How to Make Bread-and-Butter Zucchini Pickles at Home - Easily! With Step-by-step Directions, Photos, Ingredients, Recipe and Costs

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Yield: 4 half-pint (8 ounce) jars  (you can double or triple this batch)

Click here for a PDF print version (coming soon)

Making and canning your own bread and butter zucchini pickles is very easy and inexpensive with this traditional and tested (USDA / Ball Blue Book) recipe.  Anyone with a garden knows you will soon have more zucchini that you can eat or give away, so here's a way to preserve (pickle) them to enjoy in the cold winter months.  And it's less than $1 per pint jar! Here's how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated.   It is much faster than the old method your grandmother used with tons of pickling salt and de-scumming the brine! Ugh!  This method is so easy, ANYONE can do this!  It's a great thing to do with your kids!

If you want to make dill zucchini pickles, click here, or  cucumber bread and butter pickles, see this page instead  or click here for a bread-and-butter zucchini pickle recipe. And see this page for a great and easy Zucchini Bread!


And if you want to make zucchini pasta, here's a machine for that.


Yield: About 8 to 9 pints

  • 4 pounds of fresh small zucchini, sliced lengthwise (that's about 16 small zucchinis)
  • 2/3 pound quartered onions (about 8 small, golf ball sized onions)
  • 2 medium green sweet peppers (if you like it hot, of course, you could use jalopenos, haberneros, etc. instead)
  • 1/3 cup canning or pickling salt
  • 2 cups of sugar (yes, you may use honey, agave or even Stevia / Splenda, to taste; since the sweetener is present for taste, not rpreserving properties in this recipe)
  • 2 Tablespoons of mustard seed*
  • 1 teaspoon of tumeric*
  • 1 teaspoon of celery seed*
  • 1 teaspoon of peppercorns* (*note, in a pimch, you could replace these herbs identified with an asterisk (*) with generic "pickling spice")
  • 3 cups white vinegar (5%)
  • Ball pickle crisp (optional)


  • 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.).  Note: we sell many sizes and types of canners for all types of stoves and needs - see canning supplies
  • Half pint canning jars (Ball or Kerr jars can be found at grocery stores, like Safeway, Publix, Kroger, grocery stores, even online - about $9 per dozen jars including the lids and rings).   
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar.  They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars.  They may be reused many times.
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars) 
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
  • 1 large pot; teflon lined, glass or ceramic.
  • Large spoons and ladles

Directions - Step by Step

Step 1 - Slice the zucchini and onions

Just slice  of 1/8 inch from each end, then slice them lengthwise, into quarters. Slice the ends off the onions and cut them into quarters (it's not a problem if the quartered onions then fall apart)

Step 2 - Salt the zukes and onions and let stand.

Combine the sliced zucchini and onions in a bowl with the 1/3 cup of canning or pickling salt. Add enough cold water to cover them. Let the mix stand for 90 minutes (1.5 hours).

Step 3 - Drain

Drain (and discard) the liquids from the zucchini and onions. Then rinse the zucchini and onions thoroughly in a colander or drainer.

Step 4 - Mix the spices, vinegar and heat

In a large stainless steel, enamel, or lined pot (ceramic or teflon, etc), combine the

  • 3 cups white vinegar (5%)
  • 2 cups of sugar (yes, you may use honey, agave or even Stevia / Splenda, to taste; since the sweetener is present for taste, not rpreserving properties in this recipe)
  • 2 Tablespoons of mustard seed*
  • 1 teaspoon of tumeric*
  • 1 teaspoon of celery seed*
  • 1 teaspoon of peppercorns* (*note, in a pimch, you could replace these herbs identified with an asterisk (*) with generic "pickling spice")

and bring to a boil.

Step 5 - Add the zucchini and onions to the pot

Add the zucchini and onions and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 6 - Fill the canning jars

Fill the jars with zucchini/onion mixture, leaving  1/2 inch headspace. then fill the void (air space) with the hot pickling solution from mixture up to the 1/2 inch headspace. Some people like to add a tablespoon of Ball "pickle crisp" to each jar now, to help the pickles remain crispy.


Step 7 - Process in the water bath canner

Put the lids and rings on the jar, gently snug-tight, put them in the rack and lower into the water bather canner, which should be about 2/3 full of boiling water at a full boil.  The jars should be convered by at least an inch of water. Bring the water back to a boil (if you have it on high heat, that shouldn't take but a minute or two) and then start timing, according to your altitude (at sea level up to 1,000 ft, 15 minutes).

Ball Recommended process time for Pickled zucchini
 in a boiling-water canner.
 Hot Packed Process Time at Altitudes of
Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
half-pints 15 min 20  

Step 8 - Remove from the canner

Remove the jars, let them cool in a draft-free place, and then store in a cool, dark place.  They will be good for up to a year.  After that, the taste declines, but they're still safe, if the seals are intact and there are no signs of spoilage. spoilage.



Pickle Making Problems?

See this page for a more complete set of frequently asked pickling questions and answersand answers

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs
    to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter
    - to remove lids from the pot
    of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid
    - disposable - you may only
    use them once
  4. Ring
    - holds the lids on the jar until after
    the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel
    - to fill the jars

Canning tool kit

You can get all of the tools in a kit here:

Home Canning Kits

This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. you will never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also a simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if you want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!

Summary - Cost of Making Homemade Zucchini Pickles - makes 12 pint jars, 16 oz each*

Item Quantity Cost in 2022 Source Subtotal
Zucchini 30-36 (about 2 small per pint jar) free from the garden or a neighbor, or $3.00 at a PYO Pick your own $0
Canning jars (pint size, wide mouth), includes lids and rings 12 jars $7.75/dozen Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $7.75
Vinegar 4 cups $0.99  Safeway,
Publix, Kroger, grocery stores
Spices, sugar See above $3.00 Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $3.00
Total $11.75 total
 or about  $0.98 per jar INCLUDING the jars - which you can reuse!
* - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars!  Many products are sold in jars that will take the lids and rings for canning.  For example, Classico Spaghetti sauce is in quart sized jars that work with Ball and Kerr lids and rings. Note that the Classico's manufacturer does not recommend reuse of their jars: see what they have to say on this page:

How to make other pickles -  recipes and instructions:

This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2006.

Reviewed May 2009.


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