The Mexican chamoy pickle trend that’s sweeping the internet right now combines several different intense flavors into one mouth-watering candy/pickle sensation. Sweet, sour, spicy—max them all out, and you’re bound to experience a flavor sensation unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. I personally love a chamoy pickle, so when I saw a recipe for Kool-Aid pickles, I thought it would be fun to try. It’s similar to a chamoy pickle in that utilizes both sweet and sour flavors, a combo I firmly believe will always be delicious.
That being said, a dyed pink pickle both looks and sounds less than delicious, so I was wary going into this experience. I don’t even like Kool-Aid—what were the chances that I would come away from my Kool-Aid pickle-making process feeling good about the culinary travesty I allowed to take place in my own kitchen? But, alas, I had to try, and I am here, dear reader, to report back to you.
This was, thankfully, an incredibly easy recipe to make, and it’s relatively cheap too. All you need is a jar of pickles, a packet of Kool-Aid, sugar and some water. Within five minutes, you can have it prepped and marinating in your fridge. You’ll want to empty the jar of pickles of its juice (which you should save for later), then pour in the packet of Kool-Aid and the sugar. Add water to the jar, mix up the powder and then close the lid. You should soak the pickles in the Kool-Aid for at least 24 hours before you give them a try.
When the pickles come out of their sugary brine, they’ll be dyed a bright pink color. I’m not going to lie—it does not look appetizing, but there’s a novelty to it that’s undoubtedly intriguing. The skin of the pickles remains green, as does the inside of the pickle, but the bright pink hue makes for an unconventional-looking salad topper.
Take a bite, and the first thing you’ll notice is the rush of sour brine you’d expect from a dill pickle, same as always. Slowly, the sweetness and artificial fruit of the Kool-Aid start to kick in. The sugar, which I was concerned about, isn’t overwhelmingly sweet—the acidity from the pickle brine neutralizes it, making these pickles easy to snack on without feeling like you’re eating straight candy.
One thing I must underscore here is the fact that it’s essential to make sure you’re using crunchy pickles. The first batch of these that I made came out soggy and limp with no crunch to be had; they were a nightmare. The crisp, crunchy version was far, far superior. It may pay to buy whole pickles and cut them into quarters yourself, thereby negating the risk of floppy pink spears.
Can these Kool-Aid pickles really compete with a chamoy pickle? Absolutely not. The spicy, sour, sweet intensity of a chamoy pickle is loud, confident, outspoken; the Kool-Aid pickle is like the chamoy pickle’s quieter, slightly less interesting cousin. It has some of the same themes going on, but it’s less intense, less exciting. Does that mean I will never again consume a Kool-Aid pickle? Definitely not. It just means that, if presented with a choice, I will probably opt for a chamoy pickle over a Kool-Aid one every time.
That being said, the off-putting appearance of a Kool-Aid pickle isn’t a fair reflection of this snack’s culinary merit. A bright pink pickle might look strange, but it’s totally worth a try if you fancy yourself an adventurous eater.
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.