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Dilly Beans

Dilly Beans


  • 2 pounds small, tender green beans or yellow wax beans, trimmed
  • 6 small garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 small dried red chiles (such as cayenne or chile de árbol)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed

Recipe Preparation

  • Stir salt and 1 gallon warm water in a large bowl until salt is dissolved. Let brine cool to room temperature.

  • Layer beans with remaining ingredients in a large ceramic, glass, or stainless-steel mixing bowl. Add brine to cover. Pour remaining brine into a resealable plastic bag; seal and place on beans to submerge. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let stand at room temperature until bubbles form around edge of bowl, 4-5 days.

  • Spoon off any foam from surface of brine. Continue to let stand at room temperature, discarding foam as necessary, until beans are pickled, about 2 weeks.

  • Using a slotted spoon, divide beans, herbs, and spices among 3 clean 1-quart jars. Set a strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth over a large pitcher; pour brine through strainer. Pour over beans in jars, leaving 1/2 inch space on top. Cover; chill up to 2 months.

Nutritional Content

1/2 cup contains: Calories (kcal) 16.0 %Calories from Fat 0.0 Fat (g) 0.0 Saturated Fat (g) 0.0 Cholesterol (mg) 0.0 Carbohydrates (g) 3.9 Dietary Fiber (g) 2.1 Total Sugars (g) 1.4 Net Carbs (g) 1.7 Protein (g) 0.8 Sodium (mg) 161.1Reviews Section

The Best Dilly Beans from the Real Canning Experts

Benjamin’s Aunt Lydia is 89 years old, still lives on her own and has a better memory than all of us put together. (Case in point: She recently recalled the name of a horse in a photograph of her uncle dating from the 1920s.)

She also makes the best dilly beans. Ever.

I’ve been wondering what the women of her generation–and those a whole lot younger–think about the fact that canning is the hip new thing.

Yes, indeed. Sales of Ball canning jars are surging as everyone’s storing up on local fruits and veggies from the farmers’ market and, if they’re lucky, their own gardens.

It seems like we’re living through one of those cultural movements I learned about in high school history class (when I wasn’t passing notes, but hey, I ended up with a history degree after all). Instead of saving scrap metal and sacrificing panty hose, urban Americans are relearning an age-old skill.

Nothing new at all for most of the folks around here.

Lydia and my neighbors like Janie (70 something), Pam (50 something), and Annie (40 something) have been canning ever since they hit the county. No loaded huckleberry bush, peach or apple tree within sight is safe.

And if you stand around too long, you too might get pickled. They’ve taught me everything I know.

Recipe Summary

  • 4 cups white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dill seeds
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 pounds wax or green beans, trimmed
  • 18 fresh dill sprigs

Combine vinegar, 3 cups water, and salt in a medium saucepan bring to a boil.

Place 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds and 1 garlic clove in each of 6 (1-pint) hot sterilized jars. Divide beans and dill sprigs among jars.

Divide hot vinegar mixture among jars, filling to 1/2 inch from top. Remove air bubbles wipe jar rims. Cover with metal lids screw on bands.

Process in boiling-water bath for 5 minutes. Remove jars from water bath cool completely, and check for proper seal (see Note below). For best flavor, allow 3 weeks before eating. Store in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.

Note: Remove jars from canner, placing on a towel. Let jars stand at room temperature 12 to 24 hours. Press center of each lid lids should not flex or "pop." Remove bands gently try to lift lid with gentle pressure. If lid stays on, you have a good seal.

What Kind of Beans Should I Use in a Dilly Bean?

Use bush or pole beans that are fairly uniform in size. I like to pick beans no fatter than a pencil. The beans inside haven&rsquot yet developed and become tough, and you&rsquore going to get an amazing crunchy pickled product as a result.

You can use any color of bean &ndash green, purple, or white wax beans. If you happen to grown beans yourself, I love planting purple &ldquogreen&rdquo beans because they&rsquore so easy to find in the vines! They turn green when cooked, but there are no sneaky ninja beans hiding and making harvesting a challenge. Use leftovers to make Crispy Air Fryer Green Beans.

Do not use beans labeled &ldquopetite haricot verts&rdquo, which is French for &ldquomakes crappy dilly beans&rdquo. I think. I don&rsquot know, I took ASL in school.

