Pickled red onions are the perfect condiment to add a zingy pop of flavor and vibrant punch of color to any savory dish. This quick and easy recipe requires only one red onion, a handful of staple ingredients from your kitchen, and under 10 minutes of prep time. Red onions are crisp with a mild, sweet flavor. The natural sweetness makes them perfect for pickling and the crisp texture keeps them from getting too mushy. These zesty pickled red onions are a great way to enhance any dish or jazz up leftovers. Luckily, this recipe only takes minutes to make because you will want to have a jar of these on-hand, in your fridge, at all times. Be prepared to make them every week because they are addicting. Even people who don’t like onions will love these pickled red onions.
Pickled Red Onions Recipe
- 1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- Cut off both ends of the red onion, cut in half end to end, then remove the outer peel. With the flat sides down, thinly slice both halves of the onion into uniform half-moon slivers.
- Put the thinly sliced onions into a 1-pint mason jar or heat-proof container. Use a muddler or blunt end of a kitchen utensil to pack the onions down into the jar. As the onions become more tender, they will settle in the jar.
- Meanwhile, add the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring to make sure the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
- Let the vinegar mixture cool for a few minutes, then carefully pour over the onions until the jar is completely full, and the onions are covered. There may be a small amount of leftover vinegar solution depending on the size of the onion. Tightly secure the lid on the mason jar. Tilt upside down a couple of times to ensure that the vinegar solution has thoroughly covered all of the onions.
- Let the jar of onions sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Refrigerate the remaining onions, in the tightly sealed jar with the liquid, for 2-3 weeks. The flavor will intensify the longer it sits.
PICKLED RED ONION VARIATIONS
Easily change the flavor profile of these pickled red onions by swapping or combining the base ingredients.
Vinegar Options: Apple Cider Vinegar, Rice Vinegar, or Red Wine Vinegar (will produce the brightest pink color on the onions.)
Sweetener Options: Honey, Maple Syrup, Brown Sugar, Agave, Cane Sugar, Stevia, Splenda, or Monkfruit. Add more sweetener for a sweeter flavor and less sweetener for a punchier flavor.
Onion Options: White, Spanish, Yellow, Vidalia, or Sweet. Different onions will produce different flavors, colors, and textures when pickled.
PICKLED RED ONION FLAVOR OPTIONS
It’s easy to customize the flavor of pickled red onions simply by adding a few ingredients to the jar before sealing it. Here are a few suggestions, but the options are unlimited.
Spicy: Add some diced habanero, jalapeno, or crushed red pepper flakes
Mexican: Add some chopped cilantro, lime juice, and cumin or coriander seeds
Sweet: Add some honey and diced mango
Citrus: Add a splash of orange and lime juices
Asian: Add some crushed garlic cloves and fresh ginger root
Garlic and Herb: Add some crushed garlic cloves and fresh herbs like thyme or oregano
Nordic: Add some fresh dill, caraway seeds, and peppercorns
WHAT TO DO WITH PICKLED RED ONIONS
These pickled red onions perfectly complement any savory dish. Just grab a fork-full and add it to just about anything for a tangy punch of flavor.
Pickled red onions are great on sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizza, fish, eggs, tacos, roasted vegetables, and grilled meats.
PICKLED RED ONIONS FAQ
CAN I REUSE THE LEFTOVER VINEGAR SOLUTION?
Yes, after your pickled red onions are gone, you can cut up another red onion and put it into the jar for a fresh new batch of pickled red onions. You can also use the leftover vinegar solution to pickle other vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, or cabbage. Another great way to use the leftover vinegar solution is to use it as a tangy salad dressing. Add some plain greek yogurt to the vinegar solution to make a creamy salad dressing. I would only recommend reusing the leftover vinegar solution one more time, as the flavor will get diluted and the vinegar solution will no longer be fresh.
CAN I MAKE THESE WITHOUT USING THE STOVE?
Yes, it is possible to make these without a stove. Just microwave the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a microwave-safe container until it’s hot and the sugar and salt have fully dissolved. Then proceed to carefully pour the vinegar solution over the onions the same way. The vinegar solution may not get as hot or stay as hot as it would on the stovetop, but this should not change the flavor of the pickled red onions too much.
CAN I MAKE A LARGER BATCH OF PICKLED RED ONIONS?
Of course, you can. Just double or triple the recipe for a bigger batch of pickled red onions. They will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. This is a great way to make a larger quantity for a family gathering or barbeque.
CAN I OMIT THE SUGAR FROM THIS RECIPE?
Yes, you can omit the sugar if you like. Just keep in mind that the pickled red onions will be pinchier and less sweet. Some people prefer them this way. Another option is to use less sugar or a sugar substitute like honey, stevia, or monk fruit to add sweetness to the pickled red onions.
IS IT NECESSARY TO HEAT THE VINEGAR SOLUTION TO MAKE THESE ONIONS?
It is recommended to heat the vinegar solution in order to make these pickled red onions. Heating the vinegar solution helps to dissolve the sugar and salt and meld the flavors together. It also helps to soften the red onions, making them more tender. Making them in a cold vinegar solution could still be good, but it will not be the same as the ones in this recipe.
WHAT CAN I PUT THE ONIONS IN IF I DON’T HAVE A MASON JAR?
Any kind of jar or heat-proof container will work fine for this recipe. It does not have to be a mason jar, but glass is the best choice because of the hot vinegar solution. A cleaned-out pasta sauce jar is a good alternative option.