Quick Pickled Red Onions

Quick Pickled Red Onions - How to make super easy quick pickled onions that are tangy and packed with flavor. (Vegan & GF) | RECIPE at NomingthruLife.com

My grandmother on my father’s side, her name was Shibby. Legally, it was Shirley. But to me and what would come to be a number of others, she was Shibby. I take full credit for her name. When I was just a little little kid, I couldn’t say Shirley, and instead out came Shibby. Which for some reason stuck, for everyone not just me.

Shibby was her own little woman. I think she may have just met five feet tall. She loved bright colors, shoes, crafting and eating. I get my obsession with food from my dad’s side. My mom’s side you have to force everyone to go and eat at the holidays. Not my dad’s side.

Shibb could put on a spread. And she taught me that a sandwich isn’t just a sandwich, it’s a moment in time to make something great. She would literally unload the fridge onto the table with every possible sandwich option. Oh, and how she loved her dips and spreads. Another obsession of mine. The other day when I told my mom I was making pickled red onions, she just laughed and called me Shibby.

You see, I didn’t get very much time on this earth with Shibb. She died when I was just a kid. But apparently, my mom sees an awful lot of her in me. Which makes me wish more than anything, I had her in my life for more time. Time to pick her brain, time to learn from her. Time to feel the comfort of having someone so similar to you just be there.

So without knowing it, this one’s for you Shibb.

Quick Pickled Red Onions - How to make super easy quick pickled onions that are tangy and packed with flavor. (Vegan & GF) | RECIPE at NomingthruLife.com

I’ve never pickled anything in my life before. And frankly, I can’t stand an actual pickle. So pickling is not in my nature. So many times I’ve seen pickled red onions on tacos or burgers, but never had I actually tired one. I loved the color of them, bright pops of pink. And I love acidic things. So, much like most things that come to be on Noming thru Life… it sounded like a good idea.

And the rest is history.

Quick Pickled Red Onions - How to make super easy quick pickled onions that are tangy and packed with flavor. (Vegan & GF) | RECIPE at NomingthruLife.com

Now, this is really what’s called a “quick-pickle,” hehe that sounds kind of funny (sorry third grade moment), as it’s not actually meant for canning. I don’t can. It kind of freaks me out. Okay it really freaks me out because I would be that one person who loves it so much, and comes to find out she really sucks at it and gets sick from it… all the time. So I don’t can.

As these are considered a quick pickle version, they can be eaten one hour after making, but ideally four or more hours of soaking works best, and if you can manage it… a whole day or overnight is even better yet. The ones you see here (in the photos) have been pickling for 48 hours. The longer they sit, the pinker they get. And that’s all thanks to the vinegar pulling the color from the onions.

Quick Pickled Red Onions - How to make super easy quick pickled onions that are tangy and packed with flavor. (Vegan & GF) | RECIPE at NomingthruLife.com

I highly recommend adding these to your must haves around the house/fridge. They can be used on (as some were mentioned) tacos, burgers, salads, soup garnishes, sandwiches, anything involving a potato and pretty much I’d approve of any other use as well. They add a bright pop of color and a tangy flavor to whatever you do choose to add them to. They can be slightly sweet or super acidic depending on your mixture as well. You can even add other flavor elements to your pickling ingredients to change it up if you have a particular use for them in mind.

Quick Pickled Red Onions - How to make super easy quick pickled onions that are tangy and packed with flavor. (Vegan & GF) | RECIPE at NomingthruLife.com

Tips on the Quick Pickle for Red Onions:

  • Cutting: Ideally, you want to cut your onion rather thin. This helps for them to pickle faster and be ready in a shorter period of time. However, the thicker you make them the more crunch they will maintain. After trying it both ways, I prefer them thinner, but not paper thin. This allows me to control how much I use when placing on a dish as I don’t have big honking chunks that I will have to bite into. They also maintain some of their crunch so you won’t miss out on that either (unless you go paper thin, then you will lost most of the crunch factor).


  • Acidity: Your ratio of liquids when pickling will directly impact the acidity of your onions. The ratio I use of straight vinegar(s) makes for a more pickly/acidic onion. If you prefer yours to not be so acidic you can add water to your mix to help dilute the acidity. So in the case of this recipe, go for a 1/2 of red wine vinegar, and 1/4 cup each of apple cider vinegar and water. You can always add more water if necessary.


  • Flavor: You don’t have to stop at just a simple pickle, you can add other flavor elements in to create a more complex flavor in your onions if you’d like. Using this recipe as a starter simply add in additional flavor options like: peppercorn, oregano, a bay leaf, garlic (yum!) and jalapenos. You can also adjust the sweetener to your liking, adding more for a sweeter pickle, or skip it all together if you’re avoiding sugar. I like to add a small amount personally, to help balance the acidity. But that’s just me.


