9 Best Cucumbers for Pickling

Want to turn your garden harvest into fresh dill or bread and butter pickles, then planting the right type of cucumber is the first step. Join Briana Yablonski to learn some of the best types of cucumbers for pickling.

Close up of two different jars of pickling cucumbers and garlic heads on a wooden table in the garden.

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When the heat of the summer zaps my energy, few snacks are as refreshing as pickles. Their pleasant crunch, high moisture content, and tart flavor are just what I need to help me tackle the rest of my day. Plus, turning your garden’s cucumbers into pickles is easy!

Of course, not all types are created equal. You can find varieties of all shapes, colors, sizes, and textures. Pickling cucumbers are known for their thin skin that’s easy for a brine to penetrate as well as a short and squat form. However, different pickling varieties have varying disease resistance, days to maturity, skin texture, and more!

If you want to try your hand at making homemade pickles this season, picking the right variety is your first step. The following cucumber varieties work great for pickling and are easy to grow at home.

Homemade Pickles Cucumber

Homemade Pickles Cucumber Seeds

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Homemade Pickles Cucumber Seeds

Hokus Gherkin Cucumber

Hokus Gherkin Cucumber Seeds

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Hokus Gherkin Cucumber Seeds

Mouse Melon Cucamelon

Mouse Melon Cucamelon Melon Seeds

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Mouse Melon Cucamelon Seeds

‘Adam Gherkin’

‘Adam Gherkin’ are characterized by small, knobby fruits and compact vines with medium-green, deeply lobed leaves.
Prickly and prolific, these cucumbers are perfect for pickling.

If you’re not familiar with gherkin-type cucumbers, think of them as small cucumbers with lots of tiny spikes. Gherkins are the starting point for tiny ‘cornichon’ pickles you can find in French shops and charcuterie boards across the world. ‘Adam Gherkin’ is a disease-resistant gherkin that’s popular amongst farmers and home gardeners alike.

Although you can pick the ‘Adam Gherkin’ fruits at various sizes, they have the best texture and flavor when they’re between two and three inches long. Plants will begin producing cucumbers this size about 50 days after you plant the seeds. As long as the plants remain healthy and the weather remains warm, you can expect to harvest for multiple months. 

‘Adam Gherkin’ plants are resistant to cucumber mosaic virus, scab, and powdery mildew. Since they’re parthenocarpic, the flowers don’t require pollination to set fruit. That means you can grow them in a protected high tunnel or greenhouse, or cover the plants with row cover to protect them from pesky cucumber beetles.

‘Homemade Pickles’

‘Homemade Pickles’ cucumbers feature medium-sized, blocky fruits with green pimply skin in a wooden box against the background of vigorous vines with large, dark green leaves.
Unlock the secret to perfect pickles with this cucumber variety!

All you have to do is read the variety name to know this cucumber is perfect for pickling! ‘Homemade Pickles’ produces cute, crunchy cucumbers that are just waiting to mingle with vinegar and dill or be turned into a quart of bread and butter pickles. The plants have compact vines with impressive production, making them a great option for home gardeners everywhere.

Since ‘Homemade Pickles’ begin producing in as little as 55 days after planting, they’re also a good choice if you live in an area with a shorter growing season. Starting the seeds indoors and transplanting them into your garden a couple of weeks later helps you get an even larger jump on your growing season.

When it comes to harvesting, look for cucumbers that are between two and six inches long. The fruits will remain crisp throughout this size range, so the ideal harvest size is based on personal preference. Small fruits are great for pickling whole, while larger ones work well for spears or slices.

‘Homemade Pickles’ also has an impressive disease-resistance package. The plants are resistant to anthracnose, angular leaf spot, cucumber mosaic virus, downy mildew, and powdery mildew.

‘Hokus Gherkin’

‘Hokus Gherkin’ cucumbers exhibit tiny, spiny fruits and sprawling vines with light green, deeply lobed leaves.
Experience the delight of seedless, crunchy cornichon pickles at home.

Another type of gherkin, ‘Hokus Gherkin’ plants produce fruits that are meant to be harvested small. Harvesting when they’re one to two inches long allows you to create cornichon pickles that closely resemble those you would buy at specialty food stores. You can also choose to harvest the cucumbers when they’re three or four inches long.

This variety is parthenocarpic, which means the flowers will set fruit without pollination. This also means the cucumbers are seedless! Combine their seedless nature with a crunchy texture, and you have a super tasty cucumber.

Since this variety doesn’t have much disease resistance, make sure to water your plants near the soil. You can use a drip irrigation system or just water the base of the plant with a watering can. Growing the vining plants on a trellis will also allow for increased airflow and can help prevent diseases like powdery mildew.

‘Max Pack’

Close-up of freshly picked 'Max Pack' cucumbers on a green lawn, showcasing their long, cylindrical fruits with dark green, waxy skin.
Maximize your pickling success with ‘Max Patch’ cucumber variety.

One of the most popular hybrid pickling types, ‘Max Patch’ stands out from the crowd due to its impressive disease-resistance package. While many cucumbers are resistant to a handful of diseases, this variety has moderate to high resistance to eight different cucumber diseases! The plants are highly resistant to scab, zucchini yellow mosaic virus, watermelon mosaic virus, and anthracnose. They also have moderate resistance to angular leaf spot, cucumber mosaic virus, papaya ringspot virus, and powdery mildew.

Along with its disease resistance, ‘Max Pack’ also has great productivity and flavor. The fruits remain crunchy and sweet when they’re four to five inches long, making them a great choice for large dill pickles or pickle spears. Since the plants produce so much, you can play around with different types of pickle shapes and recipes.

