Quick Pickled Red Onions
A jar of pickled red onions is the ultimate flavor-boosting tool. They’re tangy, slightly sweet, and extra punchy. Perfect for layering onto salads, bowls, tacos, sandwiches – anything really!
Just imagine taking a bite of a savory pulled pork taco, with a refreshing, tart, and crisp flavor. That sharp contrast is seriously irresistible, and why I love pickled foods – especially pickled red onions. They add a vibrant pop of red with a sweet-tart punch to your meals. And bonus, a jar of pickled onions is ridiculously easy to make.
I’ll go over more of that below, but if you haven’t ventured into pickled vegetables yet – this is your sign to do so. Plus, making pickled onions is a great place to start given how versatile onions are in a variety of dishes!
Ingredients for Quick Pickled Red Onions
Like most pickled foods, all you really need is your core vegetable along with water, vinegar, a sweetener, and a pinch of salt. This is a basic formula to follow. But if you want to spice it up a bit, I’ve noted down a few ways you can add different flavors to this recipe.
- Red Onion: I’m using red onions for this recipe because I’m a sucker for their color and subtle sweet flavor. But you can also use yellow onions or even shallots!
- Water: You’ll just need a half cup to mix with the vinegar.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: There’s a few ways you can go about using vinegar in this recipe. Apple cider vinegar is my default. But you can also use white vinegar, rice vinegar, or a combo of any two types. Just keep in mind if you mix them, it will add a different flavor.
- Sweetener: Since the vinegar is quite pungent, adding honey or maple syrup will help to balance out the flavors. Plus, it will help bring out the onion’s natural sweetness!
- Salt: Just a little bit is needed to round out the other flavors.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below
How To Pickle Red Onions
Unlike other fermented foods (that could take days), these onions are pickled in in just one hour! That’s why they’re quick pickled red onions! I like to pickle them in a 16-ounce mason jar, but any medium-sized container will work.
Slice the onions. You can use either a knife or a mandoline, just make sure to slice into thin pieces. This will make it easier for the onions to absorb the vinegar. Then place them into the mason jar.
Make the brine. In a small saucepan over medium-heat, warm up the water, vinegar, honey, and salt. Stir it all together, let it simmer for about 1 minute, then turn off the heat.
Let the fermenting begin! Carefully pour the brine into the jar and let it stand at room temperature until slightly cooled. Then cover and refrigerate. They’ll be ready to eat after about an hour in the fridge (though I like to wait overnight), or will keep for 2 to 3 weeks!
Give Your Pickled Onions A Flavor Boost!
These pickled red onions taste amazing as is. But if you want to switch things up a bit – here’s a few ways to add some fun flavors and give them a little boost!
- Stir in whole spices (see photo above). From black peppercorns, to coriander seeds, and star anise to fennel seeds, whole spices are a great way to subtly add your favorite seasonings.
- Add a punch of garlic. Stir sliced garlic pieces into the mix – this is my absolute favorite!
- Heat it up. Add a dash of cayenne or red pepper flakes for a hint of spice.
- Add your favorite herbs. I love to add sprigs of dill, or fresh basil and mint leaves. But you can honestly add whichever herbs you like, depending on how you want it to taste.
Ways To Use Pickled Onions
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to using pickled onions. Honestly, just use them whenever you want to add a bit of tangy sweet to your meals! But here’s a few ways you can never go wrong with.
- Top them on tacos. Think shrimp tacos, carne asada tacos, carnitas tacos, or barbacoa tacos. Oh, and don’t forget about these ultimate nachos as well!
- Add to your favorite bowls. No matter what kind of bowl you have, whether it be a Mexican burrito bowl or a plant-based buddha bowl, pickled red onions are always welcome.
- Layer onto salads. Not only are pickled red onions great with hearty salads such as this Southwest chicken salad. But they also work well with creamy salads such as egg salad or tuna salad!
- Top on your favorite proteins. Whether it’s baked salmon or baked chicken, these punchy onions will add a deliciously sharp freshness.
More Onion-y Topping Ideas
Aside from pickling onions, there’s so many ways to give plain onions some oomph. Saute thinly sliced shallots for a crispy topping, or caramelize them until golden and sweet.
Once you make these pickled red onions, I guarantee you’ll be making a batch every month. And when you do, I’d love to hear how the recipe turned out in a comment below!
Quick Pickled Red Onions
- 1 medium red onion
- ½ cup hot water (it does not need to be boiling hot from the stove)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- Optional flavor boosters (see above)
- Thinly slice the onion with a knife or mandoline, then place in a 16-ounce jar. Add any optional flavor boosters.
- In a measuring cup, stir together the water, vinegar, honey, and salt.
- Carefully pour the brine into the jar over the onions. Cover with a lid and refrigerate. They'll be ready to eat after about an hour in the fridge (they'll be vibrant pink), and will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge.