Quick Pickled Onions

Easy quick pickled onions in a jar

The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 2 mins
Total: 7 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
12 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
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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 are not canned, they aren't shelf-stable.


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  • 1 medium 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 quick pickled red onions
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  2. Peel the onion and slice it into thin rings. If the onion is very large, cut it in half lengthwise and slice the halves thinly.

    Peeled and sliced red onion
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  3. Pack the onion rings or slices into a half-pint canning jar or a 1 cup container.

    Onions sliced and packed into a glass jar
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  4. Put the remaining ingredients into a small saucepan and place it 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.

    Put remaining ingredients into saucepan
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  5. Pour the hot liquid over the onion and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until cooled.

    Pour in vinegar over red onions
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  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.

    Cover container with red onions
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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.


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.