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Quick Pickled Red Onions are going to dramatically improve your life. Or at least your tacos, sandwiches, salads, cheese boards, and (if you’re anything like me) the bites you sneak directly out of the refrigerator before dinner.

pickled red onions on a fork

Life improvement might sound like an overstated achievement to award a pickled vegetable, but having a jar of these ruby beauties in your refrigerator sends the kind of positive life signals that can you make you feel better about your existence at large.

It is as if, so long as I can keep a mason jar of quick pickled onions on hand—easy to do considering it takes all of five minutes to stir them together—surely I must have the rest of my act together too.

  • Pickled onions are a combination of sweet, salty, and tangy.
  • They add freshness, pop, and crunch to everyday favorites.

You can use quick pickled red onions (and homemade Refrigerator Pickles) on salads (try it on this Spinach Strawberry Salad), sandwiches (like this Pulled Chicken Sandwich or Meatloaf Sandwich), burgers (hello better Shrimp Burger), tacos (especially Instant Pot Carnitas), and so much more!

red onions pickled in vinegar in a jar

About Quick Pickles

This is a recipe for quick pickled red onions.

  • That means once you’ve stirred them together (which takes only a few minutes), they’re ready to add to your meal after just 15 minutes of pickling time.
  • Pickled onions can last in your fridge for up to 3 weeks.
  • This recipe is not designed to be canned—if you will be canning, find a recipe specifically designed for canned pickled onions instead of quick pickled.

Go on and make a big batch, even if you’re just a household of one or two.

You’ll love having them at the ready to improve your life too!

red pickled onions in a mason jar

What is a Pickle?

Pickling is a process of preserving foods by soaking them in a solution of water and vinegar or water and salt.

  • This produces acid and prevents spoilage.
  • The resulting food is a pickle.
  • Pickling is an ancient, global art! From dill pickles in New York, to German sauerkraut, to Korean kimchee, to Indian chutneys, to Japanese pickles, you can find pickled foods all over the world and through the centuries.

How to Make The Best Quick Pickled Onions

This quick pickled red onion recipe was inspired by some incredible pickled red onions I tried on top of avocado toast in San Francisco.

What made them special was a warm, subtle undertone of whole spices.

The pickled onions were fantastic on my avocado toast to be certain, but they were so tasty in their own right, they could easily hold their own on a charcuterie board.

  • I’ve included suggestions for using the whole spices here if you’d like to create something similar to what I tried in San Francisco.
  • You can add red pepper flakes for spicy pickled onions, or even throw some jalapeños in there.
  • Or omit the spices entirely for classic, perfect pickled onions.

Pickling is easy and flexible. Have fun!

spicy pickled onions in vinegar in a mason jar

The Ingredients

  • Red Onion. My favorite for pickled onions. Its flavor transforms from biting to tangy.

Market Swap

You can also use this recipe for pickled white onions, though personally I prefer the more robust red.

  • Vinegar. A mix of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar adds fruity complexity and kicks off the pickling process. If you only use one, I’d recommend apple cider vinegar like in my friend Rachel’s Pickled Red Onions.

Substitution Tip

While I recommend the classic white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, just about any vinegar mixture will work, also including white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or red wine vinegar. Just steer clear of aged or concentrated vinegars like balsamic or malt.

  • Honey. Pickles are traditionally made with water, vinegar, and cane sugar for sweetener. I prefer to use honey. It’s more natural and adds subtle floral notes.

Substitution Tip

If you prefer (or need the pickled onions vegan), you can swap the honey for regular cane sugar.

  • Whole Spices. Bayleaf, a cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, and whole cloves give the pickled onions warmth and complexity. You can use all of them, none of them, or pick one or two.


The flavor of the whole spices will become more pronounced the longer the pickled onions sit in your refrigerator. Once the onions reach a flavor profile you are happy with, you can remove and discard the brine.

  • Red Pepper Flakes. Add up to 1/4 teaspoon for spicy pickled onions. I like a tiny pinch (around 1/8 teaspoon) for subtle heat.

The Directions

sliced red onion on a cutting board
  1. With a sharp knife, halve the red onion from top to bottom, cutting down through the stem.
slices of red onion for pickling on a cutting board
  1. Place the flat sides down and cut onions in VERY thin slices (as thin as you can) lengthwise.
white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a saucepan
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the vinegars, honey, and spices over medium-high until reaches a boil, and immediately reduce to simmer. Then whisk until the honey dissolves.
sliced onions in a jar
  1. Put the onions in a jar and pour the warm pickling liquid over the top.

