses for the briny stuff? A quick search of the multiple thousands of tips readers have sent to me over the years plus research online came up amazingly positive!
Really, I had no idea that pickle juice had so many health benefits or could be used in so many ways in the kitchen.
In the Kitchen
Most marinades to tenderize meat contain the key ingredients of vinegar and salt. Adding things like garlic, salt, pepper—even a bit of sugar improves the flavor and end result. Bingo! Those are common ingredients in pickle juice—either sweet or dill.
Use it to tenderize and flavor pork or beef—especially if you’re dealing with a particularly tough cut.
Sweet pickled chops
Arrange four pork chops in a shallow pan and sprinkle with salt. Place a slice of onion and a tablespoon of ketchup on the top of each. Pour 1/2 cup sweet pickle juice around chops. Cover and bake for 1 hour at 350 F. Oh, my goodness—you won’t believe how tender and delicious! Yum!
Pour a can of drained, sliced beets into the pickle juice (sweet or dill) and after nine days enjoy delicious pickled beets.
For a lively taste, use leftover sweet pickle juice in deviled eggs, or mix into meatloaf or meatballs.
Make your own French fry dipping sauce like this: 2 parts mayonnaise, 1 part ketchup, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon sweet pickle juice. Mix well. Enjoy.
Put any variety or combination of fresh vegetables like sliced cucumbers, onions, carrots, or pieces of cauliflower in leftover pickle juice (dill or sweet). In a couple of days, you’ll have delicious veggie pickles.
Drop a few peeled hard-boiled eggs in pickle juice to make pickled eggs. Yum! Store the jar in the refrigerator for a few days until they become magically pickled.
Mary Ann’s Potato Salad Dressing
While she says that she never makes it the same way twice, Mary Ann insists on Best Foods (Hellman’s) mayonnaise, lots of sweet pickle juice, mustard, salt, and pepper—all to taste.
Drinking pickle juice may seem really gross to you, and I was right there with you. But I changed my mind quickly once I learn its amazing health benefits.
Drinking a small amount of pickle juice relieves muscle cramps within seconds of ingestion—something for which there’s lots of anecdotal and medical evidence. If you suffer from leg cramps, or experience any form of cramping for that matter, pickle juice might help you. Its unique formula of cramp-fighting compounds can ease your pain faster than water, sports drinks, and other measures you might have used to battle cramps in the past.
Just a few sips can quickly soothe annoying heartburn. Pickle juice seems to have the same health effects as straight-up apple cider vinegar.
It’s mandatory to stay hydrated, especially while exercising. Hard workouts for longer periods of time, especially in the heat, can become problematic because sweating quickly depletes sodium (electrolytes) and potassium. Pickle juice is loaded with both. Sipping a small glass after a hard workout will help you recover normal electrolyte levels more quickly.
The juice from pickles contains vitamins C and E, two key antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential to good health because they shield your body from damaging molecules called free radicals—something we’re all exposed to. Having plenty of antioxidants in your diet is a good idea and pickle juice is a pretty awesome way to get that. Vitamins C and E are also known to boost a body’s immune system function.
Pickle juice contains lots of vinegar. There is credible evidence to support the theory that consuming a little bit of vinegar every day may help you lose weight.
“After 12 weeks, study participants who had consumed either about 1/2 ounce or 1 ounce of vinegar daily had lost more weight and fat than those who hadn’t consumed any vinegar.”
Control blood sugar
A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research reported the effects of consuming a small serving of vinegar before a meal. The vinegar helped regulate blood sugar levels after the meal in people with type 2 diabetes.
Dill is amazing
Choose dill pickle juice for more potential benefits. Dill contains quercetin, which has cholesterol-lowering properties. A study published in Cholesterol found that dill lowered cholesterol in hamsters. It may have a similar effect in humans.
No more bad breath
Bad breath is the result of bacteria in your mouth. Both dill and vinegar have antibacterial properties. This potent combination may help freshen your breath.
First published: 4-28-20; Revised, updated, republished 4-26-23
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