Sweet Pickle Relish Substitutes

Making tartar sauce should be quick and easy, right? At least that’s what everybody thinks. But if you are short on an important ingredient like sweet pickle relish, making this quick sauce may become a challenging task. Another reason why you may omit sweet pickle relish in your recipe is that store-bought pickle relishes may be made with lower-quality ingredients.

Apart from some quick tartar sauce, you could also use sweet pickle relish in several recipes to add flavor and texture to plain foods. For example, a plain hotdog would taste good with some sweet pickle relish; you could even use this sweet and salty condiment to spice up some salads or meat dishes.

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If your recipe calls for sweet pickle relish, but you don’t have any in the container, you could either run to the store to restock or make some homemade sweet pickle relish. But if you don’t have the time for all that, you could easily grab some products that would give you almost the same result as sweet pickle relish.

Sweet Pickle Relish Substitutes

What is Sweet Pickle Relish?

Sweet pickle relish is a pickle relish that contains sugar, so to better understand what a sweet pickle relish is, we first need to understand what a relish is.

According to Wikipedia, relish is a cooked and pickled product made from chopped fruits, veggies, pickles, or herbs. It is used quite commonly as a condiment to enhance the flavor of staple foods. A relish could be made from a single type of vegetable or fruit, or it could be made by combining various vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

Sweet pickle relish is said to have been invented by H.J. Heinz in 1889.

Uses of Sweet Pickle Relish in Recipes

The strong flavor of sweet pickle relish means it can be used to add flavor to the main ingredient in your recipe, or it can be used to complement other flavors already present in your dish. Sweet pickle relish can be used in many ways; you could either smear it on hotdogs, add some to salads, slather on some sandwiches or burgers, or stir up a well-flavored dip; the use of sweet pickle relish is open to endless possibilities.

The reason why sweet pickle relish works well with numerous recipes is because of the fine blend of tart, sweet, and salty flavors.

Below are fifteen examples of recipes that could use a tablespoon or more sweet pickle relish.

Substitutes for Sweet Pickle Relish 

If you are making a recipe that requires this savory condiment, your best option would be store-bought sweet pickle relish, but many home chefs complain that it is not made with high-quality ingredients. So to get a better result, you could make your very own homemade pickle relish with just three ingredients.

Let’s say you need sweet pickle relish in a pinch, you could quickly swap in some dill pickles, some green olives, or some capers, and you would still get that familiar tang of sweet pickle relish.

Let’s look at these substitutes and how you can use them in place of sweet pickle relish.

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Dill pickles come the closest to sweet pickle relish in terms of flavor. Dill pickles are pickled cucumbers with dill or dill seeds for flavoring. If you have had a sweet pickle relish, you would know that dill is the stand-out flavor of this condiment, so dill pickles will give you a taste within the same flavor profile.

Dill pickles are sweet and sour; they also have a crunchy or crisp texture. You could chop these pickles and add them to your tartar sauce in place of sweet pickle relish. You should use a 1 to 1 ratio when substituting.



Capers are small berries from the caper bush ( a perennial plant). These berries are usually pickled, and they naturally have a tangy and sour flavor similar to pickle relish.

Capers may vary in flavor, so you may need to pay attention to the overall flavor of your dish before adding them. They generally work well as salad dressings and garnishes; you could also add them to your marinades.

If you already have some capers on hand, you should swap them in for sweet pickle relish using the same measurements.



If you have some celery sticks in your home, you cook them to make a quick and easy replacement for sweet pickle relish. You only need to chop one celery stick, add some olive oil, some wine vinegar or lemon juice, minced garlic or onion, a sprinkle of salt, and any other herb you would like to include in your dish.

This simple sweet pickle relish substitute for hotdogs, sandwiches, and other salad recipes can be used.

Green Olives

Green Olives

If you suffer from ulcers or similar medical conditions, you might want to stay clear of green olives because they are acidic and may have a sharper taste than black olives.

They still have a slightly nutty and tangy flavor which would come in handy when making salads and dips. You can easily chop up some green olives whenever you are out of sweet pickle relish.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the shelf life of sweet pickle relish?

Sweet pickle relish can spend up to two and a half years (30 months) in your pantry if it is unopened. Once opened, it should go in the refrigerator, and it can last up to a year there.

Do I need to keep my can of pickle relish in the refrigerator?

To get more shelf life from an opened can of pickle relish, it should be stored in the refrigerator; otherwise, it can be safe at room temperature for a short period.

Is sweet pickle relish healthy?

Sweet pickle relish can be both healthy and unhealthy. It is a good source of vitamin K and vitamin A; it is also low in cholesterol and saturated fat; the bad news is that it is high in sodium, and because of the added sugar, it may be high in calories.


Sweet pickle relish is perfect if you want to perk up some salads or hamburgers, you may even get to run up on some recipes that call for it as an ingredient if you are all out of this condiment; no need to panic because you can still get decent results with some substitutes.