There’s a certain visceral pleasure that comes with biting into a fresh (and, ideally, cold) pickle. The burst of acidity across your tongue, not to mention the crunch factor, makes up for the inevitability of pickle juice dripping down your chin. Even when not eaten solo, pickles add a delicious dimension to nearly every dish they’re added to. Without pickle spears, ordering from delis and sandwich shops would be decidedly less fun (and less delicious).
Still, pickles are only satisfying when they represent the pinnacle of their genre. There’s nothing worse than a crunchless pickle spear or a whole dill without a vinegary bite. So to help you find the best pickles to keep on hand, we sampled five brands of kosher dill pickles, all of which are available online or in stores. Here are our rankings, from best to worst.
Mt. Olive’s Kosher Dill Spears ($3.31 for 24 oz)
If you grew up eating cold pickles for snacks, then Mt. Olive’s will likely bring back some nostalgia for you. While some of our testers would have preferred more acidity, Mt. Olive’s is as close to perfect as the brands we sampled could get. The crunch was perfect, the spears were closely packed in the jar, and the pickle taste was exactly what we remembered from the ‘90s. And for the amount of pickles you get, the price was not bad either. Pickle lovers will definitely rejoice if you keep these in your kitchen.
Signature Select’s Whole Pickles in Kosher Dill ($3.59 for 24 oz)
In all technicality, Signature Select’s pickles slightly outmatched Mt. Olive’s in terms of taste. The pickles had a brighter, more acidic taste, and a fantastic amount of crunch. What put them in second place was ultimately the packaging. The jar we sampled had more brine than pickle, by a substantial margin. It was a little disappointing to open the jar and see how much space was unoccupied by pickles, especially considering how good Safeway’s generic pickles are. If the company decides to start throwing a few more dills in the jar, then this could easily become your new go-to. Otherwise, it’ll have to take a backseat to Mt. Olive.
Best Sandwich Pickles
O Organics’ Fresh Pack Kosher Sandwich Pickle Slices ($4.59 for 16 oz) and Vlasic’s Purely Pickled Kosher Dill Spears ($4.19 for 24 oz)
Both of these pickles had slightly less vinegar taste, and slightly softer insides, than the other brands we sampled. They’re not very satisfying on their own, for that reason, but they’d go great on top of sandwiches or mixed into any number of dishes. If you’re looking for a pickle that will compliment your meal without overwhelming it, then Organics and Vlasic are both good options.
Not Our Favorites
Sonoma Brinery Manhattan Style Whole Kosher Pickles ($7.99 for 32 oz)
We’re sorry to say that we really, really wanted to like these pickles. For one thing, they’re so fancy looking. The pickles we received in our container were absolutely huge, and came packaged with chilis, garlic and other spices. However, because Sonoma Brinery uses a vinegar-less pickling method for their dills, the pickles just … don’t taste right. They’re bitter instead of bright, and spicy without any sweet to balance it out. If you love Manhattan-style pickles, or need pickles without white vinegar added, then you might love this brand. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite hit the mark for us.
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