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22 April 2020

This quick pickled red onions recipe is perfect for adding big flavor to anything from sandwiches, tacos, grilled meats and more. They’re so easy to make!

We’re making pickled red onions in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends, and you’re going to LOVE them. Pickled red onions are huge flavor builders, highly popular for serving on sandwiches, livening up grilled meats, spooning over the tops of sausages, burgers and hot dogs, and adding pop and zing to your favorite Mexican dishes and other cuisines.

Why limit them to any single food? I love them on just about anything.

Plus, these are incredibly easy to make. You can make a big batch and keep them in the refrigerator for a month or so so you’ll always have them on hand. I love just them so.

Usually you’l find me pickling peppers in the kitchen, but the process of pickling can be applied to many different vegetables, especially onions. It’s not only a great way to preserve them, but they’re an essential ingredient for many dishes.

Let’s talk about how we make quick and easy pickled red onions, shall we? Grab a red onion, my friends!

A large red onion

Pickled Red Onions Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized red onion, sliced – about 1 cup of sliced red onion, though you can use more. Also, you can use other onions if you’d like. This recipe will work with sweet onions, yellow onions, white onions, shallots or others.
  • 1/2 cup vinegar – use good quality white vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar, though any good vinegar will work for this recipe, like rice vinegar.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon honey – optional for sweeter pickled red onions. You can also use sugar if you’d like, or something sweet like maple syrup or agave syrup, or just omit.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional Seasonings: See the Recipe Notes below.

Delicious pickled red onions in a jar

How to Make Pickled Red Onions – the Recipe Method

Add the vinegar, water, honey (if using), salt and seasonings to a pot or wide pan. Bring to a quick boil and remove from heat. The sugar and salt dissolve in the liquid rather quickly, though other seasonings will float in the mix, which is completely fine.

Let cool slightly. The longer you let it cool to room temperature, the crisper your pickled red onions will be.

Add the thin sliced onions and press to submerge beneath the pickling brine.

Making Pickled Red Onions in a pan

Transfer to a container and seal. A large mason jar is great for these. Use as desired.

Boom! Done! Super easy to make, aren’t they? I love this recipe. You just gotta love pickled onions. So good on so many different things for a bit of crispy crunch when used right away, and a nice pop of tangy flavor.

You can also easily double the recipe and make large batches. This particular recipe makes a cup of pickled red onions.

Crisp, flavorful pickled red onions in a jar

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Optional Seasonings. You can add whatever other seasonings you prefer to up the flavor factor of your onions. Mix and match and use your favorites. I like to add 1-2 tablespoons to really bring this to life, though they’re great on their own. Below are some ideas.
  • Mexican Pickled Red Onions. Add 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon cumin.
  • Cajun Pickled Red Onions. Use 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or use 1 tablespoon of your favorite Cajun seasoning blend.
  • Crisp Pickled Red Onions. The heat from the pickling brine will soften the onions more, so if you are seeking pickled red onions that are more crispy, cool the brine longer. If you prefer softer onions, add the red onions immediately to the hot pickling brine.
  • Extra Spicy Version. If you prefer hot and spicy pickled onions like I do, toss a sliced hot pepper into the mix. The hot pepper will infuse the brine and will spice up the whole batch.

Scooping Pickled Red with a fork

Serving Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions add a pop of crunch and zippy tang to just about any meal. I personally prefer to serve them on sandwiches, tacos, burgers and brats. They’re great on a deli sandwich or a good grilled brat or Italian sausage.

I have a wonderful recipe for cochinita pibil, which is a delicious Mexican recipe of flavorful pulled pork. Scoop the pork over warmed tortillas, top it with pickled red onions, and you’ve found yourself a slice of heaven right there.

Use them as a garnish for sure, but try them out in your next salad or as a pizza topping. 

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my easy pickled red onions recipe. Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

Swirling Pickled Red in a jar

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Serving Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions Recipe
Print Recipe
4.5 from 2 votes

Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe

This quick pickled red onions recipe is perfect for adding big flavor to anything from sandwiches, tacos, grilled meats and more. They're so easy to make!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Main Course, Seasonings
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pickled, pickling, red onions
Servings: 8
Calories: 14kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized red onion sliced (about 1 cup of sliced red onion)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar use good quality white vinegar, champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon honey optional
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional Seasonings: See the Recipe Notes

Instructions

  • Add the vinegar, water, honey (if using), salt and seasonings to a pot or wide pan. Bring to a quick boil and remove from heat. Let cool slightly. The longer you let it cool, the crisper your pickled red onions will be.
  • Add the red onions and press to submerge beneath the pickling brine.
  • Transfer to a container and seal. Use as desired.

Notes

Makes about 1 cup of pickled red onions.
Optional Seasonings. Add 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite seasonings for new flavors. Consider Mexican Pickled Red Onions with chili powders, garlic, cumin and Mexican oregano. Consider Cajun Pickled Red Onions with your favorite Cajun seasoning blend. Feel free to experiment. Use your favorites.
Crisp Pickled Red Onions. The heat from the pickling brine will soften the onions more, so if you are seeking pickled red onions that are more crispy, cool the brine longer. If you prefer softer onions, add the red onions immediately to the hot pickling brine.

Nutrition

Calories: 14kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 293mg | Potassium: 29mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

 

Pickled Red Onions

6 comments

  1. 4 stars
    Been making these for years. My grand daughter and husband love when I use a quart size jar and layer the red onions with sliced cucumbers (peeled/unpeeled). I fill the jar with water to cover contents. I pour that water into a measuring cup and dump half of it out, mix a tablespoon of seasoning salt or a mixture of other herbs and spices into the remainder of the water and pour over the onions. Finish filling it with vinegar. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before using. Mom made this with fresh picked/pulled items all during gardening season. You can add peppers to them if you wish. Hubby will sometimes take one of his purchased, pickled peppers and add to them. It’s a great recipe year round.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      5 stars
      Sounds wonderful, Cam. I appreciate the comments. Great memories.

  2. Oh, how we love these! There used to be a favorite Tex-Mex restaurant we went to regularly, but alas now it has closed, that served these with their carnitas. We would always buy some extra pickled onions to take home with us. Now thanks to you, I can make these at home!
    One time, our server told us what they used when making their pickled onions, she didn’t have measurements, because they made such large quantities, but she said they always put a few jalapenos and bay leaves in their big containers.
    I have a question, could I cover the pickling brine and put it in the refrigerator overnight, then put the onions in the next day? We really like crisp onions and they were always crisp when we got them at our favorite restaurant.
    Thank you Mike for all the great recipes you share with us and all the work you put into the newsletter. I look forward to reading it.
    Claudine in Fort Worth, TX

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Claudine! I do appreciate it. I like to toss in a spicy pepper or two as well to spice thing up. Yes, you can add the sliced onions to the cooled pickle brine and enjoy them that way. They will be crisper for sure, though not as much pickled flavor, depending on how long they are in the brine. Let me know how it turns out for you. Enjoy!

  3. Do we store in the fridge? How long can I store them? I am looking forward to making pickled onions! Thank you for posting this recipe.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Cathy, yes, store them in the refrigerator. Great stuff! I hope you enjoy them! So good.

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