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!
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.
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:
- make a water-vinegar mixture (check my pickled onions recipe below for ingredients);
- pour the vinegar mixture over the onions;
- allow to cool at room temperature;
- store in the fridge.
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.
HOW TO SLICE ONIONS WITH A MANDOLINE
You have 2 options here – you can use a mandoline 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
- peel the onion and cut off the stem and root;
- place the mandoline on a cutting board;
- choose a slicing blade for thin slices;
- if your onion is too bulky, cut it in half;
- place the onion on the blade then place the hand guard on the onion;
- 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
- 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);
- then peel the onion;
- 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;
- cut until you’re close to the root but not all the way to the root;
- cut the root end that keeps the onion slices together.
- break apart the onion slices.
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 vinegar if you don’t believe me!
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.
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 recipes 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 recipe 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.
THE BEST JARS FOR STORING PICKLED ONIONS
For this pickled onions recipe, I used a 1-pint (473 ml) mason jar, 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.
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 Recipe.
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 recipe.
10 MINUTE SALSA VERDE
Another great topping, besides the pickled onions, is this 10 Minute Salsa Verde. Salsa is YUMMY! And I love it!
But this salsa is not only yummy, it’s also clean, healthy, and so quick and easy to make. Get the recipe.
- 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
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.
In a small saucepan, 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.
- Use a spoon to press the onions down into the vinegar and remove any air bubbles in the jar.
- Let the pickled onions cool to room temperature, about 25-30 minutes before serving.
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