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:
4.98 from 162 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
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 3 weeks.

Ingredients

  • 2 small red onions
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

optional

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns

Instructions

  • 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.

 

155 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Nicole
    04.26.2022

    So yes delicious. You mentioned ACV red wine vinegar etc. What are the portions.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.27.2022

      Hi Nicole, the recipe measurements are at the bottom of the post.

      • Jessi
        05.09.2022

        4 stars
        Yes, but what ratio you use of white to ACV, etc. is not listed. Is it just by preference?

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          05.11.2022

          Hi Jessi, I would use the same ratio.

  2. Kelly
    04.24.2022

    5 stars
    How long do these stay good in the refrigerator?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.27.2022

      Hi Kelly, I keep them for about 2 weeks.

  3. Peggy
    04.16.2022

    I’ve made freezer pickles with same ingredients.
    Can you freeze onions in freezer jars to last longer? Once thawed in frig, freezer pickles are good for 2-3 wks.
    Have you ever frozen?

  4. Michelle
    04.16.2022

    I have had that same experience too many times where my salads are flat, and I keep trying to use dressing to make the salad exciting. Pickled red onions sound wonderful. However, I cannot have sugar or sweeteners. Could the sugar be left out or do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.16.2022

      Hi Michelle, you could leave it out, they will just have a sharper/stronger flavor. If you’re putting them in a salad with other things, it should be fine. Or you could use apple cider vinegar which is naturally more sweet.

    • Sarah
      04.29.2022

      5 stars
      The sugar cannot be left out, it is a natural preservative.
      I would suggest you try lacto-fermentating the onions, it only requires water and salt to preserve your vegetables.

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.