Have leftover beans and are running out of fridge space? Check out this post on how to can green beans for a shelf-stable option.

The beauty in this recipe is that you don’t need a big batch of beans to make dilly beans.

Yes! Another lunchbox option! These dilly beans are definitely a great addition to the lunchbox and a way to fit in those daily vegetables! You don’t need a large garden of beans to preserve them with this recipe. You don’t even need a pressure canner. If you have a water bath canner, great! If you have a large stock pot with a rack, you’re good to go!! Do you need canning help? Read here.

How To Make Pickled Beans

Wash your beans and then trim the ends off. You can leave the beans whole or cut them into 2 inch long pieces whatever you like works.

Now mix your vinegar and water together in a large pot and bring it to a boil.

While you&rsquore waiting in each pint jar place 1 head of dill or a bunch of dill weed, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tsp. of pickling spice.

Then pack your beans into the jar and pour your brine over the beans leaving 1/2 inch of headroom.

Use a thin plastic knife or spatula to remove any air bubbles by running it around the inside edge of the jar.

Wipe the jar rims clean and place the lids on finger tight. Process the pickled beans for 10 minutes in your water bath canner.

When the time is up, remove the jars and place them on a towel, let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours to allow the seal to set.

Any jars that haven&rsquot sealed after 20 hours need to be reprocessed or placed into the fridge.

Herbed Dilly Beans [Recipe]

Dilly beans are a great way to preserve green beans. Add these spicy, crunchy beans to cheese boards, minced into a relish, or snacked on right out of the jar!

There’s nothing quite like fresh green beans! Even though I didn’t plant enough this year to do much with, the farm markets and shops have been overflowing with bags of beans. I was also blessed by a friend who was harvesting more beans than they could handle and brought us a bag full!

I love having green beans sautéed with garlic and squash. A few bags have been blanched and frozen for soups. With such abundance, why not try making dilly beans?

For those unfamiliar with them, dilly beans are green beans that are preserved in a hot vinegar brine with dill flowers and other seasonings. I’ve seen recipes claiming that they are uniquely American, or Southern specialty, or a Northern staple…but honestly, I figure that anyone with a glut of green beans and a knowledge of making pickle brine might just have figured this out wherever they were from.

My first attempt at making dilly beans used the recipe from Marisa McClellan on Serious Eats. I halved the recipe because I only had enough green beans for two wide-mouthed pint jars, but it worked beautifully. I’m not one to keep to instruction, so I couldn’t help but tamper with it further. One jar went by the recipe to act as a control group, and the other had fresh herbs and peppercorns added.

My herb garden has been abundant this year, so why not include that as an ingredient? A few sprigs of rosemary and some bits of thyme and oregano joined the rank and file of green beans tight-packed into the blue jars.

Forgive my dirty stove, friends. I’m keeping it real here.

Don’t wait around, friends. Dilly beans are quick and easy to make, even if you’ve never tried making pickles before. Stuff the jars, boil the brine, and if you want to preserve them, use a water bath for canning. If you aren’t into canning, they’ll stay good in your fridge for about six months.

How do you use dilly beans?

Lay them out: Dilly beans are great on charcuterie boards or buffet tables alongside pickles and giardiniera. Their sharp, spicy crunch packs a palate-cleansing punch but the burn doesn’t linger.

Spice up your recipes! Dice dilly beans into your chicken salad instead of pickle relish. Chop a few and toss them in a wilted greens salad with pecans and bacon.

Cocktails! These green bean rockstars are also the perfect garnish for a savory Martini or Bloody Mary made with green bean brine. Hot, spicy, and crunchy, these make a great addition to any household bar.

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4 lb. fresh tender green or yellow beans
(5 to 6 inches long)
8 to 16 heads fresh dill
8 cloves garlic (optional)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
4 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
4 cups water
1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (optional)

PROCEDURE: Wash and trim ends from beans and cut to 4-
inch lengths. In each hot sterile pint jar (see following
directions for sterilizing jars), place 1 to 2 dill heads,
and if desired, 1 clove of garlic. Place whole beans
upright in jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Trim beans to
ensure proper fit, if necessary. Combine salt, vinegar,
water and pepper flakes (if desired). Bring to a boil.
Add hot solution to beans, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
Adjust lids and process.

