Pickled Red Onions
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Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe

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This is an old family recipe we have made for years. If you haven’t made pickled red onions before, you may want to now! These are so easy to make and fairly cheap because the ingredients are everything you have in your pantry, except maybe the red onions.

The next time you go to the grocery store pick up a few red or purple onions. I call them purple onions. These pickled red onions are crunchy, sweet, but not too sweet, and tangy with a little kick to them.

They are a great addition to salads, barbecued hamburgers, barbecued hot dogs, and just about any sandwich you make! If you love onions, you need to make these!

Once you make them I think they will become a regular addition to your condiments in the refrigerator!

In case you missed these posts, Onions: Everything You Need to Know, Dehydrating Onions and Make Onion Powder

Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe

Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe


  • Red/Purple Onions: mild and sweet flavored onion; perfect for pickling; the red/purple color of the onion adds beauty to the final product
  • White Vinegar: is the most important ingredient when pickling; the acidity of the vinegar inhibits bacterial growth which helps stop the spoiling process.
  • Granulated Cane Sugar: used during pickling to balance the sour or tartness of the vinegar.
  • Garlic Cloves: provides delicious flavor; may also aid in health benefits due to antiviral and antibacterial properties.
  • Multi-Colored Peppercorns: whole peppercorns work best in pickling; provide more flavor and heat than ground pepper, and help to add depth and spice to the recipe.
  • Pickling Salt: pure granulated salt – sodium chloride; used mainly for canning; helps to enhance the flavor of the ingredients; easily dissolves in brine due to the fine granules; doesn’t contain iodine or anti-caking ingredients which can alter the color of the liquid or color of the main ingredient.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: they add a little or a lot of kick to any recipe, depending on how much you use.
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Items You May Need In The Kitchen:

Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe

Step One: Gather The Ingredients

Gather your ingredients so you’re ready to make this yummy recipe!


Step Two: Cut The Onions

I learned this trick about cutting onions so you’re eyes don’t tear up. The first step is to cut the ends off the onions. Then cut the onions in half. The last step is to remove the outer thick skin. They are now ready to chop, slice, or mince.

How Cut Onions

Step Three: Get Mandolin and Glove Ready

Slice as thin as possible. You can use a sharp knife or a Mandolin slicer like I used with a Safety Glove to protect my fingers.

Mandolin Slicer

Step Four: Slice The Red Onions

I sliced mine 1/8-inch which is my preference, unless you like crunchier onion slices, then slice them about 1/4 inch or so.

Mandolin Glove for Safety

Step Five: Ready To Fill Jars

These are so fun to make and are delicious to eat alone as a snack or to add to some of your favorite dishes.

Sliced Onions

Step Six: Prepare Garlic and Mince

Use a Garlic Roller to remove the outer skins of the garlic and then use a Garlic Slicer/Mincer to mince the fresh garlic.

Garlic Roller and Mincer

Step Seven: Get Spices Ready To Add To Jars

Pack the sliced onions in your pint-size mason jars. Depending on how big your onions are, this recipe makes about 2 pints.

Add Garlic and Spices

Step Eight: Add The Spices

Sprinkle the peppercorns, pepper flakes, and garlic pieces on top of the sliced onions in the jars.

Pickled Red Onions

Step Nine: Simmer The Vinegar Mixture

Grab a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, water, and Himalayan salt, and heat over medium heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Let it cool for about 20 minutes.

Simmer the Vinegar Mixture

Step Ten: Cover The Onions And Refrigerate for 30 Minutes

Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions in the jars. Please keep them refrigerated in airtight jars. Let them sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to absorb the “pickling” mixture and blend the flavors together. They should be eaten within 7 days.

Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Pickled Red Onions
Quick Pickled Red Onions Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Fridge Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 pints
Author: Linda Loosli
  • 3-4 small red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar 5% acidity
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white granulated cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon, plus one teaspoon Pickling Salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed colors of peppercorns
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  1. 1. Cut the ends off the onions and remove the outer skins. Slice as thinly as possible. 1/8-inch is best unless you like crunchier onion slices then slice them about 1/4 inch or so.

    2. Pack the sliced onions in your pint-size mason jars. Depending on how big your onions are, this recipe makes about 2 pints.

    3. Sprinkle the peppercorns, the garlic pieces, and the red pepper flakes on top of the sliced onions in the jars.

    4. Grab a medium saucepan, and combine the vinegar, sugar, water, and pickling salt and heat over medium heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Let it cool for about 20 minutes.

    5. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions in the jars. Please keep them refrigerated in airtight jars. Let them sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight. They should be eaten within 7 days. Enjoy.

How do I store these pickled onions?

These are easy to store in an airtight mason or similar jar in the refrigerator. I highly recommend getting some Ball Wide Mouth Leak-Proof Lids.

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How long can I store them in the fridge?

They are good for about 7 days, but I prefer fresh, as in fresh is best.

Can I pressure can this recipe?

