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!
Quick Pickled Red Onions
We're making Quick 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'll 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 to make pickled red onions, shall we? Grab a red onion, my friends!
Pickled Red Onions Ingredients
- Red Onion. Also, you can use other onions if you'd like. This recipe will work with sweet onions, yellow onions, white onions, shallots or others for a quick pickled onions recipe. Slice them thin with a sharp knife or mandolin.
- Vinegar. I prefer good quality white wine vinegar, but red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work for this recipe.
- Water. 1-2 cups water, depending on the size of your batch.
- 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.
- Salt. Pickling salt is idea, but Kosher salt will work, as long as there are no anti-caking elements.
- Optional Seasonings. See the Recipe Notes below, or see my pickling spice recipe.
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 the vinegar mixture 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.
Transfer to a container and seal. A large mason jar is great for these. Use as desired. I like to wait at least 30 minutes before using, but they're better the next day.
Boom! Done! Super easy and delicious 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 quart of pickled red onions.
Recipe Tips & Notes
Storing Pickled Red Onions
Store the pickled onions in the fridge. They will last for many months easily, though you can process them in a water bath for pantry keeping until opened.
You can add whatever other pickling seasonings you prefer to up the flavor factor of your onions. Mix and match and use your favorites, like bay leaf, peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and more. 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-Style 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.
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.
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, on avocado toast, or with shrimp ceviche.
How Long Do Pickled Red Onions Last?
Pickled red onions will last a month or longer in the refrigerator in a sealed airtight container.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my quick pickled red onions recipe. Easy recipe, right? Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- How to Pickle Peppers - a Guide
- Pickled Jalapenos
- Refrigerator Pickled Peppers
- Refrigerator Pickles (Hot Pickles)
- Pickled Banana Peppers
- Pickled Jalapenos and Carrots - Taqueria Style
- Pickled Carrot Sticks
- Pickled Okra
- Pickled Mustard Seeds
- See all of my pickling recipes here
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.
Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe
- 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
- 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.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 7/15/22 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 4/22/20.