How to Make Quick Pickled Red Onions

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These quick pickled red onions are an incredibly easy and delicious addition to your kitchen condiments.

The perfect combination of sweet and tangy, quick pickled red onions add a sliver of color, crunch and character to almost any dish.

When it comes to making pickled vegetables at home, the first thing that comes to mind is likely old-fashioned dill pickles, pickled beets or pickled green beans. However, if you’re looking for a different kind of produce to preserve, pickled red onions are almost impossible to resist!

How Do You Use Pickled Red Onions?

Whether folded into scrambled eggs or piled on shrimp tacos, this vibrant and versatile condiment makes an irresistible upgrade to anything it touches. These tangy onions make an excellent addition to tuna salad sandwiches, turkey burgers and classic avocado toast, and are a sweet and savory topper for grilled pork, steak and fish.

Pickled red onions can also be diced into a relish for a charcuterie board, mixed with cream cheese for a delectable dip or stirred into a simple guacamole for extra kick. For more inspiration, check out our collection of red onion recipes.

How to Make Quick Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions with Thyme leavesThe Picture Pantry/Aysegul Deniz Sanford/Getty Images

This recipe comes together in minutes, with no fancy canning supplies required.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup white wine or cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • Optional: fresh rosemary, thyme or dill sprigs, whole black peppercorns, small dried chili or garlic clove

Tools

Directions

Step 1: Slice the onions

Slice the onions into rounds using a sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline. You can choose thinner slices for a softer texture or thicker slices for more crunch, depending on your preference. Use your fingers to separate the layers and transfer the onion slices to a large glass jar. Press firmly to pack the onions tightly inside.

Step 2: Prepare the pickling brine

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and any pickling spices in a large bowl, then whisk together until sugar and salt are completely dissolved.

Step 3: Submerge the onions

Pour the pickling liquid over the onions in the jar until the onions are completely submerged. Seal the jar and let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.

Step 4: Store in the refrigerator

Once the onions are tender and bright pink, they are ready to enjoy. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Tips for Making Quick Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red OnionsTMB Studio

How long will pickled red onions last?

When sealed properly and stored in the refrigerator, pickled red onions will keep their texture and taste for up to 2 weeks.

Can you use other kinds of onions for this recipe?

While red onions will make the most visually appealing option, this simple pickling method will work with almost any type of onion you have on hand. Try this brine with yellow onions, sweet onions, cipollinis or even shallots.

How can you make pickled red onions your own?

There are just as many ways to customize your pickled red onions as there are ways to use them! Once you know the steps, you can experiment until you find the perfect recipe for you.

  • The type of vinegar you decide to use will play a big role in the final flavor of your pickled red onions. This recipe calls for white wine or apple cider vinegar, but red wine, rice or plain white vinegar will also make a delicious brine.
  • For a fruity twist, you can use equal parts fresh-squeezed orange, lime and lemon juice as a substitute for the vinegar to create a bright and zesty citrus pickling liquid.
  • Test out different textures by slicing your onion into various sizes and shapes. Instead of thin rounds, try cutting them lengthwise into thicker slices or dicing them into hearty chunks. If you’re opting for bigger pieces, you’ll need to let your onions sit in the brine for double the amount of time and add more liquid to coat.
  • Give your pickled onions more depth of flavor by adding herbs and spices like garlic cloves, whole black peppercorns or sprigs of fresh rosemary, dill and thyme.
  • To create a spicier version, slip a few slices of fresh habanero or jalapeno peppers into your vinegar mix.
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Lauren Paige Richeson
Lauren Paige Richeson is an author and artist specializing in written, visual, and edible content. She's an Editor at Allrecipes and her debut cookbook Avocado Obsession was published in 2020. As a food writer, she has contributed to Cherry Bombe Magazine, Eaten Magazine, Life & Thyme Magazine. She's covered health & wellness for Well + Good, mindbodygreen, Eat This Not That, Clean Plates, and developed recipes for Simply Recipes, LIVEKINDLY, Wide Open Eats, Whole30, and more. Lauren Paige is a Scorpio with a passion for the sea, scary stories, folklore, 19th-century art & fruits de mer.