These quick and easy pickled red onions are made with no sugar. They are so delicious and they make a wonderful addition to any meat or poultry dish.
I don’t know about you, but I love pickles. I think they add so much flavor to almost any meal. Maybe I get it from grandma. One of my fondest childhood memories is having lunch at her place – thick slices of whole-grain bread topped with even thicker slices of briny feta cheese, with fat cucumber pickles on the side.
Pickled red onions are very easy to make. I make them often because I really enjoy their unique flavor. I like them even better than these very tasty (and easy to make) quick pickles.
The ingredients needed to make this recipe
You’ll only need five ingredients (plus water) to make these tasty pickles (the exact measurements are included in the recipe card below):
Red onion: I haven’t tried this recipe with yellow onions, though it just might work!
White vinegar: White wine vinegar also works in this recipe.
Kosher salt: If you use fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use.
Seasonings: I use dried bay leaves and whole peppercorns. The bay leaves are nonnegotiable – they really enhance the flavor of these pickles.
How to pickle red onions
Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. It’s a very easy recipe. Here are the basic steps:
Place sliced red onions in a jar.
Pour a hot liquid made of water, vinegar, salt and spices on top of the onions.
Let them rest for a few hours before serving.
How quick pickling works
Quick pickling, or vinegar pickling, is a pickling method of heating up an acidic solution of vinegar, water and salt, then immersing vegetables in the solution.
The acidic solution changes the flavor and texture of the vegetables, and also acts as a preservative. But you still need to keep these pickles in the fridge.
There’s no sugar in this recipe
Most recipes call for adding sugar – some for lots of it, some just a teaspoon. I’m trying to eliminate sugar as much as possible these days.
So I don’t use any sugar in this pickled red onions recipe, and I don’t think that’s a problem at all. These onions are absolutely delicious.
Can I use vinegar other than white vinegar?
Yes! You can use red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or cider vinegar. White vinegar changes the color of red onions and turns them pink, as you can see in the photos.
So if you prefer a darker color, red wine vinegar is a good option. Apple cider vinegar might cause the red onions to darken a bit too much. But they will still taste good.
What to serve with pickled red onions?
They are wonderful when paired with just about any meat dish you can think of.
Why not just buy them?
One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s so easy. It requires a minimal amount of work and the results are really good. It’s also good to make homemade pickles because store-bought ones often have added sugar.
What to do with leftovers?
Leftovers keep well in the fridge, in a sealed glass jar, for about a week. They rarely last that long in our house, though. Since red onion pickles go so well with so many dishes, we go through them pretty quickly.
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Pickled Red Onions
- 1 large red onion
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 4 dried bay leaves
- 6 whole peppercorns
- Peel the onion and slice it into thin, 1/8-inch slices. Separate the slices into rings and place them in a jar large enough to accommodate all of them (a 1-quart jar should work). Make sure you use a glass jar that can withstand hot, near-boiling water.
- In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water and salt. Add the bay leaves and the peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the salt dissolves.
- Turn the heat off. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow it to rest and slightly cool for about 5 minutes.
- Pour the liquid over the onions. With a spoon, press down on the onions to make sure they are well-covered.
- Close the lid tightly and allow the jar to sit at room temperature for 2 hours before serving. Alternatively, you can cool it at room temperature for about 1 hour, then refrigerate until ready to use. Refrigerate the leftovers for up to a week.