Quick Pickled Red Onions are one of my favorite condiments! They’re crunchy and tangy with a just a hint of sweetness. They really liven up any dish they’re added to and are the perfect finishing touch to take your meal from good to great! You need just 5 ingredients and less than 10 minutes of prep time to make this easy recipe!
These quick pickled red onions are ready to eat in less than 30 minutes and are the perfect condiment for a variety of dishes, like salads, tacos, sandwiches, bowls, pasta, burgers, etc. I can’t get enough of them!
Even if you don’t like raw onions (I’m not a fan!), you must try these!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Onions ~ I use red onions for this recipe, but white and yellow onions can also be pickled. Be sure to slice the onion thinly and uniformly. You can slice them in circles, or cut the onion in half first and slice them into half moons.
Red onions are high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, and antioxidants. [source]
Vinegar ~ I prefer the bright tang of white distilled vinegar. Red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar aren’t quite as strong in vinegar flavor and may also be used. You could also use a combination of any of the three, if you prefer.
Sugar ~ A little bit of sweetener goes a long way in balancing the strong acidic flavors of the vinegar. My go-to for this recipe is organic cane sugar. Liquid sweetener, like pure maple syrup, may also be used.
I do not recommend using coconut sugar or brown sugar.
If you really must, you can leave out the sugar all together. In that case, I would recommend using apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, instead of white distilled vinegar, as they are slightly sweeter.
Salt ~ A pinch of salt is also needed for balance of flavor. I use Himalayan pink salt. But regular table salt can be used as well.
Extras ~ If you want to punch up the flavors even more, you can add some extras.
- If you like a little spicy heat, try adding a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- If you like herby freshness, try adding a sprig or two of fresh dill, thyme, rosemary, or basil.
- Love garlic? Add 1 to 2 chopped garlic cloves.
How to make the recipe
Step 1: Slice the onions thinly. Pack them into a glass jar that has a lid with an air-tight seal.
Step 2: Add the liquid ingredients to a small pot on the stove and bring it to a simmer. Whisk for about 30 to 40 seconds until all of the sugar granules have dissolved. Remove from heat.
Step 3: Carefully pour the liquid into the jar over the sliced onions. Press the onions down into the liquid so they are completely covered.
*I suggest putting the jar into a bigger bowl or onto a rimmed plate to catch any drips or spills.
Step 4: Close the jar and let the onions sit on the countertop for 20 to 30 minutes before using.
While these quick pickled red onions are flavorful and delicious after just 20 minutes, the flavors will continue to develop further the longer they sit. Use them immediately or transfer the jar to the fridge for later use.
Stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge, they should last up to 3 weeks. (Note: if you added fresh herbs to the jar, they will only keep for one week).
I do not recommend freezing them.
How to serve
These easy pickled onions go with almost everything! They add a bright, tangy, crunchy punch of flavor that complements so many dishes. Here are a few of our favorite recipes that we like to add them to:
Pro tips for success
~ Slice the onions very thinly. They’ll pickle faster this way.
~ Whisk while simmering the pickling liquid for 30 to 40 seconds until the sugar is completely dissolved.
~ While this recipe can be made sugar free, for best balance of flavor, use a bit of sweetener.
~ Use a glass jar with an air-tight locking lid for best results.
~ Place the jar into a larger bowl or rimmed plate before pouring in the liquid to catch any drips or spills that may occur.
~ Make sure the sliced onions are completely covered in liquid. Press the onions down into the liquid to be sure.
~ Let the onions sit in the pickling liquid for at least 20 to 30 minutes before using.
~ Transfer the quick pickled red onions to the fridge after the 20 to 30 minutes.
~ This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.
~ This recipe is gluten free, oil free, nut free, soy free, and vegan.
~ For variations, add a pinch of red pepper flakes, a few sprigs of fresh herbs, or a clove of garlic to the jar with the onions. Or try this same pickling method with thinly sliced radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, beets, carrots, cabbage or bell peppers. You can also quick pickle green beans, thin asparagus, and small florets of cauliflower.
I prefer the tang of white distilled vinegar. If you want something a bit more subtle, try red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, which both have a hint of sweetness.
No! You don’t need sugar for pickling. Personally, I find the flavors to be more balanced with a bit of sugar, but you can certainly leave it out if you must. Or try pure maple syrup instead of granulated sugar.
Stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge, quick pickled red onions should last up to 3 weeks.
More vegan condiments
These are the finishing touches and punches of flavor that are going to take your recipes from good to great!
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
Be sure to sign up for my FREE Newsletter to be the first to get my NEW recipes! You can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
For even more easy family recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook!
Quick Pickled Red Onions
- 1 large red onion thinly sliced
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 2 teaspoons organic white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pack the sliced onions into a glass jar with an air-tight lid. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pot on the stove, add the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Whisk while the mixture simmers until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 30 seconds.
- Carefully pour the hot liquid over the onions in the jar. Push the onions down into the liquid so they are completely covered.
- Place the lid on the jar and let the onions sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately or transfer the jar to the fridge for later use.
Storage These Quick Pickled Red Onions will keep in an air-tight glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Please note: if you add fresh herbs, they will only keep for one week.
Yield This recipe yields 2 cups. One serving is 2 t0 3 tablespoons.