These easy quick pickled red onions are the ultimate secret weapon, instantly elevating dishes ranging from tacos, to burgers, to grain bowls, to salads and much more (see below!). They have the most incredible flavor from a few secret ingredients and they last for weeks in the fridge. Best of all, you’re not going to believe how easy they are to make (spoiler alert, they come together in less than 10 minutes of active prep time)!
These pickled red onions have been a staple in my kitchen for years. I originally started making them to pair with my Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas but soon started using them on everything. They’re zippy and bright with a sweet crunch (not to mention an incredible color), and a few simple ingredients gives them an unparalleled flavor.
- Red onion: You’ll need just 1 large red onion for this recipe.
- Apple cider vinegar: I prefer the flavor of apple cider vinegar in these pickled onions, but you could use white wine vinegar or rice vinegar instead.
- Sugar and salt: Sugar gives the pickles a slight sweetness, while salt balances all the flavors.
- Cinnamon stick: A cinnamon stick is the magic ingredient, infusing the onions with a delicious warmth.
- Allspice berries (optional): Allspice berries also lend warmth and dimension to this pickled onions, but you can omit them if you don’t have them.
- Black peppercorns: Peppercorns lend a touch of spice, balancing the sweetness.
How to make quick pickled onions:
- Thinly slice one large red onion. You can slice the onion horizontally or vertically.
- Rinse the onion slices well in hot water. This will soften them slightly before pickling and mellow their flavor, allowing the pickling brine to better infuse.
- In a small saucepan, combine apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, a cinnamon stick, allspice berries and black peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onions and stir to combine.
- Let the onions sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the onions sit they will soften and will evenly be submerged in the brine.
- You can eat the pickled onions right away or you can refrigerate them for up to 3 weeks (you can keep the cinnamon stick in the brine or discard it before storing).
How to serve pickled onions:
The options are endless when it comes to serving these pickled onions, but here are some of my favorites.
- With pork carnitas
- On chicken tacos and shrimp tacos
- On burgers and veggie burgers
- On enchiladas
- In salads, such as roasted squash salads and taco salads
- In grain bowls
- In sandwiches and grilled cheese
Tips for this recipe
- I love the sweetness of red onion for these pickled onions, but you can use a white onion instead.
- If you don't have apple cider vinegar you can use white wine or rice vinegar.
- You can refrigerate the pickled onions in an airtight container or pint sized ball jar.
- Try the pickled onions on these Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas!
Pickled red onions can be refrigerated for 2-3 weeks. The longer they sit, the more flavorful they become, so go ahead and make them in advance!
It is not necessary to soak onions before pickling. Instead, rinse them well with hot tap water. This will soften them slightly before pickling and mellow their flavor, allowing the pickling brine to better infuse.
Yes! These quick pickled onions are made with just vinegar, no water, along with salt, sugar and flavorings (you can omit the flavorings if you prefer).
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Quick Pickled Red Onions
- 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 5 allspice berries
- Rinse the onion slices well under hot water. Shake them dry and put them in a heatproof bowl.
- In a small saucepan, bring the apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and allspice berries to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onion slices and toss (the liquid won’t initially cover the onions, but that’s ok as the onions will shrink down). Let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or refrigerate them for up to 2-3 weeks.