Pink Pickled Onions

Snappy, tart and sweet, pickled onions are among my favorite garnishes for tacos, sandwiches, braises and grills.  The best part? They are easy to make with only five ingredients and 5 minutes of hands-on time (making brine and slicing the onions). These pink pickled onions will rest in the brine for an hour (or longer) to soak up and deepen the flavors.

Ingredients for making brine.

Never one to leave “well enough” alone, I’m a self-described condiment junkie. Not necessarily ketchup and mustard, per se, but anything that takes a dish to the next level. Why suffer a boring chicken breast when you can add extra oomph with a chutney, an aioli,  homemade pesto, or drizzle of some type of sauce. Which brings me to one of the simplest, most basic garnishes I know — quick and easy pink pickled onions. 

Ingredients For Making Brine

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Kosher Salt

You see? This is as basic as it gets — and yet, when you soak sliced onions in this simple brine, they become tangy instead of fiery, crisp instead of crunchy, with a mild sweet-tartness that cuts through heavy flavors and adds a whole new dimension to whatever you serve it with.

Dissolving sugar and salt in cider vinegar for the brine.

Making Pink Pickled Onions

  1. In a bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the apple cider, sugar and kosher salt and whisk until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
  2. Add the water and stir to combine.
  3. Slice the red onion very thinly, crosswise and transfer to a medium bowl.
  4. Pour the brine over the onions and press the onions down so they are completely submerged.
  5. Let the onions rest for an hour in the brine. The onions can be used now, but you can also make them ahead of time, so they’re ready when you are.
  6. Transfer the onions to a storage container with a tight fitting lid and pour the brine over the onions.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to use. Onions will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
slicing onions.

Can I Pickle Other Types Of Onions?

Absolutely! You can do this with white onions, yellow onions and even sweet onions, but the red onions will give you that distinctive “pink pickled onion” look that everyone is familiar with.

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How To Get Even Onion Slices

For these easy tart and sweet pickled onions, I just use a good sharp knife and a steady hand, but if you’re a stickler for uniformity, you’re best bet is a mandoline. You can find them for between $30-$50 and they’re invaluable for making perfect cuts every time. (I use mine for making scalloped potatoes)

covering onions with brining liquid.

Uses For Tart Sweet Pickled Onions

Sandwiches:  like this roast beef sandwich, barbecued pork sandwich, grilled chicken sandwich, salmon sliders.

Mexican Food: the briny quality of the quick pickle can cut through spice and richness and brings balance to all your tacos, burritos and spicy Mexican favorites.

Asian Food: Pink pickled onions  are great with stir fry, lettuce wraps and bibimbap. 

Eggs: Scrambled, fried, poached or benedicted – a few curls of pickled onions add a great bite.

Vegetables: Yes, veg on veg action. Draping greens and roasted squash with pickled onions adds a new dimension.

Fish Dip: I don’t know if this common everywhere, but here in Florida, you put pickled onions (and hot peppers) on fish dip. Always.

An 8 ounce jar of pickled onions and brine.

I made this jar two days ago and it’s nearly gone… Good thing I’ve got more onions. What will you use them in?

I am seeing the rings of the pink pickled onions in brine through a clear jar.

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a jar of pink pickled onions.
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4.73 from 11 votes

Quick Pickled Onions

Pickled onions are an ideal topping for tacos, sandwiches, pulled pork — even your morning eggs. Always keep a jar on hand for just such an occasion.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword pickled, red onions
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 6


  • 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • teaspoons kosher salt


  • In a medium bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and kosher salt and whisk until the salt and sugar have dissolved. 
  • Add the sliced onions to the brine and press the onions into the liquid to cover. Let rest for 60 minutes.
  • You can use the pickled onions immediately or transfer them to a glass jar with tight fitting lid and refrigerate until ready to use.


Calories: 19kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Sodium: 584mg | Potassium: 41mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Pin “Quick & Easy Pink Pickled Onions” For Later: 

These 5-ingredient, 5-minute pink pickled onions are great toppings for tacos, sandwiches & more. Making brine for tart sweet pickled onions is a snap too! #pickledonions #howtopickleonions

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  1. 5 stars
    Amazing, so quick and easy, since I saw this recipe a few weeks ago I have made this about 10 times! The other day the onions weren’t completely covered with the liquid as I had used a giant red onion, so I just topped it up with white wine vinegar, worked great too.

  2. Heading to the store now, having a cookout with some friends tonight, and these are sure to be a hit.

  3. This recipe is killer. Cannot wait to make this the next time I head to the grocery store!

  4. I love quick pickled onions, the colour is so beautiful and they’re so easy to prepare.

  5. 5 stars
    We love making pickled onions the second the weather warms up because they are so excellent on salads, deviled eggs, and sandwiches. Great easy and simple recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    Oh dang, I have gotta make these! I have half a red onion in the fridge right now. I love adding these to Indian recipes… my fave! Thanks so much for this easy recipe. Love it!

  7. Jessica Formicola says:

    5 stars
    I love adding these to salads, especially with that bright color! I can’t wait to make these!