Use this recipe to make THE BEST Quick Pickled Onions with only 5 ingredients in just 30 minutes! They're easy to make and delicious on everything from bowls and salads, to sandwiches and tacos!
Trust me when I say, you're going to want these quick pickled red onions in your fridge at all times!
They have the perfect tang from just the right mix of vinegars, and the ideal amount of sweetness from natural sweeteners. And the best part? You don't have to wait days to enjoy them because they're ready to go in half an hour!
This quick pickled onion recipe tastes great on almost everything. Add them to your breakfast, layer on sandwiches, load onto tacos or burgers, and of course, top all of your favorite bowls!
- White vinegar + rice vinegar - this is my personal favorite combination of vinegars used to make pickled onions. You can also use all white vinegar, or a combination of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. You will need ⅔ cups vinegar, so feel free to mix and match until you find your favorite combination.
- Red onion - you can use other varieties to make pickled onions, but I prefer the bright, beautiful color you get from using red onions. Try to find a medium-to-large onion, that's between .75 and 1 pound.
- Maple syrup - you could also substitute honey or granulated sugar, but I prefer to use natures sweetener, pure maple syrup, to sweeten the pickled onions, and balance out the vinegar.
- Salt - for this recipe, I used a fine sea salt, but kosher salt or table salt will also work just fine.
- Thinly slice the onion. I recommend using a mandoline if you have one to achieve evenly sliced thin pieces. If not, use a sharp knife and slice them as thin as you can without a mandoline. The thinner you cut them, the faster they will absorb the flavor and pickle.
- Add the onions to a mason jar. You will want to pack the onions in the jar as tightly as possible. For this recipe, I used a 24 ounce wide mouth mason jar. I found that all of the ingredients wouldn't fit in a 16 ounce mason jar, but you could definitely split the ingredients between two smaller mason jars, if you don't have a 24 ounce jar available.
- Heat the pickling liquid. Add the vinegars to a small pot on the stove with water, maple syrup and salt. Turn the heat on the stove to high and bring this mixture to a boil. Whisk the mixture together and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the liquid over the onions. Remove the hot vinegar mixture from the stove and pour it into the jar of onions, making sure all of the onions are completely submerged in the pickling liquid.
- Let them pickle at room temperature. Secure the lid on the mason jar and allow the onions to sit in the pickling mixture at room temperature for 20 minutes. Serve immediately or place in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Give these quick pickled onions some extra oomf by including extra ingredients! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Make spicy pickled onions by adding sliced jalapeños or habanero peppers. Bonus, you can eat the pickled peppers too!
- Red pepper flakes are another great way to give these pickled onions some heat. Add 1 teaspoon into the vinegar mixture before pouring it over the onions.
- For a mild bite, add 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns to the brine.
- Add in some fresh garlic cloves. Pickled garlic is also delicious, and can be eaten whole or thinly sliced!
- Fresh herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, dill, or cilantro, all offer wonderful flavor. Use only one at a time, or try a combination.
- Dill seeds and mustard seeds are another way to add a unique flavor, much like dill pickles made from cucumbers.
- Pop in a bay leaf or two, just don't forget to pick them out of the jar before enjoying the onions.
- A teaspoon, or two, of lime juice adds to the acidity, as well as the flavor.
- Pour in a little bit of soy sauce for a salty hint of umami.
Frequently asked questions
- How much does this recipe make? This recipe will make 3 cups of pickled onions.
- Can you double the recipe? Yes, or even triple it! Simply multiply the ingredients by 2 or 3, and follow the instructions as written. Just make sure to have enough jars so they all fit!
- How long do quick pickled onions last? If you make the recipe as written, you can keep them for up to 2 weeks. Seal in the mason jar and keep them in the refrigerator. If you use fresh herbs in the brine, it is best to enjoy them within 1 week.
- Are pickled onions good for you? They sure are! Red onions are low in calories while offering antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, and potassium. Once they are pickled, they offer probiotics found in fermented foods that are beneficial for gut health. This recipe specifically uses natural sweeteners to avoid added sugars that would make them less healthy.
Ways to use pickled onions
Keep these on hand to add amazing flavor to so many dishes! Here are some of my favorite serving suggestions.
- Use it to garnish bowls with Mexican flavors like Fish Taco Bowls, Chipotle Tofu Taco Bowls, or Elote Bowls.
- Or, try them on Asian inspired dishes like Vegan Poke Bowls, Sesame Seared Tuna Sushi Bowls, or Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts Bowls.
- They're also great with Blackened Shrimp Bowls, Harissa Honey Chicken Bowls and Whole30 Grilled BBQ Chicken Bowls.
- Add them on top of avocado toast, along with Everything Bagel Seasoning.
- Use as a topping for nachos like these Crock Pot Chicken Nachos, Cauliflower Nachos, and Pulled Pork Nachos.
- Add these pickled onions to your go-to list of taco toppings as well. Try them with Vegan Taco Meat, Steak Tacos or Crispy Cactus Tacos.
- Add a tangy bite to your burgers, like these Juicy Lucy Burgers or Keto Burger Bowls.
- They're also amazing on hot dogs.
- Layer some inside your favorite deli sandwiches, or load a few onto this Coffee Rubbed BBQ Steak Sandwich.
- Sprinkle some on fresh salads like Chicken Shawarma Salad, Vegan Cobb Salad, or substitute the onions in this Kale Beet Salad with pickled onions!
- You can also add a tangy twist to a Cucumber Greek Salad by swapping out the red onions for pickled ones instead.
- Skip the white onions and top your favorite chili recipe with pickled onions.
- Mix into dips like Chunky Avocado Salsa, Vegan Avocado Ranch Dip, or Cheesy Baked Taco Dip.
- Dice them up to mix into deviled eggs.
- Add them to quesadillas or on top of enchiladas.
More pantry staple recipes
Keep these easy pantry staple recipes on hand to load up all your favorite bowls!
- How to Cook White Rice 3 Ways
- Instant Pot Sushi Rice
- Marinara Sauce
- How to Cook Quinoa 3 Ways
- How to Cook Wild Rice
Quick Pickled Onions
- 1 large red onion thinly sliced - approximately ¾ to 1 pound
- ⅓ cup white vinegar
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- Thinly slice the onion and add it to a mason jar.
- In a medium saucepan on the stove, bring the white vinegar, rice vinegar, water, maple syrup and sea salt to a boil.
- Whisk the mixture together and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onions.
- Tighten the lid on the mason jar.
- Let the onions pickle in the vinegar mixture at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
- Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- This recipe will make approximately 3 cups of pickled onions. To double or triple the recipe, hover over the "servings" in the recipe card above and change it from 3 cups, to 6 cups, or 9 cups.
- To make spicy pickled onions, add 1-2 sliced jalapenos or habanero peppers to the the jar with the onions.