Have these Quick Pickled Red Onions on hand to punch up the flavor in your favorite recipes. From salads to burgers and everything in between. So easy to make and ready in just 30 minutes!

Pickled red onions in a jar with a copper fork on top.

Pickled Red Onions

One of my favorite things in restaurants when I order a salad or a sandwich or even a burger are those pretty, pink pickled red onions that seem like just a pretty garnish but pack a huge flavor punch in anything they’re added to. I mean, they’re seriously addicting!

I’m going to be totally honest here and say that I feel like this is barely a recipe. It doesn’t seem like something you’d need to know but I started keeping a list of things that people ask me how to do….how to make pickled eggs….how to remove a stain….how to baste a turkey….how do I make pickled red onions….and I figured that maybe I should be answering these questions here.

Because….even if I know how to do all those things there are those of you who may not. And even I Google seemingly simple things like how to remove gum from your jeans. 🙂 (solution: rub an ice cube on it until it hardens then peel off.)

overhead shot of pickled red onions in a blue and white bowl on a white towel.

What are Pickled Red Onions

A great way to use up leftover red onions and to top your favorite taco recipe, pickled red onions (also known as Mexican Pickled Onions) are super simple to make with just an easy pickle brine. They’re essentially just thinly sliced red onions in a quick pickle brine that can be flavored with other herbs or seasoning.

This method for quick pickling onions has them ready in just 30 minutes and, believe me, you’ll be making these just about every week.

When I decide I want a salad with pickled onions I’m usually not planning it 48 hours in advance so I decided to simplify the recipe and make it in less time…..like 30 minutes. I used the same method as I did these Quick and Easy Bread and Butter Pickles. The flavor is perfect with a hint of sweetness and a little tartness.

pickled red onions in a jar with a white lid.

How To Make Pickled Onions

Making pickled onions is super easy to do and only takes about 30 minutes. 

  1. Peel and slice the onions into thin rings.
  2. Stuff the onion slices in a clean jar.
  3. Boil the vinegar, water, sugar and herbs.
  4. Pour the liquid over the onions.
  5. Seal the jars with the lid.
  6. Rest the onions for 20 minutes or overnight.

If you want to make your onions more like the pickled onions you find on tacos in Mexican restaurants, you can add the juice of one lime to the pickling brine before bringing to a boil. 


Pickled onions will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. BUT believe me when I say, they won’t last that long because you’ll be putting them on everything.

Ingredient Notes

Even though this recipe is quite easy, following these simple tips will ensure they’re perfect every time.

  • Vinegar – I like to use apple cider vinegar but you can really use any light colored vinegar you have on hand. White distilled vinegar will work well but have fun experimenting with other varieties like white balsamic, red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, too.
  • Slicing – Be sure to slice your onions as thin as possible so they pickle quickly. A mandoline works very well for this and while I use this mandoline, this handheld version works exceptionally well for much less money.
  • Canning – This recipe has not been tested for canning but if you’re a canning expert, feel free to make the modifications necessary and store them up for the winter.
Mexican pickled onions in a blue and white dish with a copper fork.

Serving Suggestions

Now that we have the Quick Pickled Red Onions recipe done and ready to go….you can use them in just about anything you want.

I already added them to this Southwestern Steak Wrap….and honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that. They’d also be fabulous in your favorite fish taco recipe OR add them to these Barbecue Rib tacos because the sweetness of the barbecue sauce is a perfect match for the tartness of the Pickled Red Onions.

We also love them on these easy Birria Tacos!

More Easy Pickle Recipes

If you like these pickled onions then you definitely want to try this easy Pickled Okra.  I had it in South Carolina and am obsessed ever since. 

Or try these super easy Pickled Jalapeños….they go so well with the very same things we’ve been putting these onions on.

Try it….I know you’ll love it. And if you want to see what else I’m pickling…be sure to follow along on Instagram!

overhead shot of pickled red onions in a blue and white bowl on a white towel.

Get the Recipe: Quick Pickled Red Onions recipe

Quick and easy Pickled Red Onions made in a fraction of the time of classic pickle recipes. A great addition to many recipes!
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  • 2 cups thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6-8 fresh thyme sprigs, optional


  • 1 kitchen knife
  • 1 saucepan
  • 1 pickling jar


  • Place the onions in canning jars and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, add the vinegar, water, sugar and herbs, if using. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Pour the liquid into the jars filling approximately 3/4 full. Place the lid on the jars and refrigerate for 30 minutes  or overnight.
  • Serve as desired.


Pickled Red Onions can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Great for your weekly meal prep!
Calories: 31kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 0g, Fat: 0g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 20mg, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 10IU, Vitamin C: 1.3mg, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 0.1mg