How To Make Quick Pickled Onions
You’ll find a batch of these quick pink pickled onions in our fridge most weeks. Follow our tips and make quick pickled onions begging to be added to tacos, salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, and more! Jump to the Quick Pickled Onions Recipe or read on to see our tips for making them.
Watch Us Make Pickled Onions
Pickled Onions Are Remarkably Easy To Make
If you’ve never had quick pickled onions before, you are in for a treat. Pickled onions are tangy, a bit sweet, and crunchy all at the same time. We love to use a combination of fresh lime juice and apple cider vinegar when making them and find the combination of acids makes for a more refreshing, complex flavor.
Even more importantly, pickled onions are incredibly simple 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.
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.
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. This is my go-to spice blend for pickled onions (especially when I’m planning on using them for tacos).
The process for making them is simple, heat the vinegar, lime juice, salt, sugar, and spices together then pour the hot pickling liquid over thinly sliced onions. Set the onions aside and wait until the liquid is room temperature. It’s at this point that you can use the onions or you can store them away in the fridge for another day.
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.
- We use these pickled onions to make our Herby Raw Cauliflower Salad.
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 Quick Pickled Onions
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
1 large or 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
3 tablespoons to 8 tablespoons (38 to 100 grams) sugar, see notes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Add sliced onions to a medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over onions so that they are covered. Count to 5 then drain. Add the onions to glass jars (or a food safe glass container with lid).
Toast cinnamon, cloves, and the red pepper flakes until fragrant in a small saucepan over medium heat, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, lime juice, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar and salt have dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste for sweetness then add more sugar as needed.
Pour brine over the onions. Allow to stand at room temperature until cooled. Serve or cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 weeks.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- This recipe makes about 3 cups, which is quite a lot. To make a smaller batch, divide the ingredients called for in the recipe by half.
- Sugar: We prefer to use 3 tablespoons of sugar, however, you can adjust the amount to your taste. For sweet pickled onions, add closer to 1/2 cup (or 8 tablespoons) of the sugar. When making the brine, taste for sweetness, and then add more sugar to your taste.
- The nutrition facts are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. We assumed 1/4 cup of sugar.