A fried pickle is a greasy, saltier, hot pickle. It’s a concept that shouldn’t work, and yet it does. Many people agree: Fried pickles taste good.
The best fried pickles can be found at mid-level chain restaurants and county fairs—establishments that aren’t afraid of fat and salt. Fried pickles do best when their preparers don’t take themselves too seriously, and I—as you might have guessed—am one such pickle fryer.
I originally set out to make air fried pickles, a notion I have since abandoned, because air-fried pickles suck. (The pickles have to be arranged in single, well-spaced layer in the basket of your air fryer, and even then, they do not brown evenly or well.) But in the midst of developing the recipe that would never be, I discovered that ranch seasoning powder—I’m talking the Hidden Valley stuff—makes an outstanding fried pickle batter.
This should not be surprising. Ranch dressing and fried pickles run in the same circles—they’re both highly seasoned and sometimes snubbed by fancier folk. The tangy umami from the dehydrated buttermilk and MSG pairs exceptionally well with a pickle slice, giving it a flavor reminiscent of a dill chip on a cheeseburger. Plus, the little dehydrated green bits look quite nice when suspended in a golden-brown batter.
A single, one-ounce packet of ranch dressing mix is all it takes to turn a cup of flour into a perfect pickle batter. Just mix, dip, and fry. To make ranch fried pickles, you will need:
- Vegetable oil
- Pickles—preferably cheap but fairly thick hamburger-style slices
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 1-ounce packet of ranch dressing mix
- 1 egg, beaten
Add a couple of inches of oil to a high-walled stainless steel frying pan or some sort of Dutch oven. Set the heat to high. Mix the flour and ranch seasoning together and set aside. Decide how many pickles you want to eat and blot that number of pickles on paper towels, then dip them in the egg and toss them in the batter to coat.
Let the oil reach 365℉ and fry the pickles, several at a time, for a few minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Remove the pickles from the oil and let them drain on paper towels. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping. Repeat until you have as many fried pickles as you desire. (One batch of batter should last you at least 20, but I haven’t fully tested its limits.)
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