Pickles are truly amazing food that has undergone quite the reinvention as of late. Whereas once upon a time, pickles were polarizing in the sense that people liked them or hated them, nowadays it’s safe to say that the public has truly fallen in love with the humble pickle.
Sweet pickles are basically either gherkins or cucumbers that have been brined and pickled in a sweet combination of vinegar, sugar, spices, herbs and other aromatics and vegetables. They’re crunchy, tangy, sweet, and thoroughly delicious. They also work with all manner of different dishes and are great on burgers, sandwiches, and as a snack on their own.
The only thing better than sweet pickles is sweet pickle relish. This spreadable, chunky, sweet, tangy, and moreish condiment will enhance all manner of dishes. Popular sweet pickle relish uses include:
- As a dip
- On burgers
- On sandwiches
- In dressings
- In sauces
- With cheese and crackers
- As a hot dog topping
- In meatloaf
- In chilli
- In wraps
- On bagels
- As a condiment
Sweet Pickle Relish Substitutes
As you can see, sweet pickle relish has many uses, and if you’ve ever tried it before, you’ll know how delicious it is. But what if disaster strikes and you find yourself craving sweet pickle relish, only to find that there’s none in the house?
Well, worry not, because there are substitutes. Here’s a look at several sweet pickle relish substitutes.
1. Diced Dill Pickles
One of the most effective substitutions for times when you need sweet pickle relish but don’t have any handy is diced dill pickles.
Dill pickles are pickled cucumbers brined and pickled with dill seeds and fresh dill leaves in some instances. The dill, along with the pickling spices, gives these pickles an aromatic, tangy, and distinct flavor.
The diced dill pickles have a sweet, sour, and tangy flavor and when finely diced have a taste and texture that is very similar to that of relish.
2. Green Olives
When people think of sweet pickle relish substitutes, they generally don’t think of green olives.
However, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that green olives make a surprising substitute to sweet pickle relish.
Green olives are harvested before they ripen and turn black and have a distinctly nutty and acidic flavor with a slightly tart finish. They are tenderized in oil and when finely minced they not only look like relish, but they also taste surprisingly similar.
Green olives are especially great when used in salads and dressings.
3. Green Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are sweet and crunchy with virtually no heat at all.
Bell peppers come in a variety of different colors, with green ones having a slightly more tart and savory flavor.
For times when you want the crunch that goes with sweet pickle relish, green bell peppers are ideal.
The taste isn’t exactly identical to relish, but if you dice them fine enough with a splash of vinegar, you can get something similar that works very well on sandwiches and burgers.
4. Mango Chutney
Mango chutney is one of the most popular condiments in Indian cuisine, and if you want the sweet, tangy, and slightly crunchy taste and texture that is synonymous with sweet pickle relish, you can’t go wrong with mango chutney.
Chutneys and relishes are very similar, and are even sometimes interchangeable. Made with ripe mangoes, sugar, vinegar, and spices such as mustard seeds, coriander seeds, tamarind, cardamon, and cumin, mango chutney is a fruity alternative to relish that works exceptionally well on wraps, cheese and crackers, and burgers.
Cucumbers provide a texture very similar to pickles, because that’s what they are essentially.
Pickles are typically made from pickled cucumber, so the look and texture is very similar. The taste is of course unique as cucumbers are pickles in their raw form.
If you want the crunch associated with relish, go ahead and chop up a few cucumbers. Consider a few splashes of vinegar for that pickled taste, with a very light sprinkled of sugar for sweetness.
Add chopped cucumbers to your wraps for a refreshing taste and crunchy texture.
6. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce may very well be a staple over the Holidays, but don’t think that you only have to enjoy it during the festive season.
Cranberry sauce is chunky, sweet, fruity, tangy, and makes an awesome replacement for sweet pickle relish.
People associate cranberry sauce with turkey, and while it is great with turkey, chicken, and mild cheeses, it’s also a great alternative or substitution for sweet pickle relish.
Add it to your sandwiches, wraps, and burgers for a tangy, sweet, and fruity kick with just a few suggestions of spice lurking in the background. It also goes great with cold cuts of meat such as ham, chicken, and of course, turkey.
7. Green Tomato Relish
As far as appearance is concerned, green tomato relish is almost identical to sweet pickle relish. As far as the taste goes, it’s also surprisingly similar.
With green tomatoes as the star of the show, you’ll find many of the spices, pickling spices, herbs, and ingredients in green tomato relish as you would find in sweet pickle relish.
Green tomato relish is great as a side dish, plus it’s also amazing when you dip French fries into it.
While the taste isn’t as strong and as pronounced as sweet pickle relish, it still has a very similar flavor profile and appearance as its pickle counterpart, making it a wonderful substitution.
Finally, last, but certainly not least, we have capers.
Capers are small, pungent, slightly perfumed, and have a similar taste to olives. They’re commonly used in tartar sauce and tangy dressings and have a softer, mushier texture than crunchy relishes.
If you’re looking for your relish to add a tart taste without overpowering the dish, diced capers are perfect with a splash of vinegar and some salt and pepper.