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What is a Pickle Dish?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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The pickle dish is a time honored serving dish that is utilized mainly for a simple but effective presentation of various pickled foods at mealtime or as part of a buffet. Closely related to the relish plate, it is not uncommon for the two dishes to be used interchangeably. While a basic pickle dish may resemble a smaller version of a serving platter, there are a number of designs that are considerably more ornate.

Both pickle dishes and relish plates are intended to provide easy and practical access to food items. Many examples of the pickle dish are sold with small spears, forks, or spoons that allow users to easily move the pickled items from the serving dish to the dinner plate. However, it is not uncommon for the more simplistic examples of the pickle dish to not include these accessories. When this is the case and the setting is a casual one, toothpicks can often offer the same function as the specialized forks and spears.

While many people assume that a pickle dish may only be used for a presentation of various types of pickles, that is not the case. It is perfectly acceptable to include any type of pickled food on the dish. In fact, this approach can be used to add visual interest to the presentation, as well as provide a wider range of flavors. Pickled fruits such as pickled peaches and pears can be placed alongside jerkin pickles, dill spears, and pickled olives to make a colorful and festive addition to the table. Pear or pickle relish can also be added to the pickle dish to add another layer of texture to the presentation as well.

Because the pickle dish comes in so many different sizes and shapes, it is possible to find something for any occasion and to fit any décor. Simple plastic models are ideal for casual home dining or as a means of taking along picked items on a picnic. Larger dishes may be used for buffet tables. There are even holiday themed examples of the pickle dish that may be employed for all sorts of special occasions.

While the average glass pickle dish is an inexpensive option, the more elaborate models constructed with silver and other metals can sell for impressive rates. In addition to purchasing a new pickle dish, this handy serving option can also often be found at thrift shops, flea markets, and estate sales.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By wizup — On Aug 03, 2011

We always called them relish trays when I was growing up. I can remember several occasions when my mom would fill the pickle dish with fresh vegetable sticks and then use the top or lid of a butter dish to serve the ranch dip in.

It's amazing how ingenious you can become when you want an impressive table setting while living on a budget. Of course back then, they didn't have the luxury of so many designs and price ranges that we have now.

By ellafarris — On Aug 02, 2011

I purchased a beautiful etched glass divided pickle dish at a yard sale last year that I just love. The man I bought it from wasn't sure if it was an antique or not, but it doesn't really matter since I only paid five dollars for it and I don't plan on selling it anyway.

He was an older gentleman and said it was in his family for as long as he could remember and that after his wife had passed away he just didn't have the need for the extra stuff she accumulated over the years.

He had so many buyers there before me that I consider myself lucky to have even found it. I also found and purchased a pair of five point sterling silver candelabra's for only ten dollars. What a steal!

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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