How to Make Pickled Onions in 1 Hour
A quick and easy pickled red onions recipe with onions, lime, apple cider vinegar, and spices. Jump to the Pickled Onions Recipe or read on to see how we make it.
Not long ago we stumbled across a tiny taco place. The tacos were great. The condiment bar was even better. What made it so great was the big bowl of pickled onions.
Have you ever had pickled onions? Gosh they’re good. Better than that though, they are remarkably easy to make at home. If you’ve never pickled at home before, onions are a wonderful place to start. You’ll feel like a pro-pickler in no time.
All you really need is sliced onions, acid, salt and some sugar. It only takes about an hour before you can enjoy them — although, if you can wait a day, they get even better.
Pickling onions at home is remarkably easy…
We like using red onions. You could just as easily substitute white or yellow onions, although the color from using red is stunning. Something happens as red onions sit in the brine — they become bright and pink.
These pickled onions are sharp and sweet all at the same time. We use a combination of fresh lime juice and apple cider vinegar. That combined with some salt and sugar makes the onions refreshingly acidic. You can certainly use just one acid, but we’ve found the combination adds a touch more complexity.
There’s a lot of elbow room when it comes to adding spices or additional flavors. You could keep it clean and simple and add none or add a combination of the following: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, crushed red pepper flakes, whole garlic, star anise, bay leaf, mustard seeds, fresh ginger slices, fennel seeds, coriander seeds or cumin seeds.
In the photo below, we’ve added cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and red pepper flakes.
Once they are ready, try adding pickled onions to tacos, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and whatever else you think could use a pop of flavor. We particularly love a few draped over scrambled eggs.
There you have it — easy homemade pickled onions. We’re hooked and bet you will be, too.
You May Also Like
- Try adding these to shredded beef tacos or chicken fajitas.
- Or serve them alongside our Roasted Salsa Verde or Roasted Tomato Salsa.
Recipe updated, originally posted July 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
How to Make Pickled Onions in 1 Hour
These pickled onions are sharp, sweet and refreshingly acidic. We use a combination of fresh lime juice and apple cider vinegar. You can use just one acid, but we’ve found the combination adds a touch more complexity. There’s a lot of elbow room when it comes to adding spices or additional flavors. We use cinnamon sticks, cloves and red pepper flakes. Keep it clean and simple and add none or add a combination of the following: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, crushed red pepper flakes, whole garlic, star anise, bay leaf, mustard seeds, fresh ginger slices, fennel seeds, coriander seeds or cumin seeds.
You Will Need
2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup (240 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup (50 to 100 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Add sliced onions to a medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over onions so that they are covered. Count to 10 then drain. Add onions to glass jars (or glass container with lid).
Toast cinnamon, cloves and the red pepper flakes in a small saucepan over medium heat until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, lime juice, a 1/4 cup of the sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until sugar and salt have dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste for sweetness then add more sugar as needed. Pour brine over onions.
Allow to stand at room temperature until cooled, cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- This recipe makes about 3 cups, which is quite a lot. We love adding them to just about anything, so we go through them. You could, however, easily divide the recipe by half.
- Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values. We assumed 1/4 cup of sugar.