Pickled Red Onions

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

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!

Pickled onion recipe ingredients

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. They will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Pickled onion recipe

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!

Pickled Red Onions

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:

Do you have a favorite way to use pickled onions? Let me know in the comments!

Pickled onions

If you love these quick pickled red onions…

Try my roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, or pickled chard stems next!

Pickled Red Onions

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 325 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves 12
Pickled red onions add a sweet & tangy pop of flavor to salads, sandwiches, burgers, and more! Once you make them, they'll keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.





  • Thinly slice the onions (it's helpful to use a mandoline), and divide the onions between 2 (16-ounce) jars or 3 (10-ounce) jars. 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. They will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Jennifer

    I make a variation of your recipe instead with rice vinegar, honey and a fresh squeezed lemon juice . Have also made it with maple syrup. Both are so so delicious. Great compliment to so many dishes. Tangy and sweet.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Jennifer, Those variations sound delicious! I’m so glad you love the onions.

  2. Debbie

    3 stars
    I made this recipe for my husband who loves pickled onions. He was underwhelmed and said they did not have much flavor. Maybe I will up the vinegar and lessen the water/sugar for next time.

  3. Julia

    Very tasty – even after 24 hours.

    And I used a couple spoonsful of pink brine to make salad dressing which was also very nice!

    Did you really mean 2 small red onions for 2 x 16 oz jars though. Those 2 onions will be feeling very lonely. That amount of brine and volume was enough for around 1kg (2 lb) on red onions.

    Maybe it was a tiny typo and you really meant 2lb of small red onions?

  4. Danielle

    5 stars
    HI, I love this recipe, but I am wondering if it can be used as a canning recipe as well? I’d love to put them on the shelf so they don’t take up room in the fridge.


    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Danielle, I don’t have experience canning so I’m not sure this recipe is safe to be shelf stable.

  5. Alicia Meyer

    5 stars
    I’ve made these too many times to count. Always a treat and so easy to make.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve loved them!

  6. Mary

    5 stars
    Turned out perfect.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so happy to hear!

  7. Danni

    5 stars
    Hi, I’ve made these before and loved them, about to make my second lot, just wondering if these will keep in a jar unopened for longer than two weeks?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Danni, they won’t go bad, they just start to lose their flavor after a few weeks.

    • Sharon

      5 stars
      I have made per the recipe and kept in the fridge for over a month and the are fine. Delicious. Just making another batch now 😋

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.