Sterilization of Empty Jars

To sterilize empty jars, place them right side up on
the rack in a boiling-water canner. Fill the canner and
jars with hot (not boiling) water to 1 inch above the tops
of the jars. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than
1,000 feet. At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute
for each additional 1,000 feet elevation. Remove and drain
hot sterilized jars one at a time as filled.


You must use boiled, sterilized jars or process for 10 min. if you just want to use clean, washed jars.
If the brine seems too tart, don't reduce the vinegar, but add just a little sugar to offset the tart flavor.


Mom, I've never had, or even heard of, dilly beans that were sweet. I wonder what the point of that would be?

Most recipes for them are essentially the same. What varies is the forms the dill, pepper, and garlic take.

My recipe is essentially the same as Linda Lou's, for instance, except instead of using dried red pepper I use whole, small chile peppers.

I also bruise the garlic, slightly, before dropping it in the jars.

2 pounds snap beans, trimmed and strings removed
4 heads dill
4 cloves garlic
4 small chile peppers, halved
2 1/2 cups vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup canning salt

To each of four pint jars add 1 head dill, 1 garlic clove, bruised, and two chile halves (alternatively, use a whole chile that has had a slit cut in it).

Pack beans lengthwise into the jars.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Bring to boil. Pour hot liquid over beans, leaving 1/4" headspace. Remove air bubbles, adjust caps, and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.


Ya know, I figured that's what what they were but wanted to be sure. The recipes sound great and I think the green beans would taste good in Italian potato salad. :)


They might at that, Lexilani. I wouldn't know, because ours go directly from jar to mouth with no middle-man to affect their great flavor.


I made them for the first time last year with GL's recipe, except that I made some with tarragon & dill mixed, which came out great. Also, one small hot pepper gives a GOOD kick after it's been pickleing with the beans for six months, so if you like that (I do!), it's great, but if not, be warned!

Oh, and I think they would be great in potato salad too. Haven't tried that, but I did use some to make a multi-bean salad --- it was great: I just opened a couple of cans of mixed dried cooked beans and rinsed' them, opened a can of the "dilly-gon" beans and added them in, then mixed some of their pickling liquid with lemon juice, olive oil, and a few more herbs, tossed it all together and chilled for an hour.

Easy-peasy delicious lunch.


Zabby, didn't the dill overpower the tarragon?

I like the sound of tarragon, though, and maybe will put some up that way this year. Tarragonny beans, that is, rather than mixed.

>Also, one small hot pepper gives a GOOD kick. Depends a lot on the variety, I reckon. I use Sinahuisa for this, which is a Serrano-like pepper from northern Mexico.

While I like hot peppers, I think a variety much stronger than that might overpower the other flavors. I'm thinking, though (this is supposition), that half a small baccatum-type in a quart of beans might provide a nice citrusy addition to the overall flavor. But it would, of course, add more heat as well.


Thanks for the recipes! I'm eager to get started! GardenLad, I don't know what the point of the sugar in the pickled beans was--I bought some at a roadside shop in Ohio (Grandma's CHeese Barn or something like that!!) last summer, and they were totally not what I was expecting!

A followup question: Does "Heads of dill" refer to individual flower clusters (size of a quarter), or to the entire umbrel (size of a hand span)? If it's the entire umbrel, I need more dill!

Re: tarragon in the beans--here's a recipe from The Joy of Pickling. Haven't tried it!

Tarragon or Basil Green Beans
Yield: 6 pints

6 garlic cloves, sliced
36 black peppercorns
3 pounds young, tender snap beans, trimmed, if necessary, to 4 inches
6 tarragon sprigs or 12 basil sprigs
3 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
3 1/2 cups water
2 T pickling salt

1. Into each of 6 sterile pint mason jars, put 1 sliced garlic clove and 6 peppercorns. Pack the beans vertically into the jars, adding 1 tarragon sprig or 2 basil sprigs to each jar.

2. In a nonreactive saucepan, bring to a boil the vinegar, water, and salt. Pour the hot liquid over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Close the jars with hot two-piece caps. Process the jars for 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath, or pasteurize them for 30 minutes in water heated to 180 to 185 degrees F.

3. Store the cooled jars in a cool, dry, dark place for at least 1 month before eating the beans.


LOl GardenLad. All things pickled, dilled, and or spicey are my cravings. My hubby eats his ice cream and brownies for a snack at night. Me I eat pickles, olives and things like that for snacks. Sounds like the dilly beans will hit the spot too.

