These are easy no-cook quick pickled red onions, with no heat at all needed. It’s a super simple recipe with just four ingredients and no need to boil water, cook anything at all, or do much beyond chopping some onions – the resting time does all the work for you.
This method makes for the most vibrant, beautifully pink pickled onions that are mild and have the best texture. It does take longer than 15 minutes, I’m afraid, but only in terms of waiting time. Just slice the onions, mix in a jar, and set aside for a couple of hours.
Pickled onions last quite some time in the fridge, at least a couple of weeks, so you can make a big batch and use it for a while. Since I have so many recipes that use them (see below) this is a useful separate guide on how to make this staple recipe.
These are very common in Scandinavian food, and I see them everywhere in Sweden now, but I’ve been making them this way since I was a kid. It’s so easy, it’ll become one of your go-to recipes!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Lemon: use lime instead if you can get it! This gives the best taste but half the amount of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be substituted.
- Honey: maple syrup, sugar, or another light-tasting sweetener can be used. Don’t leave it out altogether, though.
Step by Step
1. Prep: thinly slice a red onion and place it in a jar with the other ingredients.
2. Mix: cover and shake very well to dissolve the honey and salt.
3. Wait: set the jar aside for a couple of hours, until the onions are evenly pink, and serve.
Serve Your Pickled Onions With
Spicy Pinto Bean Soup
Orange Pomegranate Salad
Spicy Black Bean Soup
Red Lentil Falafel (in a naanwich)
Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili
Vegan Cauliflower Tacos
Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
Summer Harvest Vegan Burrito Bowl
Roasted Potato Tacos
Black Bean Rice Burgers
Or in anything you think could use a bit more bite or colour. Purple pickled onions are my secret weapon during winter, when everything seems to be beige. They’re great with veggie balls and burgers, tacos, bean bowls, sandwiches or wraps, hummus/cheese and crackers, and so on.
Lots of sushi restaurants in Sweden serve pickled onions alongside the ginger and seaweed, and it’s excellent. Give it a try!
You can add spices and other additions to the onions, like star anise, hot pepper flakes, and herbs. Think of this as a base recipe.
White onions can of course also be used and the taste will be virtually the same. You won’t have the same vibrant colour, of course, but it doesn’t matter.
How to Store
Storage: the onions can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a maximum of two weeks. I recommend using a mix of vinegar and lemon juice if you want to store them for this longer period.
Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing pickled onions.
- Give it time: it takes at least a couple of hours, depending on temperature, for these to turn into good pickled onions. Be patient, it’s a process.
- Use a warm place: the onions will soften more quickly if the space they’re set in is quite warm. If I forgot to make them ahead of time, I often place the jar in a sunny spot. If you have lots of time, though, they should be kept somewhere cool.
- Add vinegar: they won’t last as long if you use only lemon juice, but they taste better that way – if you want to make a larger batch and store it for a week or two, use some plain white vinegar as well.
- Use a jar: any old jar with a lid that seals is ideal for this recipe. You want to be able to really shake it, so make sure it doesn’t leak.
More Staple Recipes
Homemade Peanut Butter
Coconut Whipped Cream
How to Make Vegetable Broth
If you make these Pickled Red Onions or any other vegetarian staple recipes on Occasionally Eggs, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more OE, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, purchase the Occasionally Eggs cookbook, or subscribe for new posts via email.
Pickled Red Onions
- 2 small red onions thinly sliced (or one large)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon honey or sugar
- 3 tablespoons lime juice lemon juice, or 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- Place the onion, salt, honey, and lime juice into a jar or container with a lid. Shake until well mixed.2 small red onions, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon honey, 3 tablespoons lime juice
- Set aside, preferably in a warm place, for at least two hours. Shake occasionally if you think of it. The onions are ready when they’ve turned bright pink and are quite tender. Alternatively, place them in the refrigerator immediately and they’ll be ready the following day.
- Refrigerate for up to two weeks in a sealed container.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This post was first published in October 2019. It has been updated with no changes to the recipe most recently as of January 2023.
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