Gherkins vs Pickles: Are They The Same?

Gherkins vs pickles

Gherkins vs. pickles, aren’t they the same thing? Basically, a pickle is a pickled cucumber, while a gherkin is a pickled baby cucumber. However, this may depend on your location, as both these terms can mean different things in different countries.

Pickling food is one of the most common food preservation strategies. Pickled foods can last for months as opposed to fresh foods that need to be eaten quickly before they spoil.

Pickled cucumbers are probably the most famous type of pickled food, and in this article, you will learn the differences between gherkins and pickles!

Gherkins Vs Pickles

Although distinguishing pickles and gherkins seems quite simple, it is quite complex, depending on where you come from. If you live in the United States or Canada, pickles are basically any small pickled cucumbers, while gherkins refer to a specific type of pickled baby cucumber.

The name gherkin comes from the German and Dutch word “gurken,” which refers to small pickled cucumbers. However, outside North America, the word “pickle” can refer to any pickled food, and “gherkin” specifically refers to pickled cucumbers.

Different Gherkin Species

Also, there are plants named gherkins, and they aren’t cucumbers; they are actually completely different plants that are close relatives to cucumbers. One of those plants is a West Indian gherkin, also called a maroon cucumber.

West Indian gherkin has small, rounded, and spiky fruits that have a cucumber-like flavor when young, but once they mature, they become more bitter.

Another close cucumber cousin is a Mexican sour gherkin, also known as cucamelon or mouse melon. It looks like a miniature watermelon, and it has a flavor that’s somewhere between a cucumber and a lemon.

Taste Differences

Usually, when two types of food are compared, the differences in their flavor are especially important. However, both pickles and gherkins can be made with a variety of ingredients such as vinegar, salt, mustard seed, dill, black pepper, etc.

Usually, pickled gherkins are sourer than pickles, but gherkins can be sweet, just as pickles can be sour.

Gherkins vs pickles pin

Other Pickled Cucumber Varieties

While gherkin might be the most popular small pickled cucumber, you should try out some other types of pickled cucumbers.

  1. A bread and butter pickle – It remains unclear how did the bread and butter pickles got their names, but they are usually made by slicing cucumbers thinly and then pickling them in a vinegar or brine solution. Bread and butter pickles are often served as a side dish or condiment, and they can also be used in recipes such as sandwiches, salads, and relishes.
  2. A kosher pickle – Kosher pickles are cucumbers that have been preserved in a vinegar or brine solution. They are a common ingredient in Jewish cuisine and can be enjoyed as a snack or used as a condiment. Kosher pickles are typically made with dill, mustard seeds, kosher salt, and other spices.
  3. A dill pickle – Dill pickles are similar to kosher dill pickles, but they usually contain garlic. Also, while kosher pickles are usually made following traditional Jewish kosher recipes, dill pickles don’t follow such strict rules.

Other Pickled Foods

Since we’re talking about pickled cucumbers, we should mention some other pickled foods because the term “pickles” does not always refer to pickled cucumbers.

Pickles” can also refer to any other food that has gone through the pickling process, such as pickled onions, carrots, asparagus, hot peppers, beets, green beans, green tomatoes, and other pickled vegetables. There are even pickled eggs and pickled meat.

Are Gherkins The Same As Pickles?

No, pickles can refer to any type of pickled cucumber (and even other pickled vegetables), while gherkins are small pickled cucumbers that are usually covered in bumps and still immature.

You can say that every gherkin is a pickle, while not every pickle is a gherkin.

Do Gherkins Taste Like Pickles?

The answer to this question depends on what you are used to eating. If you are accustomed to eating sweet pickles, then you might find that gherkins taste quite different. This is because gherkins usually have a sour taste rather than sweet.

On the other hand, if you are used to eating dill pickles, then you might find that gherkins have a similar flavor. This is because both types of cucumbers are often seasoned with dill.

Which Is Better Gherkins Or Pickles?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on personal preferences. Some people prefer gherkins because they are smaller and have a crunchier texture. Others prefer pickles because they are bigger and have a more traditional flavor.

Also, keep in mind that there are different types of pickles and gherkins. For example, some gherkins are sweeter while others are sourer. Similarly, some pickles are made with vinegar, while others are made with brine. So, it really depends on what you are looking for in a pickle or gherkin.

Is Gherkin And Dill Pickle The Same?

No, a pickled gherkin isn’t the same as a dill pickle. Dill pickles, as their name suggests, are made with dill, while gherkins usually don’t contain any dill.


So, now you understand the difference between gherkins vs. pickles. In the US and Canada, pickles is an umbrella term for any type of pickled cucumbers, while gherkins refer solely to a specific type of pickled miniature cucumbers.

However, if you live outside North America, you will call every pickle a gherkin, while every other pickled food will be called a pickle. Also, some plants that are close relatives to cucumbers are also called gherkins, which can be a bit confusing.

Still, I hope this post was informative enough and helped you distinguish between pickles and gherkins. Which one do you like more? Share in the comments!

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