Three incredible things: Jamaican jerk flavoring, pickling and crunchy fried pickles. All in one. This started as what my friends and I would refer to as a ‘stoner’ recipe, as it’s an unexpected (and seemingly downright bizarre) flavor combination, but it works when you have that craving for something salty and crunchy.
I made this recipe a long time ago when my roommate told me she hadn’t ever tried fried pickles. That had to change immediately! Unfortunately, it can be trickier to find fried pickles on a restaurant menu near us. Beyond that, I’ve never been a fan of fried pickles that are simply tossed in flour and then into the fryer. Batter a breading creates a flavorful – and filling – shell with a far more superior texture. With half of the batch being for me, I wanted to make it weirder – shocker. So I went for my Doctor Dread’s Jamaican Jerk seasoning to kick it up a notch.
This recipe involves several areas of simple culinary know-how:
One, pickling. This is a relatively new lesson for me. When I first started making fried pickles, I used store-bought pickles in a jar, but realized it was way more cost efficient, and just as easy, to make your own. For the same cost as a store-bought product, you can make a batch of homemade pickles that yields several times as many pickles.
Additionally, it’s more interesting to experiment with customize-able flavors for the brine. I often opt for chipotle chile-spiced pickles or slightly sweet pickles and add peppers or carrots to the mix. As it was a newer cooking lesson for me, I have to give credit where it’s due – Peanut Butter & Pepper’s recipe for pickling is the source of most of my latest derivative recipes, including Jamaican Jerk Fried Pickles.
Two, spice blending. I’ve always preferred making your own spice blends rather than using pre-mixed, store bought blends. While I’ll admit, one of my guilty pleasures is using Doctor Dread’s Famous Jamaican Jerk spice blend, I’m fairly certain it’s been discontinued. I’ve never found another jerk spice blend that I liked anywhere near as much. So I’m including an easy mix that you can make yourself. It’s one I’ve been using for years, so the original source is a little hard to track down.
I don’t try to flavor the pickles themselves with a jerk-flavored brine. The flavors don’t shine through the vinegar, nor do they trump dill flavoring in this case. Rather, the jerk seasoning is best suited to complement a classic dill pickle in a crunchy breading.
Three, deep frying. I think I went through several different methods of adding ‘the crunch factor’ to fried pickles. I finally decided that a battered method yielded the best result. My favorite batter and breading recipe is derived from Spend With Pennies’ Recipe with the addition of jerk seasoning.
When you’re battering and breading the pickles, you’ll need to work in small batches to prevent large clumps of breading accumulating in the breading bowl and to avoid crowding in the pan. It works best to repeat the process of dipping into batter, dipping into breading and placing in oil for each pickle rather than prepping a larger amount of battered and breaded pickles in advance. Thus, you’ll want to set up an efficient work station for this little project. With something moist like pickles, it can be a temperamental process – avoid being stuck with a bunch of pre-battered pickles with the breading sliding off. It’s not exactly a prep-ahead of time recipe. It is, however, worth the effort!
With all of the ingredients and prep time, it may look like a lot. However, consider that the recipe for the jerk seasoning blend with yield more than is needed here. The excess can be stored with a long shelf life and used as a rub for grilling meat, veggies etc. The pickling process with also yield excess pickles, which can, in turn be used for sandwiches, snacking etc.
I thought this was a great project as it involved so many miniature recipes and taught me to simultaneously utilize essential kitchen skills – pickling, batter and breading method of frying and spice blending.
Fried pickles are a great appetizer, but they’re also mad filling. I would think of this recipe to use as a gourmet bar snack – my subtle way of saying SERVE WITH BEER. As fried pickles usually beg for a creamy dipping sauce, the flavors are super specific, so I would recommend a simple garlic aoili sauce or a spicy ranch.
Jamaican Jerk Fried Pickles
Prep Time: Overnight + 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
- oil, for frying (approximately 4 cups)
For the jerk seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon allspice
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
- 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of found cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
For the pickle brine
- 2 Large cucumbers
- 1 1/2 Cups water
- 1 1/2 Cups white distilled vinegar
- 4 Cloves crushed garlic
- 1 Tbsp peppercorns
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp minced ginger
For the batter
- 1 Cup all purpose flour
- 1 Cup milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Egg
- 2 Tbsp Jamaican jerk seasoning
For the breading
- 3 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup Jamaican jerk seasoning
- Start with the pickles in advance. The longer they are in the brine, the better – ideally overnight. Slice off the ends of the cucumbers and slice the pickles into matchsticks of desired thickness. I aim for about 3/4 inch thick wedges. Divide among mason jars or add into a tupperware.
- To make the brine, combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow the brine to cool to room temperature.
- Divide among the containers which hold the cucumber sticks. Refrigerate overnight.
- When it’s time to fry the pickles, remove from the brine and allow the pickles to sit on a paper towel to drain any excess moisture.
- Heat your oil in a large wok or frying pan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine all of the batter ingredients in a bowl and let it sit for a few minutes to let the flavors permeate the batter.
- With the batter aside, thoroughly combine the bread crumbs and jerk seasoning to create a homogeneous mixture.
- Dip each pickle in the batter, shaking off any excess and then gently roll in the breading, coating all sides. Drop into the hot oil.
- Fry for 3-4 minutes per batch, flipping over once.
- Transfer to a plate with a couple of paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Serve hot!