These Zuni Cafe Pickles are a classic for a reason, quick pickled zucchini with a sweet sour flavor and bright yellow coloring! Like a jar full of sunshine!
I first made these Zuni Cafe Pickles back in 2009! I make them every single year and there really is no excuse for them sitting here all this time with no images and no recipe card!
Zuni Cafe is a restaurant in San Francisco, which opened in 1979. I've never been there, but when I got their cookbook in 2003 I fell in love with practically every single recipe.
One of the first recipes that I tried from the book was their Zuni Cafe Pickles.
These quick pickled cucumbers and zucchini are brined in a sweet and sour brine, with turmeric giving them a gorgeous yellow color.
They are so good and I always have a jar in my fridge.
- Sugar - I used organic cane sugar, which is why mine looks a little darker. White sugar is fine.
- Onion - one small yellow onion.
- Salt - I used kosher salt, sea salt is good too. You don't want to use regular table salt because of the additives.
- Cider vinegar - I like to use the vinegar with the mother still in it, but any apple cider vinegar will work.
- Dry mustard, turmeric, and crushed mustard seeds - add spice, flavor, and that gorgeous sunny color!
Thinly slice the zucchini and the onions. A mandoline makes this quick and easy, but you can do it with a knife.
Place the zucchini and onion in a shallow bowl and add the salt.
Add some ice cubes and enough water to cover the vegetables. Stir to dissolve the salt.
Let them sit in the salty cold water for about an hour.
While they are in the water, prepare the brine. Heat the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds, and turmeric in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about three minutes and then remove from the heat. Set it aside to come to room temperature.
After about an hour taste a slice of zucchini. It should be slightly salty and softened a bit. Drain and pat dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner.
Pack the zucchini and onions into a quart jar.
Pour the cooled brine over the zucchini and onions. Refrigerate for at least a day before eating.
These are so good. They kind of taste like sweet gherkins. I love to serve them with just about anything! They are an amazing addition to a charcuterie board.
These will make zucchini pickle lovers out of everyone! Someday, I hope to get out to Zuni Cafe, but in the meantime, I'll be enjoying their pickles!
More quick pickle recipes.
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Zuni Cafe Zucchini Pickles
- 1 pound zucchini
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Wash and trim off the ends of the zucchini and peel the onions. Thinly slice the zucchini and the onion. A mandoline works great for this.
- Place the zucchini and the onion in a shallow bowl and sprinkle the salt over them and toss to coat. Add a few ice cubes and some cold water, stir to dissolve the salt. Let it sit for one hour.
- While the zucchini and onions are resting, make the brine by combining all the brine ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature.
- After an hour, check the zucchini. It should be slightly salty and softened. Drain adn dry with paper towels or in a salad spinner.
- Place the zucchini and onions in a jar, one with shoulders will help keep the zucchini submerged. Pour over the brine. Place a lid on the jar and store in the fridge.
- Let them chill for at least one day.
This was originally published in 2009 and has been updated for 2023.