Easy Pickled Red Onions

These easy pickled red onions are made with 5 simple ingredients. Pickled red onions are an indispensable ingredient in your kitchen to add a tangy, sweet flavor and a crunchy texture to so many dishes.

There are a few reasons why this recipe for easy pickled red onions is a must. Firstly, because it’s straightforward to make. And it also pairs excellently with so many dishes. It doesn’t only look amazing topped on a simple salad bowl or in a wrap, but it elevates it from pretty good to restaurant-like unique flavors.

Red pickled onions are tangy, slightly sweet, and slightly bitter and the most beautiful way to give all your (savory) dishes a burst of flavor, texture, and color.

Depending on how much you are going to make, you will only need 5 ingredients and 10 minutes to make easy pickled red onions. Easy and speedy.

After that, all you need is a little patience to let the vinegar solution do its work. You can pair these red pickled onions almost with everything.

If you are a bit shy of pickling, don’t be. There are no long pickling times, no canning, and you also don’t need any special cutting techniques or a crazy amount of onions to make a nice batch. This recipe is fool-proof.

If you are intrigued by the beautiful, vibrant pink color and love the tangy, sweet, slightly crunchy, and bitter taste, this is a recipe you have to try. Pickled red onions will add a pop of flavor and texture to so many dishes, such as salads, bowls, wraps, sandwiches, pizzas, tacos, burritos, soups, burgers, fries, curries, falafel, potatoes, and so much more. These pretty little pink onions can add so much flavor to so many dishes.


This recipe requires 5 simple ingredients which you might already have in your kitchen.

Ingredients for easy pickled red onions on a light grey backdrop with the written words next to it.

Red onion: One big onion or two medium-sized onions, thinly sliced vertically with a mandoline or a knife is ideal. Bigger slices are also an option, but this will take a bit longer to pickle.

Vinegar: This recipe calls for white vinegar, but if you like the slightly sweeter taste of apple cider vinegar, you can use that. See below for all my recommended vinegar options.

Sweetener: A sweetener such as granulated sugar will add that touch of sweetness to balance out the acidity. 

Salt: This is such a flavor enhancer in this recipe, so be sure to add it.

Water: The vinegar brine is slightly diluted with water to reduce the acidity of the vinegar.

Extra seasonings (optional): see the below under variations to add extra seasonings to the brine.


To make pickled red onions, you will need 5 ingredients: red onions, water, white vinegar, (sea) salt, and sugar. The details instructions are in the recipe card below, and also, the video in this post might be helpful.

Two red onions and a white mandoline on a white marble cutting board.

Step 1.
Thinly slice the onions. Start by removing the outer skin of the onions and slice thinly. You can use a mandoline. This is a quick way to slice all onions the same size. But you can also use a knife to slice the onions. Place the onions in one big or two smaller jars. 

The thicker the onions, the longer it takes to pickle the onions. The thinner the onions, the less time it takes to pickle. I prefer thinly sliced onions, and these are ready to be served after about an hour in the fridge. 

Thinly sliced red onions on a white marble cutting board.

Step 2.
Make the brine mixture. Next, heat the 5 ingredients over medium heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. This will only take 1-2 minutes. Let cool slightly (about a minute).

Ingredients to make the brine for pickled red onions in a vanilla colored saucepan on a white napkin with a brown wooden spatula in the saucepan.

Step 3.
Let it pickle. Pour the brine over the sliced onions in the jars. When the jars are at room temperature, cover them and place them in the fridge. Make sure the onions are all submerged in the brine.

When the onions are vibrant pink and slightly tender, they are ready to be served. This can take 1 hour to overnight and depends on the thickness of the onions. The thicker the onions, the longer it might take for them to pickle. The thinly sliced onions can be ready in one hour. 


This recipe is a basic recipe for pickled red onions, but variations are possible and delicious.

While I recommend using thinly sliced onions, you can also use thicker onions for this recipe. They will be crunchier. All you need to do is let them pickle longer in the brine. For thick onions, I recommend pickling them overnight.

Fresh herbs are a delicious way to add variations. Both fresh and dry herbs can add a nice variation to this recipe.

Maybe you like a spicy flavor? Then add in some sliced serrano peppers, jalapeño peppers, or habañero peppers if you can take the heat. A few crushed red pepper flakes might be a better option if you want a mild spicy flavor.

Other options
A few garlic cloves and a few peppercorns will add a kick without making it spicy. Other options are to add roasted spices, such as cumin and mustard seeds.

I also like to change up the vinegar. For this recipe, I typically use organic distilled white vinegar, but you can use any vinegar or a combination. Here are a few options:

Once you have made the basic recipe for pickled onions, it’s fun to play around with the tangy flavors. But the basic recipe below is also truly delicious!


