Classic French Cornichon Pickles

Cornichons in a bowl

IgorGolovnov / Getty Images

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Salt Time: 90 mins
Total: 110 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
15 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 15
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1893mg 82%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 90mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pickles are not a huge part of French cooking, but cornichons certainly have their role alongside pâtés and terrines, raclettes and meats, and cheese and charcuterie plates. French cornichons are tiny pickles—about the size of your pinky finger—and have a bumpy exterior. The taste is tart, and the texture is crunchy. These powerful little cucumber cousins are perfect when served on appetizer platters with smoked meat and fish and added to deviled eggs or a sandwich.

In England, these small pickles are called gherkins. Gherkins are a close relative to the cucumber plant but are bumpier and crisper. Cornichons are made from a few different types of gherkin plants. Although finding the right kind of cucumber in the U.S. may be challenging, the recipe itself is simple to make. Just keep in mind, cornichons will need to sit after canning for three to four weeks.

One of the more popular types of cucumbers used for cornichons is the fin de meaux cucumber. A variety called Parisienne cornichon de Bourbonne cucumbers is also commonly used. You can also use pickling cucumbers cut into 1/2-inch spears.


  • 2 pounds fin de meaux cucumbers (2 inches long is best)

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, divided

  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon white onion, finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved

  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns

  • 2 cloves

  • 2 bay leaves

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl, toss cucumbers in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of salt.

  3. Arrange cucumbers in a single layer on paper towels or clean kitchen towels to allow salt to draw moisture out of cucumbers. Let sit for 90 minutes, then rinse cucumbers thoroughly.

  4. Sterilize 2 (1-pint) jars, along with their lids and rings, and keep hot until ready to fill with pickling mixture.

  5. In a medium, nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, bring vinegar, water, and remaining 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil.

  6. Divide onion, garlic, dill, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaves between the 2 sterilized jars.

  7. Pack cucumbers into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace.

  8. Fill jars with hot vinegar mixture, leaving 1/4-inch headspace from the top of the jars.

  9. Tap jars to remove any air bubbles, cap jars, and process them for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

  10. Cool jars and store in a cool, dark place for at least three to four weeks before opening.


  • Grow your own gherkins: If you are having trouble finding the French varieties but are determined to make authentic cornichons, you can buy the seeds and grow them yourself. Plan ahead, as this method will take much longer than the three- to four-week canning time. If you have the right growing conditions, think about adding 10 weeks to the process if you grow your own.
  • If you do not have a canner: Place the jars into a large pot of water, bring to a boil for 10 minutes, switch off the heat, and then carefully remove the jars from the water. 

How to Store Cornichons

Unopened, cornichons will keep for at least a year. Once opened and refrigerated, they will last many months.

How to Use Cornichons

Cornichons can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Sauces: Cornichons have their place in sauces such as tartar sauce, rémoulade sauce, and charcutiere sauce, a French finishing sauce often used with meat dishes.
  • Main dishes: You will also find this little pickle featured in certain regional dishes, like Southern-style deviled eggs, and making an unexpected but welcome appearance in a steak salad recipe.
  • Culinary specialties: Cornichons also are a part of German cuisine and appear in two German specialties: German pasta salad, a typical party dish featuring bologna, cheese, and eggs with a creamy dressing; and German beef rouladen, consisting of thin slices of beef rolled around a mixture of cornichon, mustard, onion, and bacon.

Recipe Tags: