Pickled Red Onions

5 from 3 votes

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These pickled red onions are packed with flavor and tang, and will add a delicious zip to any taco, salad, or sandwich.

A hand using a fork to scoop some pickled red onions out of a jar

Pickled Red Onion Recipe

Ever since I learned how to make these pickled onions, they have been a staple in my refrigerator. They are so bright, tangy, a little sweet, and sour. I put them on everything. They make a perfect topping for your favorite Mexican dish – tostadas, quesadillas, nachos, tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. I also love them on a salad, sandwich, or wrap. I have also enjoyed them on potato salad, egg salad, and deviled eggs.


  • Red Onion – You can pickle other types of onion, but I like using red. If you want to tame the red onion flavor a bit, then you can par-blanch them first. Boil two cups of water and put the onions in a strainer. Pour the boiling water slowly and evenly over the onions and let them drain completely before putting them in your glass jar.
  • Vinegar – My favorite vinegar combo is red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar. I like the slightly sweet and also fruity flavor. Also, I think they make the best pink color. If you don’t have those on hand, then use distilled white vinegar, rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar. However, stay away from balsamic vinegar for this recipe.
  • Sugar – I use granulated sugar in my recipe. However, you can use honey, pure maple syrup, agave, or any other type of sweetener substitution.
  • Salt – I use fine sea salt so that it dissolves quicker.
Pickling mixture being poured into a glass jar full of sliced red onions

Variations to the Recipe

Make these Pickled Red Onions your own! Here is a list of ideas to take your onions to the next level. If you have any other additions you like, then tell us in the comments!

  • Garlic Cloves
  • Jalapeños
  • Peppercorns
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Bay Leaves
  • Fresh Herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, or Oregano
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Allspice Berries
  • Star Anise

Recipe Tip

A bowl of thinly sliced red onions

For best results, slice the onion very thin. Make sure to use a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer.


How long do pickled red onions keep for?

Pickled Red Onions will stay good in the fridge for up to two weeks.

I need pickled red onions for dinner tonight. Can I make them quicker?

Yes! You can make quick pickled red onions by adding heat. Mix the vinegar, salt, sugar, and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, but not a full boil. Pour it over the onions and let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Why are pickled red onions pink?

The pink color comes partially from the vinegar breaking down the red skin of the onion and partially from a chemical reaction between the vinegar and the onion cells.

What to Make with Pickled Red Onions

Once you’ve got your pickled red onions made, you are going to want to put them on everything! Try them on top of some of our favorites.

  • Mediterranean BowlsThis Mediterranean Bowl recipe is a fresh and also delicious lunch or dinner option! Topped with chicken, feta, cucumbers, and all kinds of favorite Greek flavors, you’ll get Mediterranean flair in every bite.
  • Chicken GyrosThis Chicken Gyro recipe starts with tender chicken cooked on the grill or also in the crock pot. Top it with your choice of tomatoes, lettuce, olives, red onions, Feta cheese or a tangy Tzatziki sauce. 
  • Street TacosGrilled Steak Street Tacos are bursting with so much flavor. Tender steak combined with simple ingredients wrapped in corn or flour tortillas. Taco Tuesday can’t come soon enough!
  • Sweet Potato TacosThese Sweet Potato Tacos taste so yummy and they couldn’t be easier to make. You will love the black bean filling and also the fresh, flavorful toppings.
  • Kalua Pork TacosThese Kalua Pork Tacos with Fresh Mango Salsa are loaded with juicy smokey flavored shredded pork and also topped with fresh mango and avocado.
A hand using a fork to scoop some pickled red onions out of a jar

Pickled Red Onions

5 from 3 votes
These pickled red onions are packed with flavor and tang, and will add a delicious zip to any taco, salad, or sandwich.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Refrigeration Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 5 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican/Spanish
Servings 12


  • 1 glass jar with lid



  • Place the sliced red onion into a glass jar with a lid.
    Thinly sliced red onions in a jar with a lid
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the vinegars, sugar, and salt. Pour warm water over the top. Mix until all the salt and sugar dissolve.
    Vinegar, sugar, and salt in a glass measuring cup
  • Pour over the onions until they are all covered.
    Pickling mixture being poured into a glass jar full of sliced red onions
  • Place the lid on the jar. Give the jar a little shake to make sure all the onions are coated with liquid.
    Thinly sliced red onions in a jar full of pickling mixture with a lid
  • Refrigerate the jar overnight, or until the onions turn pink.
    A glass jar full of pickled red onions

Nutrition Information

Calories: 9kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 293mgPotassium: 16mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Kelsey Crist

Kelsey lives in Washington with her husband, Alex, and two cats, Diana and Nova. Her happy place is in the kitchen listening to an audiobook and trying new recipes. When she's not in the kitchen you can find her hiking, shopping at Trader Joe's, or playing Animal Crossing. Her favorite food is pasta and Alex loves when she makes Homemade Oreos.

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  1. What’s the shelf life on these onions? I’d love to keep them refrigerated for whenever I want to use them.