Keep a jar of pickled red onions on hand for adding to tacos, salads, burgers and avocado toast. These ones are pickled with a mixture of fresh citrus juices.
Pickled red onions make the flavors pop in almost any dish. Pile on tacos or burgers, or mix them into a cauliflower salad or broccoli salad. And you've never tried fermented veggies in stir-fries (hello, kimchi!), you're missing out. Just a few onions add a ton of flavor!
I use a mixture of citrus juices - orange, lemon and lime - and vinegar in this recipe, but straight vinegar does the trick, too.
What you need for quick pickled red onions:
These are the main components of this recipe (affiliate links included):
- Red onion: You’ll need one medium or 1 ½ small red onions.
- Citrus: I like the flavor of citrus juices in pickled onions, but feel free to use vinegar exclusively. In this recipe, I used fresh orange, lemon and lime juices.
- Rice vinegar: I used rice vinegar, but apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or regular vinegar will also work.
- Sweetener: I used agave nectar, but feel free to substitute with honey (not vegan), maple syrup or granulated sugar.
- Salt: Kosher salt or sea salt work best.
How to pickle red onions:
- Cut off the tip of the red onion, keeping the root intact (makes it easier for slicing). Cut in half through the root and peel both halves of the onion. Thinly slice.
- Stuff the onion slices into a pickling jar, pushing them down as needed.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the pickling ingredients – citrus juices, rice vinegar, agave nectar and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then carefully pour it over the onions.
- Using a butter knife or a fork, give the onions a stir, then let rest until the liquid has cooled.
- Close the lid and store in the refrigerator. I like to pickle the onions for at least an hour before using.
Frequently asked questions:
How long do pickled onions last?
When store properly in the refrigerator in a lidded canning jar or an airtight glass container, the onions should last for up to 2 weeks.
I recommended using a glass container rather than a plastic one. The smell of the onions tends to seep into the plastic and it’s hard to get out.
How to serve them:
So many options!
Tacos: Serve these in tacos with my Instant Pot Shredded Chicken, on Grilled Chimichurri Steak Tacos or on Greek Shrimp Tacos. Really, they're fantastic on almost any kind of taco!
Salads: These add a fantastic taste acid to almost any salad, but they would be particularly good in my Cauliflower Salad (swap out the pepperoncini) or in my Chopped Broccoli Salad with Tahini Dressing.
Sandwiches & burgers: Mix the pickled onions into healthy tuna salad and serve in lettuce leaves or on crackers or bread. They would also be fantastic on Edamame Hummus Veggie Wraps or Grilled Turkey Burgers.
Avocado toast: These are fantastic on avocado toast. I spread some hummus on toasted bread, load on the smashed avocado and top with pickled onions. So good!
Stir-fries: I love throwing some fermented veggies into a stir fry for an extra layer of flavor. Use them in my Chicken Kimchi Stir Fry or Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice.
Pickled Red Onions
- 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup fresh orange juice
- ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup water
- Juice of 1 lime
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
- Place the sliced red onion into a pint-sized canning jar.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the orange juice, water, rice vinegar, lime and lemon juices, agave nectar and salt.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Carefully pour the liquid into the canning jar, over the onions. Give it a stir.
- Let the liquid cool, with the lid off. Then close with the lid and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve as desired.
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
No need to heat the pickling liquid
Hi Tom, that's a personal preference. I heat the liquid, which is not an uncommon practice when making pickled red onions, to slightly blanch the onions to take some of the "bite" out of the raw onion flavor.
great flavor punch, and nice to keep on hand as you suggest, thank you
Ordinary yellow onions, thinly sliced in a shallow dish.
Pour white or malt vinegar over them to just cover.
Add sugar. Leave for 30 mins or so, taste,
and adjust the sugar. Leave for an hour or more, and serve.
That works too, Annie!