Quick Pickled Red Onions

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Learn how to make quick pickled red onions in just 30 minutes with just 4 easy ingredients!

Pickled Red Onions Recipe

Ever made homemade pickled red onions before?

Good news — it’s so easy!  Also, super speedy.

All you need is one red onion, a few easy ingredients (vinegar, salt, and some kind of sweetener) to make your pickling base, plus any extra seasonings that you would like to add.  Then after just 5 minutes of prep time, plus another 30 minutes to let the recipe rest and work it’s quick-pickling magic, a fabulous batch of these fresh, crispy, zippy pickled red onions can be yours to enjoy in a snap!

Pickled red onions of course taste fabulous with just about any traditional Mexican dishes, from tacos to burritos, soups, salads, nachos, chilaquiles, and more.  (Yum. ♡)  But beyond Mexican food, pickled red onions can also liven up everything from burgers to curries, pizza to falafel, eggs to potato salad, and so much more.  Basically anytime you need an extra pop of crispy, colorful, tangy goodness to balance out your dish, these quick pickled red onions are here for you, friends.

Let’s make a quick batch!

Quick Pickled Red Onions | 1-Minute Video

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Quick Pickled Red Onions Ingredients:

To make this pickled onions recipe, you will need the following base ingredients:

  • Red Onion: One large red onion or two small red onions.
  • Vinegar: I like the sweeter taste of apple cider vinegar when pickling onions.  But white vinegar, white wine vinegar, or even red wine vinegar work well too.
  • Salt: A teaspoon of fine sea salt, to bring out all of those flavors.
  • Sweetener: White (granulated) sugar is traditionally used to make pickled red onions in Mexico, but feel free to naturally sweeten yours with maple syrup, honey, or agave instead.

Plus, see notes below for additional seasonings that you are welcome to add in too.

How To Make Pickled Onions

How To Pickle Red Onions:

Super quick and easy!  Simply…

  1. Simmer the pickling mixture. Stir together the vinegar, water, salt, sweetener, and any seasonings that you would like to add.  Then either on the stovetop (in a small saucepan) or in the microwave (in a bowl or mason jar), heat the vinegar mixture until it comes to a simmer.
  2. Thinly slice the onion.  Meanwhile, as the vinegar mixture is heating, slice your onion.  I usually just thinly slice mine by hand with a chef’s knife.  But feel free to use a mandoline to get your onions extra thin.
  3. Combine.  Transfer the onion to a pint-sized mason jar or small heat-proof bowl.  Then pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onion, and stir or shake until combined.
  4. Pickle. Let the onions rest for about 30 minutes.
  5. Serve or store.  Then voila — your pickled onions are ready to go!  Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

30-Minute Quick Pickled Onions

Possible Recipe Variations:

There are so many ways to customize your own quick pickled onion recipe.  For example, you can…

  • Make it spicy.  Sliced habañero peppers are often added to pickled red onions in Mexico to kick them up a (very) spicy notch.  But for a more mild dose of heat, feel free to add in a slice or two of jalapeño peppers, or even just a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Make it garlicky.  Add in a clove or two of garlic, thinly sliced if you would like to release those garlicky flavors more quickly.
  • Make it peppery. Add a few whole peppercorns to the mix.  Or for more immediate flavor, a few twists of freshly-ground black pepper.
  • Make it herby.  A pinch of ground cumin, dried oregano, allspice, and/or bay leaf are all traditional Mexican seasoning options.  But feel free to add whatever fresh or dried herbs match the type of cuisine you are cooking!
  • Use a citrus base (instead of vinegar).  In the Yucatan, it’s traditional to use Seville (sour) orange juice in place of vinegar.  So if your local market happens to carry Seville oranges, just add 3/4 cup freshly-squeezed Seville orange juice in place of the vinegar.  Or if your market does not carry Seville oranges, you can substitute 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed naval (regular) orange juice + 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice.
  • Use a different color of onions.  Feel free to use white or yellow onions instead of red onions for a different twist.

Pickled Red Onions

How To Use Pickled Onions:

Ooooh, so many delicious options.  These pickled red onions would taste great served with…

  • Mexican classics: tacos, tostadas, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, flautas, nachos, sopes and more
  • Breakfast foods: scrambled or fried eggs, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast casseroles and more
  • Sandwiches: any kinds of burgers, wraps, or other kinds of sandwiches
  • Meat and seafood: chicken, pork, steak, fish, shrimp or shellfish (esp any kind of bbq!)
  • Side dishes: refried beans, rice, elote, potato salads, roasted veggies and more
  • Other faves: soups, salads, curries, falafel, pizza…and so much more
Quick Pickled Red Onions

Quick Pickled Red Onions

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


This quick pickled red onions recipe is easy to make in just 30 minutes with just 4 main ingredients!  See notes above for extra seasonings that you are welcome to add in too.



  • 1 large red onion*, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons sweetener (such as maple syrup, honey, sugar, etc.)


  1. In a small saucepan*, stir together the vinegar, salt and your desired amount of sweetener.  Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a simmer.
  2. Place the thinly-sliced onions in a small bowl or pint-sized mason jar.  Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onions.  Stir until combined.  (Or if using a mason jar, place the lid on top and give the jar a quick shake.)  Let the onions marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve immediately.  Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.


*Onions: Or two small red onions.

*Microwave option: Feel free to also heat the vinegar mixture in the microwave until it reaches a simmer.  Then add it to the onions, as directed.

Pickled Onions

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36 comments on “Quick Pickled Red Onions”

  1. These look so yummy! We have lots of red onions on hand to try this with!


  2. Would you change anything about this recipe to sub cucumber for onion?

  3. Do you drain them or leave them in the pickling liquid to store them?

  4. Hubby loves pickled onions.
    I just ‘pinched’ your recipe.

  5. These were delicious! Used them for several meals throughout the week from shrimp tacos to bbq chicken pizza even in my morning omlete. Always wanted to pickle onions finally got around to it. Thank you for the easy recipe and tasty onions lol!

