pickled sugar snap peas

After a winter in which I was so sick of heavy winter vegetables, I went on strike against them (and pretty much everything that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Raisin Bran, if we’re being honest here), I have been having so much fun the last couple weeks hitting the markets, especially now that they’re hitting their stride. In our new neighborhood, we’re not only so much closer to the Union Square Greenmarket, but have the added bonus of a couple mini-markets that conveniently run on Union Square’s off days, and I have to confess: the tinier ones are my favorite, due to my aversion to being elbowed when I’m sifting through my produce. Call me crazy.

First, there were radishes.

trimmed and scrubbed radishes

Then ramps. (I made this risotto and highly, highly recommend it, with ramps or any other sharp spring onion.)


Then teeny, tiny strawberries, so cute I wanted to pinch all of their little cheeks. I could not bring myself to do anything but eat them just like this.

tiny strawberries

But what I’d really, really been waiting for finally arrived this week: sugar snap peas.

sugar snaps

Yes, peas (or mange tout, as I have learned David’s people adorably call them). Of all of the stunning stuff coming off the farms these days, I get excited about green pod fruits. And when I get them home, do I eat them straight? Of course not. (Okay, maybe a few got lost in my belly.) I stick them in a bowl with vinegar and salt and sugar and garlic and peppers and I brine ’em up.

sugar snap strings

As we might have mentioned once or twice, we here at the Smitten Kitchen are big fans of pickling, and there are few produce items that have been lucky enough to escape our brine’s grasp (or should I say, wrath). We actively ponder what foods might pickle well, but I had never once considered sugar snap peas until their season was long over last year. The fact that I knew their crisp little pods would get even crunchier while their peas would stay ever-sweet and that they’d be perfect in every way and that they were months from in season tortured me all winter. I know, I know, I really need to get out more.

thinly sliced garlic

But Tuesday righted all of these wrongs because sugar snaps were here once again, and even though the recipe says I should wait two weeks for them to be ready, I can assure you that even 24 hours later, they’re ready to go. And have no chance of making it two weeks in our fridge.

sugar snaps, pickling

One year ago: Jim Lahey’s Potato Pizza
Two years ago: Spring Vegetable Stew

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas
Adapted from The Joy of Pickling via Epicurious

1 1/4 cups white distilled vinegar
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 tablespoon kosher or pickling salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed and strings removed
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 or 2 small dried chile peppers, slit lengthwise or a couple pinches dried red pepper flakes

In a nonreactive saucepan, heat the vinegar with the salt and sugar until they are dissolved. Remove from the heat, and add the cold water. (This gives you a leg up on getting the liquid to cooling the liquid.)

When the vinegar mixture is cool, pack the sugar snaps, garlic and chile peppers or flakes into a 1-quart jar or bowl, and pour the brine over it. Cover with a non-reactive cap, or, er, plastic wrap.

The original recipe suggests you store the jar in the refrigerator for two weeks before eating the pickled peas, but good luck with that. They’re quite delicious and already lightly pickled by 24 hours later.

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104 comments on pickled sugar snap peas

  1. DK

    I never made anything pickled except Kimchi! Yet to develop the taste of vinegar coated vegetables – may be will try this recipe and see if I have improved in that area :)

  2. I have The Joy Of Pickling and have been meaning to make these, but I keep eating up all my sugar snaps before I get around to it. Now I’m inspired to hold back on my sugar snap gluttony – though it’s very good to know the full two-week brining period isn’t required!

  3. deb

    I am bummed to see the book is out of print and will have to look out for it. If the other recipes are as perfectly geared to my taste as this, I will wear it out.

  4. oooh, I bet these would be good as a side for sandwiches (my current default is pickled okra–when are you going to do those, please??). I’ve been lately obsessed with sugar snaps & grated carrots in a gingery/garlicky/sesame-seedy salad.

  5. Carolyn

    I want to make these because they look like the perfect garnish for a Bloody Mary, SK, I know you can’t have one, but imagine that greenery sticking out!!

  6. How very awesome. I’ll be trying that. (I’ve had success before with your pickling advice.)

    Here’s another thing to try: pickled fennel. I had some at a restaurant the other night and it was stellar. A slightly sweet brine. Very interesting.

