These quick pickled onions are simple to put together and are perfect for topping tacos, sandwiches, and salads, as they add so much extra flavor.

1-Hour Quick Pickled Onions | A Couple Cooks

A listener left a comment one of our podcast episodes that caught my eye. In the episode, I recorded from the kitchen of Jeanine of Love and Lemons, where she and I challenge ourselves to make a meal, “Chopped-style”, using only what was on hand in her refrigerator. What we came up with were scrambled egg tacos, topped with bright pink quick pickled onions that were on hand in the fridge. The comment that caught my eye? Teacher Amanda commented she planned to use this “improvisation cooking” as a lesson on meal planning with the young adults she teaches. How fun is that?

The inspiration: making recipes taste {even more} delicious!

Turns out the commenter, Amanda, is a plant-based nutrition educator at a residential treatment facility that believes in the power of food to heal. She teaches her students about eating lots of plants and how to cook! This helps them to be successful and stay healthy after they leave the program.

Amanda used our podcast episode with her class and reported back that it was wildly successful! The students listened to Jeanine and I rifling through her fridge and deciding to make tacos with what was on hand. Then she had them do an exercise creating an imaginary meal out of four leftover ingredients, and they loved it! But at first, the students weren’t too sure about those quick pickled onions! It reminded me that quick pickled onions might need a little selling.

Pickled onions

How to make quick pickled onions

Why make pickled onions? First of all, flavor: they bring a tangy brightness to a dish that’s unlike any other condiment. And second, color: the eye-popping fuchsia slivers make any dish look like a piece of art. Luckily, they’re also easy to make! Though you have 1 hour to wait, the hands-on time is only about 5 minutes. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Thinly slice a red onion, then place it in a pickling liquid of vinegar, sugar and salt.
  2. Let this mixture sit for 1 hour. As the onions sit in the pickling liquid, they gradually break down, take on the flavors of the liquid, and turn a bright pink color!
  3. After they’re pickled, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Want more with preserving? Try our easy DIY: How to Make Sauerkraut. Or head to Pickle Recipes, Refrigerator Dill Pickles, Homemade Pickles Recipes, or Pickled Okra.

Vegetarian taco recipe
Try pickled onions on quinoa tacos: you’ll never go back!

What to eat with quick pickled onions

What recipes are best for this hot pink garnish? More than you would imagine. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Tacos. Any taco is made more perfect with pickled onions. They’d be lovely on our classic lentil tacos, or perfect on quinoa tacos.
  • Sopes. If you haven’t tried this authentic Mexican street food, you must. Here’s our homemade sopes recipe.
  • Pizza. Pickled onions on pizza might sound crazy, but this pecan, grape, and pickled onion pizza is to die for.
  • Salads. Throw a few pickled red onions on any salad to add a pleasant zing.
  • Sandwiches. A sandwich is a perfect carrier for pickled onions; specifically, try our vegetarian banh mi.

This week, Amanda’s class will be trying out the pickled onions. She plans to have her students try them out on a sandwich. We look forward to hearing whether they’re converts! Let us know if you have other ways you like to enjoy pickled onions; we’d love to hear.

Listen: Episode 31, Reclaiming the Kitchen.

1-Hour Quick Pickled Onions | A Couple Cooks

Looking for vegan recipes?

Pickled onions are fitting for vegan recipes, since they add a savory flavor. Vegan recipes are becoming part of our everyday, though we typically eat vegetarian. Here are a few of vegan recipes that would go well with pickled onions:

This quick pickled onions recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free.

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Pickled Onions

Easy Quick Pickled Onions (1 Hour!)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: About 1 cup 1x


These quick pickled onions are simple to put together and are perfect for topping tacos, sandwiches, and salads, as they add so much extra flavor.


  • 1 medium red onion
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Thinly slice the red onion.
  2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour, more if possible. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Can be made ahead up to 2 weeks. Drain onions before using.


Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Pickling
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: quick pickled onions, pickled onions

Last updated: January 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. I love all the pickled veggies! So great on sandwiches. Have a jar of your quick pickled veggies from a recipe a couple of years ago in my fridge for snacking right now ?

  2. This recipe is AMAZING! I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream to make it even healthier and it was delicious. I’m not usually one to comment on recipes but this one is definitely a winner!

  3. Hello, is it possible to make these pickled onions with lemon juice instead of vinegar? I have been told to avoid vinegar because of a couple of health issues.