Fried pickles make some folks weak in the knees, me included. When I began writing 101 Things To Do With a Pickle, the top question people asked was, “Are you going to include a recipe for fried pickles?” Is a cucumber green?! The book, in fact, features three different fried pickle variations to satisfy crispy-fried cuke lovers everywhere.
This version features pickle spears dipped in a light, garlicky batter and quickly fried to preserve the crispy crunch of the pickles inside, served with a spicy ranch dip. Would you like to make a batch? The recipe’s super easy:
Batter-fried Pickle Spears
You’ll need a 24-ounce jar of your favorite pickle spears, and you can use homemade, refrigerated, off-the-shelf, or whatever pickle spears you like. The first step is to cut the pickles in the shape you desire. I cut these pickle spears in half horizontally. After you’ve cut them, arrange them on a cotton dishtowel or paper towels and let them drain. Refrigerate them for several hours until the cut edges are dry. Be sure to reserve 2 tablespoons of pickle juice from the jar, which you’ll use later for the batter.
If you like, you can also do nice long pickle spears. In that case, cut each spear in half lengthwise:
Next, gather the batter ingredients. (Do I usually arrange everything neatly like this when I cook? No!) You’ll need 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 3/4 cup club soda, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2 eggs, and the 2 tablespoons of pickle juice you saved earlier. (The complete recipe is posted at the bottom of this page.)
After whisking the flour, garlic powder, salt, paprika and pepper together, add the egg yolks, melted butter, pickle juice and club soda. (I forgot to beat the egg yolks before adding them, but it doesn’t really matter.)
As you stir this thick, weird batter, you may find yourself shaking your head with disbelief that this concoction could possibly yield a tender fried pickle batter. Keep the faith, and stir the ingredients just until blended. Try not to over-mix the batter.
Ideally you want a super-sticky, fairly thick batter to adhere to the pickles, that still manages to be light and crisp. This is no easy feat, but two beaten egg whites will help lighten the sticky batter considerably. If you have a whisk attachment on your electric mixer, use it now. If not, just use the regular beaters and whip the egg whites until they are stiff.
Gently scoop the egg whites on the batter.
Now, gently…gently… fold them in, while keeping as much air in the egg whites as you can. Just go easy and take your time…
…and pretty soon the batter it won’t look quite so gnarly. Stop folding when the egg whites are mostly incorporated. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
In a heavy saucepan, pour in cooking oil to a depth of 3 inches. I like peanut oil for frying, but you can use regular vegetable oil or canola oil. Heat the oil to a temperature of 365 degrees. (If you get the oil temperature just right, the pickles will fry up light and crispy without absorbing much oil.) Dip a pickle in the batter, coating evenly and letting the excess drip off.
Gently slide the pickle in the hot oil.
When the bottom is nice and brown, turn it with a slotted spoon and cook the other side. These pickles took about 2 minutes to cook, but yours may take more or less time depending on the size and thickness. I usually fry about three pickles at a time, to avoid crowding and keep the oil nice and hot. I thought this photo looked a little like a funny face!
When the pickles are nicely browned, drain them on paper towels. If you’re cooking a big batch, you can put them in the oven set on “warm” and hold them for a bit.
If you fry long pickle spears, they’ll look like this:
Here’s how they look on the inside:
You can serve the fried pickles with ranch dressing, or you can make a zippy version by mixing 1/3 cup ranch dressing with 1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce like Frank’s Hot Sauce.
I hope you “relish” this Southern treat, and here’s the recipe for you in standard form:
BATTER-FRIED PICKLE SPEARS WITH SPICY RANCH
- 1/3 cup ranch dressing
- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
- 1 (24-ounce) jar dill pickle spears
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup club soda
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 eggs
- vegetable oil for frying
In a small bowl, combine the ranch dressing and hot pepper sauce to taste; cover and refrigerate. Drain pickles, reserving 2 tablespoons pickle juice. Cut each pickle spear in half and blot with paper towels; cover and refrigerate.
Whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika in a medium bowl. Separate the eggs and beat the egg yolks. (Reserve and refrigerate the egg whites.) Add the egg yolks, club soda, butter and reserved pickle juice, and stir until combined. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff; fold into the batter mixture.
Pour oil to a depth of 3 inches in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven and heat to 365 degrees. Dip pickles into batter, letting excess drip off, and fry in batches for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with spicy ranch sauce. Makes 6 servings.
In the mean time, have a dilly of a weekend!