‘Max Pack’ will be ready to pick about 55 days after you plant the seeds. That means they’re a great choice if you live in an area with a short growing season. But since this variety can also tolerate heat well, it’s also a good option for warmer climates.

‘Excelsior’

‘Excelsior’ cucumbers showcase large, smooth-skinned fruits with tiny pimples and sprawling vines with broad, dark green leaves.
Level up your pickling potential with prolific, crunchy Excelsior cucumbers.

A hybrid variety beloved for its impressive fruit set, Excelsior produces classic dark green pickling cucumbers. The cukes remain sweet and crunchy at four to five inches long, making them great for fresh eating and pickling. And since they begin producing mature fruits about 50 days after you plant the seeds, they’re an excellent option for areas with short growing seasons.

‘Excelsior’ is both gynoecious and parthenocarpic. The first term means that the plants only have female flowers and will, therefore, produce more fruits than varieties with both male and female flowers. Parthenocarpic means the flowers will produce fruit even if they’re not pollinated, and unpollinated flowers will lead to seedless fruit. Therefore, ‘Excelsior’ is a favorite variety for growing in high tunnels or under row cover.

The plants are resistant to cucumber mosaic virus, cucumber vein yellowing virus, powdery mildew, scab, and target spot. Their parthenocarpic nature also means that you can grow them under cover to protect them from cucumber beetles and the dreaded bacterial wilt the beetles carry.

‘Little Leaf H-19’

Close-up of a large bowl filled with fresh ‘Little Leaf H-19’ cucumbers, which are oval, plump fruits with dark green skin and pale yellow stripes.
Compact vines yield abundant, perfect pickling cucumbers for any space.

This name doesn’t lie! ‘Little Leaf H-19’ produces small leaves and compact vines, yet it churns out small cucumbers that work well as pickles. Its smaller size means it works well in containers and in small raised beds.

Since ‘Little Leaf’ is parthenocarpic, it produces even if the flowers aren’t pollinated. That means it’s a good variety for growing under a piece of lightweight row cover or in a high tunnel. Plus, it also means the fruits will be seedless as long as they’re not pollinated.

‘Little Leaf H-19’ was originally produced at the University of Arkansas, where it was released in 1991. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this variety holds up well to both heat and humidity. If you want to prevent fungal diseases, remember to bottom water your plants and avoid crowding too many plants close together.

‘Mouse Melon’ Cucamelon

‘Mouse Melon’ Cucamelon features tiny, watermelon-shaped fruits and delicate vines with small, light green, heart-shaped leaves.
Tiny cucamelons offer a refreshing cucumber-like flavor.

Although it’s not technically a cucumber, I can’t help but include the ‘Mouse Melon’ cucamelon on this list. A member of the cucumber and melon family (Cucurbitaceae), cucamelons aren’t true cucumbers or true melons. Rather, they’re a unique species that look like a mini watermelon and taste much like a cucumber.

As these little fruits grow, they develop a sour flavor. That’s why you may hear some people refer to them as Mexican sour gherkins. Picking the fruits when they’re an inch long provides you with a bright and refreshing flavor without many sour notes. Although the fruits are small, the prolific plants provide you with handfuls of tiny cucumber-like fruits each day. The fruits make delicious treats when pickled whole.

‘Mouse Melon’ develops trailing vines that grow similarly to standard varieties. The vines will happily climb up a trellis, but you can also plant your cucamelon in a container and let it trail out the sides. These plants are sensitive to cold, so wait until your nights remain consistently above 50°F (10°C) before planting them outdoors.

‘Edmonson’

A woman’s hand holds two ripe ‘Edmonson’ cucumbers with light, pale green, pimply skin against a background of wide, dark green, serrated leaves.
Centuries-old heirloom boasting superior pickling attributes and robust resilience.

One of the best of the white pickling varieties, ‘Edmonson’ is an heirloom variety that people have grown in their gardens for over 100 years. It’s hard to say where it first originated, but the Cooper family of Kansas has records of growing it as far back as 1913.

The short and blocky fruits have a light yellow skin that appears white from a distance. As the cucumbers grow larger, the skin turns deep orange or red. Despite the unique outward appearance, they have a light green flesh and a taste and texture that’s similar to that of other pickling types.

The plants are quite hardy and have a reputation for surviving drought, disease, and insect pressure. However, the plants will remain healthiest when provided with regular water and full sun. Expect mature fruits to appear about 70 days after you plant the seeds, but take note that cooler weather will slow the plant’s growth.

‘Common Wealth’

Close-up of a white plastic bucket filled with freshly picked 'Common Wealth' cucumbers in a sunny garden.
A resilient pickling cucumber bred for downy mildew resistance.

A relatively new addition to the world of cucumbers, ‘Common Wealth’ is a pickling cucumber bred for its resistance to downy mildew. Plant breeder Edmond Frost bred this variety in the humid Southeast, where downy mildew commonly threatens cucumber plants. If you know your plants have succumbed to this fungal disease in the past, give this variety a shot!

This variety begins producing 52 days after you plant the seeds and continues to send out ripe cucumbers for multiple weeks. The fruits remain crunchy and sweet up to six inches long, but you can also harvest them when they’re a few inches smaller. While some cucumbers develop pointed or bloated ends when heat and water-stressed, ‘Common Wealth’ maintains uniformly shaped fruits throughout the season.

‘Common Wealth’ can also tolerate bacterial wilt better than many other pickling types. Cucumber beetles spread this disease, which causes plants to seemingly wilt overnight. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re dreaming of sweet bread and butter pickles or are waiting to use your grandmother’s recipes for garlic-dill pickles, these cucumbers will provide you with cukes ready for pickling. If you’re not sure which variety will work best for you, don’t hesitate to try more than one!

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