  7. It seems I planted enough sugar snap peas to feed a small village. If they don’t strangle me in my sleep, I will be pickling them!
    (just kidding, peas! love you! don’t strangle me in my sleep, please)

  8. these look amazing! now if only i could stop eating the sugar snaps long enough on the ride home from the farmers market i’d have enough leftover to pickle!

    thanks Deb!

  9. I have made this recipe previously and they do come out incredibly tasty. I love the sweet-spicy-vinegary-garlicky combo. I was also super impressed at how CRISP the peas stay after being pickled this way.

  10. I might have to buy this book (and has a ton of copies of both the new and the old edition). I don’t eat the pickled things as fast as you do, but I love them all the same (when I moved, I toss almost all of the condiments because I couldn’t get enough coolers to pack them in, but I kept the jar of pickled carrots).

  11. Ooh, I have to try those. I haven’t pickled anything besides onions. I wish we had ramps around here, but I will let that go because we do really have better strawberries. Sorry NY — you win in the ramps and fiddleheads but I ate a basket of perfect Seascapes last week.

  12. Susan

    Do the peas get any of the brine in them..or only the pods? I ask because I’m not a huge fan of capers, but the peas might be something to use in uncooked applications. Do you think so from what you’ve tasted of them?

  13. The greenmarkets have sugar snap peas now?
    Ok, must get to Union Square or Grand Army Plaza ASA-freakin-P.

    Also, you make me want to try homemade pickles. I’ve always liked the barely pickled cucumbers one of my favorite sushi places in NC serves. I think it’s time to make my own! Especially since the cucumbers are coming into season.

  14. Kara

    I am a lover of all things pickled, too! And, just want to point out that there is a pretty lengthy “preview” of this book on google books, if you need something to tide you over ’til you find a copy! Some of the titles of the recipes are missing parts of words, but it looks like the recipes are intact.

  15. darlingbeatrice

    My family does this with (blanched) green beans! I never realized it was technically pickling. So delicious!

  16. That does sound good. When I’m lucky enough to get fresh sugar snaps they just get cooked tender crisp and salted and buttered. Pickling sounds yummy though.

  17. Lisa P.

    Ramps, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…And peas, uncooked in the pod, is the only way I’ll eat them. I grew up eating them fresh out of my parents’ garden. But maaaaybe I’ll just have to see if they are just as good, all brined up.

  18. I would have never thought to pickle sugar snap peas. Sounds fantastic. I will be trying this when they make it full swing to our market. One vendor had some on Wednesday but I want to wait until the laws of supply kick in.

    1. deb

      Ungourmet — You can swap any lighter vinegar your prefer; the original recipe calls for white wine vinegar, but I (personally) find it too sweet.

      Rose Marie — Well sealed, they should keep for months in the fridge.

  19. Rose Marie

    We like the sugar snap peas here. Never even thought of pickeling them. I was wondering–how long do they last (unopened). I like making gifts for my family from my kitchen. This is simple enough that even I should not mess it up. But, this is June, would they last until Christmas if they are kept in the fridge?
    All of my sisters and myself are diabetic and I could use an artifical sweetner instead of sugar.
    Another good sounding recipe.

  20. I love pickled anything, and these look amazing. I agree about the strawberries. Most of the time the best thing to do with fresh fruit is to it it. I love all the photos.

  21. Sue

    Hmmm..timely! I just ate the very first sugar snaps in my garden today…I’ll have to try this…they sound yummy but I wonder if I will be able to pickle these lovely sweet treats…will have to see if I can wait for enough to ripen to make them LOL, they barely make it out of the veggie garden!!!

  22. I rarely pickle anything but think I must start trying. I got myself in a mess of gooseberries and I think I might have to try and pickle. Any recipe suggestions? Your grapes and now these have inspired me. There’s so much more than peas that I think I would give the name mange tout!

  23. Carol in NC

    I’m headed to the garden right now. It’s been so cool here I have a bumper crop of sugar snaps and Alaska peas. So far not much of it has made it to a recipe as I just stand in the garden and stuff myself….

  24. Confession: I am a recent pickle convert. I think that being a chocolatier and eating so many sweets all the time, I’ve just started craving the sharp, savory flavors of all things pickled. My boyfriend is still not convinced (we had agreed on the nastiness of pickles and he is upset that I’ve betrayed his taste buds’ trust), but I think he would take a shine to these. I think we can agree that sugar snap peas in any preparation are a delicious summertime treat!

