Best American-Style Pickled Relish-Adding Flavorful Zing to Your Meals


When it comes to adding a burst of tangy flavor to hotdogs, burgers, and sandwiches, few condiments can match the delightful zing of American-style pickled relish. This beloved condiment has become a staple on tables across the nation, loved for its unique combination of sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy taste. In this article, we'll explore the history, ingredients, and the art of making the best American-style pickled relish. So, let's dive in.

What is American-Style Pickled Relish?

American-style pickled relish is a condiment made from chopped pickled cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, onions, vinegar, sugar, and a blend of savory spices. It is known for its vibrant green color and a finely diced texture that adds a delightful crunch to any dish. This condiment is often used to complement classic American dishes such as hotdogs and hamburgers, adding a burst of flavors that enhance the overall taste experience.

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The History of Pickled Relish

Pickled relish dates back centuries and has a fascinating history. Its roots can be traced to ancient civilizations where people preserved vegetables using various pickling methods. The pickling process was initially employed as a preservation technique, ensuring that vegetables could be enjoyed even during the off-season.

Ingredients for Making American-Style Pickled Relish

To make the best American-style pickled relish, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • Cucumbers: Choose fresh, firm cucumbers, preferably seedless or with small seeds.
  • Sweet Bell Peppers: Opt for red or green bell peppers for a colorful and flavorful relish.
  • Onion: A sweet or white onion works well for this recipe.
  • White Vinegar: Provides the tangy acidity required for pickling.
  • Sugar: Balances the tanginess with a touch of sweetness.
  • Mustard Seeds: Adds a warm, nutty flavor to the relish.
  • Celery Seeds: Imparts a subtle earthy taste.
  • Turmeric: For a vibrant yellow color.
  • Salt: Enhances the overall flavor profile.

Step-by-Step Recipe

Here's a simple step-by-step recipe to make your own American-style pickled relish:

  • Wash and dice the cucumbers, bell peppers, and onions finely.
  • In a saucepan, combine the white vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, and salt.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then add the diced vegetables.
  • Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes until the vegetables become tender.
  • Remove the saucepan from heat and let the relish cool down.
  • Transfer the relish to sterilized jars and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.

Tips for Making the Best Pickled Relish

  • Use fresh and high-quality vegetables for the best flavor and texture.
  • Experiment with the ratio of sugar and vinegar to achieve your preferred level of sweetness and tanginess.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste preferences. You can add red pepper flakes for some heat or ground black pepper for extra spice.
  • Let the relish sit in the refrigerator for a day or two before consuming to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Be patient; pickled relish tastes even better after a few weeks of refrigeration.

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Variations of American-Style Pickled Relish

While the classic American-style pickled relish is a favorite, there are several creative variations to explore:

  • Spicy Jalapeno Relish: Add diced jalapenos for a fiery kick.
  • Sweet Corn Relish: Incorporate sweet corn kernels for a unique twist.
  • Pineapple Relish: Blend diced pineapple chunks for a tropical flair.
  • Cilantro Lime Relish: Infuse the relish with fresh cilantro and lime juice for a refreshing taste.

Serving and Pairing

American-style pickled relish is incredibly versatile and pairs well with various dishes, including:

  • Hotdogs and Hamburgers: A classic pairing that adds a burst of flavor to grilled meats.
  • Sandwiches and Wraps: Elevate the taste of your favorite sandwiches.
  • Grilled Meats: Serve as a tangy accompaniment to grilled chicken, pork, or fish.
  • Potato Salad: Add a spoonful of relish to your homemade potato salad.

Homemade vs. Store-Bought Relish

While store-bought relish offers convenience, making your own pickled relish at home allows you to customize the flavors and avoid unnecessary additives. Homemade relish also has a fresh, vibrant taste that is hard to match with co produced varieties.

Health Benefits of Pickled Relish

In moderation, pickled relish can have some health benefits. It contains cucumbers, which are low in calories and high in water content, aiding in hydration. However, it's essential to be mindful of the sugar and sodium content, as excessive consumption may not be ideal for certain dietary needs.

Storing and Shelf Life

Homemade pickled relish can be stored in clean, airtight jars in the refrigerator for up to three months. Ensure the jars are sealed tightly to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage.

Common Misconceptions

There are a few misconceptions about pickled relish, such as it being overly processed or high in unhealthy additives. By making your own relish, you can control the ingredients and enjoy a healthier condiment.

Pickled Relish in Popular American Dishes

Pickled relish finds its way into various classic American dishes, such as:

  • Chicago-Style Hotdog: A quintessential Chicago hotdog is incomplete without vibrant green relish.
  • New York Street Cart Dogs: The relish adds an explosion of flavors to these iconic street cart hotdogs.

Sustainable Packaging

Consider using eco-friendly packaging options when storing and transporting pickled relish. Opt for reusable glass jars or recyclable containers to reduce waste and minimize environmental impact.


American-style pickled relish is a delightful condiment that brings a burst of flavor to a wide range of dishes. With its sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy taste, it has become a beloved addition to hotdogs, burgers, sandwiches, and more. Making your own pickled relish at home allows you to customize the flavors and ensures a fresh, vibrant taste that store-bought versions may not match.


Is pickled relish only used for hotdogs and hamburgers?

While pickled relish is popularly used in hotdogs and hamburgers, it's versatile and can be enjoyed with various dishes like sandwiches, wraps, grilled meats, and even salads.

Can I adjust the sweetness and tanginess of homemade relish?

Yes, absolutely! Feel free to adjust the ratio of sugar and vinegar to suit your taste preferences. You can experiment with different spices as well.

How long can homemade pickled relish be stored?

Homemade pickled relish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months in clean, airtight jars.

Is pickled relish a healthy condiment?

In moderation, pickled relish can have some health benefits, especially with the hydration provided by cucumbers. However, it's essential to be mindful of the sugar and sodium content.

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