As the perfect sidekick to any sandwich, the pickle has really made a name for itself. Not only in the U.S., but well beyond. European countries serve them, as do Americanized restaurants across the entire globe. They’re serve as a crunchy, flavorful way to add to a meal. But in recent years, pickles have gone well beyond sidekick fare and upped their game even further, landing themselves a spot as one of our favorite snacks. That’s right, it’s ok to eat a pickle by itself, and it’s delicious. Now adding even more variety to the mix with different flavors – whether that be homemade or bought directly from the store. No matter where you’re located, the United States is home to some incredible pickle techniques. Consider making your next vacation snack-focused and making your way across the globe with these briny treats in mind. It’s worth the extra miles for any true pickle fan.
7. The Classics
Dill and garlic pickles are always among crowd favorites. As are sweet versions (nix the garlic and add sugar), or spicy fare (add red peppers or jalapenos – the more, the spicier they get). Each of which comes in multiple versions on store shelves and in home canners. There’s a reason there are so many of these classics, however; they’re delicious. And as many agree, the crispier, the better. Stock up on these flavors as you travel, with extra attention to test out restaurant recipes for an accurate representation of each region and how they take their pickles. Because what’s a regional trip without testing out the pickles as you go?
6. Bread and Butter
Though we’re not sure where they got their name – these things taste nothing like actual bread and butter – these sweet and sour pickles are often controversial. Either you love them or you hate them. Either way their allegiance is strong. These can be found all over, especially in the Northeast, where pickles are plentiful. Try different versions as you travel and let us know which ones you like best!
5. Red Beet Pickles
When heading South, this is the pickle to try. Strange in color but unique in taste, it’s a pickle you won’t soon forget. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also try red beet eggs to get the full experience. Just be sure to bring along a toothbrush … we’re guessing you’ll need it. Both come in spicy and sweet versions.
4. Lemon Pickles
Available along the West Coast, try your hand at a citrus-themed pickle. It’s the perfect way to draw in local produce with a nationwide favorite. Most are tart – like any traditional pickle – some versions come with sugar for more of a lemonade theme, depending on what part of the coast you’re venturing. They’re much more delicious than they actually sound, we swear. Mix it up and try cauliflower versions, too.
3. Carrot and Mint Pickles
This might be one of the strangest versions we’ve found yet, and it’s found all throughout the Southwest. Some restaurants serve straight from a jar – so the pickles and carrots can intermingle – while others remove carrots for a more pickle-centric dish. Try either way and let us know your favorite, especially for those nervous about the twist of mint, which serves as an avid refresher.
2. Boozy Pickles
They need vinegar to pickle … and then to ferment, they need booze. Popular in trendy bar scene towns (we’ve heard of availability in Chicago, L.A., and New York City), alcohol soaked pickles are an up-and-coming treat. Check out those sold online like from the Nevada Brining Company, or take the step even further at home and make pickle wine (there are beer versions too; talk to your liquor store guy about a special order), or let the pros do what they do best and opt for a pickle, err, drink instead.
1. Kool-Aid Pickles
Yep, you read that right. People are now putting packs of Kool-Aid into pickles. They just dump the whole packet in, trying different flavors as they go. And as weird as it sounds, it’s actually getting rave reviews. Because there’s so much sugar, the step actually helps cancel out the traditional vinegar brine, and offers something sweet instead. If you can’t find a place that sells it, this is an easy at-home test. Though the trend is popping up at street fairs and food trucks across the U.S. Don’t worry, we’re keeping our eyes open. Surely something this weird won’t go away any time soon.