Pickled Onions

Pickled Onions Recipe

 The Spruce

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 30 servings
Yield: 3 jars
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
44 Calories
0g Fat
9g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 30
Amount per serving
Calories 44
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 325mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 12mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 61mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This old-fashioned pickled onion recipe is truly a national treasure in Great Britain. The onions appear alongside fish and chips, on a Ploughman's Lunch, with savory pies, and just about every dish where they can. You can buy any of the hundreds of commercial varieties groaning on the supermarket shelves, but nothing beats a jar of homemade pickled onions.


Click Play to See This Pickled Onions Recipe Come Together

We will not pretend that, though easy to make, the process of pickling onions isn't quite tedious. So put the radio on or prop the iPad up and catch a little music while you are doing it. You will soon discover that pickled onions are so worth the effort, and you can lighten the load and save yourself hours if you read the note about peeling onions at the start of the recipe.

Tiny pickling or button onions are mainly available in the autumn and if prepared and stored early enough will be perfect for Boxing Day to eat with cold meats or pork pie. Some say Christmas is never the same without them. Also, they will keep almost year-round on a pantry shelf with no need to refrigerate.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (25 grams) table salt

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 kilogram) pickling onions, peeled, (see note below)

  • 4 teaspoons pickling spices

For the Spice Mix:

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes

For the Pickling:

  • 35 ounces (l liter) malt vinegar

  • 6 ounces (170 grams) sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Pickled onions recipe ingredients

    The Spruce

  2. Sprinkle the salt over the dry, peeled onions.

    Peeled button onions in bowl sprinkled with salt

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  3. Stir to make sure the salt is distributed and leave overnight. (Do not leave longer than overnight if you want your onions to be crisp.)

    Salted button onions in bowl, stirred

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  4. When ready, rinse the onions and dry with kitchen towel.

    Button onions rinsed and drying on paper towel

    The Spruce

  5. Mix together the pickling spices.

    Pickling spices for onions

    The Spruce

  6. Place the spices, malt vinegar, and sugar into a large stainless steel pan.

    pickling spices and vinegar in stainless steel pot
     The Spruce
  7. Heat to dissolve the sugar, but do not boil.

    Pickling spices in vinegar in stainless steel pot on stove

    The Spruce

  8. Pack the onions into clean, sterilized jars.

    Onions in clean, sterilized jars

    The Spruce

  9. Pour the vinegar and spice liquid over to fill the jars, making sure each jar has pickling spices and that there are no air pockets.

    Three sealed jars of pickled onions

    The Spruce

  10. Seal the jars and leave to cool.


  • The onions will be ready to eat after about one month, though they will be better if kept for two. Once opened, store in a refrigerator.
  • A 1-pound jar will contain approximately 10 servings, depending on the size of the onions.

The Easy Way to Peel Pickling Onions

  1. Peeling pickling onions is fiddly and time-consuming. To speed up the process, top and tail the onions.

    Pickled Onions on cutting board with knife
     The Spruce
  2. Then place the onions in a large heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over to cover.

    unpeeled onions in bowl of water
     The Spruce
  3. Leave to cool, and once the water is cool, presto, the skins will just rub away.

    peeled onions next to bowl of unpeeled onions in bowl of water
     The Spruce
  4. Then, drain and pat the onions dry with a kitchen towel. Do not leave in the water once cool or the onions will start to go mushy when you preserve them. Once dried, proceed with the recipe.

    peeled onions on paper towel
     The Spruce