Quick Pickled Onions

quick pickled onions
Diana Rattray
Ratings (10)
  • Total: 7 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 2 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
15 Calories
0g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
(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.


  • 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. 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.

  2. Pack the onion rings or slices into a half-pint canning jar or a 1-cup container.

  3. 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.

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

  5. Cover the container and store the pickled onions in the refrigerator. Use the onions within 2 weeks.

Kitchen Notes

For the very best flavor, refrigerate the onions for a few hours or overnight.

How to Use Pickled Onions