Zabby, that's a great idea and I will make a batch with and without the hot peppers..I wonder if the habernaro (sp) would go good in there? I have those growing and the serrano, and chillies and cherrys, and about 3 other kinds.

My father makes a tasty italian potato salad..the kind without the mayo and it's tart tasting. I told him about the dilly beans and he's going to make them too. :)


Like Gardenlad, my dilled beans usually go straight from jar to mouth.

I have a friend who owns a coffee shop in Kentucky and she loves the dilly beans hot. She eats the beans then uses the leftover brine to make a viniagrette style potato salad. She says she can't bear to waste a bit, and even drizzles it over a baked potato on occasion.


Annie, by "hot" do you mean temperature or spiciness?


GardenLad, my recipe is same as yours. Adjust garlic/peppers according to taste and what's on hand.
Here are the pints I made this weekend. 1-2 cloves of garlic in each (I love garlic) and a small cayenned pepper that I had dried.
Favorite way to enjoy. as a stirrer in a Bloody Mary, I can do 1/2 pint by myself!! Also right from the jar. I like to include them on a pickle/relish tray for holidays, etc.

OH! A head of dill is the whole palm-sized umbrella. Or more, if you like. I use a couple if they're small.

The rest of the photo: 24 qts of green beans and 1 qt, 1 pt of carrots (had in fridge, didn't want to process the last 3 qts of beans by themselves, so trying to fill it up a bit!!)


Beautiful! Makes my mouth water just looking at them! Thanks for the info re: head of dill. Guess I'd better go scavenge some more heads from my friend at our community garden (never got around to planting mine)! I love the idea of using them as a stirrer for a bloody mary. A friend of my brother's makes pickled asparagus--now THAT is an awesome bloody mary accompaniment!


Mom, you can use the same Dilly Bean recipe for asparagus. Ummmmmmmm, good!


Like GL, I would worry that a really hot pepper like that would interfere with the flavours. But you could try, or mabye use a piece of one.

I used Bulgarian carrot peppers, which are quite hot and don't have a heck of a lot of flavour, IMHO, so I don't use them in salsa or chile, but I thought it would be fun to see the bright orange in the jar with the beans. Used a half of one in each pint, I believe. In the first jar of beans I opened, about 1 month after canning, the heat was just right --- all the flavours were there but there was a nice little kick afterward. By the time I opened the last jar just recently, about 8 months after canning, it was more "kick" than was really right for the flavour of the herbs.

All still good, mind you. But if we can't be connoisseurs of dilly beans here, where can we. -)

GL, the tarragon was definitely taste-able. I asked about using it here when you posted your dilly recipe for me, and someone --- darn, I forget who --- mentioned that tarragon was called something that means basically "bean herb" in German, it was considered to go so perfectly with herbs. So I made some tarragonny beans and some mixed dillagony ones and some plain dilly ones.

Not enough of any of them, btw --- my bean harvest was distinctly under par last year. And nonexistent this year, as only part of the veggie garden in the new place is put in. I will have to buy some luckily, the nearest farmer's stand is only two blocks away now (right in front of the liquor store we like to joke about putting all the necessities of life in one place!)

Dilly Beans

If you have easy access to dill heads, feel free to substitute them for the dill seed called for in this recipe. I wouldn't, however, recommend using fronds of dill weed, as they can break down during storage and turn the brine murky.

Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for one year. Making sure hands, equipment and surfaces in your canning area are clean is the first step in canning. Tips: Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with glass, plastic or metal lids that have a rubberlike seal. Two-piece metal lids are most common. To prepare jars before filling: Wash jars with hot, soapy water, rinse them well and arrange them open-side up, without touching, on a tray. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Jars have to be sterilized only if the food to be preserved will be processed for less than 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath or pressure canner. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and preparing lids and bands. Use tongs or jar lifters to remove hot sterilized jars from the boiling water. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too: Dip the tong ends in boiling water for a few minutes before using them. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, preserves and pickles must be clean, including any towels and especially your hands. After the jars are prepared, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products. Find Information information on canning can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website:

Recipes reprinted with permission from Food in Jars (c) 2012 by Marisa McClellan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.

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