Minimal effort is required for these quick-pickled red onions. If you think everything tastes better in pickled form (like we do), then this is the recipe for you!
Transform pungent red onions into tangy, crispy, and delicious toppings for all your favorite foods.
What is quick-pickling?
Quick-pickling simply means any vegetable that's brined in vinegar, water, salt, and (sometimes) sugar.
The benefit of a quick method is being able to eat your hard work ASAP (30 minutes to a few days depending on the vegetable).
Don't worry, you only need to wait half an hour for this recipe, which brings us to our next point:
This is not a canning recipe!
Canning requires very specific equipment, preparation, ingredients, and most of all, time.
You may not be able to develop the deeper flavors of traditional canning in 30 minutes, but we're all about quick and easy here at Broke Bank Vegan!
We think pickled onions are a no-brainer to keep on-hand because they go with almost any meal and last such a long time in your fridge.
The flavorings are super easy to customize, so we're always experimenting with new herbs and spices. Try adding bay leaves, Mexican oregano, jalapeño slices, or cumin seeds for a delicious spin.
Do you have any seasonings you like to add in? Let us know in the comments!
We bet you'll be topping all your future meals with this easy pickled red onion recipe. It's vegan, gluten-free, and can be made sugar-free!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: milder than its white onion cousin, red onion delivers a crisp, zesty, and slightly bitter taste. Once pickled, you'll be left with tangy, slightly sweet, and crispy pink half-moons (drooling yet?).
Health: most of the health benefits associated with red onion come from the powerful antioxidant quercetin. It's been shown to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Taste: white vinegar is most often used in pickling recipes for its bright, acidic, and tangy flavor. We add water to this recipe in order to mellow out the sourness.
Health: there are human studies demonstrating improved postprandial (after eating) blood sugar levels with vinegar consumption! How cool is that? This is especially helpful to individuals suffering from diabetes.
Taste: one of the 5 universally accepted flavors, salt. We use it in this recipe for flavor and to help preserve the onions.
Health: moderate amounts of salt is not harmful to most people eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. The current guidelines recommend no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day, but don't go salt-free! It's necessary for proper muscle and nerve functioning.
Taste: the sweet taste of sugar is used in this recipe to cut the sour vinegar and saltiness. The brine should always lean more salty than sugary, but we use just enough sweetener to properly balance the flavors.
Fun fact: you can actually treat open wounds with sugar. By adding sugar to a wound, it soaks up moisture, making bacteria growth difficult. Records dating back to 1700 BCE show proof of sugar used in medicine.
If you have questions about this pickled red onion recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: peel your onion, cut it in half, and thinly slice the whole thing. Peel and crush the garlic cloves (this will help release the flavor). Set both of those aside.
Step 2: in a medium saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a light boil. Mix in the onion slices, garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, and any other seasoning you're adding.
Step 3: turn off the heat and let the saucepan sit covered for 10 minutes. Then, add the onions to a mason jar and pour the liquid over top. Lightly tap the jar down on your counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
Step 4: let the jar sit for another 20 minutes, then serve immediately or put the lid on and transfer to your fridge for storage (let it sit for a few hours for optimal flavor). Enjoy!
If you want to keep these pink half-moons on-hand, follow our instructions for the freshest pickled red onions around.
Quick-pickled onions will last in your fridge for up to 3 weeks. Just remember this is not a canning recipe, so make sure you treat it the same as any other open jar in your fridge.
Remove your garlic prior to putting it in the mason jar if you don't like the look of it turning blue or green. Note: it's perfectly normal for this to happen and doesn't affect the taste.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while perfecting this recipe for you:
- Try adding in different spices like Mexican oregano, cloves, bay leaves, cumin seeds, and more.
- Try replacing the sugar with agave, maple syrup, or even stevia.
- Use a mason jar for optimal storage and flavor.
- Add more garlic if you want a sharper flavor.
- Slice your onion thinly to speed up the pickling process.
- Leave out the sugar if you prefer the acidity and pungent flavor.
🍴 Tasting notes
We love how quickly these pickled red onions come together, and we know you will too. They're:
If you try this pickling recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Quick-Pickled Red Onions
- Chef knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Medium saucepan
- Mason jar
- 1 large red onion ($0.69)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.04)
- 1 cup white vinegar ($0.16)
- 1 cup water ($0.01)
- 2 teaspoon salt ($0.02)
- 1 ½ tablespoon cane sugar ($0.01)
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns ($0.01)
Additional seasonings optional
- 1-2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-2 whole cloves
- A few Jalapeño slices
- A pinch of whole cumin seeds
- A pinch of whole coriander seeds
- First, peel your onion. Then, cut it in half and thinly slice the whole thing. Peel and crush the garlic (this will help release the flavor). Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a light boil. Mix in the onion slices, garlic cloves, and whole peppercorns.
- Turn off the heat and let the saucepan sit covered for 10 minutes. Then, add the onions to a mason jar and pour the liquid over top. Lightly tap the jar down on your counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Let the jar sit for another 20 minutes, then serve immediately or put the lid on and transfer to your fridge for storage.
- Use any combination of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty dish ideas, check out our:
- Quick pickled jalapeños for a sweet, spicy, and tangy companion to pickled red onions.
- Vegan queso fresco to try a creamy, crumbly, and dairy-free version of this classic Mexican cheese.
- Simple salsa roja because you need an easy sauce to keep in the fridge at all times.
- Perfect refried beans to try making authentic Mexican refried beans and discover what you've been missing out on!
- Corn tortillas because no taco is complete without a homemade base.
This is not a canning recipe. If you're looking for a canning recipe, follow the USDA guidelines.
This is totally normal! When a specific compound (allicin) in garlic is formed and makes contact with an acid (vinegar), a reaction happens. This is what causes the color changes, but it's perfectly safe to eat and the taste isn't affected.
Yes, you can replace white vinegar with apple cider vinegar at a 1:1 ratio. The flavor will slightly change, so you'll need to adjust the amount of added sugar.
It's totally normal for red onions to turn a bright pink color during the pickling process.