Easy and Quick Pickled Red Onion Recipe for the Home Cook (Kid-Friendly)
Pickled red onions are zesty, slightly crunchy, and tangy – this simple topping is sure to add a subtly sweet flavor and a pop of color to even the most traditional recipes. With only five ingredients and five minutes of prep, these pickled onions are going to quickly become an everyday favorite.
If you love pickles (and onions, of course), you and your family, will love this simple pickled red onion recipe.
This pickled red onion recipe is sponsored by Tanimura & Antle.
If you need to use up those red onions before they go bad, this is the perfect recipe to extend the shelf life of your produce by a few extra weeks.
You may even like it better than raw onions. Our kids sure do!
Check out how easy this pickled red onion recipe is to make at home.
Pickled Red Onions v. Red Onions
Historically, pickling vegetables transforms their flavor and is used to preserve extra produce you have in your kitchen. When you let red onions sit in a brine of vinegar and salt, the taste and texture slightly change, in the most delicious way. Instead of raw, crunchy onions, they become soft and packed with a zingy flavor. Bonus points for the gorgeous pop of pink they add to a variety of recipes that your kids love too.
Pickled red onions are an easy way to stretch your grocery budget as well. The vinegar and salt mixture kills off any microorganisms that can live on produce, causing food to spoil. In fact, pickling can help your onions last up to two weeks longer!
Think of it as a prep and preservation hack all in one.
If you’re anything like us, you love a recipe with just a few ingredients that also come together in a matter of minutes. This pickled red onion recipe hits all of those needs. You’ll need five ingredients and five minutes to quickly prep your red onions for pickling.
Here’s what you’ll need.
Tanimura & Antle Artisan® Sweet Italian Red Onions
Since the red onions are the star of this recipe, you want to use high-quality onions for the best flavor. Tanimura & Antle’s Artisan® Sweet Italian Red Onions are less pungent and strong — perfect for getting little mouths and picky eaters to actually enjoy eating produce. It even says right on the packaging that they’re great for sandwiches, dips, and salads. If you’re at a loss for what to cook for dinner, they have a recipe on the back of the bag for a little cooking inspiration.
Look for your Tanimura & Antle Artisan® Sweet Italian Red Onions in the produce department at your local grocery store. Plus if you aren’t sure the best way to cut an onion, check out our guide on how to cut an onion 7 ways. It will help you minimize the prep time!
Vinegar is one of the most important ingredients for pickling because that is how you preserve your sweet red onions. White vinegar is a standard base ingredient because it has over 5% acidity and a neutral flavor to help preserve the sweetness of the onions. Every grocery store carries it near the cooking oils or salad dressings. Plus, it’s very affordable.
If you have cider, malt, or wine vinegar on hand, you can use those as well. However, they’re likely to alter the flavor of your pickled red onions, so keep that in mind when making any substitutions.
Vinegar has quite a harsh flavor. In order to have the correct amount of acidity to preserve your red onions and avoid overly sour and tart onions, you have to add water. You want a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar for the best pickling brine. As long as you use water that’s safe to drink, you can use tap water, filtered water, or bottled water.
When you heat the brine, the sugar dissolves and balances out the sharp, harsh vinegar taste. You don’t want the liquid to become syrupy like with canned fruit. Add five tablespoons of cane sugar to cut back the acidity from the vinegar. Sugar also absorbs some of the water from the onions so that the water can limit the chances of bacteria growing.
It’s best to use salt without any additives when you pickle red onions so that the brine doesn’t become cloudy. We don’t recommend iodized salt, like table salt. Iodized salt has anti-caking agents that don’t dissolve in water and settle on the bottom. The sediments create a murky brine that just doesn’t look appealing. This can also change the taste and texture of your red onions, and we don’t want to lose out on that tangy crunch.
Canning and kosher salt are also non-iodized salt options that you can use to pickle red onions.
How to Pickle Red Onions
Step 1: Slice your red onions into thin strips with a mandolin or a knife. The mandolin is a quick way to slice uniform strips, but you can still make this recipe with a traditional kitchen knife.
If using the mandolin, Keep the root end of the onion intact and use a paring knife to cut off the other end. Use your fingers to remove the skin. Use a large knife to cut the onion in half. Hold one onion half with the root side in your dominant hand and the flat, cut side on the mandolin surface. Hold the mandolin with your other hand and gently move the onion back and forth until all of the onion is sliced. Repeat with the other half of the onion.
If using a knife, julienne your onions by cutting the onion in half, removing the skin, and slicing thin strips with a large knife.
Step 2: Evenly divide the sliced Tanimura & Antle Artisan® Sweet Italian Red Onions, peppercorn, and garlic into three, 10 oz. Mason jars or a glass container with a lid.
Step 3: In a saucepan, heat the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt over medium heat (you don’t want it to boil). Stir until the ingredients dissolve, about five minutes. Once dissolved, remove from the stovetop and let it cool for a few minutes, then evenly divide the brine mixture into your Mason jars and let it come to room temperature.
Step 4: Store your red onions in the fridge overnight. Then they’re ready to be added to your favorite recipes.
How to Store Pickled Red Onions
When stored properly, red onions last up to three weeks in the fridge. Storing onions is incredibly easy. No need to transfer your onions to a new container; keep the onions in the same Mason jars you used for pickling and pop them in your fridge. If you keep your jars unopened, they can last up to a year. If you decide to stock up on pickled red onions, be sure to check for any discoloration, odd smells, or mold before using them in your dishes.
Why We Love Tanimura & Antle
Tanimura & Antle is committed to sustainability and innovation. They believe the two go hand in hand, and so do we. They’re invested in contributing to sustainability practices that benefit their employees, community, and the world. One way they do that is by caring for the land they use to grow their produce, like their Artisan Sweet Red Onions.
Look for the Tanimura & Antle label in the produce section during your next trip to the grocery store!
Red Onion Recipes
Red Onion Marmalade — a sweet and tangy staple for sweet and savory dishes
Chicken, Red Onion, and Mint Kabobs — easy summer dinner recipe
Celery and Red Onion Salad — flavor-packed, filling salad that serves as a whole meal
Mushroom and Onion Butter Board — elevated butter board that’s sure to impress
Pickled Red Onions
- Mandolin slicer
- mason jars
- 4 smal Tanimura & Antle Artisan® Sweet Italian Red Onions or 2 large
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 5 tablespoons cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves optional
- 1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns optional
- Julienne the onions and divide them between three 10 oz. mason jars. Place the peppercorns and garlic in each jar if including them.
- Over medium heat, mix the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan ad let it simmer. Continue to stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely (about five minutes). Let it cool, and pour over the onions in the jars. Set jars aside to cool to room temperature. Then store the onions in the fridge.
- Your pickled onion will be ready to eat once they're bright pink and tender – we recommend letting them sit overnight. They will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- Use four small red onions or two large red onions to fill up your Mason jars.
- Instead of 10 oz. jars, you can use two16 oz. Mason jars.