Sliced Pickled Red Onions in sweet and tangy brine of vinegar, salt, sugar, and water. Make pickled onions quick with this basic pickling solution and use this pickled red onion recipe for tacos, salad, sandwiches, and more! Learn how to pickle onions like a pro and keep them vibrant and crunchy.
Pickling food is a great way to preserve fresh produce by bottling it in a jar with brine and popping it in the fridge! The vinegary pickle juice keeps it conserved and ready to use for recipes! Try our pickled peppers, pickled cucumbers (Polish Dill Pickles), and pickled cabbage for zippy sides that are also tangy and sweet!
What are Pickled Onions?
Pickling onions is a quick fermentation of immersing onions in vinegar. Typically, pickling solutions are high in acidity and salt to prevent any bad enzymes from working. Pickled red onions can keep for months in the fridge when preserved right. Think of it as “refrigerator sliced onions” that are marinated in a vinegar solution and stored in the fridge to undergo canning in order to achieve long-term storage. For natural fermentation, check out our Sauerkraut and sourdough starter posts that are produced by naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria.
What Do Pickled Onions Taste Like?
Vinegar brings out the vibrancy and makes the onions pop in color with a bright pink hue. Not only is vinegar great in brightening and sharpening the onions but pickled red onions taste vinegary, zesty, and full of sweet and sour flavors. Tart onions would be the best way to describe this pickled onion recipe.
How To Make Pickled Onions Crunchy:
Salting onions to draw out excess water is a great way to remove moisture and add crunch to vegetables. Simply salt the sliced onions in a bowl for a few hours then drain, pack them into jars, and pour them over with brine. You can also make a dry rub of granulated sugar and salt so it won’t be too bitter like I make for my cured salmon.
Ingredients for Pickled Red Onions:
This pickled red onions recipe is made with easy ingredients! I like to use the sweetness of fruity vinegar like apple cider vinegar along with a more sharp vinegar like white distilled vinegar, as it makes a sweet and tangy combination perfect for homemade pickled onions. Feel free to use other sweet vinegar such as red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar.
- Red onion- have purplish-red skins and can come in medium to large size. I used 1 medium-sized onion and 1 small-size red onion for this recipe, this amount makes exactly 3 half-pint jars.
- Vinegar- for a sweet and tangy combination use sharp white distilled vinegar with sweet apple cider vinegar.
- Water- dilutes the pungency of the onions and vinegar for a mildly sweet and tangy bite.
- Granulated sugar- or any table sugar from sugar cane or beets will work. You’ll want white sugar free of molasses for vibrant pickled onions.
- Salt- use good-quality sea salt over table salt for premium results.
How To Make Pickled Onions:
This recipe is for quick pickled red onions that you can use hours later! Simply refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using. Make sure you have a few 8 oz canning jars before starting. I like to use my multi-pot saucepan since it has a spout to pour the brine carefully over the onions. Here is how to make a pickled red onion fast;
- Peel the skins off of the red onions and slice using a mandoline or sharp knife. (This can be sliced into rings if using a pint jar or half-moon slices if using an 8 oz jar.)
- Pack the red onions into canning jars and set aside.
- Dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar and water by boiling the mixture for 3-5 minutes.
- Pour the hot brine over the sliced onions and cover the jars with their lids.
- Cool before placing it into the refrigerator.
How Long Do Pickled Onions Last?
Pickled red onions keep for months in the fridge if stored properly. Typically, 3-4 weeks is best for them not to lose their crisp texture, however, they are still good for weeks after that. My word of advice is to make as many as you’ll think you will eat in the next couple of months and pickle more later when you run out.
What to Eat with Pickled Red Onions?
So, you just made this recipe for pickled onions and need ideas on what to do with them? Here are my favorite ways to use them, hopefully, these can give you pickled onion recipes or creative ways to use them!
- Top them over this Cobb salad or any simple green salad with arugula.
- Put them in a Brioche bun sandwich with eggs, arugula, stone ground mustard, and cheese (delish!)
- Add them to Mexican Tacos, burritos, or chipotle bowls!
- Make a White Pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, roasted veggies, and pickled onions. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
- Serve them with chicken kabobs or add them to these chicken salad sandwiches!
How Long Does it Take To Pickle Red Onions?
These quick pickled onions take about 10 minutes to make. You can pour the hot brine right over the onions after it boils, however, for more crisp onions it’s better if you let the brine cool to room temperature so as to not soften the onions as much.
Can I Use Different Onions?
Yes, you use white onions, Spanish, yellow, or sweet Vidalia onions for pickling these onions not only red ones! You can even make pickled pearl onions with a simple brine solution!
Tips for Making Pickled Red Onions:
- Reuse the brine for your next batch of pickled onions! Just reboil the brine and simmer it for 3 minutes to remove any excess liquid that has come off the previous onions.
- I make my own apple cider vinegar by fermenting apple peels and cores with sugar and water. This ferments for a month and then I drain it through a cheesecloth before refrigerating. This forms a “mother” in the vinegar and is the purist vinegar you can make!
- Slice half-moon slices if using a small 8 oz jar or cut red onions into whole slices about 1/8″ thick to fit a pint jar.
- Wait for the brine to cool for more crisp onions.
- Dry salting the onions before adding the brine will remove any excess moisture from the onions and can make them crunchy.
- Red pickled onions are more vibrant than other Allium species.
- For a sugar substitute use 3 packets of stevia for this pickled onion recipe.
- Wondering where to buy pickled red onions? Pickle red onions are usually by the pickled Giardiniera vegetables at some grocery stores.
- Grab some purple onions on sale and make a few batches to keep in the fridge.
- Want spicy pickled onions? Cook your brine with red pepper flakes or pack your onions with a few jalapeno slices!
Quick Pickled Red Onions:
Pickled Red Onions
- 3 half-pint jars
- 1 small saucepan (for brine)
- 1 Wire Whisk
- 2 red onions (1 big and 1 small onion)
- 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- Peel the skins off of the onions and slice them into 1/8" half slices to fit an 8 oz jar (or whole slices if using a pint jar.) Pack the red onions into 3 half-pint jars.
- Boil the brine ingredients for 3-5 minutes to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- Pour the hot brine over the sliced onions and cover with lids. Cool.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Slice onions in half slices to fit an 8 oz jar or use a pint jar to fit whole slices.