1-Hour Quick Pickled Onions

These quick pickled onions are simple to put together and are perfect for topping tacos, sandwiches, and salads, as they add so much extra flavor.

1-Hour Quick Pickled Onions | A Couple Cooks

A few weeks ago, a listener left a comment one of our podcast episodes. In that episode, we recorded right from the kitchen of Jeanine of Love and Lemons, where she and I made a meal out of what was on hand in her refrigerator. It was a take on scrambled egg tacos, a non-recipe that’s pretty simple to whip up. We topped it with bright pink quick pickled onions Jeanine had in her fridge. It was this episode where listener Amanda commented that she was planning to use the podcast in a lesson on meal planning with young adults. Turns out she’s a plant-based nutrition educator at a residential treatment facility that believes in the power of food to heal. She teaches her students about eating lots of plants and how to cook, which helps them to be successful and stay healthy after they leave the program. How cool is that?

Related: Easy Homemade Pickles Recipes | Pickled Okra

All that said: I heard back from Amanda about the class, and she said it was wildly successful! The students listened to Jeanine and I rifling through her fridge and deciding to make tacos with what was on hand. Amanda showed the students this picture of the final dish, so they could see what resulted was beautiful and delicious-looking. And she had them do an exercise creating an imaginary meal out of four leftover ingredients. However, she did mention that they weren’t too sure about the quick pickled onions! It reminded me that quick pickled onions might need a little selling.

Why make quick pickled onions

Why make pickled onions? First of all, flavor: they bring a tangy brightness to a dish that’s unlike any other condiment. And second, color: the eye-popping fuchsia slivers make any dish look like a piece of art. Luckily, they’re also simple to make. Though you have one hour to wait, the hands-on time is only about five minutes.

Related: More Pickle Recipes | Quick Refrigerator Dill Pickles

What to eat with quick pickled onions

What recipes are best for this hot pink garnish? More than you would imagine. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Tacos. Any taco is made more perfect with pickled onions. They’d be lovely on our classic lentil tacos, as we did here.
  • Sopes. If you haven’t tried this authentic Mexican street food, you must. Here’s our homemade sopes recipe.
  • Pizza. Pickled onions on pizza might sound crazy, but this pecan, grape, and pickled onion pizza is to die for.
  • Salads. Throw a few pickled red onions on any salad to add a pleasant zing.
  • Sandwiches. A sandwich is a perfect carrier for pickled onions; specifically, try our vegetarian banh mi.

This week, Amanda’s class will be trying out the pickled onions; she plans to have her students try them out on a sandwich. We look forward to hearing whether they’re converts! And let us know if you have other ways you like to enjoy pickled onions; we’d love to hear.

Listen: Episode 31, Reclaiming the Kitchen.

1-Hour Quick Pickled Onions | A Couple Cooks

How to make quick pickled onions

Quick pickled onions could not be simpler to make. Here are the basic steps:

  • Thinly slice a red onion, then place it in a pickling liquid of vinegar, sugar and salt.
  • Let this mixture sit for 1 hour. As the onions sit in the pickling liquid, they gradually break down, take on the flavors of the liquid, and turn a bright pink color!
  • After they’re pickled, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Want more with preserving? Try our easy DIY: How to Make Sauerkraut.

Looking for vegan recipes?

Pickled onions are fitting for vegan recipes, since they add a savory flavor. Vegan recipes are becoming part of our everyday, though we typically eat vegetarian. Here are a few of our recent vegan recipes:

Looking for healthy dinner ideas?

Healthy dinner ideas are our everyday, outside of weeknight cooking. A few more healthy dinner ideas:

Did you make this recipe?

If you make this quick pickled onions recipe, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.

This recipe is…

This 1-hour quick pickled onions recipe is vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free.

1-Hour Quick Pickled Onions | A Couple Cooks

1-Hour Quick Pickled Onions

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: About 1 cup 1x


These quick pickled onions are simple to put together and are perfect for topping tacos, sandwiches, and salads, as they add so much extra flavor.



  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Thinly slice the red onion.
  2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour, more if possible. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Can be made ahead up to 2 weeks. Drain onions before using.


Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Pickling
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: quick pickled onions, pickled onions

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    September 8, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    I love all the pickled veggies! So great on sandwiches. Have a jar of your quick pickled veggies from a recipe a couple of years ago in my fridge for snacking right now ?

  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    This recipe is AMAZING! I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream to make it even healthier and it was delicious. I’m not usually one to comment on recipes but this one is definitely a winner!

    • Reply
      January 31, 2019 at 10:23 am

      Oh we are so glad to hear it! Thanks for making it! What did you use the Greek yogurt for?

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