How to Pickle Onions - 11+ Tips & Recipes for Pickled Onions (2024)

Pickling onions is incredibly simple and economical, transforming them into a delicious condiment that can enhance a variety of dishes.

  • Slice onions thinly for quick pickling.
  • Boil water and prepare a vinegar mixture with salt, sugar, and desired spices.
  • Blanch onion slices by pouring boiling water over them, then drain.
  • Submerge the onions in the vinegar mixture, ensuring air bubbles are removed.
  • Seal the onions in a jar and refrigerate to enjoy them for weeks.

To start, I grab my favorite type of onion, red, white, or yellow, and slice it into thin, even rounds. I always find this process soothing and gratifying. Next, I boil water in a kettle. While that’s heating up, I create a flavorful bath for my onions by mixing vinegar—usually apple cider or red wine vinegar—with a pinch of salt and sugar. I love how the sugar just takes the edge off the sharpness, making everything blend perfectly.

I then place my onion slices in a sieve or colander and pour the just-boiled water over them. It’s like a quick spa for the onions, softening them slightly so they’ll pickle even better. Once drained, I pack the onions into a clean jar, pouring in my vinegar mix until the onions are completely covered. I take a moment to stir around with a blunt stick to chase away those pesky air bubbles that could spoil the pickling process.

Finally, with my onions fully submerged, I seal the jar and pop it into the fridge. The wait is the hardest part for me. But in just a few hours, I get to enjoy my quick pickled onions, adding a zesty crunch to salads, sandwiches, or tacos. Plus, it’s a relief knowing that I’ve saved money and prevented waste by preserving these onions before they could go bad.

Onions are gluten-free, are a vital ingredient in many dishes, and help create some of the most beloved meat and vegan meals around. However, raw onions can go bad in a hurry, leaving you with nothing to add zing to Mexican dishes and BBQ plates. When you know how to pickle onions, you can eliminate that issue.

Quick pickled red onions can solve your problems and give you a reliable food source all year long. This article looks at pickling onions from top to bottom. You’ll find out how to preserve your onions with one of our pickled red onion recipes that doesn’t require a long cooking time.

We also show you why onions are worth preserving for the long haul and include some recipes with pickled onions that you can use to spice up any meal. Before long, you’ll be ready to start preserving.

How to Pickle Onions - 11+ Tips & Recipes for Pickled Onions (1)



Table of Contents

  1. The Best Pickled Onions
  2. Why Make Pickled Onions?
  3. Quick Red Onion Pickles
    • Plain Onion Pickles
    • Herb Brined Onions
    • Citrusy Onions
    • Asian Onions
    • Pickling Spicy Onions
  4. Pickled Red Onion Recipe
    • Health Benefits
    • Pulled Pork Sandwich with Onion Pickles
    • Arugula Salad with Brined Red Onions
    • Asparagus and Red Onion Frittata
    • Lemon Pepper Salmon with Onions
    • Ahi Tuna and Pickled Onion Dip
    • White Pizza with Pickled Onions

The Best Pickled Onions

Storage methods are an important part of food preservation. Whether you are keeping chicken salad fresh in the fridge or pickling onions, it’s crucial to do it the right way and know how long the food will last before it spoils.

How long will onions last after pickling? This depends on whether you use a canner after pickling. Canned pickled onions last for several years, while refrigerated pickled onions last a couple of months.

If you want your onions to last for a while, you’ll need a quick pickled red onion recipe that works every time. Not every method on how to pickle onions will be right for your needs, though.

Perhaps one meal calls for onions with some heat, while another requires pickled onion with no extra spices. Having a pickled red onion recipe ready for every occasion ensures you’re never caught unawares again. Pickling is one of the best ways of storing onions and the results are fantastic.

Why Make Pickled Onions?

When you set out to learn how to pickle onions, you soon discover that there are many recipes you’ll need to master so that you have the perfect pickled red onion recipe for every dish.

That’s a fair amount of labor to get your onions into the jars. So, what’s the big deal with onions? Is there something special about onions that makes them worth preserving? Can you substitute shallots for onions in the recipes? Experiment with onion varieties to get nice flavor differences in your pickled onions.

It’s important to note that pickling is not the only way to preserve onions. Learn how to freeze onions, can them, or take advantage of short-term storage options in the pantry or root cellar. You can even dehydrate them so that your onions last for a long time.

Quick Red Onion Pickles

This section provides you with a range of recipes for pickled onions that gives you great results the first time and every succeeding time you make them. We provide the best methods for plain pickled onions as well as fantastic recipes for all sorts of dishes.

