These fried pickles are super easy to make and the perfect finger food for game day or your next get-together. This recipe slices the pickles into spears before dredging them in breadcrumbs and frying them to golden crispy perfection. Pair these fried pickles with ranch dip or your favourite sauce for a total flavour bomb!
Fried pickles are so iconic that they even have their own Wikipedia page, lol! They were invented in the southern US in the 1960s and are a popular food served at fairs and festivals.
Personally, I know them as bar food. One of my favourite pubs has them on the menu and is the inspiration behind me developing my own recipe.
The difference between the pub version that I’m familiar with and other fried pickle recipes you’ll see online is that rather than slicing the pickles into coins and battering them in a wet batter, my version slices them into spears and breads them with panko breadcrumbs.
Wait, are fried pickles vegan?
Alright, if you’re not a regular reader of this blog then you may (or may not) have noticed that you’ve landed on a vegan blog.
Fried pickles are not usually vegan because they use eggs and/or buttermilk. But guess what, it’s super easy to make vegan fried pickles without eggs and I promise you that no one will even notice the difference!
So this recipe is great for vegans and those with an egg or dairy allergy.
What to bread fried pickles in
So rather than making a batter with eggs and milk, we’re going to bread the pickles.
I recommend using panko breadcrumbs for their superior crispiness and they also retain their crunch a bit longer than regular breadcrumbs.
In addition, panko breadcrumbs resist the absorption of oil better than regular breadcrumbs, resulting in less greasiness and a lighter coating.
How to make fried pickles
It’s really easy! First slice your pickles into spears. I prefer spears over coins as you get a good pickle-to-breading ratio.
Set up a dredging station. This means put flour, plant-based milk and panko breadcrumbs in separate bowls.
You can season the flour if you like. I used Cajun seasoning but you can use any other spices or spice mixes that you prefer. You can even just use plain flour as your dipping sauce will be delicious enough!
Roll a spear in flour and shake off the excess. Now, use your other hand to dip it into the milk. Finally transfer it into the breadcrumbs and use your first (dry) hand to gently pat the breadcrumbs onto the pickle spear.
For maximum crispiness my preference is to double dredge the spears by placing them back into the milk and then again into the breadcrumbs for a double layer of panko.
Now drop the spears into hot oil to deep fry for 1 – 2 minutes. I did mine in batches of 4 spears so as not to crowd the pan and lower the temperature.
While the first batch was frying, I breaded 4 more spears. You’ll save time by multitasking in this way rather than breading all the spears at once.
When they’re golden and crispy, remove the fried pickles from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Best oil for frying pickles
Canola oil is the best oil for deep frying due to it’s low level of saturated fat and high smoke point.
Other good choices are peanut oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.
Don’t use olive oil, avocado oil or other nut oils. Not only would that be really expensive, you’ll smoke out your kitchen!
How to make fried pickles without a deep fryer
I used a deep fryer to make this fried pickles recipe because I happen to have one and it’s easy to maintain a steady temperature but if you don’t have one you can still make fried pickles in a pan.
You can use a deep skillet or a small pot to deep fry. Add enough oil until it’s about 2 inches deep. Heat the oil to 350 – 375 F (175 – 190 C).
It’s important that your oil reaches and maintains this temperature otherwise you’ll have limp and greasy fried pickles or burnt ones.
I highly recommend investing in an appropriate thermometer to check the oil temperature. Attach it to the side of your pot, being careful that it is not touching the bottom.
Can I make fried pickles in an air fryer?
Yep! Because they’re breaded with breadcrumbs, you can easily pop them in your air fryer. Lightly spritz the breaded pickles with cooking oil, place them in a single layer in the basket and air fry at 400 F for 7 – 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
Can you reheat fried pickles?
You probably won’t have to because they’re so good that they will be gone as soon as you make them!
Maybe you’re thinking to make them ahead to take to a party or something. If that’s the case, the best way to reheat fried pickles would be in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) and place the pickles on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until heated through.
Another option is to fry them again. If you don’t want to fire up your deep fryer, you can shallow fry them in just a bit of oil, turning halfway, until heated.
Do not microwave or else they’ll get soggy!
What to dip fried pickles in
Okay now for the fun part: what sauce goes with fried pickles?
The most “traditional” is ranch dip. I have a recipe for vegan ranch dip on the blog that tastes EXACTLY like the original (it’s also cashew free, tofu free and not primarily mayonnaise).
You could also try any (or all) of these 3 vegan dipping sauces from This Savory Vegan (sriracha mayo, jalapeño cilantro and honey mustard).
Or why not try the spicy Cajun sauce from Where You Get Your Protein?
There is no wrong sauce for fried pickles!
- Oil for deep frying
- 12 dill pickle spears 3 pickles sliced into 4 spears each
- 1/3 cup (67 grams) flour
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning optional, see note
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup (120 ml) unsweetened plant-based milk
- 1 cup (50 grams) panko breadcrumbs (or more as needed)
- Vegan ranch dip or your favourite dipping sauce
- If you’re making my vegan ranch dip recipe, make it first and put it in the fridge so that the flavours have time to develop.
- If using a deep fryer, turn it on to heat the oil to between 350 – 375 F (170 – 190 C). If not using a deep fryer, add oil to a small pot or deep skillet to about 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Attach a thermometer to the side of your pot, careful that it’s not touching the bottom, and heat the oil to the temperature indicated above.
- Pat the pickle spears dry with a paper towel. Place the flour in a bowl and add the Cajun seasoning, if using. If your Cajun seasoning does not contain a lot of salt, or if omitting the Cajun seasoning, also add a pinch of salt and pepper to the flour. Combine well.
- Place the plant-based milk and panko breadcrumbs in two separate bowls.
- Work in batches so as to not crowd your pan and lower the oil temperature. I made mine in batches of 4 spears. Roll a spear into the flour and shake off the excess. Use your other hand to dip it into the milk. Transfer to the bowl of panko and use your first (dry) hand to gently press the panko onto the pickle spear. Repeat the last two steps: first back into the milk then back into the panko. Double dipping makes them extra crispy!
- Carefully drop the spears into the heated oil and fry for 1 – 2 minutes or until they’re golden brown. While the first batch is frying, you can bread the second batch. Multitasking saves time!
- Remove the fried pickles from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Continue until all batches are done.
- Serve while still hot a crispy with your favourite dipping sauce.