  • Stirring: When you first pour the pickling liquid over the onions, it is not going to cover them so don’t fret. In fact, the liquid may only cover half of your onions to start. So it’s essential that when you first pour your pickling liquid over the onions, you also stir and toss the onions in the liquid for a couple of minutes to help get everyone get going in the pickling process. When you return to stir again after a 15 minute rest, you will see that the onions have started to reduce and the liquid will now almost be covering the onions. After stirring try to pack as many onions as you can under the liquid, again it’s okay if they are not all covered. When it comes time to storing, follow the same steps of stirring the onions and packing them as tightly as you can in the jar to cover as many as you can with the liquid. The longer they soak the more they will reduce and the more liquid you will have available.


  • Tasting: Like with all kitchen creations, don’t be afraid to taste as you go. If after that first 15 minutes you are noticing your onions are going to be too acidic for you, carefully pour out up to half of your liquid and replace with water. Stirring to combine, of course. Just keep in mind the longer they sit the stronger they will get with whatever liquids or flavor add-ins you have used.


Quick Pickled Red Onions - How to make super easy quick pickled onions that are tangy and packed with flavor. (Vegan & GF) | RECIPE at NomingthruLife.com

Pickling red onions is a super simple and easy way to add a punch of flavor to any dish. I’ve kept mine in the fridge for just over a week, but it’s usually pretty hard to keep them around this joint if we know they are there. My absolute favorite way to use them so far is on tacos. But as I said before I support any way you come up with to use them.

So have you pickled before? I’m about to to pickle everything! What are your favorite things to pickle?

**Oh! If you make any of Noming’s recipes, be sure to snap a photo and share them on twitter or instagram with #nomingthrulife so we can see them too. I mean you would only make my day and all if you did!*

Quick Pickled Red Onions - How to make super easy quick pickled onions that are tangy and packed with flavor. (Vegan & GF) | RECIPE at NomingthruLife.com
Quick Pickled Red Onions - How to make super easy quick pickled onions that are tangy and packed with flavor. (Vegan & GF) | RECIPE at NomingthruLife.com
Yield: 1/2 – 2/3 Quart


  1. 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  2. 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  3. 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  4. 1 teaspoon or more coconut sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon sea salt 


  • Place sliced onion in a 2.5 quart or larger heat safe bowl, preferably glass. 
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. 
  • Carefully pour mixture over onions in bowl. Stir coating the onions for two minutes. Let onions rest for 15 minutes. Return and once again stir onions for 1-2 minutes. Pack onions into liquid as much as can and let rest for an additional 15 minutes.  
  • Stir onions one last time, and transfer to an airtight glass jar or container for storing. Make sure to press onions into the liquid, so that as many as possible are submerged. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Pickled red onions can be enjoyed after 1 hour of soaking, but are best after soaking overnight in the refrigerator. For more tips and information please see section in post called “Tips on the Quick Pickle for Red Onions.”
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  1. Janel -

    I was JUST thinking about making some pickled red onions to go atop some sort of braised meat, that will probably make its way into a taco at some point. ; ) Thanks for the great recipe! Can’t wait to try it!

  2. Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist -

    These look great! I love your photos. I have been in a serious mood for hot dogs and my mouth started watering thinking of piling these on top! I love your story about Shibby and I’m sorry that both of you didn’t have each other longer. There is something infinitely wonderful about family food traditions.

    • Meg -

      Thanks Kathryn! That’s really sweet of you :) I’ve heard great things about pickled red onions and meat, so I’m sure that it will rock your world. Let me know how your hot dog pickled onion date does ;) And thanks again for your kind words, I appreciate it!

  3. Harriet Emily -

    I love how you dedicated this to Shibb, what a nice thing to do! :) I’ve never tried pickling red onions before, but these look sooo good – you’ve definitely tempted me into trying it out!! Loving the photos too :)

    • Meg -

      It seemed right you know. It’s certainly worth at least a try. Do you like acidic-y things? Like pickles, or sauces with a bite? Either way they are so simple and easy to make, I’d definitely give them a go! And thanks for the photo love!!! These guys were kind of stinkers when it came to photographing, so I appreciate the shout out! Thanks Harriet!

  4. Ally -

    Oh my goodness, it’s like you’re in my head! I’ve been thinking, nay, craving pickled red onions for weeks and have been too busy, I think this is the nudge I’ve been needing!!

    • Meg -

      Oh definitely! Nudge. Nudge. Nudge. Haha. I hope you make them asap, kick that craving and enjoy yourself a little pickled red onion business. And I’m always happy to help encourage a friend along ;)

    • Meg -

      Great Kennedy! You really should give them a try, they are easy to make and can hang out in the fridge for days… few foods can say that ;) Let me know if you give them a go or have any questions! Hope they grace your fridge and tummy soon!

  5. Dina -

    Meg, I love these quick pickled onions. I am also not one for a big production of pickling but these are nice and easy. We make them in Mexico but I think I am going to make a couple of jars for using in the next few weeks. Thanks for posting.

