Giardiniera Recipe (Italian Pickled Vegetables)

5 from 2 votes
1 hour
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A homemade Giardiniera recipe, also known as Italian Pickled Vegetables is a classic condiment you can easily make yourself and the flavor is so much better than store-bought. It’s a great way to preserve vegetables for later use and is perfect on sandwiches and burgers, on an antipasto platter, as a ready-made side dish or as a healthful snack!

“The brine came out amazing!”

Jar of Giardiniera (Italian Pickled Vegetables).

What is Giardiniera?

Giardiniera is an Italian term that loosely means “from the garden.” Although giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables) is extremely popular in Chicago, Giardiniera’s roots lie in the rolling hills of Italy. People would pickle their garden vegetables in vinegar to preserve their food for the winter.

A wide variety of vegetables can be used in recipes for giardiniera. Most often you’ll find cauliflower, carrots, celery, onion, hot chiles, bell peppers and olives.

Recipes for Giardiniera Italian-style are more vinegary while Chicago-style is first pickled with vinegar and then marinated in olive oil.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

If you love anything pickled the way I do, you’re going to love this giardiniera recipe that’s homemade and so much better than store-bought!

A combination of white wine vinegar, water, fresh herbs and spices create a flavorful brine for vegetables that can be varied according to what you have on hand.

Giardiniera is a great way to use that handful or two of veggies you have in the vegetable drawer that you can’t get to and don’t want to have to throw out. This giardiniera recipe helps to preserve them a little longer transforming them into a condiment with many uses such as:

  • As is or coarsely chopped on burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and bratwurst.
  • Drained, chopped and mixed into mayonnaise as a sandwich spread.
  • In pasta or grain salads.
  • On an antipasto or charcuterie platter.
  • Chopped and served with simply roasted chicken, beef, pork or rich, cheesy entrees like Cheesy Skillet Chicken Pot Pie.
Three jars of Giardiniera (Italian Pickled Vegetables) on white wood surface.

How to Make Giardiniera (Italian Pickled Vegetables):

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this giardiniera recipe along with how to prep. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • White Wine Vinegar: White wine vinegar is preferable to using white distilled vinegar in this giardiniera recipe because it’s milder and sweeter than white distilled which is made from grain alcohol, making it more potent. Keep in mind a trace amount of alcohol can remain in white wine vinegar.
  • Salt: Use pickling or kosher salt. Pickling salt is also known as canning salt which is pure salt with a fine texture so it dissolves faster in brines. It doesn’t contain any anti-caking agents or additives which are traditionally added to table salt. These additives are left out because they can add a cloudy appearance to pickle brine. Kosher salt is also pure salt.
  • Mustard Seed: I used yellow mustard seed but you can also use brown mustard seeds.
  • The Vegetables: Cauliflower is most often used in a giardiniera recipe; carrots are another popular addition. I used green beans and red bell pepper because it’s what I had on hand and they needed to be used. Other options include asparagus, Brussels sprouts and pattypan squash.
  • Green Olives: I used Castelvetrano olives which have a meaty texture and a buttery, mild flavor.
  • Capers: Capers are the green, unripened flower buds of the caper bush. You can find them in the pickled products section.
  • Cayenne Peppers: I used fresh cayenne peppers in addition to crushed red pepper flakes because we like giardiniera good and spicy. Dried cayenne can also be used. >>Please adjust the heat level to your tolerance.<<

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Combine the first 12 ingredients (water through salt) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let it simmer away at a good clip for 5 minutes.
Brine in stainless steel saucepan.
  • Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Place the cayenne peppers (or crushed red pepper flakes), cauliflower, carrots, onion, red bell pepper, green beans, pepperoncini and capers in a large glass jar.
Vegetables for Giardiniera in glass jar.
  • Strain the brine, return it to the saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Carefully and slowly pour the hot brine over the vegetables, pushing the vegetables under the surface of the brine.
Giardiniera (Italian Pickled Vegetables) in glass jar after hot brine is added.
  • Let cool to room temperature. Check the vegetables periodically to make sure they’re under the surface of the brine.
  • Add the olive oil, stir and refrigerate for three days.
Pickled vegetables in glass jar with brine.
  • After three days, you can leave it in the big jar or transfer it to something smaller as the vegetables will have lost a little of their bulk and they will take up less room.
  • Check it periodically so the vegetables stay completely submerged.
  • Enjoy!!
  • Keeps in the refrigerator for 30 days.
Three jars of Giardiniera (Italian Pickled Vegetables).

