Pickle Juice Is The Secret Ingredient Upgrade For Tastier Salad

Pickle juice is among the most underrated juices there are. Salty, savory, and tangy, the vinegary brine dates back millenniums and can be used for a wide variety of recipes, tenderizing meats, and creating unique twists on classic cocktails (hello, pickle martini). It can even be used as a one-to-one substitute for salt. And while its refreshingly tart flavor is commonly used in potato salad recipes, one of the lesser-known but best ways to use pickle juice is in creamy salad dressings. 

Yes, that delightfully sour leftover liquid most discard can be utilized to add an acidic flavor punch to your creamy dressing, while balancing out the flavors of your other ingredients and thinning your dressing out a bit. And with several different varieties from sweet pickles to dill to gherkins — all with their own unique flavor to impart — the sky is the limit on the many ways you can elevate the flavor of your dressing. So don't be so quick to throw that pickle juice out — incorporating its deliciously tangy flavor into your next creamy salad dressing will give your salad an extra pop.

Elevating your green salad with a pickle juice dressing

While vinaigrettes incorporate oil, creamy dressings typically feature mayonnaise, sour cream, avocado, or even the lighter Greek yogurt as their fatty base. Unlike a typical dressing that includes vinegar as the acidic ingredient, pickle juice will serve as the acid in your dressing — and a bonafide flavor-brightener. Using pickle juice to upgrade a delectably creamy dressing is relatively simple — just add some of that salty pickle juice to your other ingredients for a flavor boost. 

If you're looking for a delicious twist on that classic Caesar, pickle juice will offer an extra tangy kick. And don't skimp on the garlic — with its pungent taste, the sharp, oniony bulb is an excellent complement to the vinegary flavor of pickle juice. Don't have garlic, but have garlic dill pickles? No problem — the delicious garlic essence already infused into the brine will do the work for you. 

Alternatively, if you want a bright take on Green Goddess or Ranch dressing for a crowd, you can add about ¾ cup of pickle juice to your recipe for about 2 cups of dressing. Your juice will add that pleasantly tart flavor, while also helping thin your dressing out. But be sure to combine your salad dressing ingredients with an immersion blender for the creamiest results.

What type of pickle juice for your creamy dressing?

As far as what type of pickle juice to use in your creamy dressing, it's simply a matter of taste, as many varieties can deliver a delicious dressing. Sweet pickle juice has added sugar in the brine and a milder flavor than its dill counterpart, and will pair beautifully with the flavor profiles of picnic salads such as potato and pasta salad, or even coleslaw. Dill pickle juice, whose tangier flavor is primarily due to the use of dill weed in the brine, will add a much more savory essence to salads and may be better used on your greens. 

Alternatively, the deeper, more earthy flavor of the brine of bread and butter pickles would offer a unique taste to your creamy dressing, due to their being marinated with onions and seeds. If you'd to like to go in a seriously sour direction with your salad dressing, look no further than cornichons — their brine will be inherently tart and herbaceous thanks to pepper and the licorice-like taste of tarragon. You could also spice up your salads with a creamy dressing made with hot pickle brines that contain peppers like habanero and Carolina Reaper.