Quick Easy Pickled Red Onions

I love this quick pickled red onions recipe! These pickled onions make just about anything better and are ready to eat in under an hour. You can also store them in the fridge for weeks.

Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe Video

Our pickled red onions are crisp, tangy, and slightly sweet. I add them to tacos, salads, grain bowls, burgers, and more!

These pretty pickled onions are a fridge staple in our house. If you’ve never pickled before, onions are a fantastic place to start. You may also enjoy these pickled beets with onions (so pretty).

Quick Easy Pickled Red Onions

Key Ingredients

  • Red onion: Pickling red onions makes them turn bright pink. I love the beautiful color, but you can use other onion varieties in our pickled onions recipe without any changes.
  • Spices: I use cinnamon sticks, cloves, and red pepper flakes in my pickle brine. I love the extra spice these add.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Adds a little extra flavor and sweetness. You can substitute it with other vinegar if needed. White vinegar is popular and tastes cleaner, while rice wine vinegar offers a little sweetness and flavor.
  • Lime juice: I love this recipe’s bright, citrusy tang from fresh lime juice. These pickled onions are my go-to topping for tacos, burritos, and rice bowls, and the lime pickle truly complements them.
  • Sugar: I add a bit of sugar to my brine. I like these slightly sweet, but I have included tips in the recipe for reducing or increasing the sugar to your taste.
  • Salt: I love using fine sea salt in my pickle brine, but kosher or pickling salt is also great.

How to Make Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions are incredibly simple to make at home. My recipe is perfect for a large red onion (or 2 smaller ones). I peel and slice it thin. If you have one, use a mandoline slicer (I use one in our video).

Add your sliced onions to a bowl, cover them with boiling water, count to 5, and drain. This simple step briefly blanches them, slightly softening them and speeding up the pickling process.

Now, you’ll make your pickle brine. It’s tangy, spiced, and a little sweet. I love it with the onions! Combine the spices with apple cider vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. When the sugar and salt have dissolved, you can pickle your onions.

How to Make Pickled Red Onions - Making the brine

Add your onions to a glass jar or container, then pour over the brine. Set the onions aside to cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate. You can enjoy homemade pickled red onions within an hour of refrigerating them, but they get better the longer they sit in the fridge.

How to Make Pickled Red Onions - Pouring the brine over sliced red onions.

Storing Pickled Onions

Quick pickled red onions last for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. The color may change slightly, but they will be delicious. I store pickled onions in an airtight glass container, like a mason jar. I do not recommend freezing them, as they will lose their crisp texture.

While you can use a pressure canner for pickled onions, this quick pickled onions recipe is intended to be a refrigerator pickle, so I do not have instructions for canning them. The same is true for all of the pickle recipes on Inspired Taste.

Ways to Use Pickled Red Onions

Pickled onions are perfect for topping burgers and sandwiches. I especially love them with veggie burgers and black bean burgers since they add a bit of color and crunch. They are also amazing for topping avocado toast.

Anytime you are enjoying Tex-Mex or Mexican dishes, bring out your pickled red onions. I love them with tacos, and I always add them to ground pork tacos and these roasted cauliflower tacos.

Pickled onions also brighten stews and dishes that cook for a long time, like this beef stew or our Texas red chili.

Finally, I highly recommend adding pickled red onions to salads. They add a pop of color and flavor. I use these in our cauliflower salad with chickpeas.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Quick Easy Pickled Red Onions

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

Our pickled red onions are crisp, tangy, and slightly sweet. We use a combination of fresh lime juice and apple cider vinegar. You can use just the vinegar, but the combination makes these even more delicious.

Makes 3 cups

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes or gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)

1 cup (240ml) apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup (120ml) freshly squeezed lime juice, 5 to 6 limes

1/4 cup (50g) sugar, or more to taste, see tips

1 tablespoon fine sea salt

Directions

    1Add the sliced red onions to a medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over them so that they are covered. Count to 5, then drain. Add the onions to glass jars (or a food-safe glass container with a lid).

    2Toast the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and pepper flakes until fragrant in a small saucepan over medium heat, 3 to 5 minutes.

