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How to Make Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe

Pickled red onions are a great way to add some quick flavor to any dish.

But did you know you can make your own quick pickled red onions at home with just a few minutes of prep work? All you need is around five minutes of hands-on work to prepare this simple recipe, which means you can be enjoying some pickled red onions in a matter of minutes!

Ingredients for preserved onions recipe

From piling onions on a grilled burger to topping your tacos with these crunchy treats, there are so many great ways to enjoy pickled onions! And while it’s simple to purchase pickled onions at the store, the flavor of store-bought onions can’t compare to a freshly made batch.

The best part about this easy recipe is that there’s no need to go through the canning process to prepare your own red onions at home. Just heat up a vinegar brine and pile all the ingredients in a jar to put together this simple refrigerator pickle recipe in just a few minutes.

Ingredients to make pickled red onions recipe

What You’ll Need to Make This Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe:

  • Large red onion, thinly sliced
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Bay leaves
  • Black or mixed peppercorns
Ring so onions in jar

How to Make Pickled Red Onions:

Step One:

  • Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Cook the ingredients over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir until the sugar and the salt has fully dissolved, then remove the pan from heat and set it aside.

Step Two:

  • Place sliced red onions into a large, clean jar. Add a bay leaf and peppercorns to jar, then pour the vinegar mixture over the onions. 

Step Three:

  • Allow to the vinegar to cool completely, then seal the jar with a lid. Keep the jar refrigerated until ready to use. Can keep up to 1 week, covered, in the refrigerator.

How Long Do Pickled Red Onions Last?

These quick pickled red onions don’t last as long as they would if they were canned, but you can still enjoy them for up to one week. Make sure to keep the jar sealed until you’re ready to eat the onions. Once the jar has been opened, you’ll need to eat your onions within a week.

Pouring vinegar over onions
Bay leaves for pickling

Recipe Variation Ideas

Since this pickling recipe is so simple to make, you can easily change up the ingredients to create a variety of different flavor combinations. Try these pickled red onion recipe ideas to create delicious garnishes for all your favorite dishes:

  • Blanche the onions for a lighter flavor. When pickling raw onions, you’ll end up with a very strong onion flavor. If you prefer a mellower crunch in your recipes, try par-blanching the onions before adding them to the jar. Start by brining two cups of water to a boil. Place the onions in the boiling water for one minute, then immediately strain them. Rinse the onions with cold water to stop the cooking process, then transfer them to jar for pickling.
  • Finely chop for an onion relish. Turn your pickled onions into a pickle onion relish by finely chopping your red onions before completing the pickling process. After chopping your onions, add them to your sterilized jar along with the other ingredients and follow the recipe as written.
  • Add some peppers for more spice. If you plan to use your pickled onions as a garnish for Mexican dishes, try taking the spice up a notch for even more flavor. Fresh habanero peppers are often added to pickled onions to give the garnish some heat. For a milder spice, try adding fresh jalapeno or red pepper flakes to the jar with your onions.
  • Flavor the onions with herbs and spices. Enhance the flavor of your pickled onions with the help of fresh herbs and spices. Fresh garlic can give the garnish an extra kick of flavor. Or mix in some dill for more pickled flavor.
Jar of preserved red onions

How to Serve Pickled Onions

Once you have a fresh batch of onions prepared, you’re going to want to enjoy them with every meal! If you’re looking for new ways to serve this pickled garnish, try these recipe ideas:

  • Make it a Mexican dish topping. Add your pickled onions to the top of your favorite Mexican dishes to enhance the flavor and add some crunch. You can use your onions as a garnish for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, nachos, refried beans, tostadas, and rice.
  • Use as a sandwich garnish. Pickled onions also make a great addition to sandwiches! Try topping your burgers, subs, wraps, and paninis with the onions for added flavor.
  • Enhance your breakfast. Up the flavor in your favorite breakfast by mixing in some pickled onions. You can stir the onions into scrambled eggs, top your huevos ranchers, or garnish your breakfast casserole.
  • Dress up your BBQ. Instead of using raw onions to dress up your BBQ, try using the pickled variety. Pickled onions taste great on pulled pork sandwiches, grilled burgers, and hot dogs.
Pickled Red Onions

Other tasty recipes to try:

How to Make These Easy Pickles:

Ring so onions in jar

How to Make Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

A quick, simple recipe for Pickled Red Onions! Tastes amazing piled on hamburgers, sandwiches, or tossed in salads.


  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 - 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 - 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoons black or mixed peppercorns


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Stir until sugar and the salt has dissolve.
  2. Place sliced onions into a large, clean, jar. Add a bay leaf, and peppercorns to jar.
  3. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions.
  4. Allow to cool, then seal with lid and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Can keep up to 2 week, covered, in the refrigerator.


If you prefer, you can omit the bay leaves and/or peppercorns.

It's best to allow the pickled onions to "marinate" for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 21Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 190mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g

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