Sweet pickle relish is an easy way to add flavor and texture to plain food. But what if the recipe calls for it and your jar of sweet relish is empty?
What are the best substitutes for sweet pickle relish? The best sweet pickle relish substitutes are chopped dill pickles, freeze dried dill, green olives, and capers. In certain recipes, you can also use celery, green bell peppers, as well as cucumbers.
In this article, you will learn about the best sweet pickle relish substitutes and how to use them. Additionally, we will tell you how to make a quick 5-minute sweet relish if you have pickles at hand.
Sweet Pickle Relish – Uses and Pairings
Sweet pickle relish, one of the most popular relish varieties, is made from cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, sugar, and vinegar.
These are the primary ingredients in sweet pickle relish. Other ingredients may be added to taste, including celery seeds, dill seeds, mustard, and garlic.
People typically eat relish with plain or dry food. Store-bought pickle relish is an easy and quick way to add lots of flavor to your favorite meals.
While sweet pickle relish is used primarily as a condiment for hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches, it has other uses too. Here is how you can use sweet pickle relish.
- As a flavorful addition to salads (potato salads, chicken salads, tuna salad, etc.)
- In dips and spreads
- As a key ingredient in tartar sauce and other sauces
Sweet pickle relish has a strong flavor. It is both sweet and salty. Sweet pickle relish also has mild tartness which adds richness to this green condiment.
When pairing sweet pickle relish with other products, it is important to make sure that the flavors don’t clash. This is why sweet pickle relish is often paired with meat, deviled eggs, cheese, and crackers.
So, whenever you add sweet pickle relish to your food, you need to make sure that it will enhance the primary flavors rather than throw the entire dish off balance.
How to Choose a Substitute for Sweet Pickle Relish?
When looking for a substitute for sweet pickle relish, the primary question is, what else do you have at home?
If the range of products you can choose from is not that wide, you either have to go with something with remotely similar flavor notes or skip the product entirely.
When choosing a substitute for sweet pickle relish consider what is the role of this condiment in the dish.
Do you need the texture of sweet pickle relish? Sweet pickle relish is a finely-textured condiment that can add a lot to, say, plain hot dogs.
If the texture is one of the main reasons you need sweet pickle relish, go with substitutes that you can mince and make them feel like sweet pickle relish.
If you want the tartness of sweet pickle relish, go with an ingredient with mild tart flavor notes. The sweet-salty flavor of sweet pickle relish can be substituted with a range of ingredients if you manage to find the right balance.
If you use sweet pickle relish as a topper for hot dogs and hamburgers, you won’t have much trouble finding a substitute for it.
But as we have mentioned, sweet pickle relish can be used in the making of dips, sauces, and salads.
If you are not into sweet pickle relish and it never sits in your fridge along with such condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise, you may be caught off guard seeing sweet pickle relish in the ingredient list of a sauce or salad you are planning to make.
Here is when knowing what you can use instead of sweet pickle relish comes in handy.
7 Best Sweet Pickle Relish Substitutes
There are many products you can use as a substitute for sweet pickle relish.
Obviously, not every product can provide similar flavors to sweet pickle relish. But a well-chosen substitute will certainly add hints of flavor and texture to the salad, sauce, or dip you are making.
Skipping the sweet pickle relish in hamburgers, hot dogs or sandwiches will only make them taste plain. On the flip side, adding another ingredient instead of the relish will certainly make them taste richer.
1. Chopped Dill Pickles
Chopped or minced dill pickles are perhaps the closest substitute for a sweet pickle relish.
Dill pickles are pickled cucumbers. What makes them different is the dill. As dill and dill seeds are a popular ingredient used in the recipes of sweet pickle relish, the taste of dill pickles will still be reminiscent of a sweet pickle relish.
Dill pickles are crunchy. They taste both sweet and sour, with pronounced dill notes.
