Our pickled onions recipe is incredibly quick and easy to make. By pickling them, the sharp onion flavor mellows down and you're left with a nice, tangy onion flavor that is great to use on tacos, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and more. It's not just a sandwich topping!
One of the first places many people have pickled onions is at a restaurant on a sandwich. Like many great restaurants finds, the first thing we all do is go home and google "How to make pickled onions." I'm going to tell you how.
What are the ingredients to make pickled onions at home?
If you need to add a punch of flavor to pretty much any dish, reach for these quick pickled onions. They will last for up to two weeks in a sealed container in your fridge. We strongly recommend using a glass container to store your pickled onions. We usually save jelly, salsa, mustard, or olive jars and reuse them for pickling, to make salad dressings, or to store nuts or dry beans.)
If you notice a whitish film or unpleasant smell coming from your refrigerated pickled onions, just discard them and make a new batch.
Ingredients for pickled onions:
- Onions. We like to use red onions, but any kind will work. Just remember to slice them thin.
- Vinegar. You can use white, apple cider, or wine vinegar.
- Salt. We like to use sea salt, you can use table salt or kosher salt.
- Sweetener. You can use sugar, agave, maple syrup, or honey
- Whole Spices. Adding spices is optional, you can use hot pepper flakes, whole peppercorns, coriander, mustard, fennel, or cumin seeds. Whatever you have on hand or whatever you like.
How to Pickle Onions
Get a large clean glass pickle jar fitted with a tight lid to make pickles. You will use the same jar for both mixing and storing your pickles. It needs to be very clean. Running it through the dishwasher is sufficient. Boil the water and add sugar and salt until dissolved.
Add the ingredients to the jar in this order: onions, boiling water mixture vinegar, and spices. Cool the pickles completely and seal tightly with the lid. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. After thirty minutes the pickled onions can be eaten, however, a few hours will really improve the flavor.
Tips for Perfect Pickled Onions Recipe
- Slice your onions evenly and thinly. Consistent knife cuts will make the onions easier to use in future recipes or on sandwiches.
- If you don't have a dishwasher, you can boil the jar you will use for pickles. Boil it for about five minutes to kill off any germs. Your pickles will taste better and last longer.
- Blend two different kinds of vinegar together (half and half) to get a blended more interesting flavor.
- For variety, experiment with different flavors by using different whole spices and kinds of vinegar for each batch.
- If you have extra onions that won't stay fresh before you can use them, make up several jars of pickled onions!
Do I have to use red onions?
No, but the flavor is generally preferred. However any onion will do.
How much sweetener should I add to my quick pickled red onions?
Sweetening the pickling blend helps take a little of the tartness out of pickled onions. We recommend one tablespoon but this is really personal preference. Some people leave it out entirely and some add more.
What size jar do I need to make homemade pickled onions?
Our recipe will fit in a single quart-sized jar. If you have a quart-sized jar you cut the recipe in half or divide the onions into two jars. Leftover jars from pickles, mustard, olives, jelly, etc work great to pickle onions or any other veggies such as carrots and fennel or kale. Run empty glass jars through the dishwasher and they will be as good as new.
What to do with Quick Pickled Red Onions
You can pretty much add pickled onions to any dish that needs a little acidity or oniony flavor. Here's what we suggest.
- Tacos. Have you ever tried pickled onions for tacos? It's quite tasty! Check out how we used them in our Tacos al Pastor or our vegan and oil-free Tofu Tacos with Mango.
- Bean dishes. Our easy pickled red onions go really well with beans like our Black Bean Soup or Bean Chili
- Sandwiches. Just like in restaurants, you'll love these on sandwiches like our Ultimate grillable veggie Burger or BBQ Tempeh Sandwich
- Salads. Dress up your salad with pretty pink onions. They work great in our Avocado Mango Salad, Israeli Couscous Salad or Raw Beet Salad with Apples.
- Burritos. Perk up your burritos such as our Burrito Bowl or Breakfast Burrito with our pickled onions recipe.
- Lettuce Cups.
- Potato salad. Egg Salad. Pizza. The possibilities are endless!
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Pickled onions are incredibly quick and easy to make. By pickling them, the sharp onion flavor mellows down and you're left with a nice, tangy onion flavor that is great to use on tacos, sandwiches, burgers, salads and more.
- 2 medium red onions, sliced thin
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp sugar ( you can also use agave, maple syrup or honey)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar (you can also use white or red wine vinegar)
- Optional. Choose all or some of the following seeds and spices: whole peppercorns, red pepper flakes (if you like some heat), coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds
- Prepare a large, clean jar with a lid, or the container you're planning on using to store the pickled onions. Make sure the container has a tight lid.
- Combine the boiling water, salt and sugar in a heat proof container. Stir well until the salt and sugar have dissolved completely. Add the vinegar.
- Place the sliced onions inside the prepared jar or container, and add the water and vinegar mixture. Add the seeds and spices, if using
- Leave the jar on the counter for 30 minutes to cool. Place it in the fridge for up to two weeks
- The pickles are ready to in after 30 minutes, but they will taste even better after a couple of hours in the fridge
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Pickling
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: how to make pickled onions, vegan, gluten-free