How to Pickle Onions - 11+ Tips & Recipes for Pickled Onions (2)

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You’ll find pickling recipes for Asian dishes and some excellent spicy, hot, citrus, and herb pickling solutions, as well. Prep time for these recipes is short, and total time should only be around 15 minutes or so. You’re sure to find the perfect pickling recipe for your needs.

One ingredient that is necessary for all pickling recipes is vinegar. Pickle cucumbers with vinegar, onions, or another vegetable with this versatile liquid. It’s what adds some nice zing to your pickles and helps the veggies last longer.

Plain Onion Pickles

You don’t have to get fancy to enjoy delicious pickled onions. If you immerse onions in a vinegar brine, you’ve created pickled onions. It’s a great way to store cut onions and they turn out delicious.

This easy recipe is all you need for most meals and will preserve your onions perfectly for weeks on end. It makes a fantastic general condiment for burgers and hot dogs and other main dishes. Use this pickling option to produce a hearty onion flavor with no additional elements.


Basic Pickled Onions

  • A glass Mason jar or another pickling jar
  • 1 red onion
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or white vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar, if desired
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A sieve
  • A blunt stir stick


Slice the onion into thin circles and bring three cups of water to boil in a pot. Combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar, if desired, in the pickling container. Stir to dissolve.

Place the raw onion slices in a sieve and place it in the sink. Pour boiling water over the onions, and wait for them to drain. Put the onions in the pickling jar, and stir with a blunt stick or butter knife to remove any air bubbles. Seal and store the jar in the refrigerator.

You can use this same recipe or one similar for quick pickled beets or for another vegetable of your choice. Pickling adds a unique zesty flavor to your favorite veggies and makes a delightful side dish to any meal.

Experiment with pickling your veggies. Try to make quick pickled daikon or pickle some cabbage. You may be surprised at how delicious they taste.

Herb Brined Onions

If you want a bit more complexity in your meals, try subbing in some herb pickled onions for the plain ones we looked at before. The extra flavors merge with the onion and create an enjoyable and delicious meal.

Your family will be delighted by this pickling recipe. You can also use it for how to pickle radish slices. Add ½ tsp sugar for sweet pickled onions or radishes.


Onion Pickles with Herbs

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 3 sprigs oregano
  • Glass pickling container
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 sprigs dill
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • A sieve
  • A blunt stirring utensil


Cut the onion into halves. Place onion halves on a flat surface, and cut the onion into rounds. Bring three cups of water to a rolling boil, then combine the vinegar, salt, garlic, berries, seeds, and herbs in the pickling container until the salt dissolves.

Place the slices in a sieve, and par-blanch them by pouring boiling water on them. After the onions drain, place them in the pickling jar. Use a blunt stirrer to remove air bubbles, and then seal and store the jar in your refrigerator.

Try this mixture of spices in a pickled asparagus recipe for a different taste than a traditional pickling medley. You may find that you prefer it!

Pickling is a great way to add unique flavor to fruits and veggies. Experiment with a pickled mushrooms recipe or one for apples. The possibilities are almost endless.

Citrusy Onions

Onions work well with unusual flavor combinations such as fruit and citrus. The combination of citrus peels and onion in this recipe creates a remarkable taste profile that works well with burgers, hot dogs, and other main courses. Try these quick pickled onions at your next BBQ.


Brined Onions with Citrus

  • 1 red onion
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • 5 orange peels
  • 5 lemon peels
  • Sieve
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • Glass pickling jar
  • A blunt utensil for stirring


Bring roughly three or four cups of water to a boil. Meanwhile, slice the onion into thin rounds. Pour the vinegar into the pickling jar, and add the sugar and salt.

Stir to dissolve the solids, and then add the citrus peels to the mixture. Place your sliced onion in a sieve, and slowly pour boiling water on them and wait for the onions to drain.

Add the onions to the pickling container, and remove air bubbles with a stir stick. Seal and store the pickling jar in the refrigerator.

Asian Onions

Perhaps you’re looking to whip up a delicious Chinese meal tonight. Nothing works better with Asian dishes than pickled onions treated with special spices.

This pickled onions recipe goes together with all sorts of Eastern meals, including Thai, Japanese, and Filipino recipes. They’re just what you need to put your meal over the top.