You can use chopped dill pickles in any recipe that calls for sweet pickle relish. You can also add them to your hamburgers and hot dogs. You may have to forgo the sweetness, however.
2. Freeze Dried Dill
No herb can beat the freshness that dill adds to dishes. Its citrusy notes elevate the rest of the ingredients in the dish and the grassy undertones give lots of depth.
Freeze dried dill, compared to fresh dill, lasts much longer. One tablespoon of freeze dried dill equals a tablespoon of chopped fresh dill.
You can use freeze dried dill instead of sweet pickle relish in dishes that need a burst of flavor and freshness.
Use freeze dried dill as a sweet pickle relish substitute in dips, sauces, and dressings. Dried dill pairs well with fish and chicken, vegetables, including potatoes, zucchini, and carrots, as well as eggs.
3. Green Olives
Green olives have a very unique flavor profile. They have a brighter flavor compared to regular black olives. Green olives are acidic, with mild nutty and tangy flavor notes.
Not everyone likes green olives. But if you do, you can certainly chop some and use them as a substitute for sweet pickle relish.
Green olives are a great addition to salads and dips. You can also add some into your sandwiches and wraps for added flavor.
Capers have a tangy and lemony flavor. They are also salty and taste somewhat like olives.
If the role of the sweet pickle relish in the dish is to add tanginess and bring it to a balance, then you can certainly substitute it with capers.
Capers can also add the vinegary flavor sweet pickle relish does without adding so much texture.
Capers are great in salad dressings and marinades. You can also use them in dishes like pasta salads which are often elevated with sweet pickle relish.
5. Green Bell Peppers
Sweet pickle relish is often used to add texture to dishes. If you are missing sweet pickle relish but want to add some crunch as well as color to your sandwiches, salads, or dips, go with chopped green peppers.
Green bell peppers are slightly bitter with grassy undertones. The good ones are also juicy and crunchy.
Lacking acidity and strong flavors, green bell peppers can help you achieve balance in your dishes.
If you are into green smoothies, then you certainly have a few celery stalks at home.
Are you wondering how raw celery stalks can be a substitute for sweet pickle relish? Well, here’s what you can do. You can make your own quick version of sweet pickle relish but with celery stalks.
All you need to do is to marinate the chopped or sliced celery stalks in wine vinegar and olive oil along with minced garlic and onion. Add capers, herbs, and season with salt and pepper.
And there you have a good sweet pickle relish substitute for burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches!
If you have cucumbers but no time to make sweet pickle relish out of them, you can certainly use them as is in certain recipes that call for sweet pickle relish.
We know that cucumbers don’t have that bright of a flavor. But they are great at adding crunch and texture.
You can use cucumbers in sandwiches and burgers, add them to salads, dips, and sauces. They will add a nice texture note with a hint of that cool, crisp flavor.
5-Minute Quick Sweet Pickle Relish
Most people prefer buying commercially produced sweet pickle relish. It’s quick, easy, and tastes great. Others, however, prefer homemade sweet pickle relish.
Making sweet pickle relish at home is easy.
It will just take you a few simple ingredients and lots of mincing but the results are certainly worth it. The only drawback is that making true sweet pickle relish using cucumbers takes time.
The vegetables need time to absorb all flavors and ‘marinate’ in vinegar and sugar. This takes at least two hours. Some sweet pickle relish recipes call for days.
But if you feel like none of the above-mentioned alternatives will be a proper substitute for sweet pickle relish, you can try making this quick, 5-minute sweet pickle relish using already pickled cucumbers.
Here is all you need to do:
- Mince a few dill pickles.
- Add a tablespoon of pickle brine.
- Mix in 4 tablespoons of mustard for a cup of diced pickles.
- Add chopped fresh dill, mix, and serve.
Making this quick and simplified version of sweet pickle relish will take you only a few minutes.
But it is certainly one of the best substitutes for store-bought relish as it will have the complexity of the flavor one expects sweet pickle relish to have.