No, you can’t pressure can these. They are meant to be stored in the refrigerator.

Do I have to use a Mandolin?

No, you can use a sharp knife to slice them to the thickness you desire.

What is the best vinegar to use when making these pickled red onions?

My favorite is just plain white distilled vinegar with 5% acidity.

Can I use apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or rice vinegar?

Yes, you can. I would recommend a 1 cup to 1 cup ratio, such as using 1 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 cup white distilled vinegar or 1 cup red wine vinegar and 1 cup white distilled vinegar. The apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar are too strong for my taste. Rice vinegar has a more sweet and delicate flavor, so that might be a better option. White vinegar is sourer and has a stronger taste than rice vinegar. It’s all about personal preference.

Are raw red onions good for you?

  • They may reduce your risk of cancer.
  • Red onions may play a role in preventing osteoporosis.
  • Onions contain fructooligosaccharides, substances that act as probiotics.
  • Onions have a lot of antioxidants, one of the best ones is quercetin.

Is it better to eat an onion raw or cooked?

I quote, WebMD, “You should eat onions raw rather than cooked to get the most sulfur compounds from them.”

What happens when you put an onion in vinegar?

It burns calories when you eat it, it helps with weight loss, and you may even sleep better at night. The combination helps increase your immunity and clears your mind at the same time.

Can I use a different salt?

Yes, you can. I have seen recipes with Himalayan Salt, Sea Salt, and Pickling Salt. Because I am a Master Canner Preserver, I have a lot of “Pickling Salt” so that’s why I use it. It comes down to your personal preference in taste. Ball Pickling Salt The salt, vinegar, sugar, and water are used to make a brine for the pickling process. Combining these ingredients helps to flavor and preserve the onions.

Can I skip the red pepper flakes?

Yes, they are optional. I love red pepper flakes, so I always add them to my jars.

How can I use the red pickled onions?

  • Tossed Green Salads
  • Tacos
  • Hamburgers or Cheese Burgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
  • Turkey Sandwiches
  • Quesadillas
  • Eat As A Snack
  • Side Dish
  • Nachos
  • Burritos
  • Tostadas
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Tortilla Wraps w/ your choice of protein

Can I chop the onions?

Yes, you can chop them before you pickle them, or after. They are delicious either way.

Instead of peppercorns, could I use a different type of seed such as mustard seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, or coriander seeds?

What is so great about pickling onions, or other vegetables, is that you can tailor the recipe to your liking! Using a different type of seed is up to you! I really like the flavor of the mixed color or even just black peppercorns. It is all about what you and your family enjoy! That’s the most important thing!

Could I use a different sweetener in this recipe? Would it be an option to use honey or maple syrup?

You are welcome to use a different type of sweetener. I always use cane sugar when I pickle any vegetables. Do keep in mind, that honey and maple sugar is sweeter than cane sugar. So I would recommend using 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup instead of 1/2 cup cane sugar. I don’t recommend using any type of artificial sweeteners while pickling or canning. The artificial sweeteners tend to lose their sweetness during processing and will become bitter instead.

Would this recipe taste good if I use an additional or different spice while cooking, such as cinnamon, thyme, oregano, or a bay leaf?

This recipe is a great base for pickling onions! If you would like to add an additional spice or change the spice in this recipe, you are welcome to. I really like the flavor of the garlic, pepper flakes, and peppercorns. Adding or changing the spice will obviously change the flavor of the pickled onions, but it is all about personal preference, which I think is so wonderful!

Final Word

Please let me know if you make this quick pickled onions recipe. Is your recipe different or very similar? It’s all about cooking from scratch! We must teach our kids and grandkids. May God Bless this world, Linda

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  1. 5 stars
    I will have to try this recipe. We love onions and garlic and have a lot of onions drying now. The onion crop was extra good this year, I guess to make up for having very little cucumbers and tomatoes and NO green beans!

    1. Hi Paula, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend! I love hearing your onion crop is extra good this year!! Yay!! The heat has been rough on so many crops this year. Linda

  2. 5 stars
    Can’t a person just waterbath these pickled onions, so they can be left on the pantry/i.e.out of the fridge, until opened?
    Otherwise, I am quite anxious to try these. The local authentic Mexican Restaurant often puts these on the side of their dishes before serving, and they are awesome!!

    I just want to make up a couple of batches worth and water bath can them for future use.

    1. Hi Joyce, thank you for the 5 stars, my friend! I looked in my USDA canning book, and it has a recipe for Pickled Pearl Onions. You have to peel those tine onions, I don’t want to do that. You boil them, etc. The Ball Home Preserving book says the same thing. I would check with your state extension service. I like the crunch of fresh onions over the “Bottled Ones” which are limpy onions in my opinion. It’s worth phone call. Linda

  3. 5 stars
    I love this recipe and will can not only red onions but some Vidalia onions for use later. My husband can’t eat onions but the kids and I will love them. It will also take some of bitterness out of the onions because if onions are strong the upset my stomach also.

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