Asian Pickled Onions

  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp star anise
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sliced ginger
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Glass pickling container
  • Blunt stirrer
  • Sieve
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar


Slice the onion into thin circles. Bring three cups of water to a high boil and combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices in the pickling jar. Add the onions to a strainer, put it in the sink, and pour the boiling water on the onions.

After they drain, add the onions to the vinegar mixture, and use a stirrer to get out all air bubbles. Let it cool to room temperature. Seal the jar, and then store it in the refrigerator.

Try this recipe for a variation when you make pickled peppers. The spices give the peppers an interesting flavor.

Pickling Spicy Onions

One of the most common uses for pickled onions is as a garnish for Mexican food or barbeque. Pickled onions are perfect for salsas, guacamoles, and other meals that require some bite to work well.

When you’re preparing something spicy, reach for your hot pickled onions. Use them as a topper for leftovers, as well; hot pickled onions go great with last night’s meal.


Hot Pickled Onions

  • Glass pickling container
  • Blunt stir stick or butter knife
  • Sieve
  • 1 red onion
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 oz peppercorns
  • Gloves
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt


Boil around three or four cups of water in a pot and slice your onion into thin rounds. Put on gloves, and slice the jalapeño pepper into circles. Add the vinegar, salt, peppercorns, red pepper, sugar, garlic, chili powder, and pepper rounds to the pickling jar and stir.

Place the sieve in the sink, place the onion slices in the sieve, and pour boiling water over them to par-blanch them. Let the onions drain, and then add them to the pickling liquid. Stir the mixture with a blunt knife or stirrer to remove air bubbles, and then seal and refrigerate the jar.

Pickled Red Onion Recipe

This section looks at why we expend the time and energy to create quick pickled red onions. In this section, learn about the health advantages you get from regular onion consumption.

We close this article with some fantastic recipes that include pickled onion and other pickled veggies so that you get good use from your preserved goods. You’ll wonder why you waited so long to start pickling.

Health Benefits

In addition to adding excitement to your meals, you’ll reap health rewards from regular onion consumption. You get few calories but lots of nutrients in onions, which make them an ideal diet food.

Onions are rich in vitamins, especially vitamin C, and they also contain plenty of B vitamins, including pyridoxine and folate. Onions are also potentially heart-healthy and are a great addition to a heart-conscious meal.

They contain antioxidants to lower free radical levels. Studies also show that onions appear to decrease triglycerides and bring down cholesterol levels. If you’re looking for a delicious ingredient that makes your palate happy while it aids your health, look no further than onions.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Onion Pickles

This sandwich is savory and filling, and it works wonderfully with pickled onions. Plain pickled onions work well here, but you can try the hot or Asian varieties for a flavor twist. Bon appétit!


Pork Sandwich with Onions

  • 2 cups roasted pork shoulder, pulled
  • 3 slices pickled red onions
  • 2 Brioche buns
  • 2 slices sweet-and-sour pickled radishes
  • 2 sprigs cilantro
  • ¼ cup pork or chicken broth
  • Sriracha or mayonnaise


Toast the buns and heat the pork in a small saucepan. Add a little broth to moisten the pork. Place a cup of pork on each bottom bun and top with onion, cilantro, and radish. Add a dollop of mayo or Sriracha to the top buns and serve.

Arugula Salad with Brined Red Onions

One of the best uses for pickled onions is on a salad. Onions on a salad are already lovely, and when you add the bite you get from pickling, you create a salad with depth and character. Herb pickled onions or Asian pickled onions work very well here.


Arugula Salad with Zing

  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 pickled red onion, sliced
  • 5 oz arugula
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved


Add the arugula, tomato halves, and about a third of the pickled onions. Toss the three ingredients until combined.

Add the olive oil, honey, champagne vinegar, mustard, a little ground pepper, and about ½ tsp salt to a container, and shake until combined and emulsified. Coat the salad with a little vinaigrette and toss. Season with pepper and salt to taste.

Asparagus and Red Onion Frittata

Frittatas are perfect meals for any time of day, whether morning, noon or night. This complex and flavorful dish is halfway between a pizza and an omelet, and it will become one of your family’s favorite recipes. It’s easy to make and a proven winner.


Asparagus and Red Onion Frittata

  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup pickled red onions
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bunches spinach, trimmed
  • 1 bunch of trimmed asparagus, cut into thirds


Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a small water pot to boil, and add a bunch of spinach. Wait for 10 to 20 seconds until the spinach wilts, then transfer the spinach bunch to the ice water. After squeezing as much liquid as you can from the spinach, chop it roughly.

