Stainless steel pickling sludge (SSPS), generated from the lime neutralization process of spent pickling liquor, is classified as a hazardous waste consisting of abundant metals like Fe, Cr and Ni, and other elements like F, S and Na, etc. Rather than a common disposal in landfill, recovering these metals and other valuable components from SSPS can not only create economic benefits, but also eliminate its adverse impacts on human health and the environment. A review of the formation mechanism and basic properties of SSPS was made, and the technical features, advantages and limitations of a series of pyrometallurgical treatment processes were summarized. Based on these, the main challenges for recycling of SSPS through the existing techniques are demonstrated. The traditional pelletizing/sintering-blast furnace process can only be used as a partial solution. Direct use of SSPS as flux in an argon–oxygen decarburization converter or electric arc furnace is a promising way, but low S sludges are preferred. The STAR process shows excellent recovery for metals, but it also has a low tolerance to the S and F contents in SSPS. And the INMETCO process is highly flexible in treatment of various wastes, whereas it exhibits relatively low Cr recovery and produces poor-quality pig iron. In addition, the feasibility of the rotary kiln-electric furnace, solid-state reduction of chromite and reduction-magnetic separation processes requires further studies. An urgent task at present is to develop a system for scientific classification and separate collection of SSPS in terms of chemical composition, notably S and F contents.