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+ servings

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions are a must-have condiment! They add a zesty, tangy crunch and are always the highlight in whatever dish I’m eating AKA you will crave them in every bite! Best of all, this quick pickled red onion recipe is ridiculously easy to make with pantry friendly ingredients. Just bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a simmer, pour it over sliced onions and wait for 30 minutes – that’s it! You can keep your pickled red onions fabulous in their bright, tangy simplicity or customize them with all sorts of add-ins such as peppercorns, coriander, bay leaves, thyme etc. Your glorious pickled red onions will last for weeks in the fridge ready to elevate anything they touch.
Course Condiment, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 cups


  • 1 large red onion halved, thinly sliced (1/8-inch)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt (or table salt)

Optional Add ins (see post for full list):


  • Add sliced onions into a 1-pint mason jar; set aside.
  • Combine the vinegars, water, sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer just for 30 seconds to dissolve the sugar, then remove from heat and add any additional add-ins if using.
  • Carefully pour the solution into the jar with the onions (I do this in the sink using a funnel). Press the onions down with a spoon until submerged in the solution. Let the pickled onions cool to room temperature for 30 minutes, then seal and refrigerate.


  • The pickled red onions are ready to enjoy after 30 minutes or can be refrigerated for 3 weeks if using the basic recipe or dried herbs. They are good for up to 1 week if using fresh herbs.


Tips and Tricks

  • Vinegar: You can use any vinegar or mix of vinegars to pickle onions depending on your personal preference.  I tend to like mixing two vinegars for an added depth of flavor, but you can use just one if you like.  If using one, I recommend all apple cider vinegar.  In a side-to-side taste test of the recipe as written and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar + 1/4 cup white vinegar, both my husband and I preferred the one with red wine vinegar, hand's down. 
  • Slice the onions thinly and uniformly.  The key to quick pickled red onions in 30 minutes is to slice them 1/8-inch thick so they can soften and pickle quickly. This is easiest to do with a mandoline otherwise be VERY careful when slicing with a sharp knife.  If slicing by hand, I suggest discarding the last portion of the onion or you run the risk of cutting your stabilizing hand.
  • Thicker onions will take longer to pickle.  You are welcome to slice the onions closer to ¼-inch thick, but be mindful they will be crunchier.  Thicker onions will require several hours to pickle, up to overnight.
  • Use a glass jar or container.  The high acidity in vinegar can react with metal or other materials, so make sure to use a glass container.  A one-pint mason jar is ideal because it has a tight fitting lid (a must!) and the perfect size and shape to fit the onions.  You can use another glass container but make sure it is more tall than wide so the solution will cover all of the onions.  
  • Double or triple the recipe.  If you go through pickled red onions like us, you will want to double or triple the recipe. When scaling up, there is no need to change the ratio of the ingredients.  You can divide the onions between several jars are or one large jar. 
  • Recipe variations. See the post for all sorts of recipe variations.