Quick Pickled Red Onions

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Tangy, punchy, and a vibrant pink color – these quick pickled red onions are an easy way to elevate a dish and made with just 4 basic ingredients. We keep a jar of these on hand for using on tacos, salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, and more.

If you think your meal is missing a little *something* – these quick pickled red onions might be exactly what you need. They are super simple to make and add just the right amount of punchy tang to a variety of dishes from salads to tacos to wraps.

If you’re a fan of pickled condiments like dill pickles, giardinera, olives, pickled jalapeños, you’re going to love this quick pickled red onions recipe. I think my favorite part of making these (besides eating them!), is seeing them turn such a vibrant pink after chilling in the fridge overnight. That pop of pink is such a fun way to add interest to your plate.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need to make these easy quick pickled red onions for tacos.

  • Red Onion: to make picked red onions, of course – you’re going to need red onion! Can you use white onions or yellow onions? Yes, but you’ll miss out on the vibrant pink color you get from using red onion.
  • White Vinegar: I prefer the flavor of pickled onions made white vinegar. (Plus, it’s super inexpensive!) However, you can use other vinegars. I recommend apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.
  • Sugar: a little bit of sugar added to these onions helps balance the tanginess of the vinegar so don’t skip it. You can substitute with pure maple syrup if you prefer.
  • Salt: the sea salt adds to the flavor of the onions and helps them pickle when chilling.
  • Black Pepper: adds just a hint of pepperiness to the finished quick pickled onions recipe.


Use a Different Vinegar: for a slightly different flavor, swap the type of vinegar you use: apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or red wine vinegar are all great options.

Add Spices: black pepper is my go-to, but you add a variety of different whole spices from your spice drawer like coriander seeds, star anise, mustard seeds, or fennel seeds. Sometimes we like to pop a bay leaf into the mix for that subtle, earthy flavor.

Add Fresh Herbs or Garlic: if you love a garlicky pickle, add a couple of thinly sliced garlic cloves to your pickled red onions. You could also experiment with adding some fresh herbs like dill, rosemary, or oregano.

Make it Spicy: add some sliced jalapeño peppers or some dried red pepper flakes to the pickling liquid for a spicier onion.

How to Make Quick Pickled Red Onions

Step One: Add the salt, sugar, and black peppercorns to the bottom of a bowl or glass jar. (I really like these 1/2 liter Weck jars.) Slice your red onion into very thin slices (the thinner, the better). I use a knife, but a mandolin works well too.

Step Two: Add the boiling hot water and white vinegar. (I love using my electric kettle for warming up water super fast.) Stir with a fork or whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Step Three: Add the thinly sliced red onion and let it sit out on the counter until it is room temperature. Cover with the lid and transfer to the refrigerator.

Step Four: Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours up to overnight until pickled. The color of the onion will brighten over time.

How to Use Quick Pickled Red Onions

We always keep our fridge stocked with a jar of these easy pickled red onions because they are such a versatile topping! They add a pretty pop of color to the dish and brighten it up with tangy and fresh flavor. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use these quick pickled red onion slices.

  • Add to Tacos: if you have seen any of the taco recipes on the blog, you know that we love using pickled red onions for tacos. Here are a few taco recipes to try with these onions: easy lentil tacos, seitan tacos, mushroom tacos.
  • Add to Salad: as a household with two dietitians – we eat a lot of salads around here! If you’re a fan of olives or pickles on salad, you’re going to love adding these tangy pickled red onions. Here are a few salads to try them on: peach panzanella salad, summer grilled corn salad, chickpea taco salads.
  • Add to Grain Bowls: if we aren’t using these on tacos, we’re adding them to bowls. Here are a few bowls to try: cauliflower shawarma hummus bowl or these sheet pan taco bowls.
  • Avocado Toast: if I’m craving a savory breakfast, I’m reaching for tofu scramble with a side of avocado toast. These pickled red onions are the perfect way to elevate a humble slice of avocado toast to the next level.
  • Sandwiches and Wraps: if you love pickles on your sandwich or wrap, switch things up and add these pickled red onions instead. We like using them on these buffalo tempeh wraps and these roasted eggplant sandwiches.
easy vegan lentil tacos garnished with avocado and hot sauce.

Recipe FAQs

How long will pickled red onions last?

Pickled red onions will keep in the fridge in an airtight container or mason jar for up to 2-3 weeks.

Can you pickle red onion without white vinegar?

Yes, you can use other vinegars to pickle the red onion – it just changes the flavor slightly. You can also use apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or rice vinegar.

Can I leave out the sugar?

Yes, you can omit the sugar if you’d like. The sugar helps cut through the vinegar flavor a bit, but it isn’t necessary. You can substitute with another sweetener like maple syrup.

Did you love this recipe? Make sure to leave a ⭐️ rating and tag #dietitiandebbie on instagram!

quick pickled red onions in a jar with a fork.

Pickled Red Onions

Created by: Deborah Murphy

Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Tangy, punchy, and a vibrant pink color – these quick pickled red onions are an easy way to elevate a dish and made with just 4 basic ingredients. We keep a jar of these on hand for using on tacos, salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, and more.

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  • Add the vinegar, hot water, salt, sugar, and black peppercorns to a jar or bowl and stir well with a fork or whisk until salt and sugar is dissolved.

  • Add the sliced onion to the jar and stir. Make sure that all the onion slices are covered with the vinegar mixture.

  • Cover the jar with the lid and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to overnight. Enjoy on salads, sandwiches, wraps, tacos, and more.


  • These quick pickled red onions can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks. 
  • How to use: we like to add these to sandwiches, tacos, salads, wraps, nachos, grain bowls, and avocado toast.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 10kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.02g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.003g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.001g | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 21mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.04mg

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