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Want to add big flavor to salads, tacos, and more? This quick pickled red onions recipe is so easy and takes only 5 minutes of hands-on time!

Pickled Red Onions
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A bright pink jar of quick pickled red onions is kitchen gold, really. This tangy topping brings a sweet tart pop of flavor to tacos, salads, sandwiches, enchiladas: you name it! They’re our favorite chili topping and they make a loaded baked potato taste like a dream. The best part is that you can whip up a batch in just over 30 minutes with just 4 ingredients. As home cooking experts, this is one of our top tips for taking your recipes to the next level!

What is quick pickling?

Quick pickles, also known as refrigerator pickles, are vegetables that have been marinated in a mixture of vinegar, salt, sugar, and water. They don’t require canning, so they’re not shelf stable like canned pickles. Instead, you can store quick pickles refrigerated, where they can last for up to 1 month.

This pickled red onion recipe makes quick pickles, so there’s no special canning equipment required. All you need is about 2 minutes to slice the onion, then you’ll wait 30 minutes for the pickling brine to work its magic.

Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients for quick pickled red onions

Here at A Couple Cooks, we discovered quick pickled red onions early on in our cooking journey and haven’t looked back. Their sweet tart flavor and bright pink color make the perfect topping for sandwiches, tacos, bowl meals, and anything that needs a little pizzazz. You’ll need just a short list of ingredients to make a jar you can store in the refrigerator for weeks. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Red onion: This method works with white and yellow onions as well, but red onion has the best bright pink color.
  • White vinegar: In our opinion, white vinegar has the best straightforward flavor for a pickled red onion. Another option is apple cider vinegar.
  • Granulated sugar: Sugar is essential to any pickle recipe to make the tangy flavor. These pickled red onions aren’t very sweet, but the sugar balances out the salt.
  • Kosher salt: Salt is the other essential ingredient for pickles, which seasons the vegetables and inhibits the growth of bacteria.
Pickled Red Onions Recipe

How to make pickled red onions

These quick pickled red onions take only 5 minutes of hands on time, so it’s not difficult to make time for whipping up a jar.

  • First, slice a red onion as thin as possible. We like to use a French cut the onion, which is cutting parallel to the top and root end. You can also use a mandoline if preferred to make incredibly thin slices.
  • In a small saucepan over high heat, add ¾ cup each white vinegar and water, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Whisk until it dissolves, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Place the onions in a jar and pour the brine over the top. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer to the refrigerator for storage.

Storage info

How long do homemade quick pickled red onions last? In a sealed container, pickled red onions last up to 1 month refrigerated. Because they are not canned pickles, they are not shelf-stable.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Ways to serve pickled red onions

This pickled red onions recipe adds a tangy sweet pop of flavor to so many types of foods! Here are our top ways to serve them:

Quick pickled red onions

More pickle recipes

You can pickle just about any vegetable! Here are some of our favorite homemade pickles recipes:

This pickled red onions recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions (Quick & Easy!)

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1 pint (2 cups) 1x


Want to add big flavor to salads, tacos, and more? This quick pickled red onions recipe is so easy and takes only 5 minutes of hands-on time!


  • 2 to 3 cups thinly sliced red onion (1 medium onion)
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Thinly slice the red onion.
  2. In a small saucepan over high heat, heat the white vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved and the mixture starts to simmer, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Place the onions in a jar or bowl. Pour over the brine and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and store refrigerated for up to 1 month.
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Pickling
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Dora says:

    Did this recipe change? I had it saved as a quick cold pickle with apple cider vinegar. And now it requires heat. I’m genuinely confused.

    1. Hi there! Yes, we updated this old recipe since we found that we liked the flavor with heat and without apple cider vinegar better! But here is the old recipe if you’d like it!

      1 red onion
      ½ cup apple cider vinegar
      1 tablespoon sugar or honey
      1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
      1 cup water

      Thinly slice the red onion.
      In a medium bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, sugar or honey, kosher salt, and water.
      Place the onion slices in a jar and pour over the pickling liquid mixture. Sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

  2. Megan says:

    What’s a good recipe for pickling sweet or yellow onions? Is there any? I don’t usually have red on hand 🤷🏻‍♀️

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      The same recipe will work!

  3. Shannon says:

    I made these over the weekend. They were perfect on my grilled turkey burgers! And this week we’ll eat them with taco night!! So easy and perfect use for my HUGE farmer’s market red onion!! Thanks! Glad I found your beautiful site!

    1. Sonja says:

      You are so welcome! Glad you enjoyed these – they can really dress up anything! Love the idea of putting them with a burger too.

    2. Scott Uren says:

      Made these and everyone just loved them. I may put a clove of garlic and a few peppercorns in one jar, but they really are perfect without for me.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I made these today! I live in Walla Walla WA. We are famous for our sweet onions. So, I used Walla Walla sweets not red onions. I’m visiting my sister and as soon as I saw this I knew I had to make her some. She LOVES onions and pickles. Sure enough, I saw her eating them by the fork full tonight. I’ll make her another batch before I head home. I’m making tacos for everyone on Friday too, can’t wait to try them on my tacos!

  5. Katie says:

    Wow, those look beautiful and so simple! My husband loves all sorts of pickly things, I’ll definitely have to try these out for taco night, and more! Thanks so much for the recipe.

  6. Jillian says:

    I just made this same recipe yesterday! It was perfect for our tacos! Maybe next time I’ll make my own tortillas, too :)

  7. Eileen says:

    Sounds like the perfect quick pickle for all my taco needs! And maybe my soup garnish needs…or my gigantic sandwich needs…the possibilities are endless. :)