The Kitchn

How to make quick-pickled red onions

thekitchn.comSeptember 10, 2013 

If you were to peek into my refrigerator any season of the year, you will surely find a jar of pickled red onions.

This bright, jewel-toned condiment adds a zesty tang and a lovely splash of color to countless dishes. It takes about 10 minutes to assemble and lasts for several weeks in the refrigerator. What more can you want from a pickle?

There are countless uses for pickled onions. Tuck them into sandwiches, especially those with rich meats such as pulled pork; use them as a condiment in tacos, bean dishes and rich mayo-based salads such as potato or egg salad; toss them into lettuce salads, grain salads and salads with sturdy greens such as kale. Their bright pink color, crunchy texture and piquant flavor will perk up almost any dish. They’re also perfect on sandwich and salad buffets at parties.

I cut my onions into rings because the tangled loops are easier to scoop from the jar and I like the way they look. If you prefer, you can cut the onions into half moons. They can be sliced paper thin or into rather thick, half-inch slices, but I split the difference and slice them slightly thinner than quarter-inch thick.

I use red onions, but yellow or white onions can be used as well. You won’t get that lovely bright pink color, though. Be sure to use a firm onion that is free of soft spots and blemishes.

For the vinegar, I usually use a pale-colored vinegar such as rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, but apple cider vinegar will do. Do not use distilled white vinegar. It’s too harsh-tasting.

The sugar provides a nice balance to the salty vinegar brine, but you can leave it out if you are avoiding sugar. Honey or another sugar substitute might work, but start with less just be safe.

Over time, the onions will turn a uniform shade of vivid pink. Be sure to store your pickled onions in a glass or ceramic container. Most metals will react with the vinegar, and plastic will absorb the flavors. I like to use a pretty canning jar so I can just grab the onions from the refrigerator and plunk them on the table with no fuss.

Dana Velden is a writer for, a website on food and home cooking.

Quick-Pickled Onions 1 firm red onion, about 5 ounces 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar Flavorings (optional): 1 small clove of garlic, halved 5 black peppercorns 5 allspice berries 3 small springs thyme 1 small dried chile

BRING 2 to 3 cups of water to boil in a kettle. Peel and thinly slice the onion into approximately 1/4-inch circles. Peel and cut the garlic clove in half.

PLACE the sugar, salt, vinegar and flavorings in the container you will use to store the onions. Stir to dissolve.

PLACE the onions in a sieve and place the sieve in the sink. Slowly pour the boiling water over the onions and let them drain. Add the onions to the jar with the vinegar. Stir gently to evenly distribute the flavorings.

STORE in the refrigerator. The onions will be ready to use in about 30 minutes, but are better after a few hours. They will keep for several weeks but are best in the first week.

Yield: 2 cups.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service