Crack the eggs into a blender and add milk, cheese, and the chopped spinach. Add salt and pepper, and blend until light green with spinach flecks. Place a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the butter.

After the butter melts, add the olive oil. Then, add the asparagus and cook for about five minutes until it becomes tender. Meanwhile, chop the other bunch of spinach.

Add the second chopped batch to the skillet a little at a time while stirring until the newly added spinach wilts. Reduce the heat, and add the egg mixture to the skillet. Stir to mix everything. Cook over a low flame until the frittata mostly sets, about 20 minutes or so.

Turn your broiler on high and place the skillet under it. Broil your frittata until it is golden brown and solid. Remove from the broiler, allow to cool, and then cover the top of the frittata with pickled red onion. Serve by itself, or serve as a side dish.

Lemon Pepper Salmon with Onions

Salmon is a wonderful-tasting fish that you can prepare in no time, and red onion is the perfect ingredient to pair with it. The onion enhances the salmon and results in a meal that delights the senses. You’ll be asking for seconds of this tasty meal.


Lemon Pepper Salmon and Pickled Onions

  • 1 large salmon filet
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill
  • Olive oil as required
  • ½ pickled red onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup pickled red onion, diced small
  • 2 tbsp dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained


Preheat the oven. The temperature should be 350°F for convection ovens and 400° for regular ovens. Set the filet on parchment and season with lemon pepper on both sides. Place dill sprigs on the top side, and drizzle the salmon with olive oil to anchor down the dill.

Put the parchment on a sheet pan, and place in the oven. The filet will take about 15 minutes to cook; the thickest part should have an internal temperature of 120 to 125°.

Add diced onions, capers, and chopped dill to the mayonnaise to create the remoulade. Remove the filet from the oven when cooked and top with pickled onions. Serve with remoulade on the side.

Ahi Tuna and Pickled Onion Dip

Want to produce a delicious snack for guests when you don’t have a lot of time? This savory dip is perfect for a quick meal and will astound you with its deep, rich flavor. Use the Asian or hot pickled onions for a little more zip.


Dip with Tuna and Onions

  • 1 lb ahi tuna, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped and seeds removed
  • 4 thinly sliced radishes
  • 2 diced avocados
  • 2/3 tbsp Sriracha
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 pickled red onion, chopped


Mix the tuna, jalapeño, and Sriracha in a bowl. Set aside the avocado, add all remaining ingredients, and stir well. Top with the diced avocado and serve.

How long does this unique tuna salad last? Refrigerate for a day or two before tossing.

White Pizza with Pickled Onions

Not every pizza needs to be the standard pepperoni-and-mozzarella model. White pizza is a delicious pizza option and allows you to get more adventurous with your toppings. Our white pizza recipe is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and the perfect way to use those leftover pickled onions.


White Pizza with Pickled Onions

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil plus more as required
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb basic pizza dough, store-bought or prepared
  • 1 cup pickled onions
  • ½ cup pickled peppers
  • 2 oz thinly sliced Soppressata


Heat the oven to 500°. Mix the garlic, cheeses, and oil in a bowl, and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Divide the dough into equal halves and wait for ten minutes.

Stretch one half of the dough onto a ten-inch pizza round on a sheet pan. Cover with half the cheese mixture, and then top the pizza with half of the onions, pickles, and Soppressata.

Bake about ten minutes or so until the cheese is golden and the crust is brown. Repeat for a second pie if needed.

We hope you had a lovely experience reviewing our recipes for pickled onions for tacos and other meals. Onions are essential ingredients for all kinds of meals, and we want to make sure that they don’t go bad.

Our guide to pickling onions gives you essential pickled red onion recipes and shows you how to make those quick pickled red onions shine in our handpicked and time-tested meals.

How to Pickle Onions - 11+ Tips & Recipes for Pickled Onions (3)

Thanks for reading our onion pickling guide. Facebook and Pinterest are great places to share how to pickle onions, as you might wish to help others discover the joys of pickling onions like you did.

How to Pickle Onions - 11+ Tips & Recipes for Pickled Onions (2024)


Do you soak onions in salt water before pickling? ›

I always like to salt and soak the onions before pickling. This gets rid of the harsh 'bite' that often makes raw-onions unappetizing. Soaking them for a short time in hot water softens the onions slightly, priming them for quicker, more thorough absorption of the vinegar brine.