  25. Mange tout are not the same as sugar snaps in the UK. For us, mange tout are what you would call snow peas (I think). Mange tout are flat and quickly become soft when cooked. The peas inside the pod are basically non-existent; I think this is because they are picked before they really mature.

  26. Lurker

    Great site, great post…but any chance of losing that SUPER annoying AP ad pop-up? I really don’t like having to hunt around to turn off the sound!

    1. deb

      Lurker — Had NO IDEA there was a pop-up ad. We don’t do pop-ups. It will be removed, as soon as I figure out where it coming from. (Catch the URL?)

  27. annie

    Now these I can’t wait to make. As soon as I can get to the grocery. One question.. I have a big bottle of lightly sweetened rice vinegar. Would that work just as well as the white vinegar? I’ve not pickled anything before. Thanks a bunch, Deb, for all your enticing recipes!

  28. annie

    Oh, I just read your answer above about using any light vinegar..I guess I need to read all the posts first, from now on! Thanks, again.

  29. Nancy from PA

    These look amazing! Sugar snaps would be perfect for sweet and sour pickles. My grandmother made Chow-Chow, a rainbow of vegetables all chopped up and diced the same size, then pickled and “put up” for the winter. Grandpa was fond of the bread-and-butter, or sweet and sour, style of pickles, so that is how she would make them. You would always find a dish of pickles or Chow-Chow on the table at dinner time. It’s a Pennsylvania Dutch thing. Yum.

  30. these sound fantastic! i’ve actually never pickled anything…. i’m beginning to think it doesn’t have to be a long process involving hours of child labour and a hot boiling kitchen in the middle of the summer (because once again, dad planted too many cucumbers and we need to pickle about 8 bushels…)

  31. Is this a good pickling recipe for other stuff too? definitely going to make the peas, but wonder if there are other vegetables I could do with this too — thoughts?

    1. deb

      Emily — Definitely. We often use the same brine for many recipes. Try lightly cooked haricot vert, carrots or roasted red peppers. Or red onion slices. Or… or… yes, just have fun with it.

  32. My 4 year old son loves sugar snap peas as a crunchy snack and he’s also a big fan of pickled things to I can’t wait to whip up a batch!

  33. Sandra

    I just bought more grapes today to make another batch of your pickled grapes. Those are hard to beat. BTW — I put them in my fruit salad and like it better than with the unadulterated grapes. Keep up the great posts. Hope all is well for you with all your changes and preparations. Wishing your family the very best.

  34. Faith

    Thanks for the great pics – I’m so thrilled the farmer’s markets are finally getting back in swing (here in Northern VT, it’s a long, long winter)…

  35. Jessi

    What exactly do you mean by “nonreactive”? these look perfect.. I’ve never pickled anything… I need to start NOW.

  36. Lauren

    Deb, you must check out Dr. Pickle ( They’re trying to get into a green market here in the city, but I visited them today at a Farmer’s Market in Larchmont. HEAVEN! The pickled mushrooms and tomatoes are so fabulous. And they have so many variations of ‘pickling’ you’ll go nuts!

  37. There is nothing pickling doesn’t improve, at least as far as things I’ve tried. I can’t wait to pickle some of these after my next farmers’ market trip!

  38. Jenn

    Hey Deb–read someone else’s post about pickling green mangoes, and with a full tree down here in Miami I just had to try it. If you haven’t done this yet, run don’t walk! Yummmm, the slightly sweet mangoey flavor just adds another level of flavor to the pickles. It hasn’t been 24 hours yet but I can’t stop eating them, will try to save a few to see if there are any changes with longer time…

  39. mosheep/Denise

    I made these yesterday afternoon.

    Tasted one last night and it was good.

    Tasted some this morning and they are amazing.

    I doubt that they will last the two weeks as hubby has
    been tasting almost every hour.

    Thanks Deb for a great idea and easy recipe.
    I whipped them up while hubby went to the store to get
    a hero sandwich for our lunch yesterday.


  40. beautiful. You know. I am love love loving your pickled recipes.

