Want to jazz up your next salad or bowl? Add pickled red onions! Tangy & sweet, they're the best way to give almost any dish a bright pop of flavor!
Pickled red onions have been an indispensable ingredient in my kitchen for years. Not only are they a gorgeous, vibrant pink, but they’re tangy, sweet, and a little crunchy. I like to say that they give sandwiches, salads, bowls, and more a “bright pop of flavor,” and though Jack makes fun of me for how often I use that phrase, I can’t think of a better way to describe them.
Try making a batch of quick pickled red onions, and you’ll see what I mean. Top a few onto an otherwise good sandwich or salad, and it’ll become great. Their vinegary, zippy taste adds an irresistible extra dimension of flavor, brightening and sharpening the other elements of the dish. You only need a few minutes and 5 ingredients to make this pickled onion recipe, so give them a try – you’ll add them to everything!
How to Make Pickled Onions
To make pickled red onions, you’ll need 5 basic ingredients: red onions, white vinegar, water, cane sugar, and sea salt.
First, thinly slice the onions (I recommend using a mandoline for quick, uniform slicing!) and divide them between two jars. Then, heat the vinegar, water, cane sugar, and salt over medium heat, and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. This will only take a minute or so!
Let the brine cool slightly, and pour it over the sliced onions. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature before covering them and transferring them to the fridge. Your onions will be ready to eat when they are bright pink and tender. This could take anywhere from 1 hour to overnight, depending on the thickness of your onions.
Sometimes, I’ll add a few peppercorns or garlic cloves to the jar along with the onions to make their flavor a little more complex. I like to change up the vinegar too! I particularly like a mix of white wine and rice vinegar, and apple cider vinegar and white vinegar are a fun tangy combination. These variations are great, but they’re totally optional; your quick pickled onions will be delicious even if you stick to the basic recipe!
What to Do with Pickled Red Onions
As I said above, pickled onions are my favorite way to add a bright pop of flavor to almost any dish. Most simply, they’re excellent on avocado toast, but your options don’t end there. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use them:
- Add them to a salad! This roasted cauliflower salad and this grilled potato salad show them off well.
- Stuff them in a sandwich! Pair them with any bright sandwich filling like egg salad, chickpea shawarma, or this lemon edamame/avocado combo.
- Pile them on a burger! I like them with my favorite veggie burger, these falafel burgers, and my classic black bean burger.
- Top them onto any Mexican dish! They’d be delicious with these sweet potato tacos, these many-veggie tacos, or even breakfast tacos or a breakfast burrito!
- Add them to a bowl! Try them in this grain bowl or this buddha bowl, or top them onto a DIY-burrito bowl with cauliflower rice or cilantro lime rice, black beans, pico de gallo, mango or tomatillo salsa, guacamole, and your favorite veggies!
Do you have a favorite way to use pickled onions? Let me know in the comments!
If you love these quick pickled red onions…
Pickled Red Onions
- 2 small red onions
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- ⅓ cup cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns
- Thinly slice the onions (it's helpful to use a mandoline), and divide the onions between 2 (16-ounce) jars or equivalent. Place the garlic and peppercorns in each jar, if using
- Heat the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 1 minute. Let cool and pour over the onions. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then store the onions in the fridge.
- Your pickled onions will be ready to eat once they're bright pink and tender - about 1 hour for very thinly sliced onions, or overnight for thicker sliced onions.