How to Make Pickled Red Onions

CondimentHow ToOnionPickle

How to make pickled red onions, it's EASY! Thinly sliced red onions pickled in vinegar with spices.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I keep on making things that when I think about it, would be enhanced with some pickled red onions. Bean soup, liverwurst, salmon, and especially hot dogs and hamburgers would all be terrific with some pickled onions on the side.

All you really need to make pickled red onions is some sliced red onion, vinegar and sugar. There’s lots of leeway with the spices and herbs used.

For this batch I used cinnamon, cloves, star anise, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. You could easily thrown in some ginger, swap out the chile flakes for some cumin, or allspice for the cloves.

Pickled Red Onions

How to Make Pickled Red Onions

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 1 1/2 pints


  • 1 lb red onions (about 2 med or 1 large), thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 star anise
  • Dash red pepper flakes

More spices (optional): Fresh ginger slices, allspice berries, oregano, garlic, cumin seeds, mustard seeds


1 Blanch red onions in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain in colander.

2 While the water is heating in step 1, in a separate saucepan combine the vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

3 Add blanched, drained onions to the vinegar mixture. Simmer for 1 minute.

4 Transfer to a glass jar. Allow to stand until cooled. Will keep several weeks refrigerated.

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Pickled Red Onions

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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29 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Sandra

    Second time making this recipe. It is so easy and I love it, it adds wonderful flavour to hot dogs, hamburgers, fish, cochinita pibil, grilled flank steak etc. Thank-you for this simple and flavourful recipe!


  2. Terry

    Elise – if the hat remains sealed can I store the pickled onion in a dark cupboard say through the winter ? Thank you for your help with this

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Diane

    So darn easy! And the flavour too. I made these to serve with a wine and cheese due but I’m going to make more next time we have company company — an excellent side dish and the guys loved it! Oh, and it’s pretty too.


  4. Colleen

    Hi Elise,
    I am new to pickling. Do you have to put the jars in boiling water with every recipe? Or are there pickling recipes that don’t call for it?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Sarah

    Hi Elise! I’ve been using your site forever and have had great success with your recipes for many years. Thank you! Two questions… would a distilled vinegar be ok for this recipe or would you recommend something nicer like a white wine vinegar? Also, how long should we wait before eating to maximize deliciousness? I imagine we should wait a few days at least.

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Pickled Red OnionsHow to Make Pickled Red Onions