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Learn how to make the best quick pickled red onions using basic ingredients in just 10 minutes for topping salads, toast, and more. Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free.
These Quick Pickled Red Onions are made with simple ingredients with just a few minutes of hands-on time. Throw together a batch today and enjoy the benefits of this tangy, crunchy condiment today!
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The Perfect Addition to…Everything
I’ve always been a pickle girl but once I learned how easy it is to make my own pickles at home, that love for pickles has only grown. It’s a staple recipe you can find in my fridge at all times and for good reason. These pickled onions are crunchy, salty, tangy, slightly sweet and one of my favorite condiments to add to just about anything savory.
All you need is 10 minutes and 4 basic ingredients to whip these babies up. Chances are you won’t even need to run to the grocery store before getting started.
Ingredients for Quick Pickled Red Onions
The key to making the best quick pickled onions recipe is using a superb pickling liquid. And lucky for both of us, it’s super simple to make. You’ll need:
- Vinegar: Either Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) or regular ol’ Distilled White Vinegar work in this recipe. I’ve made it with both, and slightly prefer the ACV as I find it has more depth of flavor.
- Salt: a good pickling solution is always salty, but salt helps to preserve our pickles, too! Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, or Pink Himalayan Salt are all good options 🙂
- Sugar: I like my pickled onions to be tangy, so I use a bit less sugar than other recipes out there. You only need 2 tsp total! I’ve used granulated sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup and agave all work and taste about the same.
- Peppercorns: While optional, adding a teaspoon of black peppercorns is highly recommended. They infuse a distinct aroma that’s spicy, peppery, and enhance the overall flavor.
How to Make Quick Pickled Red Onions
- Slice the onion into half or quarter-sized rings, as desired. Break up the onion slices and stuff them into a quart-sized mason jar.
- Add the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, peppercorns, and any additional add-ins of choice to a small pot over high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar and salt dissolves and bring to a boil.
- Pour the pickling liquid into the glass jar over the onions. Press the onions completely under the liquid and let the mixture cool to room temperature on the kitchen counter.
- Seal the jar, then store until chilled.
- Serve as desired.
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Please store in glass. These red onions not only fit perfectly in a quart-sized mason jar, but it’s not best to pour boiling hot liquid into plastic. Doing so can cause the plastic container to warp or even melt and has the potential to leach plastic into your onions. If you don’t have any glass mason jars on hand, try another glass sealable container that allows the onions to be fully submerged.
- Use a mandoline. The best way to cut the onions thin and uniform is to use a mandoline. It’s a really versatile appliance to have on hand for making many recipes including Shaved Fennel Salad, Rosemary Sweet Potato Gratin, and thinly slicing veggies for salads like this Spring Orzo Salad. You won’t regret adding one to your kitchen.
What can’t you serve these pickled onions with? They’re honestly good with just about anything. Try them on Falafel Burgers, stuffed in Breakfast Burritos or mixed into salads like this Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, Curried Lentil Salad with Roasted Cauliflower, or this Lentil Pomegranate Salad with Cider Dressing. You can even sprinkle it on simple avocado toast for a tangy flavor. The sky is really the limit!
How to Store Quick Pickled Red Onions
These pickled red onions will keep best when stored in the fridge for up to 1 month. They’re the most crispy within the first week, and will gradually become softer over time.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend freezing these pickled onions on their own because the texture will deteriorate but if they’re incorporated into another freezer-friendly dish, it will be fine!
Substitutions and Variations
The best part of pickling your own raw onions at home is there are tons of ways to vary the recipe. Here are a few of my favorite optional add-ins:
- Garlic: Add in up to 5 cloves of thinly sliced or crushed garlic cloves.
- Mustard seeds: Adding mustard seed to pickled onions is very common and can help enhance the taste of the onions. If using, add 1-2 whole mustard seeds to the brine in recipe step 2 or recipe step 3. It is best to add the mustard seeds while the brine is warm to help the flavor infuse into the red onion slices.
- Jalapeño peppers: If you love adding a spicy kick to your red onions, add in up to 1 full jalapeño or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Fresh herbs: Some of my favorites include fresh dill, thyme, or rosemary or a combination of a few.
These sliced onions are ready to eat as soon as the brining liquid has cooled to room temperature (about 1-2 hours), but their flavor will continue to develop the longer it sits in the fridge. If you’re hoping to eat them as soon as possible, cut the onions into really thin slices. Thinly sliced red onion will absorb the flavor in the brining liquid faster than thicker onion slices.
Yes, this quick pickled red onion recipe is naturally gluten-free, oil-free, and vegan without any substitutions. It’s a great recipe for all dietary needs!
Red onions are the popular choice due to their beautiful, vibrant color, but that’s not to say other fresh onions can’t be subbed in. If needed or preferred, try white onions, yellow onions, or sweet onions for a variety in flavor.
Store them directly in the brine. The brine helps preserve them and also builds up the flavor when it sits.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Quick Pickled Red Onions
- 1 medium-to-large red onion
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
- 3/4 cup filtered water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cane sugar*
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns optional, but recommended
- Optional add-ins*: 3-5 cloves of garlic 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 chopped jalapeño, or 1-2 teaspoons fresh herbs
- Slice the Onion: Slice your onion into half or quarter-sized rings. I prefer to slice mine to be about 1/4″ thick, but that depends on personal preference. Use a mandoline if you’d like your slices to be more uniform and/or thinner. Break up the onion slices and stuff them into a quart-sized glass mason jar.
- Pickling Liquid: Add the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, peppercorns, and any additional add-ins (see notes) to a small pot or pan over high heat. Stir the mixture together to dissolve the salt and sugar and bring to a boil.
- Pickle: Carefully pour the picking liquid into the glass mason jar and let it sit on your counter until it cools to room temperature. The onion pieces will gradually soften and shrink with time – if any stick above the liquid in the beginning, press them down with a fork 5 to 10 minutes later.
- Store & Serve: Seal your jar, then store in the fridge for up to one month. These pickled onions will be the most crispy within the first week, then will gradually soften with time. Serve as desired.
- Add-ins: I like to add my hard spices (like black peppercorns or mustard seeds) in with the pickling liquid while it’s heating up. Otherwise, add your softer add-ins (like garlic or fresh herbs) into the jar with the raw onion.
- Sweetener: You can use any sweetener of your choice here. Coconut sugar, maple syrup, or agave are all great options