May 4, 2022

Quick pickled red onions

Jar of quick pickled red onions.

Tangy, sweet, spicy, and crunchy, these quick pickled red onions add a burst of flavor to tacos, burritos, salads, and more. 

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Quick pickles are so easy to make and add a lot of flavor to your meals. These quick pickled red onions are a favorite of ours, especially to add to chicken tacos, fish tacos, or pork carnitas. They are also delicious on burrito bowls and taco salads. 

To make quick pickles you need vinegar, salt, and water for your brine. For these red onions I like to use red wine vinegar. Then I use a bit of sugar and spices such as bay leaves, peppercorns, and cloves. 

You can add some red pepper flakes as well if you want a bit of heat. This is an optional ingredient though. We adults like a bit of heat, but I leave it out for the kids.

Fork lifting quick pickled red onions out of the jar.

You heat the brine on a pan to dissolve the salt and sugar and then add the spices and onions to cook just a bit. You don't want them to get too soft. You just want to soften the onions up a bit and remove of bit of the harshness, but retain some of their crunch. Then you cool everything and put it in a jar in the refrigerator. 

Ideally, you want to wait at least 24-48 hours before eating the onions so they have time to get flavorful in the brine and soak up all the flavors from the spices. Make them a day or so ahead of when you want to eat them.

The red onions turn a lovely dark pink color and will add not only flavor, but brightness and color to your dishes. 

Make these quick pickled red onions for your next taco or burrito night! They are easy to make and add flavor, texture, and color to your meal. You'll be wanting to keep a jar around all the time.

If you are looking for more quick pickle ideas, check out this round-up of  

18 Fruit and Vegetable Quick Pickles

Finished quick pickled red onions.

Yield: about 1 pint jar
Author: Amy (Savory Moments)
Quick Pickle Red Onions

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Tangy, sweet, spicy, and crunchy, these quick pickled red onions add a burst of flavor to tacos, burritos, salads, and more.


  • 1 large red onion, peeled, halved, and sliced (about 1/4-inch thickness)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 dried bay leaves, broken in half
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional


  1. Add all of the ingredients to a small skillet and warm over medium heat. Stir well to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Taste and adjust the vinegar, salt, and/or sugar to achieve your preferred taste balance.
  3. Cook until the onions just begin to turn translucent. Turn off the heat and let cool.
  4. Transfer everything to a container, seal, and refrigerate until serving. The onions will keep for a couple of weeks (keep submerged in the brine) in the refrigerator.
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I hope you give these quick pickled red onions a try! Let me know in the comments below.

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Glass jar filled with finished quick pickled red onions.

This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated in 2022 with a recipe card, new text, and more to improve reader experience.

Check out these other quick pickle recipes: 

Bread & Butter Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles

Quick Pickled Radishes

Hot & Spicy Refrigerator Turnip Pickles 

Deli-Style Refrigerator Dill Pickles


  1. If it has the word quick then it is perfect for me! I love it!

  2. Quick pickled onions are my favorite burger/sandwich topping!!

  3. i will have to try these! and i have all the ingredients at home :)

  4. It looks amazing. I'm surely giving this a try!

  5. I love pickles! And pickles are great with most anything! These onion pickles looks wonderful. I can just imagine the crunch of these onions in a sandwich! Thanks for sharing!

  6. This looks great with sandiwches or wraps!

  7. These pickled onions sound fantastic! I've been wanting to make some to put on sandwiches.

  8. What a great idea to add these pickled onions to your tacos. I am actually making fish tacos tonight but will make some of your pickled onions so we can enjoy them in the future. Take Care, BAM

  9. I love pickled red onions…they are great served along with sliced steak.

  10. Ohhh.... that sounds delicious. I'm loving all these new ideas for using pickled onions.

  11. These look delicious! I've never pickled anything but these seem so easy, it would be a sin not to try them out!

  12. I've pickled onions to top darned yummy!!

  13. This is a happy garden recipe, I need to share this with my husband!

  14. I think my mother use to make these and I loved them. I had totally forgotten about them so thanks for posting this. What great pickles! I can see them on burgers, in salads and on top of many different types of sandwiches.

  15. I haven't had these for YEARS - like more than twenty. I love them too. I will have these made this week for sure. I didn't realize I missed them that much until I read this post.

  16. I love the hot pink color, too. I always wondered how to make these, glad you posted a recipe!

  17. i just can't stress how much i hate raw onions, but pickled onions are a different beast! these are pretty and versatile and always taste amazing!

  18. It's so tasty to have something pickled with tacos. And, you can't beat this color!

  19. I love, love, love pickled red onions! I've never tried adding bay leaves to mine - I'll be trying it next time I make them.

  20. This onion pickle sure sounds delicious Amy and yes, it sure makes a great condiment.
    Have a wonderful week :D

  21. Your pickles have beautiful pink color! We love pickling too, this sounds delicious!

  22. I love these, but have never made my own. I so need to! Yours look wonderful -- isn't that color great? Really super post -- thanks.

  23. Hi Amy, very refreshing pickled onion. Love the colour.

    Best regards.

  24. I never made these on my own either. Sooooo simple. I love them in both salad and sandwiches. Thank You----yay a new condiment!

  25. I totally agree that these are important to have on hand - there are so many ways you can use them. I often forget to make them ahead too, but, as you say, they are very good warm too! Nice recipe!

  26. I love pickles and these look so good and have a lovely color.
    They make a great give away too!

  27. This is great to serve with some Frikadellen or in some side salads too. They are so appetizing.

  28. I SERIOUSLY LOVE quick pickling things!! Could you drop boiled eggs in the brine after the onions are gone?!?

  29. I have never pickled anything, but I totally want to try this! Pinned :)

  30. So nice to see this recipe, I've had these on my to-do list for quite some time!!!

  31. Quick pickling is SO handy! Love pickled onions!!! P!

  32. I make pickled red onion all of the time, but I've never added bay leaves or cloves. Love that idea. I'll add them next time. Thanks!

  33. I love this dish! Been making them recently -- great on tacos and sandwiches. Or all on their lonesome. :-) Yours look great -- thanks.


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