Quick Pickled Red Onions

GFGluten FreeOFOil FreeVVegan
5 from 15 votes
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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!

Table of Contents
  1. The Perfect Addition to…Everything
  2. Ingredients for Quick Pickled Red Onions
  3. How to Make Quick Pickled Red Onions
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. How to Store Quick Pickled Red Onions
  6. Substitutions and Variations
  7. Recipe FAQs
  8. Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe
pickled red onions served in a small glass plate with a white ceramic spoon dug in

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: 

ingredients for pickled red onions laid out on a cutting board
  • 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

side-by-side images of the preparation process of pickled red onions
  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. Seal the jar, then store until chilled.
  5. 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.
two glass jars of pickled red onions on a cutting board

Serving Suggestions

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! 

If you’re looking for more staple kitchen recipes to make from scratch, you’ll also love this Quick-Pickled Jalapeños, this Arugula Pesto and this Homemade Hummus!

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.
pickled red onions served in a small glass plate with a glass jar of pickled red onions in the background

Recipe FAQs

How long do these quick pickled onions need to marinate?

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.

Are these onions gluten-free?

​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!

Can I use another type of onions for quick pickling?

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.

Should I drain the brine when storing these onions?

​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 😊

large mason jar and small glass dish of pickled red onions on wood cutting board

Quick Pickled Red Onions

5 from 15 votes
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
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.


  • 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.

Recipe Notes

  • 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


Calories: 123kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 2gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gSodium: 2349mgPotassium: 351mgFiber: 3gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 26IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: easy pickles recipe, quick pickled onions, quick pickles, red onion recipes
Course: Condiment
Method: Stovetop
Cuisine: American

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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  1. 5 stars
    My childhood was in MN & we always had a garden. A summer staple was sliced tomatoes & cucumbers or pickled cucumbers w/onions. I never really learned what my mom did (she is no longer here to ask) & have tried to replicate it over the years but it wasn’t quite right. Thank you for sharing this recipe! No longer just a “summer” side.

    1. You are so welcome, Lisa! We’re certain your mom is happy you’re now able to make a recipe she loved making when she was around. ♥

  2. 5 stars
    My go-to! I make these every week or two. It elevates every dish. I’m sensitive to the sharpness of vinegar, so I use a bit less. Definitely make this! It’s so easy and delicious

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was very easy to follow. Well-written instructions. And the result was fantastic!! I doubled the recipe, and the pickled onions lasted about 3 weeks. I put them on salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, etc. So yummy!! Making another batch today – this time making 4 onions, so I can share with some friends. Thanks for the easy & delicious recipe!!

  4. 5 stars
    I asked about one or two red onions recently, but I have answered my own question. There is no way two onions would fit in the quart size mason jar, so it must be just one red onion. In the video it looked like two were chopped, but I must have been mistaken.

    1. Glad you figured it out so quickly on your own! Typically a regular sized red onion fits inside the quart mason jar. Hope you enjoy it!

  5. 5 stars
    Yummy! Def making this another staple recipe. Maybe next time I can add fresh Italian oregano leaves to it? Not sure what your opinion is on that but I did see in add ins fresh herbs optional. TIA!

    1. Haven’t tried fresh oregano but it definitely sounds intriguing! There’s tons of possibilities, let us know what varieties you end up trying!

  6. 5 stars
    Found your Youtube channel recently! Love your recipes. Cant wait to try these!! Can I use white onions instead? and also does this recipe work for beets, carrots, cucumbers? Thanks.

  7. 5 stars
    I made these the other day, followed the recipe exactly (I used apple cider vinegar) and I have added them to every single one of my dinners this week! They are so good!!

    1. Store it in the brine! Just like when you buy a jar of pickles, the brine is what helps preserve them and also build up the flavor when it sits! Sometimes we use the excess vinegar to make salad dressings and such when the onion is all gone.

  8. 5 stars
    This is my third time making these pickled onions! It’s now our family’s go-to pickled onion recipe and we can’t get enough of them! Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    I make these on a regular basis to make sure I always have a jar in the fridge. This is one of my favourite recipes, it’s so easy and quick! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    1. It’s such a great go to for topping on random things – salads, avocado toast, eating it straight.. haha.

  10. Hi! Making these now. How long do I have to wait to eat them? Have you ever eaten them slightly warm because you couldn’t wait?

    1. Haha yes, all the time! They’re best after they cool completely but you could eat them as soon as 10-15 minutes afterwards.

  11. Hi Caitlin, I did your recipe today and it is so good that I’m almost done with my jar of picled onions 😉
    I was wondering what can I do with the brine? Can I reuse it for pickling again? Thanks for you answer. Take care. Cle

    1. Hi Cle! I wouldn’t re-use it again for more onions (it’s better to use fresh). I like to use it in place of vinegar in salad dressings and pasta salads! I even mash it with avocado for my avocado toast.

  12. It’s been way too long since I’ve had picked onions. Honestly, I miss them a lot! They were around quite often when my mother was on a kick with making cucumber salads. I would love to try this recipe with another type of onion, maybe sweet onions for a different flavor?

    1. You definitely could do some other onion types. We’d be interested to know how it works out for you if you try it!

    1. Sure, you could try pickling all kinds of stuff. Some of the larger, denser vegetables might take a little more time.