Quick Pickled Red Onions (No Cook Recipe)

Denise Perrault
by Denise Perrault
8 servings
1 hr 15 min

Try this no cook recipe for quick pickled red onions once, and you'll be hooked! 4 basic ingredients, a quick onion massage, and an hour of marinating time makes the best pickled onion side dish ever!

I've added to my quick pickle recipes with Mexican Escabeche vegetables and the lime pickled onions I use for Mexican black bean dip, but this red onions recipe continues to be a most-requested condiment. It's been added to many home cook menus throughout the years.

Quick pickled red onion rings in a black bowl.

Add a vibrant blast of colorful red onions for the perfect topping, from chickpeas with barbeque sauce, creamy baked kidney bean curry, and spiced tempeh crumble taco meat to easy vegan chickpea burgers.

⭐ Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • Quick pickled onions take the bit out of raw onions with a simple mix of acids, salt, and a sweetener.
  • No cook marinated onions means you don't need to worry about maintaining high heat to get the brining solution just right.
  • Lasts for a week or more in the refrigerator.

📋 Recipe Ingredients
The ingredients for quick pickled red onions with labels.

Red onions. Use 2 or 3 medium raw red onions. You can also use different types of onions, such as standard yellow or white onions or shallots.

Vinegar. Red wine vinegar or variations such as merlot or raspberry vinegar are more mellow than white vinegar. Besides, they give the red onions the beautiful pink color we love. Rice wine vinegar is another option. It's also possible to use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. Remember, more pungent vinegar will result in a more intense flavor.

Sugar. I use date or coconut sugar. A liquid sweetener such as pure maple syrup or date paste is a great substitute.

Salt. There isn’t a lot of salt, but it balances the acidic vinegar and sugar sweetness.

Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.

📖 Recipe Variations

Add extra flavor using different types of vinegar, garlic cloves, bay leaf, mustard seeds, star anise, or red pepper flakes.

⏲️ Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Thinly slice the onions.

Red onion slices are mixed with pickling marinade.

Step 2: Mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt, then massage the onion slices.

Mixing pickled red onions with a fork.

Step 3: Marinate at room temperature for an hour. Mix them a few times.

🔪 Pro Tips

  • Safety first. A sharp mandoline can be a trusted time-saver. Still, if you get in a hurry or get distracted, it can be a painful experience. If you use a mandoline to slice onions, please practice all the recommended safety precautions.
  • A sharp chef's knife will also yield thin onion slices. If you don't feel secure balancing a whole onion, choose easy. Cut the onion in half from stem to end. Place the onion halves, cut side down, and slice the onion into half-moons.
  • Use a wide-bottomed rather than a taper bowl. This makes it easier for more onions to contact the pickling liquid.

🍴 Serving Suggestions
Quick pickled red onions on top of a veggie burger.

Serve pickled red onions as a side dish or condiment for a variety of recipes. If you're garnishing with sliced onions, pickled onions will be all the better.

Bring new zest to a slice of hummus or avocado toast. Try red onions instead of caramelized onions for creamy onion dip or bulgur and red lentil mujadara. Add a twist to your favorite pasta or potato salad recipe and wow them with your culinary prowess.

💭 Frequently Asked Questions

How long do pickled red onions keep?

Place onions and leftover liquid in a mason jar with a lid or an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7 days. A glass container is excellent for storing onions because it won't retain the oniony flavor the way plastic does.

Can you make pickled onions with no sugar?

Red onions are naturally sweet, so if you don't want added sugar (even healthy date sugar), leave it out of the recipe. Use a sweeter vinegar or add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the red wine vinegar.

Can I pickle other vegetables using this recipe?

This recipe is also suitable for making a quick pickled mix of vegetables, including hot peppers such as jalapeno or softer vegetables such as cucumber or zucchini.

Can you make pickled onions ahead?

You can marinate red pickled onions overnight in the refrigerator. Prepare them according to the recipe, and then place the onions and pickling liquid in a large jar or glass container. Cover them with a tight-fitting lid and allow them to marinate overnight.

What do red pickled onions taste like?

The ingredients plus the pickling process reduce the strong taste of raw onions. Vinegar and sugar accentuate the sweetness of red onions, so the flavor is sweet and sour. Allowing marinating time softens the onions as the flavor builds.

🧾 Related Recipes
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👩🏻‍🍳 Recipe
Quick Pickled Red Onions (No Cook Recipe)
Recipe details
  • 8  servings
  • Prep time: 75 Minutes Cook time: 0 Hours Total time: 1 hr 15 min
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  • ▢ 2 medium red onions - peeled and sliced thin
  • ▢ 1/2 cup red wine vinegar - or raspberry or merlot vinegar
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons coconut sugar - date sugar, maple sugar, or date paste
  • ▢ 1/4 teaspoon salt

Thinly slice the onions into rings or half-moons.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium, flat-bottom bowl. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Add the onions and lightly massage them with the marinade for about 3 minutes. Cover the bowl and allow the onions to marinate for 1 hour for best results.
  • Make ahead and marinate the red onions overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Store red onions in the refrigerator in a sealed mason jar or container that won’t readily absorb the onion flavor. Pickled onions will keep fresh for 7 days.
Denise Perrault
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