Quick Pickled Onions

Pickled red onion rings being removed with a fork from a small jar

The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 2 mins
Refrigeration Time: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 12 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
12 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 12
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 79mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 4mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 21mg 0%
*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.)

These quick pickled onions are great when you want to add a little zing to a roast, burgers, sandwiches, beans, salads, or steaks. And they are fantastic on fish tacos and turkey burgers. Imagine them atop pulled pork on a sandwich. The possibilities are endless for these pickled onions, which are super easy to do.  

The onions take just a few minutes to prepare, and they add both zesty flavor and bright color to meals and snacks. All you need is some red wine vinegar, a little sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes. You can use white vinegar or even apple cider vinegar if you don't have red wine vinegar. Apple cider vinegar will make it a little sweeter.

The recipe makes enough to make one cup, but it's easily doubled for a 1-pint jar. This method is a great way to have pickled onions without going through all of the work that home canning entails. Keep the quick pickled onions in the refrigerator. Since they aren't canned, they aren't shelf-stable.


Click Play to See These Quick Pickled Onions Come Together

“Making your own quick pickled onions is so quick and easy and adds a delicious burst of flavor to elevate sandwiches, burgers, tacos, grain bowls, and so much more.”  —Joan Velush

Easy Quick Pickled Onions / Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 small red onion

  • 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, or 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

  • 1 dash crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for easy quick pickled onions recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  2. Peel the onion and slice it into thin rings.

    Thinly sliced red onion rings on a wooden cutting board

    The Spruce Eats /Madhumita Sathishkumar

  3. Pack the onion into a half-pint canning jar or a 1 cup container.

    Onion rings packed horizontally in a glass jar

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  4. Put the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, if using, in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil; remove from the heat. If your container isn't heatproof—such as a canning jar—let the vinegar brine cool slightly.

    Pickle brine ingredients combined in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  5. Pour the hot liquid over the onion and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until cooled.

    Pickle brine being poured into the glass jar with sliced onions

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  6. Cover the container and store the pickled onions in the refrigerator. For the very best flavor, refrigerate the onions for a few hours or overnight.

    Glass jars with pickled onions being closed with a screwtop lid

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar


Red onions are especially good for pickling because they tend to be a little sweeter, but feel free to try other onions, such as Walla Walla or Maui onions, which are sweeter, or even shallots.

Some other possibilities for flavor infusion include a few allspice berries, a small dried chili pepper (instead of crushed red pepper flakes), a few sprigs of thyme, a garlic clove, bay leaf, fennel seeds, peppercorns, and mustard seeds.

How to Store Pickled Red Onions

Because these red onions are quickly pickled and aren't canned, you'll need to keep them in the refrigerator and then consume the onions within 2 to 3 weeks.