pickled red onion

Quick Pickled Red Onion Recipe

Aug 12, 2020 | Sauces & Condiments

Pickled red onion is one of the healthiest and prettiest-looking sides to your main dish. Red onion is really maroonish-pink in color, which is pleasing to the eyes.

Pickled red onion isn’t just nice to look at but it is also very healthy. Pickling is a method used to prolong the shelf life of the vegetable or fruit. Pickled food contains high amounts of probiotics and digestive enzymes.

This healthy side is usually paired with rich and heavier mains. You often see pickled red onion paired with hamburgers and tacos!

How do you make quick pickled red onions?

Pickling can sound daunting but we assure you, it isn’t! Pickling is simple!

Using a mandolin or your super awesome knife skills, slice the red onion thinly, lengthwise. This kind of presentation makes the onion layers look pretty presentable and allows for the pickling brine to pierce through the onions. Choose a container for your pickled red onions. Our choice container would be airtight mason jars or glass jars rimmed with a gasket.

After this, create your pickling brine. Your pickling brine is responsible for creating all the nutritious additives to your vegetable and is responsible for the prolonged shelf life. In a saucepan, bring to a boil your water, vinegar, sugar, salt until the solids dissolve.

Pour the pickling brine into the jar with the red onions are. Let the jar cool for the first 2 hours and then store in the chiller for the next 24 hours before you serve it. Shake the jar from time to time.

What should I do if I don’t want sugar in my pickled red onions?

You don’t have to do much if you don’t want sugar in your pickled red onions. Pickling is mostly about water, vinegar and salt. Sugar is mostly added in recipes for flavor. The presence of sugar in the pickling brine balances out the strong flavors of salt and vinegar. It’s not a mandatory ingredient.

If you don’t want sugar in your brine but still want the sweetness factor to it, you can use honey. Honey has a specific taste though so make sure you lessen the amount of honey compared to the amount of sugar required in the recipe.

Tips and tricks for pickling

We’ve put together some vital tips for pickling. These are the most important ones so take note!

  1. Choose the right kind of vinegar. The acetic acid of your vinegar matters in pickling. You should use vinegar with 5% or higher acetic acid. This is important because vinegar is the main tool for prolonging pickled shelf life. The higher the amount of acetic acid, the more sure and safer your pickling process will be. White vinegar is often used for pickling but we also like using red cane vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  2. Wash your vegetables. Safety is key with pickling. Pickling is cooking a vegetable without heat. Make sure everything is washed and clean before pickling.
  3. Make a little bit more brine than what is required. When pickling, you must cover the vegetables entirely with the brine. If your container is different from what the recipe author is using, you may meet some challenges. Make sure that you double-check your pickling jar.
  4. Do not overcrowd your vegetables in the jar. If you cut a little more vegetables than what the recipe suggested, find another container for the extras. If you overcrowd your pickling vessel, the brine might not be able to accommodate all of the vegetables in the jar.
  5. Use herbs to flavor up your pickled red onions! We like adding a little bit more subtle flavors to our pickles sometimes. You may add bay leaves, dill, peppercorn, celery or even rosemary. Be adventurous!

What goes well with pickled red onions?

Pickled red onions can instantly make a dish better. This side is best eaten with food that is quite on the heavier side such as seasoned grilled meat or fatty fish.

Have your pickled red onion with hamburgers, tacos, baked salmon, fat-rich salads, grilled cheese sandwiches or even steak!

The flavor of the pickled red onion offsets the heaviness of meats, which makes it a great complimentary side. Pickled red onion is so popular in taquerias because tacos are heavily spiced. The addition of something sour and salty gives that zing in between the rich spiced meat in the taco.

To summarize, pickled red onion is a great balance to heavy food.

pickled red onion

Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe

My mother taught me this easy pickled red onion recipe, the recipe is simple and takes no time to make. There are also some ingredients you can swap!
5 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 day


Basic Red Pickled Onion

  • 2 red onions sliced
  • 0.6-0.8 cups hot water or apple cider vinegar
  • 0.2 cups sugar or maple syrup or honey
  • 3 tbsp vinegar 12%
  • 1 tsp salt

Optional addons

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp chili


  • Slice the red onion very thinly and put it in a jar. (Add the optional addons as well)
  • Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil in a pot until everything dissolves..
  • Add the boiling water to the jar.
  • Let it chill for 24h. Stir or shake every now and then.


Sodium: 2336mg | Calcium: 51mg | Vitamin C: 16mg | Sugar: 49g | Fiber: 4g | Potassium: 321mg | Calories: 251kcal | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fat: 1g | Protein: 2g | Carbohydrates: 61g | Iron: 1mg


Hey there! I'm Isabel. I love cooking, dogs, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good flavorful food, to share with family and friends.



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