    3Whisk in the apple cider vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and salt.

    4Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar and salt have dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes.

    5Taste the brine for sweetness, and then add more sugar as needed.

    6Pour the pickle brine over the onions, pushing them down so they are covered. Add the lid and set aside on the counter until cooled.

    7Refrigerate for 2 to 3 weeks, ensuring the pickled onions stay submerged in the brine.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Sugar: I like the balance of 1/4 cup (50g) of sugar, but you can make these slightly sweeter by increasing the sugar or less sweet by decreasing it. Add closer to 1/2 cup (100g) of sugar for sweet pickled onions. When making your brine, taste it and add more sugar if needed. You can substitute maple syrup or honey in the recipe (these taste a bit sweeter than plain sugar, so add to your tastes).
  • The nutrition facts are estimates. We assumed 1/4 cup of sugar.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1/4 cup / Calories 30 / Protein 0 g / Carbohydrate 7 g / Dietary Fiber 0 g / Total Sugars 5 g / Total Fat 0 g / Saturated Fat 0 g / Cholesterol 0 mg
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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115 comments… Leave a Review
  • Lesley July 30, 2023, 10:04 am

    These pickled onions are so easy, and absolutely fabulous. I have made jars to sell at a charity fayre and the sold out within minutes as I offered “tasters”. I also now get asked for them regularly by family and friends. Thank you so much for this recipe

    Reply
  • Hope June 18, 2023, 1:16 pm

    This is the best recipe, thank you so much! I’ve made so many batches—we eat them on sandwiches, burgers, salads, tacos, and straight from the jar. I have given jars as gifts, too. Love the lime together with acv and cinnamon, anise, and cloves. And the color is gorgeous.

    Reply
  • Lesley March 4, 2023, 9:04 am

    Fabulous! Absolutely love this recipe. I’m so pleased with it I’d leave a photo if I could. Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
  • Jocelyn Mallory February 16, 2023, 7:43 pm

    I finally made these onions but I think I must have used larger onions because I had probably 3 cups of onions. I wasn’t sure whether or not the brine should fully cover the onions so I made another batch of vinegar solution using 2/3-1/3 vinegar and lime juice. When I swished the onions around, they were covered with the solution but barely. It was then that I decided to make more brine. So my question is, should the vinegar solution completely cover the onions? Also, you say the recipe makes about 3 cups of pickled onions. Does this mean the onions with or without the solution? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Adam June 7, 2023, 5:41 pm

      Yes, you want the onions covered by the brine (it’s ok if they are barely covered). The yield is for the onions.

      Reply
  • Elaine July 1, 2022, 5:57 pm

    They are great on a ham or thin sliced roast beef sandwich or on a cheese sandwich. I am 76 now but my mother made these for years for her family. They were standard on the table of a working class man’s meal in those days gone by in the north west of England, specially at weekend meals. Do try them as they really are delicious. I am still making the after all these years and everyone seems to love them. They never let very long when I make them – which is often!

    Reply
  • Alan June 23, 2022, 11:03 am

    please can you tell me how long these will last as you contradict yourself, at the start of the video you say you last up to a week in fridge, then to the end you say last a couple of week please can you confirm this for me what you mean many thanks Alan, I not make till I have a replay Thanks again

    Reply
  • Tamara Craig April 24, 2022, 3:56 pm

    I Love your site!!!

    Reply
  • Christina April 9, 2022, 5:59 pm

    I can eat a whole jar of these plain – they are amazing and so easy! I even know a toddler who loves them.

    Reply
  • Lyn Reasbeck July 18, 2020, 12:19 pm

    I have lost count of how many times I have made these and the Herby Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad. The salad is a hit with all my family and friends and I use the pickles on everything! I have used Stevia powder to sweeten and it was good, but much prefer my organic honey

    Reply
  • Mark April 2, 2020, 10:26 am

    Great recipe! Have you tried substituting molasses for the sugar? Molasses just has a bolder flavor than sugar, one that accompanies lime juice and other spices in your recipe. You have great recipes here. Congratulations on really helpful but home-run recipes!!!!

    Reply

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