Equipment Tip

  • Jar size matters. To make sure you have adequate room for the onion slices and pickling liquid, use a jar that is at least 24 ounces (3 cups); 32 ounces is even better.
  • Here is a good size for mason jar pickled onions. I use these jars, and 1 medium red onion fits just right.
spicy pickled onions in a mason jar

How to Use Quick Pickled Onions

  • Chopping Knife. Zwilling carbon and stainless steel chef’s knife with ergonomic handle.
  • Cutting Board. Easy-to-clean non-porous surface with rubber counter grips.
  • Saucepan. 2 layers of durable, stainless steel for maximum durability and fast, even heat distribution. Plus a lifetime warranty.

If only every life upgrade were this easy (and DELISH!).

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Quick Pickled Onions Last in the Refrigerator?

Pickled onions can last in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. I like them best during the first week because they are the most crisp, but they’re still yummy later on.

How Can I Make Pickled Onions Crunchy?

Pickled onions do have some crunch, but if you want them especially crunchy, slice the onion a bit thicker and use them in the first week.

Why Have My Homemade Pickled Onions Gone Soft?

Pickled onions do soften often over time, a natural result of them sitting in the acidic pickling solution. If you prefer them on the crunchy side, use them sooner than later.

Are Pickled Onions Good for You?

Yes! Onions are a vegetable after all! Red onions contain antioxidants, manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Further, fermented foods like pickles have been linked to good digestive health.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

4.93 from 13 votes
Easy quick pickled red onions that are ready in minutes! Crispy, tangy and versatile. Use them for salads, sandwiches, tacos and more!

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Total: 25 minutes

Servings: 10 1/4-cup servings


For Classic, Perfect Pickled Onions:

For Spiced Pickled Onions (Add Any Combo Of):

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick broken in half
  • 2 to 3 whole cloves allspice berries, or a mix
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes use 1/4 teaspoon for spicy pickled onions


  • Halve the red onion from top to bottom, cutting down through the stem. Place the flat sides down on the cutting board.
  • Slice each half VERY thinly (as thin as you can) lengthwise (that’s through the stem, the same direction you cut it initially). Transfer to a 1 1/2 pint (24 ounce or 3-cup) or larger mason jar (I use these jars and a medium red onion fits just right) or a similar heat-proof storage container.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the water, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, honey, kosher salt, and any additional spices over medium-high, just until the mixture comes to a simmer. Whisk together the ingredients until the honey dissolves.
  • Place the onion jar in the sink to catch any splashes, then pour the warm pickling liquid over the top (including any whole spices). Use a dull knife or small spoon to lightly stir and push the onions around and down. Ensure the onions and spices are submerged. Let sit for at least 15 minutes prior to use (30 minutes is even better). Or, cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.


  • These pickled onions CANNOT be canned. It was developed for pickles that are stored in the refrigerator only. If you’d like to can them, please use a different recipe designed specifically for canning, as this one is not safe to can. (I don’t have a particular recipe I recommend, but a quick online search should turn up some great options.)
  • TO STORE: Pickled onions can last in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. I like them best during the first week because they are the most crisp, but they’re still yummy later on.
  • Nutrition facts have been calculated without the pickling liquid (for the onion only), as the liquid is discarded. Please note, nutrition facts are a general guide only. For a more specialized calculation, you can play around with the recipe amounts at no charge at websites such as


Serving: 0.25cups (without liquid)Calories: 4kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 16mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Do you leave the liquid in for the 3 weeks or after pickling do you discard the liquid?
    These look delicious. Cannot wait to try them.

    1. Hi Bennett, I am not sure I am understanding your question? Are you looking for the ingredients and directions? They are located in the recipe card.

  2. I made this recipe last night and was amazed with it’s taste. I had it with lunch today and enjoyed it very much. It’s a keeper, especially for summertime and sandwiches. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

  3. Incredible! I will be making this over and over again! Made a salad with shredded spinach, cabbage, chopped lime-soaked apple, homemade jalapeño lime ranch dressing, queso fresco, and topped it with your DELICIOUS onions…wow, just wow. I think these onions will go well on just about anything. Also excellent on pork chili verde. Thank you for the easiest and most satisfying recipe!5 stars