Pickled Red Onions (Quick and Easy Recipe)


We know… the pickling process can seem intimidating. Did you know that you don’t need any special ingredients or tools to pickle to your heart’s content? All you need is a saucepan, a glass jar, and some simple pantry staples to make these quick pickled red onions. 

Pickled red onions add a fun crunch and brightness (both in color and flavor) to so many dishes and it never gets old bragging that you made your own pickles.

Like any good recipe, these onions are totally customizable. We used plain old white vinegar but feel free to try apple cider or red wine vinegar. In fact, most vinegars, aside from balsamic, are suitable here. 

Additionally, we use maple syrup as our sweetener of choice but regular sugar, honey, or agave would all work just fine too. Just ensure that whatever you are using has enough time to dissolve into the vinegar/water base. 

The customization doesn’t stop there! 

Add whichever flavor enhancers speak to you. We like things hot so we always add a few dried red chili peppers and garlic. Fresh aromatics like oregano and bay leaves can totally elevate these pickled red onions too. 

Why red onions? The color, much like the flavor, adds so much to many savory dishes, especially Mexican dishes. If you don’t typically go for onions, you’ll be surprised what hanging out in vinegar, salt, and maple syrup can do to a veggie. Marinating in this liquid dials down the harsh bite of a raw red onion and brings out a balanced sweet, tangy, flavor explosion thing that we think you’ll really love.

How long do pickled red onions last?

You can munch on these for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. However, the longer they sit, the less crisp they will be. 

Unlike store bought pickles, these do not have any preservatives to keep them for months (like a typical jar of pickles) and should be enjoyed in the 2 weeks after you make them.

Because this is an easy recipe, you can whip up a new batch every couple of weeks if these become a staple in your house.

What do you eat with pickled red onions?

Anything you like! Pickled red onions go beautifully on Mexican dishes like tacos but would also be a nice addition to salads or burgers. 

These have a bright acidity and slight sweetness from the onions natural flavor and maple syrup that make them a nice pair for spicy or sharp flavors.

Can you pickle red onions without white vinegar?

Yup! You can use red or white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and rice vinegar! 

We don’t recommend using balsamic but most of the translucent vinegars should work just fine. 

White vinegar probably has the least “extra” flavor when compared to vinegars like rice and apple cider that take on some of the flavor of the fermented apple and rice. 

Using other vinegars as well as playing around with other additives like herbs and hot peppers is a fun way to make these pickled red onions your own.

How to Slice Your Onions

Thin slices are the name of the game here. A large slice will take longer to marinate as there is more for the liquid to penetrate. 

If you want to eat these pickled red onions sooner rather than later, we recommend staying thin. 

Additionally, this will allow you to drape a delicate amount over top of your meals rather than large chunks. You do not need any fancy kitchen gear like a mandoline to get thin slices. Use a sharp large knife and go slow. 

You’ve got this!

Pickled Red Onions Recipe

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Our quick and easy pickled red onions are a quick and simple way to elevate a savory dish. Add to tacos, salads, and more with this bright, acidic topping.

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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican

Servings 4 servings
Calories 37 kcal



  • 1-2 red onions (1 large or 2 small)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • dried or fresh hot peppers (optional)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper, to taste



  • Add white vinegar, water, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to a medium size saucepan on medium heat; cook until syrup has dissolved
    Add white vinegar, water, maple syrup, salt and pepper to a medium size saucepan on medium heat, cook until syrup has dissolved
  • While vinegar mixture is heating, slice 1-2 red onions thinly and add to clean, heat-safe glass jar with lid
    While vinegar mixture is heating, slice 1-2 red onions thinly and add to clean, heat-safe glass jar with lid
  • Slice garlic thinly and add to the jar
    PRO 3
  • Optional: Add freshly sliced hot peppers or dried hot peppers to jar
    PRO 4
  • Once vinegar mixture has combined, remove from heat and pour into jar with onions and garlic
    PRO 5
  • Allow to cool on counter top for at least 30 minutes
    Allow to cool on counter top for at least 30 minutes
  • Seal and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours prior to eating


You can pickle many things! Cauliflower, carrots, and of course cucumbers can all be used with the same ingredients listed in this recipe.


Serving: 1 servingCalories: 37kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 0.3gSodium: 1167mgPotassium: 55mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 0.1mg

Keyword pickled, red onions
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