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

Quick Pickled Red Onions

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.
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Calories 123kcal
Author Caitlin Shoemaker


  • 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


Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 2349mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 26IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1mg