30-Minute Quick Pickled Red Onions

In just 30 minutes, you can make these red pickled onions to magically turn simple dishes into delicious and flavorful meals! These delicious quick pickled onions make everything better!  And you only need 6 basic ingredients!

How To Make Pickled Red Onions At Home | How to make healthy pickled onions in less than an hour | A Sweet Pea Chef

I use the word magical quite a lot here, on ASPC. Whenever something is impressive, easy to make, and delicious, it’s magical.  I use it to describe the versatility of cauliflower. Or the dishes made in the slow cooker.

And I’ll use it today to describe pickled onions.

Because pickled onions deserve it! They change everything they touch for the better: sandwiches, salads, wraps, burgers, tacos. EVERYTHING!

These quick pickled onions are so easy to make and I love how pickling transforms the crunchy and pungent red onions into crispy, tangy, and sweet pickled onions.  So. Dang. Good.

The best part? Making pickled onions at home is a quick process! So I’m gonna teach you how to make pickled onions in less than 30 minutes. This flavorful condiment with magical abilities will make your dishes interesting, flavorful, and so yummy.

You ready?

Separated ingredients for pickled onions including red onion, water, distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and maple syrup.

HOW TO MAKE PICKLED RED ONIONS

Making pickled onions is easy-peasy, but I have some tips for how to make pickled onions I’d think will make the process even easier. And your pickled red onions better.

  • First thing you have to know is that you can pickle pretty much any veggie. And the shape of pickled veggies is entirely up to you, however, for onions, I feel that slicing them thinly into rings will give you the best results.
  • Use fresh onions – slightly bruised onions are better for soups or other dishes, but for pickling you want your onions to be in their best shape.

How to make pickled red onions:

  1. make a water-vinegar mixture (check my pickled onions recipe below for ingredients);
  2. pour the vinegar mixture over the onions;
  3. allow to cool at room temperature;
  4. store in the fridge.

Top view of red onion thinly sliced.

WHAT IS PICKLING?

If you never made homemade pickles before, you’re probably wondering how you go from regular veggie to a pickled veggie. I mean… you probably know how pickles taste, but you’re not quite sure about the process.  And I guess I can’t just say magic 🙂

Pickling is basically a process that helps you to preserve veggies or to extend their lifespan. Yes, the texture, flavor, and taste of veggies are definitely different because the veggies are fermented in brine or immersed in vinegar. But different means better in so many cases. In fact, for red pickled onions different means totes delicious for sure.

HOW PICKLING WORKS

But… how does pickling work, exactly? And can you do a healthy pickle?

Let me explain… when you cover veggies in a brine solution or vinegar and you place them in a mason jar with the lid on, something called anaerobic fermentation happens. What does this mean? It means the brine produces lactic acid and the vinegar acetic acid and bacteria is killed, the food is preserved and, as a result, lasts longer. The brine or vinegar also makes the veggies sour. And yummy, if you ask me.

And yes, you can absolutely make healthy pickles. I know with clean eating we stay away from processed foods but food preservation and food processing are very different (food preservation kills bacteria and extends shelf life, while food processing uses both physical and chemical alterations to turn raw foods into foods that are easier to prepare), especially when you do the preservation yourself and use only clean and healthy ingredients.

Lacey holding thin slices of red onion in her hand.

HOW TO SLICE ONIONS WITH A MANDOLINE

You have 2 options here – you can use a mandolineOpens in a new tab. or you can slice onions without one, using a sharp knife.

When a recipe calls for sliced onions, you also have 3 options for slicing them: lengthwise, crosswise or slicing them as you would do for onion rings. For pickled red onions, slicing onions lengthwise (from root to stem) or as onion rings is best because they will hold their shape better once pickled.

HOW TO USE A MANDOLINE TO SLICE ONIONS FOR PICKLED ONIONS

  1. peel the onion and cut off the stem and root;
  2. place the mandoline on a cutting board;
  3. choose a slicing blade for thin slices;
  4. if your onion is too bulky, cut it in half;
  5. place the onion on the blade then place the hand guard on the onion;
  6. run the onion up and down on the slicing blade – make sure you have a good grip on the hand guard!

HOW TO SLICE ONIONS FOR PICKLED ONIONS WITHOUT A MANDOLINE

  1. start by cutting off the stem and roots but make sure you keep the root end intact (this will help to keep the onion together while you slice it);
  2. then peel the onion;
  3. place the onion with the stem side down and cut it in half, then place the onion halves cut side down on the cutting board and start cutting thin slices – cut along the natural lines of the onion or don’t cut it in half and cut as you would do for onion rings;
  4. cut until you’re close to the root but not all the way to the root;
  5. cut the root end that keeps the onion slices together.
  6.  break apart the onion slices.

Pouring vinegar mixture over the onion slices in a mason jar.

WHAT’S THE BEST VINEGAR FOR PICKLING ONIONS?

For a quick pickle, you need to make a water and vinegar mixture. But if you want to learn how to pickle red onions and get delicious results, you must know that you cannot use any type of vinegar to make pickles. For example, balsamic vinegar is way too strong and aromatic and your red pickled onions won’t taste good if you use it. Balsamic vinegar is definitely not the best vinegar for pickling. What’s the best vinegar for pickling then? A lighter one. Or a mixture of 2!

For my quick pickled onions, I used a combination of distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. The ratio is mentioned in the pickled onions recipe. But, in the meantime, I wanna tell you that using this simple mixture of vinegar and water is not only a great way to make pickled onions but you’ll get some pretty amazing health benefits too. Because apple cider vinegar is very good for you. Check out the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegarOpens in a new tab. if you don’t believe me!

