A vibrant pink jar of pickled red onions brightens and enhances a variety of recipes. This sweet but tangy garnish adds a zesty crunch to your sandwiches (like the Pulled Pork Sandwich below), burgers, tacos, or salads (like the Watermelon Arugula Salad below). It’s a quick and easy recipe that I promise will have you opening your refrigerator and reaching for it time and again.
There are certain garnishes that add character and dimension to many different dishes. Pickled red onions definitely fall into that distinguished category.
Why I love these Easy Pickled Red Onions:
They jazz up many different dishes with a lovely pop of fuschia color.
The crispness of these little jewels brings a crunchy characteristic to other main courses.
A zippy, sweet taste enhances the flavors of other elements of a dish.
This recipe which is quick and easy can be made in less than ten minutes and will last for weeks in the refrigerator.
Only five ingredients make up this super simple recipe.
The ingredients found in Pickled Red Onions
The beauty of that pinkish purple color comes from the red onions. You can use yellow or white ones but they won’t give you the pop of color that is so prevalent with classic pickled onions. Also, red onions have a milder flavor than the white or yellow ones.
When choosing red onions, make sure and grab those that are heavy for their size, firm, and unbruised. Avoid those that have brown, black, or soft spots. Soft spots can quickly develop mold. Also, you will want to store them in a cool, dry, and dark place with their skin on.
To slice the onions, cut them in half and then slice them about 1/4 inch thick into half-moon slivers.
Vinegar is obvious an essential ingredient for Pickled Red Onions. And most classic pickled onion recipes call for either white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. I chose white balsamic because it has a mild flavor therefore it won’t overpower the onions. It embodies a sweet-tart taste while leaving a wonderful floral and fruity finish. You can easily substitute the white balsamic vinegar with the white wine or apple cider one. I just wouldn’t use regular balsamic vinegar as it’s pretty potent.
Basic white granulated sugar is what this recipe calls for which its sweetness helps balance out the vinegar.
- Keto Version: Since my husband is on a Keto diet, I’m always looking for substitutes so that he can enjoy the dishes I make as well. I use Xylosweet for a sugar substitute which is measured exactly like sugar. Honestly, I cannot tell the difference between the two. I try to be mindful as well of too much sugar in my diet, so I use this every day in my coffee and absolutely love it.
I use just one-half teaspoon of kosher salt to help bring out the other flavors.
For this recipe, I added seven or eight whole allspice berries to the jar. This spice combines cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. The flavors give the perfect hint of warmth to the recipe.
How to Make Pickled Red Onions
These pickled onions are literally one of the easiest garnishments to make. Bring one and a half cups of water to boil in a small saucepan. Turn the heat off and add your sliced onions. Stir and let them sit for five minutes and then drain.
Add the drained onions to a small jar. Whisk together sugar, salt, white balsamic vinegar, and add to the drained onions. Add the allspice berries to the jar. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator for the onions to marinate well. And that’s it! A painlessly simple process.
How to store your Pickled Red Onions
Make sure and store the jar of onions in your refrigerator. They are at their best if you eat them within three days. But they will last up to three weeks in the refrigerator.
Options to experiment with
Peppercorns: Adds a nice peppery flavor to the onions.
Herbs: A few fresh sprigs of either rosemary, thyme, or oregano will give them an earthy hint. Throw in a bay leave or two.
Jalapeno Peppers: If you’re looking for a little bit of heat with the pickled red onions, add a few slices of jalapenos along with a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Garlic: Throw in a couple of garlic cloves to give them another twist.
There are so many delicious options on how to serve these beauties. Top them on any Mexican dish, especially fish tacos. You can add them all to all kinds of sandwiches or wraps, or combine them with lots of different salads. The list goes on and on. My favorites though are found in the recipes below.
A perfect compliment to this Watermelon Arugula Salad with Feta Cheese.
Pickled Red Onions add a wonderful crunch to this Pulled Pork Sandwich.
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Quick and Easy Pickled Red Onions
A gorgeous vibrant pink jar of pickled red onions brightens and enhances a variety of recipes. This sweet but tangy garnish adds a zesty crunch to your sandwiches, burgers, tacos, or salads.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 10 servings 1x
- Category: Garnishment
- Method: Pickling
- Cuisine: American
- 1 Large Red Onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick in half-moon slivers
- 1 1/2 cups Water
- 2 tablespoons Sugar (or Xylosweet for Keto)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/2 cup White Balsamic Vinegar
- 7 or 8 Whole Allspice Berries
- In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a full boil over medium-high heat.
- Turn the heat off. Add 1 large red onion that has been sliced to 1/4 inch thickness and half-moon slivers. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Drain the onions and add them to a small jar.
- Wisk together 2 tablespoons of sugar (xylosweet for keto), 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar. Pour over the onions.
- Add 7 or 8 whole allspice berries to the jar.
- Let sit in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
- When choosing red onions, make sure and grab those that are heavy for their size, firm, and unbruised.
- Avoid red onions that have brown, black, or soft spots. Soft spots can quickly develop mold.
- Store onions in a cool, dry, and dark place with their skin on.
- I chose white balsamic because it has a mild flavor therefore not overpowering the onions. It embodies a sweet-tart taste while leaving a wonderful floral and fruity finish.
- You can easily substitute the white balsamic vinegar with the white wine or apple cider one. I just wouldn’t use regular balsamic vinegar as it’s pretty potent.
- Keto Version: Substitute Xylosweet for the granulated sugar which is measured exactly the same.
- Make sure and store the jar of onions in your refrigerator. They are at their best if you eat them within three days. But they will last up to three weeks in the refrigerator.
- Options: Sprigs of Rosemary or Thyme, Bay Leaves, Jalapenos, Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes, Garlic Cloves.
- Serving Size: Forkfull
- Calories: 17
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 58 mg
- Fat: 0 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 4 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: pickled red onions, pickled onions, quick pickled onions, how to pickle onions
Chef Mimi says
These are fabulous! I love adding them to just about everything as well. I don’t keep them around because my husband won’t eat anything pickled 🙄 but sometimes I do a quick pickling when a friend is staying over. I love that you chose white balsamic. Perfection.
Kristy Murray says
Thanks so much Chef Mimi! I guess you either like pickled things or not. I am obviously in the same category as you with pickled foods, especially these red onions. They enhance so many dishes. Hope you try them for friends if they stay over with you.
Olivia Fleming says
AMAZING! I’m one of those “weirdos” who absolutely looooooooooove onions so I had to try these. I loved them with other ingredients, as well as by itself. The allspice berries give this recipe such a great touch!
Kristy Murray says
Olivia, thank you so much for giving the onions a try. I’m thrilled that you liked them so much. And I do agree about the allspice berries. It definitely gives an interesting twist. BTW – I do love onions as well!
Pickled onions are certainly a great complement to fish tacos, your pulled pork sandwiches and a ton of other recipes. And your recipe looks really great.
Kristy Murray says
The thing I love about pickled onions is they are so easy yet so incredibly good with so many things. Thanks so much for your comment.
Do you know if you can hot water bath these
Kristy Murray says
Hi Susan. I haven’t personally tried it, but yes, you could hot water bath these. You would just follow the normal steps for it. Let me know how they turn out if you do. Thanks so much for stopping by and good luck.
Kristy Murray says
One more thing Susan. You should use regular white vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar because it does not have as much acidity as white vinegar. And I would do 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar – so 1 cup water to 1 cup vinegar. But since I’ve never tried these in the hot water bath, I cannot guarantee the same outcome.