Easy pickled red onions add a wonderful tangy crunch to sandwiches, tacos, salads, and bowls. Plus, you’ve got to love that vibrant pink color!
They’re made with just five ingredients and take only 15 minutes of active cooking. The rest is just waiting for them to soak up brine in the refrigerator.
I love making healthy eating easy on myself. I’m so much more apt to grab veggies when they’re prepped and ready to go.
So if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve wanted onion for a sandwich but felt too lazy to cut & peel one, do I have a solution for you…
A vinegar solution!
Quick pickling thinly sliced onions means you can prep them when you have the time, energy, and inclination. Then keep them on hand in the refrigerator for weeks. Ideal for when you’re in a rush!
Just pull a few slices from a jar with a fork. Add them to your dish. And you’re on your way.
These bright and briny pickled red onions go well anywhere you’d put raw onions. But they’re even more delicious because they don’t have the nose-clearing bite of the standard raw variety.
Add them to tempeh tacos and burritos.
Sprinkle them on bowls.
Use them as a garnish for chili.
Spread them generously over salads.
Enjoy them with spreadable non-dairy cheese and crackers.
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this recipe.
Sea salt: Use the non-iodized variety.
Sugar: I use organic evaporated cane juice.
White vinegar: Look for it near the other vinegars in the center aisles of the grocery store. It can be replaced with white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or even apple cider vinegar.
Red onion: You can use any color of onion, but red gives the prettiest color.
Step by step instructions
Here’s how to make this recipe at a glance. For complete ingredient amounts & instructions, keep scrolling to the recipe card below.
Put water, salt, and sugar into a pot.
Bring to a medium heat. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolves.
Turn off the heat and add white vinegar. Stir to combine.
Then set the vinegar solution aside to cool while you slice the onions.
Cut the ends off of a red onion, and remove the peel.
Cut the onion in half – from top to bottom. Then slice it into very thin half moons.
If you like, gently pull the onion slices apart with your fingers.
Add the sliced onions to a clean jar.
Pour the cooled vinegar solution over them. Press the onions down, so that they’re completely submerged.
Cover with a lid & move to the refrigerator.
They will be ready to eat in about an hour, but they taste best after at least four.
The longer the onions marinate in the brine, the pinker they will become overall.
Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat them.
Make them your own
You can make these easy pickled red onions your own by adding flavorful ingredients, changing up the vinegar, or adding more sugar.
Here are some ways to personalize this recipe:
- Use a different type of onion
- Cut the onions a little chunkier
- Replace some or all of the white vinegar with apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar
- For less vinegar tang, increase the sugar
- Include flavorful add-ins to the jar like sliced garlic, peppercorns, or fresh herbs like dill
How to use them
There are so many ways to use quick pickled onions – from filling a sandwich to topping a bowl of ramen.
They’re also a great addition to a vegan cheeseboard!
How to store them
Store pickled onions covered in their vinegar solution in a jar.
They will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
(I usually eat them within 3 or 4 weeks.)
Pickled red onions
- ½ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 1 medium red onion
- Fill a small to medium sized pot with water, salt, and sugar. If you like very tangy onions, use just 1 Tablespoon of sugar. If you like them a little sweeter, use 2 Tablespoons.
- Bring to a medium heat and stir until the salt and sugar dissolves. Once they have fully dissolved, turn off the heat. (This generally takes 2 or 3 minutes.)
- Add white vinegar to the pot, and stir to combine.
- Cut the ends off of a red onion & remove the peel. Cut the onion in half from top to bottom. Then slice the halves into very thin half moons. If you like, use your fingers to pull strands of onion apart into individual slices.
- Add the sliced onion to a clean jar. Use your fingers to really press all of the onion inside. Then carefully pour the cooled vinegar solution over the sliced onions in the jar. Make sure the onions are totally submerged. Cover with a lid & move to the refrigerator.
- The pickled onions will be ready to eat in about an hour, but they taste best after at least four hours or so. Store in the refrigerator until you're ready to eat them. They will keep for several weeks.