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Easy Pickled Onions

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These easy pickled onions will add a vibrant crunch to your meals! This no-cook recipe delivers sweet, tangy, perfectly pink pickled onions. I highly recommend using a mandolin for slicing if you can.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
A jar of pink pickled onions.

I’m excited to share how to make these pickled onions with you! This condiment adds a sweet, tangy flavor and looks beautiful on almost any meal. I usually make a batch for tacos, but you can also use them on burgers, sandwiches, salads, and my fave: this smoked salmon platter.

Making quick pickled red onions is as basic as it gets. You start with a homemade brine from apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and water. This mixture is poured over thinly sliced red onions packed in a jar. Ideally, the onions are sliced thin with a mandolin; If you don’t own one, use a sharp knife.

I call them easy pickled onions, while some call them pink or marinated red onions. Whatever you call them, trust me when I say they will become a staple in your fridge that you can reach for whenever you need a little zing and pop of color on your table.

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Ingredients For Easy Pickled Onions

Ingredients to make quick pickled onions.

Ingredient Notes

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This is the acidic component of the pickling brine, giving the onions their tangy flavor.
  • Boiling Water: Boiling water helps dissolve the sugar and salt and softens the onions to absorb the brine better.
  • Fine Sea Salt: Sea salt is said to have a fresher, more mineral-rich flavor compared to table salt. Where table salt has a straightforward salty taste, sea salt subtly enhances the overall flavor of the pickled onions and usually results in a clearer brine.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sugar balances out the acidity of the vinegar.
  • Red Onion: The star of this recipe, red onions provide a sweet flavor and vibrant color when pickled.

It’s important to note that when making substitutions in recipes, the texture and flavor may be slightly different. However, these substitutes are the best options for changing the original recipe.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: White or red wine vinegar can be used as a substitute. Each will give your pickled onions a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Boiling Water: While boiling water is recommended, you can use hot water from the tap or even room temperature water if necessary. It will just take a bit longer for the sugar and salt to dissolve.
  • Fine Sea Salt: Kosher salt, Himalayan pink salt, or table salt can be used instead of fine sea salt. Just be sure to adjust the quantity as per the saltiness.
  • Granulated Sugar: If you prefer, you can substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugar, adding a different sweetness to your pickled onions.
  • Red Onion: If you don’t have red onion, use white or yellow onions. The flavor will be slightly different, and you won’t get the pink color, but they will still be tasty.

Recipe Variations

Try any of the following for a twist on this easy pickled onions recipe:

  • Bay Leaf: Add one dried bay leaf for an earthy flavor.
  • Cinnamon Stick: Include a cinnamon stick.
  • Coriander Seeds: Add coriander seeds.
  • Garlic: Slice garlic cloves for savory depth.
  • Jalapeño: Add sliced jalapeño.
  • Lemon Zest: Add fresh lemon zest.
  • Mustard Seeds: Use mustard seeds for a hint of spice and texture.
  • Peppercorns: Add whole peppercorns.
  • Rosemary: Infuse with a sprig of rosemary for an herbal note.

Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top of this post, or scroll to the bottom to see the PRINTABLE recipe card with ingredient measurements and complete instructions.

How To Make Easy Pickled Onions

Process shots to make this recipe.

STEP 1: Peel and slice the red onion as thin as possible. I like to use a mandolin (I have the Basic Starfrit Easy Mandolin). I also have cut-resistant gloves. I wear one any time I slice food on my mandolin.

STEP 2: Whisk the vinegar, sugar, and salt with the boiling water until fully dissolved.

STEP 3: Place the sliced onions in a jar or container with a sealable lid. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions, making sure they are fully submerged. If they’re not quite covered, you can press them down gently with the back of a spoon or add more water.

STEP 4: Cool to room temperature, seal the container, and place it in the fridge. Serve with anything you like. The brine will turn brighter pink as it sits.

Expert Tips

1. For the best texture, slice your onions as thinly as possible.
2. For a well-balanced brine, ensure the sugar and salt fully dissolve before pouring over the onions.
3. The onions will gradually lose their red color, and the brine will take on a lovely pink hue after about 24 hours.

Recipe Notes

  • Submerging the onions in the brine is crucial. The vinegar acts as a preservative and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Secondly, if they’re not submerged, they won’t fully absorb the brine’s flavor.
  • Store your pickled onions in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. They should keep well for about two weeks.

A Note On Botulism

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by bacteria that can sometimes be found in improperly preserved or canned foods. That being said, the risk of botulism from homemade pickled onions is extremely low. The vinegar’s high acidity in the pickling brine creates an inhospitable environment for the bacteria that causes botulism. If your onions are submerged in the brine and sealed tightly in the fridge, they should be safe to eat within the recommended time frame (2 weeks).

Did you make these easy pickled onions? Please rate the recipe and tell me how it went in the comments below. Also, stay in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see more delicious food and recipes!

Printable Recipe Card

A jar of pink pickled onions.

Easy Pickled Onions

Author: Kelly Neil
These easy pickled onions will add a vibrant crunch to your meals! This no-cook recipe delivers sweet, tangy, perfectly pink pickled onions. I highly recommend using a mandolin for slicing if you can.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Ingredient
Cuisine World
Servings 16 servings
Calories 7 kcal

Special Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Mandolin slicer optional
  • Measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
  • Small whisk optional
  • Large glass jar with lid
Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium red onion
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup boiling water

Instructions
 

  • Peel and slice the red onion as thin as you can. Using a mandolin slicer can help you get really thin, uniform slices.
  • Whisk together the apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt in a measuring cup or bowl with the boiling water until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved.
  • Lightly pack the sliced onions in a large glass jar or container with a sealable lid. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions, making sure they are fully submerged. If they're not quite covered, you can press them down with a spoon or add more water.
  • Let the onions cool to room temperature, then seal the container and place it in the fridge. They'll be ready to eat after about an hour but will be better after a day or two. They should keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

  • Submerging the onions in the brine is crucial. The vinegar acts as a preservative and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Secondly, if they’re not submerged, they won’t fully absorb the brine’s flavor.
  • Store your pickled onions in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. They should keep well for about two weeks.

A Note On Botulism

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by bacteria that can sometimes be found in improperly preserved or canned foods. That being said, the risk of botulism from homemade pickled onions is extremely low. The vinegar’s high acidity in the pickling brine creates an inhospitable environment for the bacteria that causes botulism. If your onions are submerged in the brine and sealed tightly in the fridge, they should be safe to eat within the recommended time frame (2 weeks).

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 7kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.01gSaturated Fat: 0.003gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.001gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.001gSodium: 110mgPotassium: 16mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 0.1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 0.03mg
Did you make this recipe?Let me know on Instagram @kellyneildotcom or tag #kellyneil!

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