Pickled red onions

Pickled red onions are easy to make and add a nice crunch, zip of flavor and color to any dish.

All photos for this recipe are from Erin Hungsberg (IG: erin_hungsberg)

If you’ve never made pickled red onions before, you are missing out. They are super easy to make and add so much flavor to any dish. I make these all the time and keep them in my fridge as they go with so many dishes. The sweet and acidic onions really pair well with fatty meats for BBQ and tacos, and they are awesome on pizza, or lettuce wraps.

Ingredients you need

Red onions: Choose red onions and not white as they give you a better bite and color.

White Vinegar: You can use different vinegars like apple cider or red wine vinegar as well.

Sugar: This will help sweeten up the onions and counter the bitterness.

Spices: Kosher salt and black peppercorns give the dish a nice rounded flavor.

Garlic: Just makes everything better doesn’t it? They pair great with the onions.

Ingredients for pickled red onions

How to make pickled red onions

Slice your red onions thin. You can either cut your onion in half then cut half moon slices or leave the onion whole and cut them into rings. Use a sharp knife, or if you feel comfortable using a mandoline, it is a great option for thin slices.

In a medium sized pot combine white vinegar, water, sugar and salt then bring to a light simmer and cut off the heat. Stir everything together to make sure the sugar and salt is dissolved.

Place your onions into a mason jar and pour the hot pickling liquid carefully in. Then add your pieces of whole garlic and peppercorns.

Allow the jar to come to room temperature before refrigerating. The onions will be ready within an hour or may need to set overnight depending on the thickness they were sliced. They should be bright pink and tender.

How to store

Store your onions in an airtight container like a mason jar. They should be refrigerated and will last for about 3 weeks. If you cut the onions thin, you can eat them after about an hour. Thicker slices will be better overnight and best in the next few days. This recipe will make about two jars full depending on the size of onion you slice and the size of your jar.

What to use pickled red onions for

BBQ Dishes: There’s a reason a lot of BBQ restaurants serve pickled red onions on the side with brisket, ribs and my favorite pork belly burnt ends. The acidic bite cuts right through fatty meat.

Pizza: If you’ve never tried them on pizza, you’re missing out. BBQ Chicken Pizza is one my favorite dishes for them.

Mexican food: I highly recommend them with my grilled Baja shrimp tacos and my cheesy beef enchiladas

Salads: Pair the onions in a salad for an addition of color and bright flavor

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Pickled red onions

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Pickled red onions are easy to make and add a nice crunch, zip of flavor and color to any dish.

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x


  • 2 large red onions thinly sliced 
  • 2 cups white vinegar 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns (Optional) 
  • 12 cloves of garlic (Optional)


  1. Peel and thinly slice red onion using a sharp knife or mandoline
  2. Add white vinegar, water, sugar, and kosher salt in a medium pot and heat up until it is lightly simmering. Then shut off the heat. 
  3. Mix the pickling liquid to make sure the sugar and salt have been dissolved properly. 
  4. Place sliced red onions into an airtight container such as a mason jar. Add pepper corns and whole garlic (Optional) and carefully pour the pickling liquid in until it is covering everything. 
  5. Place the lid onto the jar or container and let it come to room temperature before refrigerating. 
  6. Wait at least 1 hour to eat or overnight depending on the thickness of your sliced onions. 


Try using honey as a sweetener instead of sugar. 

Experiment with different vinegars such as red wine or apple cider.

  • Author: Jordan Hanger
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Pickling
  • Cuisine: American

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