    The other day I picked loquats off my tree and added them to the pickled liquid from your pickled grapes recipe. I also added some strawberries.

    pickled loquats and strawberries!!!!!YUM.

  41. April

    I made this recipe last night, and today the sugar snap peas are going fast. They taste great with beer, which makes ’em healthy basketball playoff snacking …

    1. deb

      Aluminum (anondized aluminum is usually fine) and cast iron are reactive pans. They will often impart a metallic or bitter taste in acidic ingredients. No other materials should pose an issue.

  42. ann

    waitwaitwait … There’s a book called ‘The Joy of Pickling’ out there, and no one told me?!? Yegads! I’m so glad this colossal universal wrong has been righted! I am jumping in the shower and heading to work right now and then skipping out at lunch to buy some wee peas to torture, I mean brine! Woot! Thanks Deb!

  43. Weeziefitz

    Late in reading & replying because I was in VEGAS. And ate at the fabulous Michael Mina in the Bellagio (not bragging – just citing the reliable source) where we had PICKLED STRAWBERRIES with the sashimi. Fabulous! Maybe you’ll try next time the pickling urge hits?

  44. Perfect timing, once again. I just bought Jami It; Pickle It; Cure It for my husband (and father to my four kids) for father’s day. Shhhh, don’t tell him. I’ve actually kept it a secret so far.

    I see The Joy of Pickling Revised Edition is available on Amazon. I’m putting it on my wish list. Thanks for steering me in the right direction.

  45. ooh. we were trying to come up with ideas for a snack box of sorts for my father in law (to accompany a gift certificate to his local brewery for beer) and these may be great. I would have to can them though for the shipment to NC… and not eat them all first…

  46. My neighbor left me (partially) in charge of his pea vines – and I am making my peas right now!!! couldn’t get any better than this! thanks for posting this recipe

  47. Love this! Have you ever had pickled red onions? I’ve been reading all about them lately and had some at a wedding last Sunday. They’re so pretty and tasty!

  48. Jess

    I have had this book for years and never even saw this recipe. How could I have missed it?! Thank you so much for posting it – I’m making this tomorrow for certain.

  49. What a great idea! I just wrote about my Oregon Sugar Pod harvest today. We’ve been enjoying them lightly steamed with olive oil, pepper, and salt, but I think pickling may be in order with my next harvest. MMMM. You sure can’t beat this time of year for the fresh exciting veggies at the market. I managed to score some beets that will keep me until mine are ready to harvest, I plan on pickling them, perhaps with the old fashioned lacto-fermented method. Should be interesting!

  50. meg

    I have made the pickled grapes and red onion, and may I say, YUM. The sugar snaps look like a winner too, I was thinking I may try using asparagus spears!

    Great projects for the rainy days in the Northeast!

  51. Lenore

    I know this will show my lack of class and taste, but I have trouble getting myself down to the Saturday morning farmer’s market in time to get the good stuff, so I tend to rely on those giant bags of sugar snap peas–but rarely finish them before they start to wither. This looks like a great way to keep enjoying them to the end! (and I may finally try the pickled red onion while I’m at it)

  52. Frances

    I’m a pickling nut! Will have to give these a try as they sound delicious! Thanks for the recipe and will also have to get a copy of the Joy of Pickling. As noted above, I’ve never seen this particular cookbook and simply MUST have it!!

  53. Jennifer

    These were excellent! Since there was more of the brine than I needed for the snap peas I tried pickling anything else I had in the house. Sliced radishes were delicious (my husband requested I make more of them since he adores radishes and there are not too many things we can think of to do with them). I also sliced carrots into thin diagonals and pickled those too, but did not par boil and used the cool brine so they did not take on as much flavor (maybe if I leave them longer?) I would like to try pickling cauliflower and eggplant (or anything else I can think of) but wonder how you would go about preparing them them? Any advice? (BTW- I just made the grapes yesterday and they taste amazing- am looking forward to using them at my barbeque this weekend!)

  54. Robin Landau

    Those sound great, I didn’t realize it was that easy to pickle. I also like the watermelon lemonade. Laurent and I are in France. It is really funny to see your website pop-up with French ads. I just made some fresh pesto so the potato bean and pesto sounds amazing too. I should look here more often for suggestions because I am always up for new ideas.

