This is an easy pickled watermelon radish recipe perfect for adding peppery spice and crunch to your favorite dishes. These bright radishes benefit from a quick pickle that brings out their full flavor while toning down the bite that watermelon radishes are known for.
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Watermelon radishes are one of our favorite winter-to-spring veggies. I love their bright color and sharp flavor. I typically roast watermelon radishes (and yes you should try this recipe!), but every now and then we need a change.
A quick refrigerator pickle is the way to go! No waiting for fermentation!
📖Why This Recipe Works
- No canning is required and these pickled watermelon radishes keep for a week in the fridge.
- Mild in flavor, but beware they have a very strong scent.
- These watermelon radish pickles are versatile and can be used in a plethora of dishes.
What Is the Quick Pickle Method?
Quick pickles, or refrigerator pickles, as they are often called are vegetables that are brined in vinegar, water, salt, and sugar mixture.
Quick pickles don’t develop the intense flavor that fermented pickles do, but they also only require a few hours in the brine before they can be enjoyed.
Quick pickles also do not require canning when refrigerated, hence the name refrigerator pickles.
Watermelon radishes- Any size works. The fresher the radish the crisper the crunch. Save the tops of the radishes to make my easy sauteed greens recipe.
You can also use this recipe with other types of radishes.
Vinegar- This recipe calls for distilled white vinegar but you can use any light vinegar like rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar to make pickled watermelon radishes.
I have tried both red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar but they discolor the radishes and the color is the best part of this dish!
Salt & Sugar- All quick pickles need a balance of sweet and salty.
Bay leaves, Peppercorns & Other Seasonings- Seasonings can be altered to your taste. Typically, I use bay leaf and peppercorns.
But you can use whole peeled garlic, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, whole cloves, or crushed red pepper in place of the black pepper. The total spices should be 1 tablespoon per pound of watermelon radishes.
⏲️How to Pickle Watermelon Radishes
Because we are using a quick pickle rather than a fermentation method these pickles can be ready in under 20 minutes.
However, depending on how I am planning on using them I sometimes make them several hours in advance so they can chill in the fridge.
Step 1- Prep Radishes
Rinse your watermelon radishes well and trim the ends. Cut the radishes to your preferred shapes.
I usually do rounds because I can cut them smaller later if needed. But feel free to do half rounds or matchsticks. The key to the cut is consistency in size so they pickle evenly and quickly.
Step 2-Prepare The Brine
Heat equal parts water and vinegar in a small pan until lightly boiling. Add in equal parts salt and sugar, and stir until both are dissolved.
Place the sliced radishes and seasonings in a heatproof jar or bowl. Personally, I like to use a wide-mouth mason jar.
Pour the heated mixture over the radishes.
Push down the radish slices to ensure they are completely submerged. You can add more water if necessary.
Once cool, allow the watermelon radishes to chill in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes before using. The recommended wait time is 2 hours.
Note that when you open the lid, the will smell extremely pungent but will have a light bright flavor.
How to Use Pickled Watermelon Radishes
While we eat watermelon radishes the most in the Winter, I can find them at my local grocery store all year round so we have learned to incorporate them into all sorts of dishes.
Here are some of my favorite ways to eat pickled watermelon radishes:
- On tacos, especially fish tacos or pollo asado.
- Add to a cheese board or charcuterie board.
- Julienned and added to our favorite spicy coleslaw
- On a fancy wagyu burger or grilled spicy chicken sandwich
- With sushi or sashimi (or in a poke bowl)
- To jazz up a basic garden salad or grain bowls.
- Julienned and used as a garnish on our vegan cream of celery soup
- As a garnish on a spicy Indian curry like my lamb vindaloo.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tip
Don't rush the pickling process. The radishes will be perfect if you give them just a few hours as opposed to the quick 20 minutes.
These pickles are not canned. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month. Check the pickles regularly for spoilage and toss them out if they go bad.
But I recommend eating within 10 days for maximum crispness. If you process and can the jars, they can be stored at room temperature unopened.
More Fun Spring Vegetable Recipes
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Want to know more about watermelon radishes? Check out our watermelon radish recipe guide featuring a round-up of our favorite vegetable!
For the best pickles, it is recommended to use distilled water to ensure it is free of contaminants and additional unwanted flavors. Regular tap water is fine, but try filtering it first.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave us a rating or a comment. It helps other wonderful people connect with our food.
Pickled Watermelon Radishes
- 1 pound watermelon radishes
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- Wash and trim both ends of the watermelon radishes. Cut the radishes into thin rounds or your desired shape. Place in a heatproof jar or bowl with the bay leaf and peppercorns.1 pound watermelon radishes, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- Heat vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small pan until the mixture comes to a boil and the salt and sugar are dissolved.1 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Pour the mixture over the radishes, Push the radishes down until completely submerged. Add more water if needed.
- Allow the watermelon radishes to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Pickles will keep up to a week in the fridge.
- The pickling spices can be adjusted to your tastes. Try fresh herbs or dried chili peppers. Use approximately 1 tablespoon of spices per pound of radishes.
- Any light-colored vinegar like rice vinegar or white wine vinegar can be substituted for white vinegar.
For some reason mine lost color and turned everything pink. I used normal white vinegar. Could it be the temperature? I added it while hot.
The pink will bleed into the white and turn the brine pink. The longer they sit the duller the pink becomes but I have never had them lose color totally.
Robin Cassel says
Loved the ease of this recipe, but the radishes tasted kind of blah when I first tried them, so I added fresh smashed garlic cloves and fresh minced ginger. A game changer! They are so, so good now! Will definitely make again with added ingredients.
Yes- in the post I talk about adding more flavors. The possibilities are endless.
Hi! So I just tried these but subbed the sugar with allulose (sugar sub) as I follow the Keto diet. They taste good but they smell absolutely terrible! They’re in a sealed glass Tupperware and they make the entire refrigerator smell! Is that normal or do you think maybe it’s the allulose? I’ve never pickled anything before so I just have no idea!
They typically do not emit an off-gas or smell. Yes, it could be the Allulose. I have never worked with it before. The other cause could be the radishes were stored next to a fruit or vegetable that emits ethylene and that caused the radish to start breaking down before you got to pickle it.
Pickled radishes often smell very strong, so I wouldn't be concerned. I've been growing and pickling radishes for many years, including many different varieties and recipes and they always smell strong. An example of the scent profile is pickled daikon, a Japanese root like radish. I wouldn't be concerned, there can be a lot of things that differ in the pickling process and the types of radish. It should be safe to eat unless you see strange mold or any kind of unusual visual, or it smells like rotting.
Abi- thanks so much for the input!
Kacey Perez says
I really want to try and get my hands on these this summer. They add so much beauty to recipes!
Emily Liao says
Pickled radishes are the best! This method is one I use all the time and the results are always great.
But boy do they stink !
Pam Greer says
We love quick pickles and these watermelon radishes are not only delicious, but they are so pretty to look at!
I just tried pickled radishes for the first time this week and WOW are they good. Thanks for posting this recipe because I need these in my life!
Jacqueline Meldrum says
I am blown away by those radishes. I've never seen those before. They are so gorgeous! Great idea to pickle them. I've used this techniques with onions before, I must try this too.
Tawnie Kroll says
These were so fun to make and they are so pretty!!
Our most popluar radish recipe, perfect for tacos!