This recipe is a basic recipe, but there are a few alternative options possible.

Red onions: This is a recipe for pickled red onions, but you can follow the same recipe for white, yellow, or sweet onions. 

Sweetener: While most pickled red onion recipes will call for granulated sugar, this can be substituted. The sugar will dissolve in warm water and acts as a sweetener, so it’s perfectly fine to use another sweetener, such as maple syrup or date syrup. 

Make it less raw: There is not a substitute for onions in this recipe, but you can make the raw onions less raw and still enjoy them. You can do so by parboiling the onions shortly. Bring water to a boil and shortly boil the onions until they are soft; this only takes about 30 seconds. You don’t want to cook them. Then let the onions cool and proceed with the recipe as below. 

Replace the vinegar: Use a citrus base for your brine instead of vinegar. Replace the vinegar with lemon- or lime juice or half lemon- or lime juice and half orange juice.


Everything tastes better when served with pickled red onions. Above I already mentioned a few delicious ways to use pickled red onions to add that vibrant pink color and pop of flavor to any recipe. The options are endless, but here are a few suggestions:

Toast & Sandwich
The classic option is to stuff a sandwich, panini, or toast with pickled red onions. This onigarizu (sushi sandwich) is delicious with a good layer of pickled red onions. And with this chickpeas salad sandwich the onions will add so much flavor, color, and texture.

Salad & Burgers
I don’t think there is a salad or burger that doesn’t get better with pickled red onions, such as this sweet potato and chickpeas tomato salad or this asparagus salad with buckwheat and radishes.

Another classic way to add a delicious flavor is using them in a jackfruit taco recipe. In general, a lot of Mexican dishes pair really well with pickled onions. Such as, burritos, nachos, sopes and tostadas.

Savory Breakfast
A savory breakfast such as this tofu scramble only gets better with pickled red onions.

Another beautiful and delicious way to use them is with this Thai green curry recipe.

Pile them on any falafel recipe, such as these falafel waffles or this green peas falafel recipe.

Side dishes
Also potato salads, rice, refried beans are a good combination with pickled onions.

All the bowls get better with pickled red onions. For more bowl recipes, go have a look at “The Green Bowl’’.

These pretty little pink onions can add so much flavor to so many dishes.

Glass jar with easy pickled red onions on a small blue plate with a wooden fork in it on a grey backdrop with red onions and another glass jar with pickled red onions in the back.


On average pickled red onions will last in the fridge for about 3 weeks, but it depends on your preparation. This recipe is for easy, quick pickled onions. These will last in the fridge for about 3-4 weeks in a glass jar with a lid.

If you make vacuum-sealed pickled onions, they can last about 2 years in the pantry. And after opening, those will last 3-4 weeks in the fridge.

If you find mold at any point, be sure to discard the whole jar.

The vinegary, tangy flavor adds irresistible flavor and color to so many dishes. Give this recipe a try – you’ll want to add these onions to everything. If you are going to make these easy pickled red onions, let me know! Take a photo and tag #thegreencreator @thegreencreator on Instagram or Facebook.

A glass jar with pickled red onions on a light grey backdrop with a white napkin and a wooden fork in the back
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Glass jar with easy pickled red onions on a small blue plate with a wooden fork on a grey backdrop with red onions and another glass jar with pickled red onions in the back.


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  • Author: Bianca
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2x 10 oz jar 1x
  • Category: side, lunch, main
  • Method: fridge and stovetop
  • Diet: Vegan


Easy pickled red onions are made with 5 simple ingredients and add a tangy, sweet flavor and crunchy texture to so many dishes. It takes less than 10 minutes to make, and they will last a few weeks in the fridge.


  • 2 medium red onions or 1 large red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) white vinegar (or any other vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 (375 ml) cups water
  • 1/4 cup (60 gram) sugar (or any other sweetener)
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt


Slice the onions
Peel the red onions and slice thinly. It helps to use a mandoline. It is faster and makes all the onions slices the same size. But you can also use a knife to slice the onions.

Place the onions in two jars or one big jar. I like to use two 10-ounce jars or one 16-ounce jar. If you use any additional flavorings, place them also in the jar.

Vinegar mixture 
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. This should not take much longer than 1 minute. 

Add to the onions
Let the mixture cool ever so slightly and pour over the onions in the jar. Make sure all onions are submerged in the brine.

Set aside and let the jars cool until they reach room temperature. Cover the jars with a lid and store the jars in the fridge to pickle. 

The pickled onions are ready to be served when they are vibrant pink color and tender. This takes about 1 hour or overnight for thicker sliced onions. 


Pickled red onions will last in the fridge for about 3-4 weeks in a glass jar with a lid.

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