These easy pickled red onions only take about 5 minutes to put together. Make a big batch and use them for a million different things!

Jar of pickled onions

Pickled red onions add a vibrant color and flavor to salads, soups, sandwiches and more. They are sure to make your dish stand out. Typically I like to give it a day or two for the onions to absorb the flavors of pickling juice. The end result is a crunchy, tangy delicious garnish!

Marinade for Pickled Onions

To make the marinade for the pickled onions, all you need to do is combine water, apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar and peppercorns. It’s so easy! Sometimes I even use a bit of the marinade and a drizzle of olive oil as a lazy salad dressing.

How to Prepare this Quick Pickled Onion Recipe

Making these quick pickled red onions doesn’t require heating up a brine in a small saucepan. It’s made with absolutely no need for heat!

  • Prepare the Marinade: First, combine the lukewarm water, vinegar, peppercorns, sugar and salt in a bowl. Whisk the ingredients until well combined.
  • Prepare the Onions: Next, slice onions into thin half moons with a sharp knife. Break them apart and stuff them into a jar.
  • Assemble the Jar: Pour the marinade over the onions and make sure they are fully covered. Seal the jar and refrigerate.
  • Marinade the Onions: Seal the jar and refrigerate the onions for at least two days. Enjoy!

Quick Pickled Onions Tips

  • Choose the right onion.Grab one large red onion or two small ones. I like using red onions the most because they have higher acidity and a stronger flavor than yellow or white onions.
  • Slice the onions thinly. For the best results, slice your onions as thinly as possible. You want each onion slice to soak up as much flavor as possible. If you have one, use your mandolin slicer.
  • Use apple cider vinegar. Apple Cider Vinegar is my top choice due to its subtle sweetness. However, you can use white vinegar as well.
  • Swap in a natural sweetener. Traditionally, pickled red onions are made with white sugar. But, if you want to be ultra-healthy, try using maple syrup, agave or honey instead.
  • Spice up your pickling brine. Want to add an extra flavor punch to your onions? Make it spicy by adding some habaneros or jalapeños to the mix. You can also add a couple of cloves of garlic cloves, ground cumin, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs or dried oregano. Get creative!

Hot Tip: Use the same exact pickling liquid to pickle radishes, carrots, beets, jalapenos and cucumbers! I’m hoping to make a pickling addict out of you…

Pickled onions in a bowl

What to Eat Pickled Red Onions With

The possibilities are seriously endless here. Here are a couple of my favorites dishes to add pickled red onions to.

  • Cuban Sandwich – A nice layer of pickled red onions compliments the savoriness of the meat and creaminess of the cheese. Think of them the same way you would pepperoncinis.
  • Garden Salad – Take your garden salad to the next level by topping it with some pickled red onions. Get a bite of the onions and feta cheese together and it’s game over!
  • Gyro Wrap – Gyros are one of our favorite handheld treats! Lamb, feta, tzatziki and fresh vegetables all wrapped up in a warm pita is our idea of heaven on earth. Swap out the raw red onions for pickled ones to really up the flavor factor.
  • Steak Sandwich – All the fatty, juiciness of steak is elevated with pickled red onions. Throw them right on top of the havarti cheese. Yum!
  • Carne Asada Street Tacos, Breakfast Quesadillas & Nachos – Pickled onions are a great addition to some of our favorite Mexican dishes.
  • Pico de Gallo & Guacamole – Give your salsa or guacamole a puckery punch by swapping out the raw onions for pickled onions.

Storing Pickled Onions

When we say make a big batch, I mean it. These onions will keep for up to two weeks stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Bonus: They get better with time. The longer they soak in the pickling liquid, the more flavor you get. If you can, store your pickled red onions in a mason jar.


How long do pickled onions last?

Quick pickled onions will keep for up to two weeks when stored properly. Make sure they are in an airtight container or canning jar in the fridge.

Why do you soak onions in salt water before pickling them?

Some people like to soak their whole onions in salt water before peeling and slicing them for pickling. This draws moisture out of the onions and softens them, but we actually prefer to pickle them straight from raw for the extra crunch.

Why do your pickled onions go soft?

A top reason pickled onions go soft is that the hot brine boils and cooks them a bit. This is why using a cold brine keeps them more crunchy and full of texture.

Can you pickle onions for too long?

You can pickle onions anywhere from 2-4 days. Since they only keep for about two weeks, a short pickle is more than sufficient.

More Pickled Veggies to Try

About Author

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.