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12 BEST Sweet Pickle Relish Substitutes + 2 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of sweet pickle relish substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured I’ve got you covered.

Dill pickle relish is a great substitute for sweet pickle relish. Whole pickles will also work – just chop them up before using them. Try pickled onions if you want to switch things up or pickled jalapenos for a bit of heat. Making your own pickled relish is also possible!

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The experiment

I made small batches of tuna salad to try different sweet pickle relish substitutes. 

Sweet pickle relish is a condiment made with a medley of cucumbers and bell peppers cooked in a sweet brine.

It definitely lives up to its name with a distinctive sweet flavor and a vinegary tang. It’s great on hot dogs and burgers, or mixed into different salads.

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts: 

SubstitutesSubstitute directionsVerdict
Dill pickle relishReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Whole picklesReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Chopped cucumbers + sugarReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Homemade Sweet Pickle RelishReplace in a 1:19/10
Other pickled vegetablesReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
CapersReplace in a 1:1 ratio 8/10
Other fresh vegetablesReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
ChutneyReplace in a 1:1 ratio, adjust to taste8/10

Common uses for sweet pickle relish 

Here are some popular ways to use sweet pickle relish and the best substitutes for those situations:

  • For salads: Try using chopped whole pickles, dill pickle relish, chopped cucumbers and sugar, or other pickled vegetables. Capers are a great option if you want to make your salad fancier. 
  • As a condiment for hotdogs, burgers, etc.: Try using chopped whole pickles, dill pickle relish, or a homemade sweet relish. Other pickled veggies, like pickled onions, are a great way to add color and flavor. 
  • For dipping sauces and spreads: Try using chopped whole pickles, dill pickle relish, or chutney if you want a twist.

Dill pickle relish

Think sweet pickle relish is too sweet? Swap it for dill pickle relish instead! 

It’s very similar to sweet pickle relish but boasts a more sour flavor because it uses less sugar. 

The addition of dill also lends an added burst of fresh, citrusy goodness – ideal for cutting through the richness of my tuna salad. 

Dill pickle relish is also exceptional at balancing out the meaty, savory flavors in hotdogs and burgers. 

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with dill pickle relish.

Whole pickles

Whole pickles are another no-brainer substitute for sweet pickle relish. 

Simply chop up any whole pickles you have in your fridge, and you’ll be good to go! 

Sweet pickles or bread and butter pickles will give you the closest flavor match, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

Why not use hot pickles to add heat to your tuna salad or sandwich? Or for an even tangier twist than dill pickle relish, consider sour pickles.

Sour pickles undergo a slow fermentation in a saltwater brine, making them extremely tart and salty.

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with chopped whole pickles.

Chopped cucumbers + sugar

Chopped cucumbers with a sprinkle of sugar is an easy, accessible substitute for sweet pickle relish. 

This combination has a slightly crunchier texture than traditional relish but this doesn’t matter for most application.

Cucumber also has less tang. But you can always mix in a spritz of lemon juice to help replicate this.

Another option you can try is adding a dollop of Dijon mustard or swapping out your for Greek yogurt which has an all-natural sour flavor.

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of chopped cucumbers and sugar.

Sweetcorn relish or sweetcorn

Sweetcorn relish is super similar to sweet pickle relish.

Bothe are sweet, both are packed with tiny bits of veg, and both have some tang from vinegar and mustard. And both of them are delicious on burgers!

And if you don’t care for the tang – try sweetcorn by itself.

It might seem like a left field suggestion, but it’s a sweet and healthy alternative to pickle relish.

Chop the sweetcorn into tiny pieces to mimic the texture and of relish and dig in!

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of chopped cucumbers and sugar.

Homemade sweet pickle relish

If you’re up for a kitchen adventure, why not try making your own sweet pickle relish? 

It’s not the quickest option, but it’s well worth the effort.

And you can make a big batch, so you’ll be ready anytime the cravings strike.

I used Maricel’s Recipe, which cleverly suggests using a food processor to chop the veggies. No more tedious prep work needed!

You then need to soak chopped veggies in a sweet brine for about 12 hours before cooking them thicken the sauce.

The recipe also includes a water bath canning process to help your relish last longer. 

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with homemade sweet pickle relish.

