Craving a bit of classic pub food, but you can’t get a spot on your favourite patio? Why not bring a little pub fare to the cottage instead? If you have an air fryer or a convection oven, you can create a home-based version of deep-fried pickles, a fun pub classic.
Deep-fried pickles have been around for a surprisingly long time. The first printed recipe dates from 1962, when the Oakland Tribune printed a recipe that involved sweet pickles and pancake batter.
Fried dill pickles were invented by Bernell “Fatman” Austin, the owner of a drive-in restaurant in Atkins, Arkansas. Since his restaurant was located across the road from a pickle factory, Fatman began slicing, breading and frying pickles as a novelty snack, serving up his first order in 1963.
The novelty took off, and before long restaurants across the south were breading and frying pickles. Fatman died in 1999 and his restaurant is long gone, but his secret breading recipe remains in family hands, and once a year — at Picklefest in Atkins — his family cooks and serves “Fatman’s Original Fried Dill Pickles,” donating the proceeds to scholarships and charities Fatman supported.
While most pubs and restaurants use a deep fryer for their pickles, an air fryer is a healthie substitute. Air fryers aren’t really fryers at all, of course: they are simply small convection ovens, in which heated air is circulated around a small basket of food. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can adapt the recipe to make it in a convection oven.
You can use spears or slices — if you want slices, it’s best to slice your own so that they’re thick enough to have lots of pickle flavour. Just be sure to pat the pickles dry before you coat them, so the coating sticks.
16 dill pickle spears
½ cup flour
Dash of sriracha or Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 ½ cups bread crumbs or Panko crumbs
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried dill
Cooking spray or sprayable oil
- Whisk together eggs with 1 tbsp of water and hot sauce (if using). Combine bread crumbs and seasonings in another bowl.
- Preheat air fryer to 400 F.
- Pat pickles dry. Dredge each pickle in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then roll in seasoned bread crumbs, and set to one side.
- Once you’ve got a tray full of pickles, put them in the air fryer in a single layer. Give them a squirt of cooking spray.
- Cook five minutes. Flip them over and cook another two to four minutes until golden and crispy.
- Serve with a dipping sauce like ranch-buffalo sauce, or aioli.
Image by Rusty Gillespie