  6. I’ll have to give this a try! My mom recently got me onto soaking my red onions in my salad dressing before you throw it all together as well which is delicious and I guess a similar idea if your dressing has vinegar and sweetener.

  7. Thank you, Ali
    this is such a great way to have onions on-hand since I’m the only fresh “onion fan” in our house. I would normally forgo having fresh onions on my burger, salads, etc. because I couldn’t consume an entire onion by myself and that would be wasteful. This recipe solves this dilemma for me and probably many others. I used a large red onion and sliced it on my mandolin to nicely fill two jars – but had to double+ the vinegar to cover the onions. I also added a few peppercorns and one small bay leaf to each jar after simmering with the vinegar, salt and sugar. So easy and tasty!

  8. You’re blog is great. I found you through the CopyMeThat app and I am so glad i did. I will be following you now.

  9. These are exactly what I was looking for. Saving this recipe! (I used monk fruit sweetener instead of regular sugar and it worked perfectly!)

  10. I did not see water listed in the ingredients for the red pickle onion recipe. Will it be okay if I left it out? Thanks.

    • I made a large batch with pickling spice and added vinegar with NO vinegar and had to add more sugar but came out great.

  11. Just made these pickled onions and they turned out great. Thanks for the great recipe.

  12. I used a white onion, white vinegar, garlic and black pepper. I used honey instead of sugar. It turned out perfect! They were the perfect tangy addition to my chicken salad lettuce wraps.

  13. After the red onions are marinated for 30 minutes, do you then store the red onions in the refrigerator in the apple cider vinegar solution, or do you drain the solution before you store them?

    • I made a large batch with pickling spice and added vinegar with NO water and had to add more sugar but came out great.

  14. This recipe was my first attempt to pickling onions – it came out great! I used a red onion with a few jalapeño slices and some garlic in the jar. Now I need to go to the store and get sandwich fixings to put it on ;-) Thanks for posting/sharing.

  15. How much water do you use? THANK YOU!

  16. These are fantastic and sure to go into our regular rotation. The only change I made was to increase everything by 1/4 to fully cover the onions in my pint size mason jar. Thinking of adding the peppercorns next time, but these are amazing as is! Thanks for a great recipe!

  17. I wound up having to use a Texas yellow onion, because my red was kind of slimy (bleh!)
    Also, I had to triple the liquid portion of the recipe, because apparently I misjudged what two small yellow onions might look like. I’m from Texas though, so maybe my measurement judgment is a little off, LOL

    Anywho thanks for posting this!

  18. First of all, you are officially my “go to” for ideas and recipes. I whipped these pickled onion last week and my husband LOVES them. he puts them on and in everything.
    Your energy bites are the est I ever had; you pad Thai – yum; the Vietnamese spring rolls, Pho, and Hot and Sour Soup – all amazing. I made homemade pappardelle with the cajun cream sauce on Saturday and also – delicious! Every single think we have made has been fantastic.

  19. Super quick and very yummy, I was out of apple cider vinegar so used balsamic instead. Fifth time making x

  20. This was my first time making pickled onions and they turned out great!! Thanks for this quick, easy, and delicious recipe!

  21. Tried this recipe and the onions taste delicious! I added some pepper to it, saw some of the reviews stating they added other ingredients. Will try doing that next time! Thanks for this simple fuss-free recipe.

  22. My son got me turned onto this wonderful recipe. A must to have in frig at all times. Great on tocos,hamburgers, hot dogs ,sandwiches & salad
    Takes 5 minutes to make and they say two weeks in frig . They have vinegar they last a lot longer.

  23. Great !!! Recipe

  24. Yumm. Perfect for my soft tacos. And so EASY

  25. Whenever I pinterest search a recipe – I look for yours! Like the rest, I love these. They’re good on absolutely everything, but my favorite (and what I made them for today) is to go with carnitas. I always go back to this recipe of yours so I thought it was time I thanked you! Sometimes I follow my heart and add some extras, and I really like bay leaves, garlic, and some crushed red pepper. Thanks for being awesome!

  26. Can you use the onions in the frig for longer than 2 weeks. Would like to use them over a longer period of time.

  27. I make a version of this using white vinegar and raspberry blush vinegar and no salt. Measure 2 Tbsps. blush vinegar into a 1 cup measure; then add white vinegar to 3/4 cup mark. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. Pour over 1/8 thin sliced red onions in storage container. Stir or shake to coat well. Leave at warm temperature 1 hour; then refrigerate. The acetic acid in the vinegar cooks the onion so no heat from stove needed. Will store in refrigerator for several months and just gets better the longer it marinates. Great on sandwiches, salads, omelets, etc.

  28. In general descriptions you mention water as an ingredient, yet in recipe itself, it is not in there. Is there to be water in this recipe? I see others either had to add or double recipe to have enough liquid to cover onion.

  29. Sounds fast and easy. I love onions so I’ll be trying this out. Thanks. Sue. [email protected]

  30. I’m so frustrated. I bought everything I needed to make this recipe, sliced the onions and now there’s no water measurement. I need to find a different recipe because the onions are already sliced but can you please correct the recipe (or the description) for future reference? If water is supposed to be used, please let us know the amount.Thanks!

  31. I love a recipe that allows a certain amount of freedom with ingredients, and tips on how to make it different. I made the basic recipe with white vinegar tonight, with no other additions, and they are really good. Next time I will make them with apple cider vinegar, and spice it up in later batches. Thank you for the tips!

  32. I made this recipe with honey as my sweetner excellent.