What Are Cornichons?

What Are Cornichons?

What Are Cornichons?

Cornichons are small, tart pickles that are typically made from a type of cucumber called gherkins. They are typically about 1-2 inches long and have a bright green color. Cornichons are often used as a garnish for charcuterie boards, sandwiches, and salads. They can also be eaten on their own as a snack.

Cornichons have a slightly sour and salty flavor. They are often flavored with herbs such as cloves, dill, garlic, and mustard seeds. The pickling process helps to preserve the cucumbers and gives them their distinctive flavor.

Origin And History Of Cornichons

The origins of cornichons can be traced back to France, where they first gained popularity. The word “cornichon” is actually a French term, meaning “small horn.” Historically, cornichons were made to preserve cucumbers during the colder months when fresh produce was scarce. Over time, their exceptional taste and versatility led to their popularity spreading to other parts of the world.

How Are Cornichons Made

Cornichons are made by pickling gherkins in a brine of vinegar, water, salt, and other spices. The pickling process typically takes several weeks.

  • The first step in making cornichons is to wash the gherkins thoroughly. 
  • The gherkins are then soaked in a brine of water and salt for several hours. This helps to draw out some of the water from the cucumbers and makes them more firm.
  • After the gherkins have been soaked, they are placed in a jar with the vinegar, water, and spices. The jar is then sealed and left to pickle for several weeks.

How Do Cornichons Taste

Cornichons have a distinctive and delightful taste that sets them apart from regular pickles. When you bite into a cornichon, you’ll experience a unique flavor profile that can be described as tangy, zesty, and slightly sweet.

The tanginess of cornichons comes from the pickling process, where they are preserved in a brine solution containing vinegar and spices. This tanginess gives them a pleasant, refreshing kick that makes them stand out.

Additionally, cornichons have a subtle sweetness that balances out the tanginess, making them a harmonious combination of flavors. This hint of sweetness enhances their overall taste and makes them even more enjoyable.

The brine also contributes to the flavor, as it’s infused with various spices. These spices can vary depending on the recipe and brand, but they often include flavors like dill, mustard seeds, and cloves. These spices add depth and complexity to the taste of cornichons, giving them a mildly spiced undertone.

How to Use Cornichons

  • Appetizer Platters: Serve cornichons alongside cheese, cured meats, olives, and crackers for a delightful appetizer platter that’s perfect for parties and gatherings.
  • Sandwiches: Add cornichons to your favorite sandwiches, like ham and cheese or turkey and avocado, for an extra pop of flavor and crunch.
  • Salads: Toss a handful of cornichons into your salads to add a tangy twist to the mix.
  • Relish: Finely chop cornichons and mix them with mustard and mayonnaise to create a delicious and tangy relish for burgers and hot dogs.
  • Garnish: Use cornichons as a garnish for various dishes, such as deviled eggs or potato salads.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Are cornichons healthy?

A: Cornichons are low in calories and fat, making them a healthy option for snacking. However, they are high in sodium due to the pickling process, so it’s best to enjoy them in moderation.

Q: Are cornichons suitable for vegetarians and vegans?

A: Yes, cornichons are typically suitable for vegetarians and vegans as they are made from cucumbers and pickled using plant-based ingredients.

Q: Can I make cornichons at home?

A: Yes, you can make cornichons at home. There are many recipes available online that guide you through the pickling process. It can be a fun and rewarding culinary project to try!

Q: How long do cornichons last?

A: When stored properly in a sealed jar in the refrigerator, cornichons can last for several months. However, for the best taste and quality, it’s recommended to consume them within a few weeks after opening the jar.

Q: Are there any specific health benefits to eating cornichons?

A: Cornichons are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium. They are also a low-calorie food, making them a healthy snack option.

Q: Can individuals with food allergies consume cornichons?

A: Cornichons are generally safe for most people, but those with cucumber or vinegar allergies should avoid them. As with any new food, it’s essential to exercise caution and check the ingredient list if you have specific allergies or dietary restrictions.

Q: Are there any traditional recipes or dishes that specifically feature cornichons?

A: Yes, several traditional French recipes incorporate cornichons. One classic example is “Poulet au Cornichon,” which is a French dish of chicken cooked with cornichons, onions, and a creamy sauce. Exploring traditional recipes can give you a taste of how cornichons have been enjoyed in various culinary traditions.


Whether you’re enjoying cornichons as a snack alone or incorporating them into your favorite dishes, cornichons bring a burst of flavor that sets them apart from regular pickles. Their popularity has grown beyond their French origins, and they are now cherished by people across the globe.