    • Meg -

      Nice and easy is right! It can’t get much better than that… until you top a dish with them and then somehow it is EVEN better ;) Hope you enjoy your pickling and onions, they are the perfect thing to keep around for a boost in flavor. So having a couple jars around is definitely speaking to my heart. Thanks for stopping by Dina!

    • Meg -

      Thanks Anu! I hope you found/find it helpful when it comes time to get your pickling on ;) All things I learned in the process of a number of pickles. Thanks again Anu!

    • Meg -

      Thank you Evi!! And I will definitely be all over those radishes and carrots of yours! Pickle everything, at least once I say ;) And I know you’ll love these onions too, so I can’t wait for you to try them! Thanks friend!

    • Meg -

      Haha!! I love it Sarah!! Isn’t that hue something else. And it does truly look that vibrant in real life. It’s crazy. Have a fabulous weekend friend!

    • Meg -

      Grace you are really speaking to me heart here. I think radishes are going to be next on my line of pickling, but there’s so many options out there it’s crazy. Do you add any flavor elements into your radishes and cukes? And I’m allll over that black bean burger with these guys!

  6. Kat | curlsnchard.com -

    Oh gosh Meg, your introduction made me tear up. My Mum always tells me I’m so similar to my great grandfather and I wish I had known him, when he was younger. He died when I was a child and was already very old then…
    I’ve never pickled before, but this sounds super easy and they look so pretty :D I think I might have to try that ;)

    • Meg -

      Aww Kat, as unfortunate as it is I’m really glad you can understand, and relate. I find it so fascinating that we can emulate past family member who we really didn’t even know and when times are/were so different. And this was my first pickle too! Ha, so it’s a great way to get your pickle game on. But you know, I’m bias ;) Thanks so much for your comment Kat. Have a fantastic day!!

  7. Little Vegan Bear -

    What a lovely blog you have! And pickled red onions – YES. I am seriously going to make these tomorrow – I have a bag of red onions ready to go and I’m obsessed with pickled veggies. Funnily enough, though I’ve been really into fermenting lately, I haven’t pickled anything yet. Good place to start I think :D

    • Meg -

      Thanks so much Caeli that’s sweet of you! I hope you do make them tomorrow and then report back. You’ll love them especially if you are into pickled veggies AND fermenting, these are going to be right up your alley. Plus they are so simple they are the perfect place to start ;) Enjoy!

  8. genevieve @ gratitude & greens -

    Shibby sounds adorable. I lost my grandmother to cancer when I was around 8, but I have fond memories of the time I got to spend with her. I wish I got to know her better, too. I love that you did a post on pickling/quick pickling with amazing tips even though you yourself aren’t a fan of pickles! I’d really like to try some quick pickling (also some actual fermentation) but I have yet to try it. These onions sound super yummy and I bet they would be amazing in a sandwich!

    • Meg -

      Thanks Genevieve! Our stories sound rather similar with our grandmothers. Talking about pickled though, isn’t it weird I don’t like pickles but like other pickled veggies? For the record, I did try hot pickles the other day, that were only pickled slightly… as they had serious crunch and still undertones of a cucumber. And dare I say, I actually enjoyed them. But a regular ole pickle, yeah no go. So I guess I will have to try pickling them myself and see if I can make a pickled cucumber instead of a normal pickle pickle ;) I need to try fermentation too! That’s on my list of to-do’s too! I hope you try these easy pickled onions because they ARE delicious on a sandwich :)

    • Meg -

      It’s so funny how insanely attached memories can be to food as well. My mom gives me a hard time of how a number of my memories are based off of what I ate where. lol. And we can not-can together Michaell! Enjoy that sandwich friend, it’s going to be soooooo good!

    • Meg -

      Thanks Consuelo! Yeah, quite a unique nickname she ended up with, and for so many people to call her it beyond my folks and I. I get a kick out of it when I think about it. They are superb on sandwiches, a little bite, a little extra soft crunch and a little smack of flavor ;) Enjoy!

  9. Paul ! a fork and a pencil -

    I have ossobuco bubbling away on the stove, so a couple of hours to kill before dinner … and I realised that I have everything at hand to run these up this afternoon, including some empty jars that have been staring at me accusingly for a few weeks and a pile of red onions that need transforming. Done and done!

    • Meg -

      Oh definitely take care of those accusatory jars. No one needs that in their life. And I’m sure they will be insanely happy to host your pickled red onions. It’s defintiely a win-win situation. Well, I’m glad I was able to help ;) Enjoy your osso buco my friend AND your pickled red onions, I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do! Thanks so much Paul.

    • Meg -

      Hi Cheryl, they will easily keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator, I haven’t had any left past that to be able to tell ;) . Just keep in mind they will continue to pickle = stronger flavor and less of a crisp onion, so they are best that first week. Hope that helps!

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