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Prep Pink Pickled Onions in 5 minutes and make your next dinner extraordinary. This quick and easy recipe is not just for Mexican cuisine like tacos and fajitas either. Add them to sandwiches, burgers, pizza, fish or chicken dishes too.
Did I get your attention? Good! Because you need this condiment in your bag of tricks come dinnertime. It's a staple in Mexican kitchens. But, it also elevates fish, salads, deviled eggs, and so many more dishes.
Don't let the word "pickling" scare you. These are refrigerator pickled onions. You don't need to sterilize anything. Just mix together water, vinegar, salt, and sugar then pour the brine over sliced red onions. It takes 5 minutes to prep and about 30 minutes until they turn a pretty, pink color and lose their pungent bite. They become irresistibly sweet and tangy!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- It takes minutes to make using ingredients you probably have on hand.
- It's low-calorie, low-carb, and a healthy way to boost the flavor of any dish.
- You can make it ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for weeks!
Ingredients and Variations
Pictured below are the basic ingredients to make pickled onions. We've also noted ways to tweak the recipe and make YOUR taste buds super happy.
- Red onion - Vidalia and white onions may be used. The final result will be tasty, but not pink!
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Other vinegars including white vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or a combination of vinegars will work.
- Water mellows the flavor of the pickling mixture.
- Salt preserves and seasons.
- Sugar - An alternative granular or liquid sweetener of your choice will work and will lower the carb count.
See recipe card for exact quantities.
Tip: Once you're familiar with the process, experiment! Spice it up by adding whole habanero or jalapeño chili peppers (or red pepper flakes.) Other options: Add slices of fresh garlic, a few peppercorns, or a pinch of your favorite dried or fresh herbs. A squeeze of fresh lime juice is also amazing.
Here's how to make it:
- Thinly slice red onion. Cut slices in half if desired. A mandoline slicer makes this job very easy and ensures that the slices are uniform in width. I used a very thin setting. Use a thicker setting or cut for a crunchier result.
- Heat water in a microwave oven or on the stovetop. It should be hot, but not boiling. It takes about 1 ½ minutes in my microwave. Dissolve sugar and salt in the water and stir in apple cider vinegar.
- Stuff sliced red onion into a glass bowl or mason jar. Pour pickling liquid over the top, pushing down onions with a spoon until they are completely covered.
- Let red onions stand on the countertop for about 30 minutes. They're sufficiently pickled at this point to enjoy. However, the onions will continue to break down a bit more during the next 30 minutes or so (in a good way!)
Tip: If you don't have enough pickling mixture to fully submerge the onions, add a little extra water and/or vinegar to the jar.
Yield / Nutritional Information
A medium-large red onion yields about 2 cups of pickled onions, drained. Serving size is ¼ cup.
Nutritional Information. Most of the pickling brine is NOT consumed when pickled onions are used as a topping. However, the nutritional information assumes that ALL of the brine is consumed!
Pickled onions will be at peak taste for the first few days after you make them. Take care to serve them with a clean fork so no bacteria is introduced to the storage container.
Refrigerator: Store pickled pink onions, submerged in the brine, for up to 2 weeks.
See more storage guidelines at USDA.gov.
What to Serve with Pickled Onions
If you love pickled red onions, then the sky is the limit on how to use them. I've even enjoyed on mac and cheese in a fancy restaurant! Here are some more ideas:
- Mexican favorites like tacos and fajitas. They're perfect with air fryer steak fajitas.
- Avocado toast or guacamole toast!
- Guacamole inspired dishes like Guacamole Chicken Melts
- Burgers such as Wagyu burgers or black bean burgers
- Hot Dogs
- Sandwiches - just layer them on with everything else!
- Pizza - the ultimate topping.
- Keto Deviled Eggs
- Side dishes such as potato salad or Mexican street corn cups
- Rice bowls
- On top of seafood, chicken, or beef.
Did I miss your favorite? Let me know and so I can add it to the list.
If you finish off the pickled onions before the suggested storage timeframe of 2 weeks ends and everything smells and looks ok, then the pickling brine can be used again. Cut down the storage time of the new batch accordingly.
These are refrigerator pickled onion so you don't need to sterilize anything. As a result, they can't be stored on the counter and have a shorter storage period.
More Easy Ways to Make Dinner Spectacular
Looking for more easy ways to elevate your next meal, check out these ideas:
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Pink Pickled Onions - Quick Recipe!
- 1 red onion medium sized
- ¾ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon sugar Sweetener Alternatives may be used.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- Cut red onion in half and thinly slice into uniform slices using a knife or mandoline. Place onion pieces in a glass jar or bowl.
- Heat water in the microwave for about 1 ½ minutes or until very hot, but not boiling. This may also be done on the stovetop.
- Add sugar and salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Add apple cider vinegar and stir.
- Pour pickling brine over the sliced onions, pushing down the onions so they are fully covered.
- Allow onions to sit for 30 minutes uncovered. They are ready to enjoy at this point! If you won't be eating them right away, then cover and store them in the refrigerator, submerged in the brine, for up to 2 weeks.
- Yield: A medium-large red onion yields about 2 cups of pickled onions, drained. Serving size is ¼ cup.
- Nutritional Information. Most of the pickling brine is NOT consumed when pickled onions are used as a topping. However, the nutritional information assumes that ALL of the brine is consumed.