Pickled Red Onions

Want to jazz up your next salad or bowl? Add pickled red onions! Tangy & sweet, they're the best way to give almost any dish a bright pop of flavor!

Pickled red onions

Pickled red onions have been an indispensable ingredient in my kitchen for years. Not only are they a gorgeous, vibrant pink, but they’re tangy, sweet, and a little crunchy. I like to say that they give sandwiches, salads, bowls, and more a “bright pop of flavor,” and though Jack makes fun of me for how often I use that phrase, I can’t think of a better way to describe them.

Try making a batch of quick pickled red onions, and you’ll see what I mean. Top a few onto an otherwise good sandwich or salad, and it’ll become great. Their vinegary, zippy taste adds an irresistible extra dimension of flavor, brightening and sharpening the other elements of the dish. You only need a few minutes and 5 ingredients to make this pickled onion recipe, so give them a try – you’ll add them to everything!

Pickled onion recipe ingredients

How to Make Pickled Onions

To make pickled red onions, you’ll need 5 basic ingredients: red onions, white vinegar, water, cane sugar, and sea salt. 

First, thinly slice the onions (I recommend using a mandoline for quick, uniform slicing!) and divide them between two jars. Then, heat the vinegar, water, cane sugar, and salt over medium heat, and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. This will only take a minute or so!

Let the brine cool slightly, and pour it over the sliced onions. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature before covering them and transferring them to the fridge. Your onions will be ready to eat when they are bright pink and tender. This could take anywhere from 1 hour to overnight, depending on the thickness of your onions. They will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Pickled onion recipe

Sometimes, I’ll add a few peppercorns or garlic cloves to the jar along with the onions to make their flavor a little more complex. I like to change up the vinegar too! 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!

Pickled Red Onions

What to Do with Pickled Red Onions

As I said above, pickled onions are my favorite way to add a bright pop of flavor to almost any dish. Most simply, they’re excellent on avocado toast, but your options don’t end there. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use them:

Do you have a favorite way to use pickled onions? Let me know in the comments!

Pickled onions

If you love these quick pickled red onions…

Try my roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, or pickled chard stems next!

Pickled Red Onions

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 313 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves 12
Pickled red onions add a sweet & tangy pop of flavor to salads, sandwiches, burgers, and more! Once you make them, they'll keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.





  • Thinly slice the onions (it's helpful to use a mandoline), and divide the onions between 2 (16-ounce) jars or 3 (10-ounce) jars. Place the garlic and peppercorns in each jar, if using
  • Heat the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 1 minute. Let cool and pour over the onions. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then store the onions in the fridge.
  • Your pickled onions will be ready to eat once they're bright pink and tender - about 1 hour for very thinly sliced onions, or overnight for thicker sliced onions. They will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Chrissy

    Can these pickled onions be canned and processed in a water bath

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Chrissy, I don’t have experience canning, so I’m not sure if the ratios have the proper food safe PH.

  2. Tracy

    5 stars
    I made this recipe without using the garlic and peppercorns. My wife and I loved them. Next time I will include the suggested add-ins.

  3. Sarah

    I just use balsamic vinegar, nothing else, and they’re fantastic. Agree, they really perk up whatever it is I’m eating.

  4. Susan

    5 stars
    I love pickled onion. This recipe is easy to make. I use Balsamic vinegar then I cut out the sugar. Sautéed on a steak and cheese is amazing.

  5. Nikita Kirk

    Can I omit the sugar from the recipe? How much of a difference does it make?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      you can – they flavor will be more sharp and tart.

  6. Ann Slade

    5 stars
    Amazing. More pickle recipes please.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad you loved them!

  7. Emma

    5 stars
    Pickled onions are a favorite at my house (even for my 3 year old!), so I love having this recipe in my arsenal. I typically slice up one large red onion, split it between two Mason jars, and use half the vinegar solution. Such a simple thing to pickle but it is a wonderful addition to so many meals and salads for my family. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve loved them!

    • Laura Edelstein

      Curious why you split them into two mason jars? I am about to do it all in one large- any reason not to?

      • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

        Hi Laura, one large jar works here too!

  8. Grace White

    Please tell me how many cups the sliced onions should yields. I do better when making recipes if I have the amount in cups then i don’t have to guess.
    FYI, I sliced smallish red onion and got 2 cups.


  9. PJ

    5 stars
    Any idea how many calories and a aprix serving size? I used the exact recipe. I’m sure the sugar counts for at least a few. I loved them.

  10. Kay

    Would this recipe be suitable for hot water bath canning?

  11. SDiMartino

    Can I use yellow onions

  12. Tanya

    5 stars
    Ugh, finally, a delicious pickled red onion recipe that doesn’t require ACV 🙌 thank you! I snack on them straight out of the jar.

    Quuck. Easy. Tangy. Salty (I love salt). Delicious. Simply perfect.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved them!

  13. Holly

    5 stars
    We had a wonderful cheese plate at a local place recently and red pickled onions were served along side. They went well with the cheeses and were beautiful to boot! Made these to serve with my cheese board. Chef’s kiss!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved them!

  14. Kimberly

    Can I process them in a hot bath so they will last longer?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Kimberly, we haven’t tested this, so I’m not sure. I recommend looking for a recipe that’s specifically designed for canning.

      • Randy Hanlon

        5 stars
        I always use a hot bath when using recipes for mason jars. The hot bath absolutely will make your onions last mush longer. And they will not require refrigeration until a jar is opened

  15. Bella

    5 stars
    Can I add more sliced onions once these have set up in the fridge or do they have to start absorbing the liquid when it’s first hot?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Bella, you can add more – after a few weeks of using the brine, it’ll start to lose it’s flavor, that’s when it’s best to make a new batch.

  16. Diane

    Made this using 2 1/2 red onions PACKED into a quart jar (my husband sliced and packed them) I halved the brine recipe and it was perfect and we love them! So easy and delicious and really add that special touch to many dishes!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved them!

  17. Tess

    5 stars
    We really like this recipe! I use one medium size red onion in one jar and pack it in. Only need about 10 oz of liquid for my jar. Have made them twice.

  18. Millie

    (1) One small red onion per 16-ounce jar doesn’t seem right to me? I fit two small/medium onions in both of my 16-ounce jars.
    (2) I hate waste and this recipe makes way too much brine.

  19. Vahnna

    2 stars
    I think the saltiness is too much as well. I cut it by half a tablespoon but even then it’s too much. Id use at most a half tablespoon next time. Disappointed since I made a huge batch with this brine.

    • Cook

      It says sea salt. Did you use table salt? Very different!

  20. Danielle

    5 stars
    Do you need to sterilize the jar first? Thanks

    • Marty

      No, you are not canning. Just refrigerate.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.