Slightly sweet and tangy, these Pickled Red Onions are easy to make and perfect to add extra flavor to any dish. Serve on tacos, burgers, or with BBQ. Plus, they're Whole30 and Keto.
Pickled red onions add great flavor to tacos, burritos, burgers, or BBQ dishes. They're also great as a topper for bowls, sandwiches, or eaten right out of the jar! By pickling the onions, you get a milder, softer taste. Plus, everyone loves that pretty pink color!
For a basic pickled red onion recipe, you need just a few simple ingredients. See the notes below for different variations on this recipe!
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Red or white wine or distilled vinegar will also work for this recipe. The apple cider adds extra flavor to the onions.
- Red Onion - White or yellow onions can be pickled as well, but they have a stronger flavor. Red onions will provide a sweeter taste, but experiment to see what you like best!
See the recipe card for quantities.
To start, add the vinegar, water, and salt to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the salt is fully dissolved and the liquid begins to boil.
While the vinegar is heating, thinly slice the onions.
Add the onions to a large mason jar or container with a tight-fitting lid.
Once the liquid begins to boil, remove it from the heat and carefully pour the hot vinegar into the jar. Press the onions down into the liquid to fully submerge everything.
Leave it on the counter uncovered until the jar is cool to the touch. Cover with a lid and place in the refrigerator.
After an hour, you can use the onions, but they're best if left to soften for 24 hours. See the variation section for a quicker pickled onion option if you want to serve this recipe right away.
Pickled Onion Substitutions
Vinegar - Red or white wine, apple cider, or white distilled vinegar will work for this recipe. I like using apple cider for the extra flavor it gives the onions; distilled vinegar will provide the most natural flavor option. You can use different combinations of vinegar if you like. For example, you could try ½ apple cider and ½ distilled.
Onions - You can use red, white, or yellow onions for pickling. Red onions provide a sweeter taste, and white and yellow will have a more robust onion flavor.
The recipe below is for a basic pickled onions, but you can add extra flavor to jazz up this recipe. A few of my favorites include:
Quick Pickled Onions - You can add the sliced onions to the boiling vinegar and cook for 2 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and add to the jar. Store in the refrigerator as directed above. Boiling the onions slightly will help to soften them faster.
Mexican Pickled Onions - Add ½ a sliced pepper and a tablespoon of cilantro leaves to the jar for onions with a flavorful kick.
Mediterranean Pickled Onions - Add a tablespoon of oregano or Italian seasoning and one thinly sliced garlic clove to the jar. These would be great on Greek Bowls or even a Gyro!
Honey - This is optional and should be omitted if doing a Whole30, but honey will add extra sweetness to the onions to balance the tartness from the vinegar.
You'll need a cutting board, sharp knife, small pot, and jar with a lid for this recipe. I like to use mason jars for this recipe to store the onions in my refrigerator for easy access - plus, I do not have to worry about them spilling!
I really like these plastic mason jar lids! They do not rust like metal lids and last longer! They're available in different sizes, too.
Make-Ahead and Storage
This recipe is best prepared in advance. The longer the onions sit, the better the flavor will be! I like to make them at least 24 hours before I plan to use them, but they could be served the same day if you need them quickly. See my notes above under Variations for tips for quick onions.
Pickled Onions will last in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Cooking Tips for Quicker Pickled Onions
You can add the onions to the boiling liquid for super quick onions and cook for 2 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and add to the jar. Store in the refrigerator as directed above.
Boiling vinegar has a powerful smell. I would not recommend holding your face over the pot while it boils. Unless you want your nose to burn 😉
Once the salt has dissolved, and the liquid starts to boil, you can remove it from the heat. The hot vinegar helps soften the onions.
Other Recipes to Try
If you're looking for more pickle recipes, see our Whole30 quick pickles!
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