Pickled Onions Recipe


  • 1 large red onion (or 2 medium)
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Optional additions:

  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A few sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, dill, rosemary)


  • Mason jar or similar heatproof container (about 1 pint/500ml size)
  • Mandoline slicer (optional, for very thin slices)
  • Small saucepan


  • Prep the onion: Remove the ends and peel the onion. Thinly slice the onion into rings or half-moons. For the quickest pickling, use a mandoline for very thin slices.
  • Make the brine: In a small saucepan, combine white vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve (about 1 minute). Remove from heat.
  • Add optional flavorings: If using bay leaves, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, or any herbs, add them to the brine now.
  • Pack the onions: Place the sliced onions into your clean mason jar or container.
  • Pour the brine: Carefully pour the warm brine over the onions, making sure they are fully submerged. Use a spoon or butter knife to press down on any onions that tend to float.
  • Cool and refrigerate: Allow the jar to cool to room temperature on the counter (about 30 minutes). Then, cover the jar tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Pickled onions will reach their peak flavor after about a day in the refrigerator.
  • Enjoy and store: Pickled onions can be enjoyed immediately, and they’ll keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. The flavor and color will continue to intensify over time.


  • Onion choice: Red onions are the classic choice, but you can experiment with yellow or white onions as well.
  • Customizing: Adjust the sweetness and spice level to your liking! Add a bit more sugar if you like them sweeter, or more red pepper flakes for a kick.
  • Uses: Pickled onions are amazingly versatile. Use them as a topping for sandwiches, tacos, burgers, salads, or add them to charcuterie boards.


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