What's the best vinegar to pickle onions? ›

I particularly like a mix of white wine and rice vinegar, and apple cider vinegar and white vinegar are a fun tangy combination. These variations are great, but they're totally optional; your quick pickled onions will be delicious even if you stick to the basic recipe!

Do you have to dry onions before pickling? ›

Now roll your bald onions in salt and leave in a bowl overnight, rinsing the salt away in the morning before patting dry. Although this stage is optional, the salt-and-rinse method will extract moisture from within the onion and you will be rewarded with a crisper, crunchier, firmer pickle in the long run.

How do you keep pickled onions crisp? ›

It's important that your jars are airtight. If you're using, for example, an empty coffee jar, sterilise it and once the onions are in and you've covered them completely with vinegar, take a piece of clingfilm and fold in it half to double it up. Place the clingfilm on the top of the jar before putting the lid on.

How long should you leave onions to pickle? ›

Pack the onions into clean, sterilized jars. Pour over the hot vinegar mixture to fill the jars, and check there are no air pockets. Seal the jars and leave to cool. The onions will be ready to eat after about 1 month or better if kept for 2.

Is it better to soak onions in water or vinegar? ›

You can get rid of the strong taste by soaking sliced onions in ice water for 20 to 30 minutes or by sprinkling them with an acid such as vinegar. Onions soaked in ice water will get very crisp while those sprinkled with vinegar will soften a bit, but they will lose the strong taste and become sweeter.

Should vinegar be hot for pickling? ›

The temperature can bring out flavors, which leach into the brine. She recommends using hot brine to pickle opaque vegetables or spices such as root vegetables, kabocha squash and garlic. Cold brines are useful if you're looking to preserve the texture and crunch of a vegetable.

Why boil vinegar for pickling? ›

No, there are other methods for pickling, including quick pickling and refrigerator pickling. But this pickling method does call for boiling the brine. This process helps bloom the flavors of the ingredients and help speed up the pickling process when it's added to the fresh vegetables or fruit.

Why are my pickled onions mushy? ›

Using too weak a salt brine or vinegar solution may cause soft or slippery pickles, as can using moldy garlic or storing the pickles at too warm a temperature.

Should pickled onions float? ›

As Karen says, just add more vinegar -- preferably just boiled -- to cover the onions. If they float, then put a clean dish or bowl (again, preferably just boiled) of some kind on top of them to keep them submerged.

Can you reuse the water from pickled onions? ›

Pro tip, if you eat the onions quickly, you can reuse the brine. Add more sliced red onions to the mixture and start again. You can also try pickling other sturdy vegetables like sliced radishes, carrots, or small cauliflower florets. If the brine is cloudy or has a bad odor, discard and start with a fresh batch.

Why are my pickled onions fizzing? ›

Surface mold or a bad smell are additional signs the pickles should be thrown out. The fizzy brine I experienced, Smith says, was likely a sign of microbial growth. “A lot of times when microorganisms grow, as part of the fermentation process they produce carbon dioxide gas,” she says.

Why do pickled onions go bad? ›

Temperature, light, and humidity can all affect how long your home-canned pickled onions last, so be sure to store them somewhere that is dark and dry with a cool, even temperature. Fluctuations that can lead to freezing or overheating will cause them to go bad prematurely, so choose your storage location carefully.

How do you pickle onions for long term storage? ›

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, bay leaf, and black peppercorns in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, carefully add sliced onions, and simmer on low heat until the onions begin to soften. Allow onions to cool. Then, transfer the onions and the vinegar brine to a container like a mason jar.

Why do you soak pickled onions in salt water? ›

This one simple step tames the bite of the raw onions and mellows out their flavor. The sulfur compounds responsible for that harsh “biting” flavor and onion's powerful aftertaste dissipate into the water from the cut surfaces of the onion.

How long do you soak onions in salt water? ›

Wait 10 minutes, then serve. The salt softens the onion's fibrous texture and mellows the sharpness of their flavor. There are other ways to tame raw onion, of course. You could soak slices in lemon juice for 20 minutes, which lends a slightly pickled flavor, as in this Tomato and Herb Salad with Sumac.

How do you soak onions in salt water? ›

Put the onion in slightly lemony, salty water to reduce the soaking time. For a sweeter taste, soak it in cold water with 1 tsp each of sugar and salt. Then your onion will be ready to be added to salsa or burgers.

What does salt water do to onions? ›

Coat Them in Salt

For those that don't want the crispiness of water-soaked onions, salting them can eliminate some of the sting while also giving them a softer texture.


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