This pickled red onion recipe is super frugal and quick & easy to make! Goes great with a variety of dishes such as my best burger recipe and Instant Pot beef brisket. And don’t forget about breakfast – this onion pickle recipe serves as a tasty topping for scrambled eggs! Get my best recipe tips and how to customize this delicious side dish.
Aside from Mexican being easy to make, it’s super easy on the budget. Pair a protein with a few key side dishes – like cilantro lime rice, easy guacamole, blender restaurant-style salsa, and slow cooker refried beans – and dinner is done!
This leads me to my favorite side dish, red pickled onions!
Quick Pickled Red Onions Ingredients
I love this recipe because other than the red onions, what you need is already in your pantry!
Exact measurements for each ingredient are in the recipe below, but be sure to check out the tips section for substitution ideas!
How to Make Pickled Onions
Step 1. Combine the pickling mixture in a small saucepan on the stove and bring it JUST to a simmer. You don’t need to cook anything, but this lets the sweetener and additional seasonings dissolve and blend. (You can also do this in the microwave).
Step 2. While the mixture is on the stove, slice the onions. I use a chef’s knife, but a mandolin would be perfect here. The thinner the better!
Step 3. Combine the pickling mixture and the onions in glass pint jars and shake gently.
Step 4. Let the onions rest for 30 minutes and then serve!
Quick Pickled Red Onion FAQ’s
Pickled red onions will last a week or two in the refrigerator since vinegar is a natural preservative. (I like to let my onions come to room temperature before serving, so they’re the first thing I pull from the fridge.)
The onions are naturally preserved by the vinegar. It’s similar to how pickles are made!
No! No soaking is required.
Tips for Pickling Red Onions
- Save money and keep your glass jars from spaghetti sauce or peanut butter. Wash them out well and they’d be perfect for storing pickled red onions!
- The thinner the onions, the better! Take your time to ensure they’re super thin or use a mandolin for consistency. If you want thicker onions, see my tips below on customizing your recipe.
- I like to use apple cider vinegar, but you could easily use white vinegar, white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or red wine vinegar too. You can even use a combination of vinegars, which is perfect if you’re running low on one particular kind. A splash of lemon juice or lime juice would be excellent too!
- I like coconut sugar. It’s a less-processed type of granulated sugar that we’ve VERY slowly migrated to over the course of our real food journey. You could use white granulated sugar, which is traditional, or you can use honey or maple syrup.
- Give personality to your red onion pickle recipe! I personally love the flavor of this red onion pickle as-is, but there are lots of ways you can customize it to make them truly unique. More on that below!
Psst! If you’re going to add salt, I highly recommend Ava Jane’s Kitchen. You may think all salt is created equal, but unfortunately, 90% of the salt produced around the world contains microplastics (gross, right?). Ava Jane’s Kitchen is an exception. Their salt is 100% microplastic-free, and it’s SO GOOD! Plus, you can get a bag for just 1¢!! (Get your penny bag of salt on this page.)
Customize Your Own Quick Pickled Onions
If you want your pickled red onions to stand out in a crowd, here are some ways to make that happen (without breaking the bank!):
- Partially Boil the Onions. This is called par-blanch, and it mellows out the flavor of the onion. You’ll want to bring 2 cups of water to a boil, place the onions in a fine mesh strainer, then pour the boiling water slowly and evenly over the onions, over the sink.
- Cut thicker onions. You’ll need to let the sliced onions sit for at least an hour, but they’ll add a fun crunch to your meals!
- Make them spicy. Add fresh jalapenos for mild heat, or even a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes from the pantry will do the trick.
- Try them Peppery. Add a few black peppercorns or a few turns of freshly cracked black pepper (or a few shakes if your pepper is already ground).
- Try them Garlicky. Add slices or clove garlic – or two or three!
- Use Up Fresh Herbs. If you have a little bit of rosemary or dill or oregano leftover from another recipe, or whole cloves from Instant Pot ham, add them to your pickled onions! Bay leaves would be the perfect all-purpose flavor, but any herb would be good.
- Use Different Onions. Red onions have a natural bite to them, but yellow or white onions would be good too!
What to do with Pickled Red Onions
The ways to use red onions pickled are truly endless, but here are some of my favorites:
Mexican Dishes: think tacos with slow cooker carnitas or ground beef taco meat or slow cooker chicken fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, on top of enchiladas (spinach and chicken enchiladas, or sweet potato and black bean enchiladas!), and nachos
If you like quick red pickled onions recipe… try swapping the onions for carrots or radishes for another fun meal topping!!
More Side Dishes
Meal Planning Made EasySign up to join our FREE 8 Day Meal Planning Challenge! Start anytime and get access to lesson videos, worksheets, and an online community.
Best Pickled Red Onion Recipe
This pickled red onion recipe is easy and quick to make! It’s frugal and it goes great with many dishes such as my best burger recipe and Instant Pot beef brisket. Don’t forget about breakfast, this serves as a tasty topping for scrambled eggs! You will also learn tips and how to customize this delicious side dish.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Side Dishes
- Method: Stove top
- Combine the pickling mixture in a small saucepan on the stove and bring it JUST to a simmer. You don’t need to cook anything, but this lets the sweetener and additional seasonings dissolve and blend. (You can also do this in the microwave).
- While the mixture is on the stove, slice the onions. I use a chef’s knife, but a mandolin would be perfect here. The thinner the better!
- Combine the pickling mixture and the onions in glass pint jars and shake gently.
- Let the onions rest for 30 minutes and then serve!
Try different onions. Red onions have a natural bite to them, but yellow or white onions would be good too!
- Calories: 225
Keywords: Pickled Red Onion Recipe