Quick Pickled Onion Recipe

This quick pickled onion recipe is super easy to make. Add a pop of flavor to tacos, buddha bowls, burgers or a salad. The process of pickling changes the flavor to a tangy and crisp flavor explosion with a hint of sweetness.

picked red onions in ball glass jar with thyme garnish

This recipe only takes 15 minutes and for the minimal effort, offers rewards for days if not a couple weeks! This clean eating approved condiment adds freshness and a bright pop of color to your meals.

Main Ingredients

  • Vinegar of choice (rice, apple cider, distilled, white wine)
  • Sweetener, optional (honey, maple syrup)
  • Salt
  • Onions
  • Water

How to Make Pickled Red Onions

  1. Slice onions as thinly as possible and press into glass jar
  2. Bring mixture of vinegar (white, apple cider, rice, red wine), water, and salt to a simmer and stir to dissolve the salt
  3. Remove from heat, allow brine to cool slightly
  4. Pour or ladle vinegar mixture into jar covering the sliced red onions
  5. Allow the jar(s) to cool to room temperature before covering and transferring them to the fridge
  6. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks
Pickled red onions with apple cider vinegar

How to Customize Pickled Onions

There are endless options to customize pickled red onions to your taste or for your cuisine. One thing is for certain, even if you do not prefer onions (like my daughter), these pickled onions will change your mind! The sharp flavor is replaced with a tangy fermented zip.

Choose rice vinegar if your primary use is in asian cuisine. Add cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano for Spanish flare. Add jalapeno or cayenne to spice it up. Apple cider vinegar has great nutritional benefits but also provides the most intense vinegar taste. Sugar is optional and I’ve not found significant flavor difference if using maple syrup vs honey or granulated sugar vs. leaving it out completely.

Quick Pickled Red Onion Recipe Tips

  • Cut onions in half then slice as thinly as possible into half-circle slices.
  • A sharp knife or mandoline for 1/8 inch thick slices.
  • A mason jar with a secure lid works best for storing.
  • Pickled onions are ready to eat when they are bright pink and tender. This could take anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on thickness of onion slices.
  • Experiment with adding whole spices! Some options: fresh dill or thyme, caraway seeds, peppercorns, fennel, cumin and coriander seeds.

Ways to Use Pickled Red Onions

  • Tacos or taco salad
  • Sandwiches, especially burgers or grilled cheese
  • Green salads
  • Chili: beef, chicken chili or vegetarian bean chili
  • Eggs: with avocado, cilantro and a dash of salsa
  • Avocado Toast
  • Carnitas
  • Power bowls, rice bowls, bibibap, buddha bowls

Mexican Pickled Onions

For a Mexican version of pickled onions, add sliced jalapeno, whole cumin seeds and Mexican oregano to the pickling liquid after simmering is complete.

Clean Eating Condiment

Most store purchased condiments contain preservatives (chemicals) and high amounts of sugar to enhance the flavor. Making your own toppings is a powerful clean eating hack. For more ideas about how to incorporate clean real food into your families’ routine, check out these articles: 20 Principles of a Clean Eating Approach to Diet, How To Stock Your Kitchen With Real Food Ingredients and Where to Source Real Food.

picked red onions in ball glass jar with thyme garnish

Easy Pickled Onion Recipe

Kristi Bowlby
This easy pickled onion recipe can be made in 10 minutes of hands on time. Add this tangy and crisp condiment to tacos, buddha bowls, burgers or a salad for a pop of flavor. They will keep for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Resting/Cooling Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Condiment, Side Dish
Cuisine Asian, Mexican
Servings 12


  • Pint glass jar
  • Chef knife
  • 1 quart pot


  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar can substitute distilled vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (optional) can substitute honey, coconut sugar or other sweetener
  • 1 tsp sea salt


  • Combine all ingredients except onion and heat until just simmering. Stir to mix thoroughly
  • While heating, slice red onion and pack firmly into ball glass jar
  • Pour heated ingredients into jar over sliced onions
  • Allow to sit and cool to room temperature for about 20 minutes
  • Cover and place in fridge for up to 2 weeks
  • Onions should be crisp and ready for serving when cooled


Optional Additions:
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
Apple cider vinegar definitely provides are stronger vinegar flavor but reaps more health benefits. Rice vinegar is a milder choice if that is your taste preference.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Did you make this recipe?

Do you have a favorite way to use pickled onions? Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below.

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