Fire and Ice Pickles

Fire and ice pickles (aka a Christmas pickles) in a white bowl on a wooden cutting board
Fire and ice pickles

A few years ago, I encountered a tasty treat unlike anything I had ever tried before–fire and ice pickles. Despite the evocative name, these are really just sweet and spicy pickles (not hot, just spicy). After years of searching, I finally discovered a sweet and spicy pickle recipe that matched the flavors I remembered.

In the South, pickles are practically their own food group. Everyone has their favorites, and mine were the sweet, tangy bread and butter pickles (I actually make them myself sometimes). While searching for my fire and ice pickles recipe, I tried a lot of the commercial versions, but they just couldn’t do it justice: Wickles Pickles, the Claussen Hot and Spicy pickles, and I even tried making a version of Famous Dave’s Sweet and Spicy pickles recipe. None of them were perfect.

Then I heard about how to make spicy pickles using Tabasco sauce or hot sauce (called Tabasco pickles). These were much closer to what I was looking for and inspired the recipe below.

Fire and ice pickles are so delicious!

As it turns out, I may have been search for the wrong thing. In the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, there is a tradition of making Christmas pickles. When German immigrants came to America, they brought with them a tradition of eating pickles for Christmas.

Families with German heritage would make easy sweet and spicy pickles to serve for the holidays, and call them Christmas pickles. When following the Christmas pickle recipes, you end up with a festive jar containing the two major colors of the holiday season–green from the pickles and red from the red pepper flakes. The pickles are not red like my Koolickles recipe, but still have a hint of the festive season in the jar. And making homemade Christmas pickles makes a great holiday gift.

Personally, I love my fire and ice pickles with barbecue. They are especially good with a nice pulled pork, brisket, or as a side to my Grilled Hawaiian BBQ Chicken.


How to Make Fire and Ice Pickles

Making fire and ice pickles from dill pickles is simple and quick. Make sure to discard the original pickle brine that your pickles come with.

Pickle slices in a strainer to drain the brine over a white bowl
Draining the brine from the pickle slices

It’s important to know that the sugar and spices you add will mix with the pickles to form a new liquid. This may be surprising (it was to me), but that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Sugar, garlic, hot sauce, and red pepper flakes in a bowl with pickle slices
Adding the sugar and spices to the pickles

After you have the new liquid/brine, the hardest part is just waiting a week for your new creation to be ready for eating.

The sugar and spices will make a new liquid
New brine forms as the sugar dissolves
Delicious fire and ice pickles (aka a Christmas pickle recipe) are delicious and very easy to make

Fire and Ice Pickles Recipe

Yield: 32 ounces
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 7 days
Total Time: 7 days 10 minutes

These sweet and spicy (not hot) pickles are a delicious treat as a side dish or just as a snack. You may hear them called Christmas pickles, but they're great year-round. 


  • 1 32 oz. jar dill pickle slices
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed


  1. Drain pickles and discard brine. Place drained pickles in a large bowl.
  2. To pickles, add sugar, Frank's Red Hot sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, and crushed garlic. Mix until combined.
  3. Cover pickle mixture and let sit for 4 hours at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  4. Return pickles and mixture to cleaned jar. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least one week before eating.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1 ounce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 56Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 257mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 0g

13 thoughts on “Fire and Ice Pickles”

  1. Middle of the night and I’m eating Some Daves Pickles. Went looking for a receipt and found this one. Gonna make tomorrow. I have used the brine from Daves Pickles and have made pickled radishes. I slice them real thin on a mandolin and some sliced onion and the Brine from Daves. My god they are good. I wondered what I was going to do with my bumper crop of radishes; know have new recipe , Thanks.

  2. how long will the pickles keep in the fridge?
    (just theoretically… they probably won’t last longer than an a day)

  3. Way too much garlic for me. Next time I make these I will cut the garlic and sugar in half. Otherwise they were great.

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