Quick Pickled Red Onions


This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Jump to Recipe

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!

Picking up pickled red onions from a jar with a fork.

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 pickled red onions on a table

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.

Sliced red onions on a board for pickled red onions

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.

A cup with brine for pickled red onions

Make the brine. In a measuring cup, stir together the hot water, vinegar, honey, and salt.

Pouring brine into a mason jar of pickled red onions

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!

Spices on a plate for pickled red onions

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.
A jar of pickled red onions next to a red onion

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.

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!

A mason jar of pickled red onions next to a lid

Quick Pickled Red Onions

5 from 23 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Pickled red onions are the ultimate flavor-boosting tool. They're tangy, slightly sweet, and punchy – perfect for tacos, bowls, and more!


  • 1 medium red onion
  • ½ cup hot water (it does not need to be boiling hot)
  • 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.
    Slicing red onions with a mandoline for pickled red onions
  • In a measuring cup, stir together the water, vinegar, honey, and salt.
    A measuring cup with brine for pickled red onions
  • 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.
    A mason jar of pickled red onions


Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 438mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Seasoning
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pickled Red Onion
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

You May Also Like

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. These are sooo easy to make and absolutely delicious.We put them on burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and salads.Very tasty!5 stars

  2. I never had pickled onions and wanted to try this recipe. I made it with red pepper flakes and it came out so good. just the right sweet and spicy taste. Lisa, thank you for sharing this recipe !5 stars

  3. Who knew my favorite Greek salad could be even better by ditching the chopped raw red onions and substituting these pickled red onions?! This was so easy to make, and they’re so good. Even my husband added some to his tossed salad tonight.

      1. and then my husband spent the week adding these to his sandwiches…and asked when can I make more. These were so good!5 stars

  4. I love pickled red onions! Can’t wait to try this. I have heart failure and as a result I’m on a restricted sodium diet. Could I get away with less salt and still have them taste good??

  5. In your recipe description at the beginning you discuss warming the liquid ingredients on the stovetop and letting them simmer…but the recipe card just says to mix all the liquid ingredients. Which way do you prefer?
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks for pointing that out! I just tweaked the post, so that everything aligns now. But you can just follow what is stated in the recipe card where you just need to mix the ingredients.

  6. These pickled onions are so deliscious! I have been making them on repeat every two weeks. I crave pickled foods as my French mother pickled everything. Thanks for this amazing recipe Lisa!  5 stars

  7. The pickled onions are my new favorite topping for everything!  I followed her recipe using maple syrup instead of honey and they’ve turned out great every time. My family loves them on salmon, in tacos, and with our Mediterranean dishes. 5 stars

  8. This recipe is delicious and I make it regularly.  I particularly like that it uses healthy ingredients.  Thank you Lisa.

  9. These were so easy to make and I love how this doesn’t use white vinegar like almost all of the other recipes out there. 5 stars

  10. The pickled red onions are absolutely a flavor booster to my salads and wraps, on top of chicken and pork! I never thought I would love it so much!!

  11. I never realized how much a pickled item would make a plain salad or sandwich just pop with flavor. Easy recipe I keep ready in the refrigerator.5 stars

    1. I love this pickled onion recipe! I have followed it dozens of times, and they usually come out pink. However, this last time they did not turn pink. What did I do differently???? Did I miss a step?

      1. Sometimes, it can be because the water wasn’t warm enough or if you didn’t add enough vinegar.

  12. Hey Lisa, love all your recipes that don’t have beef. And this one and the mayonnaise one is I think the ones I make on a regular basis.  I am keto, and cannot digest beef and crustaceans. I have irritable bowel syndrome so I usually make my own meals. The meal preparation vlogs are the videos I look at regularly. In my family, we have keto, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies to some nuts and vegans. Thank you for making my life easier with so many adaptable recipes.  We five live in Québec. Cheers to you! 5 stars

  13. Thank you for a good and easy recipe! Could you please put the metric mesures in “dl” instead of grams? It would be so much easier. I like that you have the metric system too for us in Europe. Greetings from Sweden!5 stars

  14. Wowzer, these are amazing! Thanks for this easy and delicious new staple for me! Oh..and I did add the sliced garlic.5 stars

  15. Best pickled onions!
    I love that this recipe doesn’t include processed sugar, rather, natural sweetener, honey. These onions are so good and add a wonderful flavor for my daily salad. 5 stars

  16. Hi Lisa, The link here and on the website leads to Mason jars that are plastic (16oz). Are you recommending and do you personally use the plastic Mason jars as opposed to the glass ones?

  17. Couple of questions. Well, these ferment the longer they sit? Can I use the brine to make another batch, or do I need to start from scratch for the next batch? 

  18. Looks incredible. Do you have to include a sweetener for this recipe to be successful? I’m trying to maintain a keto diet, but also don’t want to eliminate a critical flavor.

    1. Technically, you could omit the sugar. But, pickled items tend to have sugar in it as a natural preservative, while balancing out the tartness from the vinegar.

  19. I’m on my third jar of these. They are so delicious! I put them in all sorts of dishes and could eat them straight out of the jar. Thank you for this fantastic recipe!5 stars

  20. Hi Lisa, I just made the pickled onions and can’t wait to eat them all up.
    Thank you ~julie~

  21. Hello!

    my question is about your suggestion using shallots. Would they go in whole or sliced? Thank you! love your content!

  22. I doubled the brine recipe, added some ground black pepper, and pickled half a pound of radishes alongside the onions. Delicious recipe! I keep eating both the onions and radishes out of my jars!5 stars

  23. Hi Lisa! I have used this recipe to make pickled onions and they are awesome! Could I use the same technique and use shredded carrots instead of onions?
    Thank you!!

  24. This was excellent. I made it yesterday afternoon for fish taco dinner with a yellow onion I had in the fridge and some dill – it was the best addition to the tacos out of the whole buffet. I’m definitely making this again with a red onion! XD5 stars

  25. Thanks so much! I watch from Germany and love your food and style. I re-discovered the german Weck Jars :-) Thanks to you! 5 stars

    1. It will depend on the size of your onion, but the onions should be immersed in the liquid. If not, you can add a bit more liquid!

  26. This works so fast and it’s delicious! Made this with the last few spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar I had and then the rest was white vinegar. Came out great, thanks Lisa!5 stars

  27. I used honey and followed the rest of the recipe…except I added a few thinly sliced radishes. Delicious! Downshiftology.com is one of my top go-to sites. I must add that you hit the ball out of the park with the taco options!!5 stars

  28. Thank you! My grandmother used to make pickled onions for pulled beef sandwiches and never wrote down the recipe. It was a summer favorite. If there were any left in the jar after the sandwiches then she’d drain & chop to add to potato salad or spice up coleslaw…. there was never any left at the end of the day.5 stars