Pickled Red Onions Recipe

We use these quick pickled red onions to top a wide variety of Mexican foods (and more). They add punch to vegan dishes and help cut through the richness of meaty ones. You really can’t go wrong.

Quick Pickled Onions Pickled Red Onions Recipe 780 | Umami Girl

Why we love pickled red onions

There’s alchemy in the combination of onions and vinegar. No question. These pickled red onions have been in my repertoire for many years, and I can’t count the number of times that someone has asked for the recipe.

They have a surprisingly complex taste given that they’re made from just a few ingredients. They jazz up plant-based foods and cut through richer foods with their tangy, craveable bite.

They last a looooong time in the fridge, so you can make a batch and keep it on hand. And they take practically no time at all to put together.

Pickled onion ingredients

The complex taste of these pickled red onions comes from just a handful of common ingredients. You will need:

  • Red onions
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Fresh herbs of your choice. We love rosemary, thyme, oregano, and cilantro in pretty much any combination
collage of onions being sliced and lime juice and vinegars being poured into a quart sized mason jar

How to make pickled red onions

There’s nothing fancy about the pickled onion-making process. You can do it all with a chef’s knife and a mason jar. Watch all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post. You will:

  • Peel and halve two good-sized red onions from root to tip.
  • Slice the onions thinly from root to tip. (Slicing them this way as opposed to crosswise helps them hold their shape.)
  • Into a quart-sized mason jar, pour red wine vinegar, distilled white vinegar, fresh lime juice, and a bit of sugar and salt.
  • Put a lid on the jar and shake it up until the salt and sugar are pretty well dissolved.
  • Add some fresh herbs and the sliced onions, pressing down with a spoon to fit it all into the jar.
  • Top it off with more red wine vinegar if necessary.
  • Let them sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.
collage of placing fresh herbs and red onion slices into a mason jar, then sprinkling onions on top of ground pork tacos

How long can you keep pickled onions?

Part of the magic of this recipe is that it will keep for up to a month tightly sealed in a nice cold fridge. We like to keep a batch of them on hand pretty much all the time to add to all kinds of meals and snacks. They’ll get a little more pickled as they age.

Weird but worthy tip

I sometimes bring a jar of pickled red onions as a hostess gift to ensure we get the best possible treatment when we travel. There’s nothing wrong with endearing yourself to the host, and this is a spectacular — and spectacularly easy — way to do it.

What to serve with pickled onions

Oh, you guys. The list goes ON. Here are a handful of our favorite things to top with pickled red onions. But don’t neglect to toss them into salads and onto sandwiches, too.

Carne Asada Tacos Recipe | Umami Girl

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Pickled Red Onions

This bright, gently perfumed condiment brings a lot of character to a wide variety of dishes. It's a great technique to add character to vegan (or wildly carnivorous!) meals.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serves Serves 12


  • 2 medium red onions
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano, thyme, rosemary, or cilantro sprigs, or a combination


  1. Peel the onions and halve from tip to root. Very thinly slice each half from tip to root.
  2. In a quart-size mason jar or medium bowl with a lid, combine the lime juice, red wine vinegar, white vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir (or put a lid on the jar and shake gently) to completely dissolve sugar and salt.
  3. Add the sliced onions and the herbs to the jar or bowl. Stir and press a bit to submerge all the onions and herbs in the liquid. Top off with an extra splash of vinegar if necessary.
  4. Pickle these babies in the fridge for 24 hours or simply on the counter at room temperature for an hour or two before serving as a condiment for tacos, sandwiches, salads — you name it. They keep very well in the fridge for up to a month.


Adapted long ago from Bobby Flay via Serious Eats.

Nutrition Information



Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 24 Total Fat:: 0g Carbohydrates:: 5.3g Fiber:: 0.5g Protein:: 0.4g

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  1. Mark in CA

    You may want to try blanching the onions first. Just pour boiling water over them and let them soak about 10 seconds, then drain.

  2. Shelley Russell

    Going to try these with a twist: ume flavored vinegar instead of red wine, and shiso leaves! I am sure they will be yume!

  3. I love pickled onions! Sometimes I like to add jalapenos and carrots for extra spice and crunch.

    The Dinner Belle for Kimberlybelle.com

  4. ? pickled onions! so good on sandwiches, salads, in soups, etc. I’ve made a few different variations and both are long gone 😉 {one of the recipes used orange juice as well as lemon and lime}

  5. Adrianna

    I just tried my first pickled onions last week and was hoping to find a recipe! Definitely trying this one, looks amazing!

  6. reilly

    yummmm i always put some vinegar on onions for a little while before adding them to things like wraps or tuna salad, just to cut the taste a little but this looks phenomenal! can’t wait to try 🙂