Update: Hey guys, I've been getting questions about these Pickled Onions so I added a video to the post. You'll find the video down below, right before the recipe box (or if you're on a desktop it will be at the top of the post). It's a super easy technique so give it a whirl if you're new to it. Enjoy!
You can make a batch of delightful pickled onions faster than you can read this post.
How To Make Pickled Onions
(Note: these instructions are not meant for long-term canning.)
If you're ever hesitant to slice into a fresh onion just to use a single ring for your sandwich, you can now think of that as Step One to keeping a jar of these beauties in your fridge.
In addition to livening up a wide range of Mexican dishes, these pickled onions also come with the side benefit of thoroughly impressing family and friends when you pull that pink jar out of the fridge. You made those? They are one of those condiments that for some reason people don't expect to see in homes. Yet.
In a saucepan over medium heat bring 3/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of sugar to a light boil. Kosher, sea, or pickling salt are usually recommended for pickling as table salt typically has additives that can negatively affect the brine.
Meanwhile, chop up the rest of the onion. It only takes about 3/4 of a normal-sized red onion to fill a pint-sized Mason jar full of pure zip.
Slice a quarter of the onion lengthwise and you'll end up with half moons that work well for sandwiches and tacos, but of course you are a free chopper so feel free to get creative.
Give them a quick toss so the rings separate from each other and stuff 'em in a Mason jar. Since we are using vinegar for the pickling a non-reactive container will work best, i.e. glass jars for the win.
Pour the vinegar solution into the jar and add a single clove of garlic chopped in half and some cracks of black pepper.
You could also use whole peppercorns.
It's also worth mentioning that I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so I like these best when they are barely sweetened. For most of the other pickled goods on the site I don't add any sugar at all (see Pickled Jalapenos).
But taste buds vary so you can definitely add more sugar if you want a sweeter batch. One teaspoon of sugar would probably be a decent starting point for that option.
Let this mixture cool on the counter for a bit, cover, and then store in the fridge overnight.
Tomorrow your mostly white onions will have transformed into some pink delights that will be magnetically attracted to your next lunch. And dinner. And breakfast.
Use liberally on tacos, sandwiches, tostadas, or just about anything that needs a final dash of zip.
You can get creative too; we use our pickled jalapenos on this Chicken and Jalapeno Pizza and you could do something similar with pickled onions.
These will keep in the fridge for at least a few weeks, after which you can joyfully slice into a brand new red onion and make a new batch in a matter of minutes.
Click Play to see how easy it is to make Pickled Onions!!
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Easy Pickled Onions
- 1 red onion
- 3/4 cup vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic
- freshly ground pepper
- pinch of sugar (optional)
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 3/4 cup vinegar, 3/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of sugar (optional). Bring to a light boil or until all of the salt is dissolved.
- Chop up the red onion (you can peel and discard the outer skin). I cut it into quarters and then slice lengthwise.
- Give the slices a quick toss and then stuff them in a pint-sized glass jar. Add the vinegar mixture along with 1 garlic clove chopped in half and some freshly ground pepper (or whole peppercorns).
- Let cool on counter for a few minutes. Then cover and store in the refrigerator.
- The pickled onions will have most of their flavor after a few hours of resting in the brine.
You can use a similar technique to make some Mexican Pickled Carrots.
Or some Pickled Tomatillos.
Want to read our latest post? Fiery Chimichurri Sauce.
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This is an easy and awesome recipe we use regularly. Thanks for sharing!
Patrick, reading the posts here, why don't you create a share a recipe section?? Might be interesting.
Hey Mike! Hmmm do you mean a page where visitors to the site submit their own recipes?
5 Stars! I made it for the first time last night because I didn’t have condiments for my carnita soft tacos. In about 7 minutes I cooked this and served it. This was all that was needed to brighten the tacos. My family loved it. Changes I made: I added 2 thin sliced Serrano Chile’s and thin slices of 1 lemon to the vinegar/water solution. And I boiled it in the microwave. I didn’t have to wait overnight. Great Flavor!
Hey thanks much for your notes Gloria, super helpful 🙂 Cheers.
I added just one thai pepper. It was great and EASY!
Ahh great to know, thanks for your note Wendy!
In Salvadoran cuisine this is called curtito and they also use jalapeno and carrots... With a little oregano. I've never used sugar haha
Thanks for mentioning this CJ, if anyone is interested here is the Curtido recipe.
Hi Patrick- I can’t seem to find that video link you mentioned above...?
Hi Nancy! Hmmm it should be autoplaying towards the top of the post when the page loads. But if it's not for some reason you can always see it on Youtube here:
Pickled Onions Video
I’m not usually a fan of raw onions....does pickling them take out that bite and aftertaste?
Loving the site...I’m printing several of your recipes to give a try in the next few weeks. First off homemade corn tortillas! Yay 😀
Hi Rachel, thanks for stopping by!
Hmmm yes pickling your onions will take out some of the bite but to be honest they will still taste like onions, but with some tangy acidity from the pickling. But given how easy they are to make it's probably worth a go to see if they work better with your palate. Cheers.
Thank you so much for this recipe! They add so much flavor to my black bean dishes. I just shared the recipe with one of my sisters!
Hey thanks Dawn, so glad you found this recipe 🙂
Elevated our dish to the point our dinner guests were quite literally gushing. (We made chichen itza pibil) Some next level stuff for real!
Oh nice sounds like a great meal! Cheers.
PATRICK J SHEEHAN
I made a complete Mexican dinner for family and friends and included the Pickled Red Onions. What a hit. Now I have to make them for one guest to take to her family. Good food never ends.
Ha awesome thanks for your note Patrick -- this is the only downside of serving good food to your fam and friends, i.e "more please!"
Love this site! I have been making these for a year or two. The only difference is that I use about half onion/ half shallot and put a sliced-open, seeded habanero in the bottom of the jar. I don't use much sugar either.
Thanks for all the great tips and recipes. A++
Ahh nice adding a bit of heat is a great tip for peeps, thanks much for your note. Cheers.