The Sticky Difference Between Sweet And Candied Pickles

If you haven't heard, pickles are kind of a big dill. Americans love them so much that, apparently, around nine pounds of pickles are consumed per person each year in the United States, according to Houstonia. The country has designated November 14 as National Pickle Day, and cities host full-on festivals, such as Picklesburgh in Pittsburgh, that pay homage to the fermented vegetable through food, entertainment, vendors, and competitions. The forms that pickles take are many (whole, spears, chips, and relish, for example) as are their flavors.

While it's common to think of the crunchy, sour, and salty variety flavored with dill, there are many different and unique types of pickles available to appeal to almost anyone's tastes. The more flavors that appear on the pickle spectrum, the more the lines differentiating all of them become blurred. Take the bread-and-butter pickle. It's sweet, so isn't it just a sweet pickle? Well, yes, but there are subtle differences between it and other types of sweet pickles. The same applies to the lesser-known candied pickle.

But first, the sweet pickle

Sweet pickles are generally made from cucumbers that are brined in a mixture of vinegar, water, spices, and sugar (via Greatist). To be clear, some dill pickle recipes also call for sugar but not as much as the amount you'll put in for a batch of sweet pickles. 

Sweet pickles can be found in the same forms as dill pickles: sliced, whole, and even gherkins. To make a simple batch of sweet pickles at home, McCormick suggests making a brine of cider vinegar, sugar, spices, and salt as well as adding sliced sweet onions for extra flavor and sweetness. Sweet pickles are wonderful as a mix-in for tuna salad and deviled eggs, a part of a relish tray or charcuterie board, or an accompaniment alongside barbecue platters and burgers.

Bread-and-butter pickles are sometimes considered interchangeable with sweet pickles, per MasterClass, but they are actually one type of sweet pickle, as are candied pickles. A distinctive quality of bread-and-butter pickles is that they have a noticeable sourness, which may not be present in all kinds of sweet pickles (via

Sweet like candy

Candied pickles aren't as common on supermarket shelves, but sometimes you'll spot them. Considered a type of sweet pickle, the candied version is packed in a brine that's a lot sweeter. Interestingly enough, making this extra-sweet variety usually doesn't start with raw cucumbers, but with... pickles. Candied pickles are generally dill pickles that are placed in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and (sometimes) extra pickling spices, as indicated by recipes from Paula Deen and blogs like Sweet Tea and Cornbread. You'll probably notice that the liquid will be thicker and more syrupy than the brine for other types of pickles because of the amount of sugar used.

Just how much sugar? It depends on the recipe. For example, a version of candied pickles from Southern Plate involves adding three cups of sugar and a handful of other ingredients to a 46-ounce jar of dill pickles.

There is also a different type of candied pickle you might find all over social media. It's exactly what it sounds like: pickles coated or sprinkled with literal candy. Your Sweet Connection on YouTube makes this colorful, sugary variety by drying whole pickles, wrapping them in Fruit by the Foot and Fruit Roll-Ups, and dipping them in dyed sugar that's been melted down into a thick syrup. The result is a tangy pickle encased in a crunchy candy shell — perfect when you're craving something sweet and sour!