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Pickled Red Onion Recipe

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Mandy Alzner

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You know the motto for Franks Red Hot?…”I put that shit on everything!”. Well, the same can be said for these pickled red onions. They are the perfect balance of sweet and sour, and their vibrant color instantly elevates your dish to gourmet status. Raw red onions are intense and pungent and often leave your palette with a harsh after taste.  But add a little sugar, salt, and a lot of vinegar and in just 30 minutes you can transform the humble, often overlooked, red onion into a delicious and eye catching gourmet garnish!

This pickled red onion recipe is considered a “quick pickle”, which is the simplest and fastest way to preserve vegetables without the need for traditional canning or the lengthy process of fermentation. I’m talking instant gratification! Quick pickling can be done with any number of vegetables, obviously we’re using red onions for this recipe, but you could try cucumbers, carrots, peppers….the list goes on.

No matter what you’ve chosen to pickle, the process remains fairly consistent. First, you’re going to make a brine using salt, sugar, vinegar and water. Then you’ll pour that over a jar (I like these ones) packed tightly with your prepared vegetables. Depending on what you’ve chosen to pickle, you can add aromatics or spices (think garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, dill…) to your jars to infuse different flavor profiles. Then we wait. The amount of pickling time needed is determined by the size and thickness of the veggies, so keep that in mind when you’re prepping them. For this recipe, I like to slice my onions super thin using a mandolin so they only need to sit for 25-30 minutes. Something like cucumbers or cauliflower would require a couple of hours in the fridge before they’re ready to eat. 

Quick pickling is a super easy and versatile way to add color and flavor to your dishes. Feel free to get creative and experiment with different veggies, vinegars, and aromatics to create your own signature pickles!

Equipment Needed:

Clean glass jar(s) with lid
Liquid measuring cup
Mandolin slicer(optional)

Pickled Red Onions

Makes one 24oz jar of pickled onions


  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp sugar

Cooking Instructions

  1. Thinly slice the red onion using a mandolin or knife, and pack it into your jar(s) as tightly as possible. The thinner the onions, the quicker they’ll pickle!
  2. Heat the vinegar and water in a small sauce pan on the stove or in a microwave safe container until almost boiling. 
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the hot liquid and whisk until it’s dissolved. 
  1. Pour the vinegar mixture over your onions until they are fully submerged. Cool uncovered for a couple minutes before sealing the jar. Marinate the onions for at least 30 minutes before enjoying.
  2. Use to garnish your favorite salads, sandwiches, and quinoa bowls! Enjoy!

The onions will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.


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