Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

I love making fabulous little somethings to spark up dinner, especially when that fabulous little something is as delish and as easy as these classic Pickled Red Onions.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Sometimes a little sumpin’ special like these Pickled Red Onions can take an ordinary old dinner from seeming every day to seeming special, as they say today, from basic to extra!

About Pickled Red Onions:

Super easy to make, Pickled Red Onions are almost a cheat. Put sliced onions in a jar, mix up enough brine to cover, and wait. That’s the hard part, the wait! Several hours is good, but they just keep getting better and better.

One thing to keep in mind is that while the onions are at their most beautiful when just made, the bright hot pink color begins to fade as they sit. It’s really a case of exchange. As the onions absorb the brine, they give some of the color back to the brine. While not as pretty after a bit of fridge time, they make up for it in taste.

Shredded Chicken (Pollo Mechado) Arepas

Shredded Chicken (Pollo Mechado) Arepas

What to Serve Pickled Red Onions With:

Pickled Red Onions, are super versatile and can provide a zingy contrast and a bit of acidity to a variety of dishes. They’re cool & crunchy and refreshing and a perfect foil for all kinds of things.

Think of them when you want to add a little pop to sandwiches, and wraps and brighten up even potentially heavier sandwiches like grilled cheese. Even this oddly delicious Sauerkraut Toast shown below. Or maybe you’d like them on a burger or a dog.

Appetizers, Canapés, and Charcuterie or cheese boards pair well with pickled red onions. Use them as a garnish for cheeses, cured meats, and bruschetta, adding a tangy twist and visual appeal to the rich and salty flavors of cured meat and cheeses.

Don’t discount how super they are with Mexican and Latin American food like tacos, burritos, Arepas (shown above), and so on. I served them up the other day with my Instant Pot Chicken Tinga, and since they last for literally weeks in the fridge, I’m probably going to be putting them on just about everything  I can think of til that sad, sad day when they’re all gone. But then – well, I’ll make more.

Instant Pot Chicken Tinga

Instant Pot Chicken Tinga with Pickled Red Onion

Making Pickled Red Onions:

Super easy to make, Pickled Red Onions are almost a cheat. Put sliced onions in a jar, mix up enough brine to cover, and wait. That’s the hard part, the wait! Several hours is good, but they just keep getting better and better.

You might wonder what the best way to figure out how much brine the red onions are going to need. You are pretty safe with the measurements in the recipe but if you’d like to be a little more exact, use the displacement method.

Simply fill a measuring cup with enough water to cover with some excess, say two cups. Pour in water to cover the onions, then see how much is left in the measuring cup. Subtract that amount from the two cups to get the amount of liquid brine you’ll need to make or measure the water as you pour the water out of the red onions. Either way works. Keep this method in mind anytime you’re trying to make a pickle or a brine; it works for any amount. Within reason!


When storing refrigerated pickled red onions like these keep in mind these few key steps. Here’s a frugal hausfrau-style guide to help you store your homemade pickled red onions:

  • Choose the right container: Opt for airtight glass containers or jars with tight-fitting lids. Mason jars or recycled glass jars work well for this purpose. Avoid plastic containers as they can absorb flavors and odors.
  • Cool down the onions: Allow your pickled red onions to cool completely at room temperature before transferring them to the refrigerator. This helps maintain their texture and flavor.
  • Cover with brine: Pour enough of the pickling liquid over the onions to cover them completely. The brine acts as a preservative and enhances the flavor of the onions over time.
  • Label and date: Attach a label to the container with the date of pickling. This allows you to keep track of the storage time and ensures you use the oldest batch first.
  • Use within recommended time: While pickled red onions can last safely for several weeks in the refrigerator, it’s best to use them within 4-6 weeks for optimal taste and texture.
Cheesy Sauerkraut Toast

Cheesy Sauerkraut Toast

Saving Money on Pickled Red Onions:

First of all, pickled red onions can be a savings in themselves! How often do you have a part of a red onion lying around in your fridge? Red onions can be huge and recipes usually call for just a little – pickling them can transform what’s leftover from potential waste to a fabulous little condiment with just a few minutes of time and a few simple ingredients.

  • Buy onions in bulk: Purchase a large bag of onions instead of individual ones if you’ll use them. This is often more cost-effective and allows you to make multiple batches of pickled red onions. Shop for onions and use onions more often when they’re in season: Onions are usually cheaper and more abundant during their peak season, which varies depending on your location. Check your local farmers’ market or grocery store for the best deals. Don’t discount how much of a discount you can get your discount stores like Aldi & Lidl.
  • Use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar: White vinegar and apple cider vinegar are often more affordable than specialty vinegar. They work well for pickling red onions and give them a tangy flavor.
  • While you can buy pickling spices, you’ll notice here I just used a few spices from my cabinet, which is not only cheaper than buying a jar of pickling spices but gives a nice “custom” flavor.
Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions


Pickled Red Onions

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes + marinade
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiments
  • Method: Pickling


  • 1 red onion, cut in half pole to pole, then sliced thinly into half moons
  • about 3/4 cup red wine vinegar, a mild one, or another vinegar of your choice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Place the sliced red onion in a very clean mason jar.

In a small pot, heat the vinegar and add the remainder of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve the sugar and salt then remove from heat.

Pour the hot mixture over the red onion, adding more vinegar if needed to completely cover the onions. Cover, shake, open the lid and set on the counter for an hour or two or until the mixture is at room temperature, Once cool, cover and refrigerate.

The onions will begin to soften and turn a beautiful hue after several hours. As they age they will continue to improve in taste although the color will fade over time.

Keywords: Brine, Condiments, pickled red onion, pickles, Red onion, Vinegar

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Pickled Red Onions are a versatile and flavorful ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Warning: once you start using them you won't be able to stop. In grilled cheese, on burgers, on tacos or in burritos. Miinutes to make! #PickledRedOnions #Pickles #RedOnions


I’ll be posting this recipe at Fiesta Friday. If you’re a food blogger, join in – Angie has a great group of bloggers joining her every week. If you’re just visiting, click on the link and see all the best of the Fiesta Friday food bloggers this week!

31 thoughts on “Pickled Red Onions

  1. Love this Mollie and great photos too – I’ve been roasting the red onions prior to fermenting too – check out my post from a couple of weeks ago as I’d think you’d like that method too!

      • Yes, haha! Thank you so much for your kind words! I have only tried the tomato tart from last year & a recipe for ranch dressing, and they were both very good! I do need to spend more time cooking 😃

          • I hear you! I never used to be that girl, but I’ve actually stopped baking bread since last year for fear of breaking a nail! I am ashamed to admit it, bc I love fresh baked bread & kneading it is one of the most relaxing experiences. I’m slowly starting to learn to do one without getting in the way of the other…

  2. Just had to buy a whole bag of red onions instead of just the 1 onion I needed so I’ll be trying your version of pickled onions Mollie. I like the cumin seeds in this recipe.

  3. Pingback: Pickled Red Onions — Frugal Hausfrau | theBREAD

  4. I love how the water turned out to be this such pretty color. I will be making this for my sandwich. 😀 Happy FF & I hope you are enjoying your weekend, Mollie.

  5. I love pickled red onions! And yes, they are a snap to make. I *almost* made some to go with the Chicken Tinga tacos I made for the cart the other night, but ran out of steam. But I still sold a lot of them! Thank you for the inspiration!

    • I was wondering how the event went!! 🙂 And by the way, I finally made your Marcos Pollos Tacos and put them on my fb and another friend already said they were wonderful! My folks loved them. I had mine with some pickled jalapenos which was a beautiful combo! 🙂

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