When most people think of pickling, they think about cucumbers. But I don’t happen to like regular pickles. So, pickled red onions are a far more common kitchen staple for me. Learn how to pickle red onions to use them as a condiment, side dish, or salad dressing ingredient.
If you are planning to have a backyard barbecue this summer, or you just love the taste of a red onion pickled in vinegar, you are going to love this step-by-step guide. You will learn everything you need to know about how to pickle a red onion.
After enjoying pickled onions a few times when eating out, I kind of thought that making them would be difficult and not worth the effort. They seemed, for some reason, like a fancier condiment that is only really attainable for restaurants.
Quick pickled red onions are surprisingly simple to make and take only a few minutes of active cooking time, with a little period of hands-off resting. And then it’s off to the races to cover whatever dish you desire with pickled red onions.
Pickling is used to preserve and extend food’s shelf life by either fermenting food in brine or covering it with vinegar. This process is most commonly associated with cucumbers – which we simply call pickles. But this can vary.
There are endless ways to pickle, and there’s a wide variety of foods and tastes you can achieve with the process. You’ll find it’s an easy and versatile kitchen skill to learn.
In this case, we are going to focus on how to pickle red onions. And first, it’s important to understand the general process of pickling.
For this recipe, we’ll be pickling in a vinegar solution. This is a quick-pickle or refrigerator pickling method. We won’t be brining or canning or sealing. So it is not complicated and you don’t have to worry about messing the process up.
Though the process is simpler, it doesn’t preserve things for quite as long as a full pickling method. So, the jar or container of pickled red onions must be kept in the fridge. It can usually be stored for about three weeks. After that time, they will start to lose their texture.
Pickling red onions is an easy and simple process.
Peel and slice the onion. Add the sliced onion into a jar. Add in anything else with which you’d like to flavor the onions. Heat up the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt just to a boil. Pour the pickling solution over the onions. Then let it rest and do its magic.
Equipment & Tools to Pickle Red Onions
The only special equipment you’ll need is a sealable container.
You can use a mason jar, which is a traditional pickling tool, but you can also use any other sealable jar, container, or glass.
Use any kind of vinegar you like, but I settled on a mix of apple cider vinegar because it has a nice, tart flavor that is great with red onions.
You can use any kind of salt you like, but I recommend kosher salt.
A quality mandoline slicer can help you achieve the most consistent results for even slices. But you can use a knife or mandolin, whichever you are most comfortable with.
A funnel may also be helpful in the kitchen for this recipe. Depending on the size of the opening for your selected container, a funnel can help get the vinegar mixture where it needs to go.
Steps to Pickle Red Onions
Here are the steps to take when learning how to pickle red onions:
- Peel and slice the red onion
- Add the onion slices to a mason jar, optionally add any other herbs, spices, or flavorings to the jar
- Heat the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to just a boil
- Add the vinegar, salt, and spices
- Add the lid and shake the jar vigorously to mix the ingredients together
- Let the jar sit out for at least 30 minutes until the onion is tender
- Use or store the onions in the fridge
Just follow these simple steps to get your own tangy results.
You can add additional spices or flavorings to your pickled red onions. For this recipe, I’ve decided to include garlic in with the onions when pickling. It helps add flavor, and you can enjoy the pickled garlic as a nice little surprise to your dish as well.
But garlic isn’t the only flavor option.
If you want to make pickled red onions that are more sour, you can add a few tablespoons of lemon or other citrus juice to the jar before pouring in your vinegar.
If you’re pickling a red onion for the first time, you may want to stick to my recipe. But if this isn’t your first rodeo, then you can try something a little different. Feel free to experiment and make this recipe your own.
Here are a few of my favorite extra pickling ingredients. Take any of the following, slice or chop them, and then add them to the jar on top of the onion before pouring the vinegar in:
- Chili flakes or powder
- Whole black peppercorns
Use either my basic recipe or a mix with any of the above additions and you’ve just taken the right step to becoming a pickle master.
How To Use Pickled Red Onions
The purpose of these pickled red onions is to add a punch of tart, salty, vinegar flavor to any dish. But if you need some suggestions, then look to any of the following for a good start to a meal:
- Try them in your favorite Mexican food: Like a Fully Loaded Breakfast Burrito, Ground Beef Tacos, or one of the most popular recipes on the site, the Fried Baja Shrimp Burrito
- Add them to a burger or fried chicken sandwich
How did yours turn out?
I’d love to hear when you try pickling some red onions. Take a pic of your food and share your success with me by adding it to your Instagram stories or feed, and tagging me @doyouroux, or by using #doyouroux.
Plus, leave a rating to let me know how you liked the recipe. It helps me out a lot to know how things worked out… or didn’t.
How To Pickle Red Onions: An Easy Step-By-Step GuideCourse: CondimentDifficulty: Easy
Learn how to pickle red onions to add a tart pop of flavor to your favorite dishes
1 large red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup water
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Peel and slice the onion and garlic into thin slices
- Place the sliced onion and garlic into a glass mason jar or another sealable container
- Stir together the water, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan
- Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil
- Once it begins to boil, remove it from the heat and pour it over the onions and garlic in the container
- Seal the container, shake it well, and let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes until the onions are tender and pink
- Use immediately or refrigerate the pickled red onions for up to 3 weeks
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