Quick Pickled Onions

Easy quick pickled onions recipe

The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 2 mins
Total: 7 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
15 Calories
0g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 15
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 147mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 0g
Calcium 6mg 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. The possibilities are endless! 

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. Use apple cider vinegar if you don't have red wine vinegar. Some other possibilities: a few allspice berries, a small dried chili pepper (instead of crushed red pepper flakes), a few sprigs of thyme, peppercorns, and mustard seeds.

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 wine vinegar (red, white, or a combination)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (coarsely ground, or about 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns)
  • Optional: dash crushed red pepper

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.

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

    Onions in 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
    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. Use the onions within 2 weeks.

    Cover container
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii