Do you love pickled onions as much as I do? Pickling transforms raw red onions from pungent and crunchy to irresistibly tangy and crisp. I add some red pepper flakes for extra spice and a splash of maple syrup or honey to round out the other strong flavors.
These onions are the perfect condiment for tacos, burgers, salads, and more. The best part?
These quick-pickled onions are ready to serve after a brief 30-minute cooling period. Start your meal prep with these onions, and they’ll be ready to go by the time the rest of your dinner is ready.
These onions are incredibly easy to make, too. I like to keep them on hand for any meal that needs some extra oomph. Leftovers are so much more exciting with quick-pickled onions in the fridge!
Quick-Pickled Onion Tips
Slice the onions thinly
The trick to making truly quick pickled onions is to slice the onions very thin (about 1/8-inch), so they soften up and absorb the vinegar quickly. You can do this with a sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline.
You could choose to slice the onions thicker (about 1/4-inch) for more of a crunch. Beware that your onions will need a few hours, or an overnight rest, to give the vinegar time to reach all the way through the onion.
Choose your vinegars wisely
Using a combination of apple cider vinegar and regular distilled vinegar makes these pickles taste more interesting. You can use all distilled vinegar if that’s all you have at home.
Natural sweeteners for the win
Choosing maple syrup or honey instead of plain sugar offers some extra flavor and intrigue, while making these pickles naturally sweetened. I don’t recommend making these pickles without any sweetener—they’re well-balanced with it, but quite vinegary and pungent without it.
Make a pint or three
The recipe as written below yields a pint-sized jar of pickles (I used this cute Weck jar—that’s an affiliate link). You could easily double or triple the recipe for a big party or barbecue; just use several pint jars or one large jar.
This recipe will make your kitchen smell of vinegar, so you might want to run your stovetop vent while you’re making these pickles.
Uses for Quick-Pickled Onions
These onions are utterly delicious on:
- Basically anything that needs a crisp, spicy-sweet finish!
Watch How to Make Quick Pickled Onions
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes (plus 30 minutes cooling time)
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Cuisine: Mexican
Learn how to make quick-pickled onions! This tangy and crisp pickled onion recipe is ready in 30 minutes. These onions are the perfect condiment for tacos, burritos, nachos, burgers and more. Recipe yields 2 cups.
- 1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar or additional white vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for heat)
- Pack the onions into a 1-pint mason jar or similar heat-safe vessel. Place the jar in the sink, to catch any splashes of hot vinegar later.
- In a small saucepan, combine the water, both vinegars, maple syrup, salt, and pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium heat, then carefully pour the mixture into the jar over the onions.
- Use a butter knife or spoon to press the onions down into the vinegar and pop any air bubbles in the jar. Let the pickled onions cool to room temperature (about 20 to 30 minutes), at which point they should be sufficiently pickled for serving.
- Cover and refrigerate leftover pickled onions for later. Quick-pickled onions are best consumed within three days, but they keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Make it vegan: Be sure to use maple syrup instead of honey.
Can I can it? No. This recipe is a “refrigerator pickle” recipe. It is not designed for canning in a water bath, and it has not been tested for canning safety. Please do not attempt! Follow a recipe specifically designed for canning instead.