  55. I did these, too, the day before our 4th of July BBQ and they were sugar-snapped up! I’ve been getting these peas in our grocery delivery and I’m not a huge fan of them so the pickling was a great idea to try. I’m going to pickle some more tonight!

  56. If you do decide to make it go about 2 weeks before you eat them they’ll have a VERY vinegary flavor. I only know this because I forgot that I’d made them when they got pushed to the back of the fridge! I poured the vinegar out and repacked them sans garlic with water instead of vinegar. They’re SUPER tasty.

    My sister has pointed out that instead of pickles these are “Pea-kles”. We’re well into our 20s and that cracked us up.

    Jennifer (comment 79), if you decide that you don’t like the pickling books that Deb and other commenters have mentioned the link I’ve put in as “my” website is to “Wild Fermentation” which is what got me started on pickling…and homebrewing..and making kefir…lol

  57. Carrie

    Hi Deb,

    Do you eat the pod or do you “unzip” the peas before you eat them? I just got back from the Farmer’s Market with the first peas of the season!

  58. Madina

    Lovely-looking peas! I just picked up “The Joy of Pickling” at Bonnie Slotnicks treasure-trove of used cookbooks in West Village. She might have another copy or could help you find it. The book is excellent.

  59. Josh

    @deb-quick question for you. I tried making this recipe, it was delicious. I stumbled upon like 3 quarts of fresh snap peas and had to preserve them quick-ended up making two cans. I wanted to preserve them like pickles, so I went through the whole canning shebang. Put them in ball jars, processed for about 5 minutes in a water canner, and the lids sealed-do you think they’d keep safely on a shelf until winter time? I’m not worried about taste (one car I put mustard seeds in, one I put dill in, so they’ll only get better), but worried about bacteria…


  60. sarah

    I have made a few batches of these and I actually like them best between one and three days after they go into the brine. At that point the outside is lightly pickled and the peas inside are salty/sour and sweet/plump. They are so good there is no legitimate reason for anyone to have any left after three days. I think this is the best use of sugar snap peas I’ve ever encountered.

  61. Calli

    Stumbled across this today, and I’m really looking forward to trying the recipe. We grow sugar snap, snow, and garden peas every spring. The snow peas usually end up raw in salads or tossed into a stir fry, so it’s nice to have a new way to try them that sounds fresh and light.

  62. Fabulous!!! We’ve been stir frying our sugar snap peas with lite soy sauce, minced garlic, and fresh minced ginger which is VERY good, but we were in need of a change! This pickled recipe was simple and delicious. Will definitely keep this one!!!

  63. Calli

    I tried these this weekend, when the sugar snaps were coming in faster than we could eat them. I took them to a party, but I think I ended up eating most of them all by myself. I couldn’t stay out of them! Will definitely be making these again next pea season. :-)

  64. beth

    Do these have to go straight into the fridge? Could I make them and send a jar in the mail to my mom, probably 4 days en route. Then have her put them in the fridge?

  65. Liz

    My roommate and I picked a few too many sugar snap peas at a U-pick farm, so I made a jar of these pickles, along with freezing some and leaving some to eat raw.

    As soon as she tasted one, she said, “Nope, we’re pickling all of them.” :)

  66. EL

    I’m not sure I’ll have enough peas for this as I like them with pasta and lemon too much. But should I get a lot, I’ll try this with snow peas.

  67. Peg

    My sugar snap peas don’t even make it into the house. Each morning I go to my garden, and graze my way through them. Besides, I can’t justify putting sugar on something that good just as it is.

  68. Anne

    Well, I loved this recipe. I grow these in my allotment, and there are lots and lots of them this time of year. Many are eaten raw, but this is a different twist. I agree they’re ready after just a few hours in the fridge. I added them to my grain salad of quinoa, farro, wehani red rice, arugula, and goat cheese. Fantastic! I always welcome a new way to use my garden bounty; thanks so much for the recipe.

  69. C

    I didn’t like these as much as other commenters did. They’re good (I ate them over the span of the 1st week) but lost the pea flavor — it could be a good snack, but nothing to get excited about.

  70. Eliza

    I didnt think I would like these but I LOVE them. We are swimming in peas right now and I am going to make a few more jars. They are great in a salad, on a sandwich, or just for snacking. Thanks for another great recipe!