Pressing down the onion into the vinegar to remove air bubbles from the jar.

WHAT IS A QUICK PICKLE?

I think you noticed I mentioned a few times that these pickled onions are quick pickled onions. Because yes, with a quick pickle recipe you can make pickled onions in less than an hour! Woot!

How’s that possible? Well, that’s the power of quick pickle for ya! It’s a simple formula that allows you to preserve veggies without canning and you can do a quick pickle with seasonal veggies. You only need vinegar, water, and salt. To make sweet pickled onions, you usually need a little sugar, too. But I promised you a healthy pickled onions recipe so we won’t be using any sugar. We’ll be using pure maple syrup to make sweet pickled onions. Amazeballs!

Granted, the flavor and aroma of quick pickle are not as deep as the one of pickles fermented for a long period of time but you can enjoy them faster and can use them in so many recipes. And, if I may, I actually believe some veggies taste better like this. These pickled red onions for sure. But carrots, too. And I also love the texture better. It’s crunchy and perfect for so many dishes.

Side view of mason jar filled with pickled red onion.

HOW TO USE YOUR HOMEMADE PICKLED ONIONS

Speaking of dishes, if you don’t know how to use pickled onions, I have some delicious recommendations for you. You can use pickled red onions in…

  • tacos – some authentic Mexican tacos require pickled onions, plus the texture and acidity add something special to your favorite taco recipes.
  • pulled pork sandwiches – pickled red onions + pulled pork = PERFECTION (BTW, I have these awesome Instant Pot pulled pork recipesOpens in a new tab. that you should try and, if you want to make the sandwiches healthy, you can use whole wheat bread or whole wheat buns);
  • burgers – burgers + pickled onions is another delicious combo, just use healthy toppings, and whole wheat buns or use this sweet potato rolls recipeOpens in a new tab. to make healthy sweet potato buns;
  • salads – adding pickled onions to salads is a great way to add flavor and texture. You can use the pickled onions in a kale salad for a delicious and nutritious combination.

Top view of the pickled red onions in a jar. Lacey is picking some pickled red onions from the mason jar with a fork.

THE BEST JARS FOR STORING PICKLED ONIONS

For this pickled onions recipe, I used a 1-pint (473 ml) mason jarOpens in a new tab., but you can use bigger ones if you want to double or triple the recipe.

I like using mason jars because they are durable, reusable, and eco-friendly. They also have a great airtight seal with the lid which is super important for pickled onions and any quick pickle in general. Plus they can be refrigerated.

They are definitely better than disposable containers and cans that can affect the freshness and flavor of pickles. Also, you can use them for so many other things including homemade sauces, salsas, jams, and syrups.

HOW LONG DO PICKLED ONIONS LAST?

One of the best things about pickled onions is they last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge so you can grab them any time for those two weeks and add them to your meals for a tasty, vinegary topping.

Using an airtight container will help keep them as fresh as possible, so make sure to use a sealable air-tight container.

Top view of the pickled red onions in a mason jar.

MORE HEALTHY TOPPING RECIPES

Pickled onions are super delicious, but sometimes you need variety and other options for healthy toppings on your food.  Here are two more examples of toppings I’ve shared that I really love, and think you will. too!

MY GO-TO PICO DE GALLO RECIPE

I mentioned tacos in this post and while tacos are great with Mexican pickled onions, there’s another taco topping that makes them great: pico de gallo! So here’s My Go-To Pico De Gallo RecipeOpens in a new tab..

Pico De Gallo | My go-to EASY pico de gallo salsa that's the perfect salsa for almost anything! | A Sweet Pea Chef

If you have a soft spot for Mexican food, this fresh pico de gallo is perfect! It’s great in tacos but also in burritos, burrito bowls, and with tortilla chips. Get the recipeOpens in a new tab..

10 MINUTE SALSA VERDE

Another great topping, besides the pickled onions, is this 10 Minute Salsa VerdeOpens in a new tab.. Salsa is YUMMY! And I love it!

10 Minute Salsa Verde | Delicious salsa verde in JUST 10 easy minutes! | A Sweet Pea Chef

But this salsa is not only yummy, it’s also clean, healthy, and so quick and easy to make. Get the recipeOpens in a new tab..

30-Minute Quick Pickled Red Onions

How to Make Pickled Red Onions at Home
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Cool time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 
Make these red pickled onions and watch how they magically turn simple dishes into delicious and flavorful meals! These wonderful pink delights make everything better: dinner, lunch, and breakfast! And the process of making them is faster and easier than you think! It takes less than an hour to make them and you only need 6 basic ingredients.
Categories: Clean, Healthy Eating, Healthy Recipe, Low Cal, toppings
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 18 kcal
Author: Lacey Baier
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (115g) red onion (1 medium, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. (22 ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
Instructions
  1. To make the quick pickled onions, press the sliced onions into a 1-pint (473 ml mason jar) or similar heat-safe container. Place the jar in the sink, as this will help to catch any splashes of hot vinegar later.

  2. In a small saucepanOpens in a new tab., combine the water, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup, and sea salt. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium heat, then carefully pour the heated mixture into the jar over the onions.

  3. Use a spoon to press the onions down into the vinegar and remove any air bubbles in the jar.
  4. Let the pickled onions cool to room temperature, about 25-30 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Facts
How to Make Pickled Red Onions at Home
Amount Per Serving
Calories 18 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 361mg15%
Potassium 41mg1%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin C 1.5mg2%
Calcium 8mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post contains affiliate links for products I use often and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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