Other pickled vegetables

Not a fan of pickled cucumbers (the main ingredient in sweet pickle relish)? No worries, there are lots of other pickled vegetables to try. 

Want a mildly fiery kick in your tuna salad? Try pickled jalapeños or pepperoncini. 

Or if you’re looking for visual appeal and flavor, pickled red onions or red cabbage will do the trick.

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen pickled vegetables.


Capers are a unique alternative to sweet pickle relish.

They’re tangier than sweet pickle relish, with a bright lemony and quite a bit of saltiness.

You’ll probably need to reduce the salt content of your recipe to keep the flavors balanced. 

Although capers didn’t add the crunch to my tuna salad that the pickles did, they did have a nice ‘pop’.

The only catch? They’re generally pricier than sweet pickle relish.

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with capers.

Other fresh vegetables

If pickles aren’t your cup of tea, don’t worry.

Finely chopped or minced vegetables can step into the spotlight as a satisfying substitute for sweet pickle relish. 

And just like with the fresh cucumbers substitute, I added a splash of lemon juice to give my tuna salad a zestier punch (but you can skip this if you want).

My usual go-to options are chopped onions, celery, and green bell peppers. But you can use whatever you have to hand!

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with chopped fresh vegetables.


Chutney is a condiment typically made with slow-cooked fruits or vegetables with vinegar and a medley of spices. Mango chutney is a common example.

The flavor depends on what ingredients you use, but it’ll have the same sweet-but-sour base as sweet pickle relish.

The extra spices add complexity though, so you’ll probably want to do a taste test and decide if you’ll like it in your recipe.

I LOVE it over hot dogs and mixed into a potato salad.

How to substitute: replace sweet pickle relish in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen chutney.

Other substitutes to consider

The substitutes I mentioned about are my top options for sweet pickle relish substitutes, but they’re not the only options.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Fresh/freeze-dried dill – this won’t add any texture or sweetness or to your dish, but it will bring another layer of citrusy goodness and you’ll get the dill flavor.
  • Green olives – these have a briny flavor with a subtler sweetness compared to sweet pickle relish, but they’re still a decent substitute. Check with your guests if they like them first because these can be a divisive ingredient.
  • Ketchup – if you’re in a real bind, ketchup will go some way to replacing the flavors of sweet pickle relish.

Substitutes to avoid

When i saw these suggested on another blog I was dubious, but I had to give them a shot to be thorough!

They were tasty, but I don’t think they worked as a substitute for sweet pickle relish. 

  • Apple butter – this has a very warm, spiced flavor, and I could see how you could incorporate it into savory dishes. But I still think it’s far too sweet to be an alternative for sweet pickle relish. 
  • Cranberry sauce – this has a more sour flavor than sweet pickle relish and could work as a condiment, but I felt it was too fruity.

12 Best Sweet Pickle Relish Substitutes + 2 To Avoid

I tested loads of sweet pickle relish substitutes to find the best one. I also provided a homemade version you can try.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: substitutes for sweet pickle relish, sweet pickle relish substitutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Soaking Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 12 jars
Calories: 20kcal


  • 8-10 medium cucumbers, washed, unpeeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 3 red or white onions
  • 4 large bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 5 stalks celery
  • cup pickling or Kosher salt
  • cold water, for rinsing
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp celery seeds
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric


  • Combine all the chopped veggies in one bowl. Mix in the pickling salt. Cover and let it stand in a cool place for 12 hours.
  • Prepare your canning jars and lids.
  • Strain the excess water from the brined vegetables. Set aside. In a large sauce pot, add the sugar, tapioca starch, mustard seeds, celery seeds, ground turmeric, or vinegar. Cook the mixture over medium-heat until thickened. Add the vegetables while stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  • Ladle the relish in the sterilized jars. Leave ½ inch of headspace. Remove the air bubbles and wipe the rims of each jar. Place the lid on the jar and screw them shut, but not overtight.
  • Process the jarred pickles in your water bath canner. This should take you about 10 minutes.
  • Leave to cool for at least 24 hours and check the seal before storing or using.


other options: dill pickle relish, whole pickles, chopped cucumbers + sugar, other pickled vegetables, capers, other fresh vegetables, chutney, fresh/freeze-dried dill, green olives, ketchup


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 20kcal

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