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • Although it’s easier to enjoy giardiniera on a sandwich with the vegetables chopped, leaving the homemade giardiniera chunky gives you more options such as serving it as a side dish. You can always chop them up later.
  • Save the brine to use as a delicious salad dressing!!
Finished Giardiniera (Italian Pickled Vegetables) in a glass jar.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does homemade giardiniera need to be refrigerated?

To be on the safe side, giardiniera should be refrigerated. Giardiniera is best served at room temperature, so just let it sit out for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Why is giardiniera so popular in Chicago?

Giardiniera began appearing in Chicago with the wave of Italian immigrants that came to the city in the late 19th century. Around that time, Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily founded the V. Formusa Co., maker of the famous Marconi brand of giardiniera.

What is the correct giardiniera pronunciation?

The correct pronunciation of giardiniera is jar-deen-YAIR-uh.

Storage:

  • Homemade giardiniera keeps for 30 days in the refrigerator.

Serve with:

Find all my pickle recipes at: Pickle and Relish Recipes – From A Chef’s Kitchen

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Finished Giardiniera (Italian Pickled Vegetables) in a glass jar.

Giardiniera (Italian Pickled Vegetables)

5 from 2 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Giardiniera, also known as Italian Pickled Vegetables is a classic condiment that you can easily make yourself and the flavor is so much better than storebought. It's a great way to preserve vegetables for later use and is perfect on sandwiches and burgers, on an antipasto platter, as a ready-made side dish or as a healthful snack!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Pickles and Relishes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12
Calories 153 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar - (one 16-ounce bottle)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 12 cloves garlic - smashed
  • 4 small fresh bay leaves - or 2 dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds - brown or yellow
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons pickling or kosher salt - or to taste
  • 2 cayenne peppers - fresh or dried or 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 small head of cauliflower - cut into florets (approximately 2 heaping cups)
  • 3 large carrots - halved and sliced into similar-sized pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion - coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper - seeds and membranes removed, sliced
  • 2 cups green beans - ends trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 1 cup green olives - such as Sicilian or Castelvestrano
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini peppers - seeded and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Combine the first 12 ingredients (water through salt) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let it simmer away for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 30 minutes.
  • Place the cayenne peppers (or crushed red pepper flakes), cauliflower, carrots, onion, red bell pepper, green beans, olives, pepperoncini and capers in a large glass jar.
  • Strain the brine, return it to the saucepan and briefly bring to a simmer.
  • Carefully and slowly pour the hot brine over the vegetables, pushing the vegetables under the surface of the brine.
  • Let cool to room temperature. Check the vegetables periodically to make sure they're under the surface of the brine.
  • Add the olive oil, stir and refrigerate for 3 days.
  • After 3 days, you can leave it in the big jar or transfer to something smaller as the vegetables will have lost some of their bulk and will take up less room.
  • Keeps in the refrigerator for 30 days.

Notes

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 153kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 1671mg | Potassium: 190mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3524IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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8 Comments

    1. Hi, Michel, Yes, see my response in on the of the comments: “You can definitely can this–10-minute water bath starting with raw vegetables. The only problem would be the oil which you add at the end. I don’t think that’s something you want to heat to that high of a temperature. Taste the brine and adjust the sugar or water to taste. You can always give the giardiniera a good drizzle with a nice olive oil when you serve it.” Thanks so much and hope you enjoy!

  1. 5 stars
    This was my first time making giardiniera and I used the above recipe with only a couple of substitutes: I used celery and mustard powder/salt since I didn’t have seeds, no fennel seed as I had known, celery instead of green beans and added juniper berries (1/4-1/2 tsp). The brine came out amazing and the crushed garlic was so delicious that I kept it (turned a bit purple because of the juniper berries). I can’t wait to taste the veggies tomorrow after they have marinated overnight!

    1. Hi, Kathryn, Thanks so much for your question. You can definitely can this–10-minute water bath starting with raw vegetables. The only problem would be the oil which you add at the end. I don’t think that’s something you want to heat to that high of a temperature. Taste the brine and adjust the sugar or water to taste. You can always give the giardiniera a good drizzle with a nice olive oil when you serve it. Thanks again ahd hope you enjoy!!