Mexican Pickled Red Onions

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Have you ever wanted to try making Pickled Red Onions but felt a bit intimidated? Sit back and take a deep breath because this pickled onions recipe is so stinking simple. Once you start pickling, you’ll never go back!

Mexican Pickled Red Onions 11

Pickled Red Onions

What are pickled red onions, and how dare they be such a great condiment? The simple answer is…red onions are…pickled. I suppose a better question would be, “what ingredients are needed and how many steps does it take?”

When I started my Pickling Journey™ I was surprised at how easy it was. Nowadays there’s no need for us to pickle anything since we can buy pickled-ANYTHING at our local grocery stores. Pickled jalapenos and pickled beets are sitting there, in their briney glory, just waiting for us to take a bite.

I believe pickling is a lost art. So join me and embrace your little inner pickler. You can do it!

What You’ll Need

Full transparency–the only thing that makes these “Mexican” is a phone call to my Aunt who told me to add a chile pepper and then gave me her blessing. That’s how it works, trust me.

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🧅 Red Onions: Red onions have a distinct flavor and color. That unmistakable violet color impacts the overall color of the brine, as well! Watch your brine transform from clear to violet overnight. It’s really cool to see.

🍎 Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar is a crucial ingredient in pickling, and Apple cider vinegar has always been my go-to vinegar. You can use distilled white vinegar if that’s all you have. It will work just fine.

🍯 Honey or Sugar: I find that adding a sweetener to my pickle brine compliments the vinegar’s acidity and the onions’ bite. I specifically use spicy honey as my sweetener, but you can use granulated sugar or brown sugar instead. Sugar isn’t a crucial ingredient, but I like to add a bit to sweeten my brine.

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Whole cloves of garlic!

🧄 Garlic: Garlic is a must. Garlic imparts that perfect…garlic flavor that we’re used to in pickle recipes. Use sliced garlic, chopped garlic, or whole garlic cloves. I use whole garlic cloves because they make a great pickled garlic treat once I’m done eating all the onions.

🌶️ Chile de árbol: This is the chile pepper my Aunt mandated that I add to make this more authentically Mexican. You can find Chile de árbol on Amazon, in your local grocery store (they come in those big plastic bags), or at your local Mexican Market. Chiles de árbol are quite spicy so be careful how many you add!

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Chile de árbol pack a punch!

🧂 Whole Black Peppercorns: No pickling recipe would be complete without the addition of black peppercorns. I add a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns to my brine. As with all these ingredients, the longer you leave them in the brine, the more flavor they impart.


How To Make Mexican Pickled Red Onions

This recipe makes 1 small or medium mason jar of pickled onions. Alright, let’s get started. Just follow these 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Slice Your Red Onion

Evenly slice one medium red onion. I use a mandoline vegetable slicer to make quick work of my onions. Mandolines are relatively inexpensive and are LIFE CHANGING in the kitchen.

My mandoline will slice an onion into perfect rings in less than 10 seconds, which means zero onion tears.

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Step 2: Prepare Your Brine

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and two tablespoons of honey or sugar.

Step 3: Add Onions to Mason Jar

While your brine is coming to a boil, stack your sliced onion rings in a small or medium mason jar. Toss in your 6 garlic cloves, 3 or 4 Chile de árbol, and the whole black peppercorns.

Note: If you stack your onion rings in the jar it makes it easier to fit them all in.

Step 4: Fill Mason Jar with Brine

Pour the hot pickle brine into the mason jar until your onions are fully covered. Place the lid on your jar and let sit for a few minutes to cool.

Once it’s cooled for 5 minutes, screw on the lid and shake it a few times before placing it in the fridge.

Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. They’ll be best if left for at least 24 hours. The more time that passes, the less onion-y they become. I find mine to be perfect after about a week.

How Should I Serve My Pickled Onions?

I use my pickled red onions as a condiment or garnish for my Dutch Oven Birria Recipe and my Instant Pot Birria Tacos Recipe. They make a great addition to soups, salads, sandwiches, or even as a standalone snack!

birria recipe
Pickled red onions as a garnish on Birria.

Can I Pickle White or Yellow Onions Instead?

You can pickle whatever your heart longs for. White onions, yellow onions, and even shallots are fantastic for pickling and make great condiments. I prefer the flavor profile and coloring of red onions which is why I chose them for this recipe.

Can I Add My Own Spices?

Yes! It’s hard to mess up a pickle brine. Add spices to your heart’s content. Experiment with different combinations of spices, seasonings, and vegetables in your brine. Remember, the longer you leave your onions to pickle, the more they’ll take on the flavors of the brine.

Recipe Card

Mexican Pickled Red Onions 8

Mexican Pickled Red Onions

Have you ever wanted to try making Pickled Red Onions but felt a bit intimidated? Sit back and take a deep breath because this pickled onions recipe is so stinking simple. Once you start pickling, you’ll never go back!
5 from 1 vote
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Prep: 5 mins
Total: 1 d 5 mins
Yield: 1 jar

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Slice Your Red Onion
    Evenly slice one medium red onion. I use a mandoline vegetable slicer to make quick work of my onions. Mandolines are relatively inexpensive and are LIFE CHANGING in the kitchen.
    My mandoline will slice an onion into perfect rings in less than 10 seconds, which means zero onion tears.
  • Prepare Your Brine
    In a small saucepan, bring to a boil 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and two tablespoons of honey or sugar.
  • Add Onions to Mason Jar
    While your brine is coming to a boil, stack your sliced onion rings in a small or medium mason jar. Toss in your 6 garlic cloves, 3 or 4 Chile de árbol, and the whole black peppercorns.
  • Fill Mason Jar with Brine
    Pour the hot pickle brine into the mason jar until your onions are fully covered. Place the lid on your jar and let sit for a few minutes to cool.
    Once it’s cooled for 5 minutes, screw on the lid and shake it a few times before placing it in the fridge.
    Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. They’ll be best if left for at least 24 hours. The more time that passes, the less onion-y they become. I find mine to be perfect after about a week.

Your Own Notes

Notes

I have a link to canning jars under equipment, but you can use a regular house-hold mason jar. We’re not canning these, and they don’t need to be airtight. Just add your brine and onions to the jar and screw the lid on once the brine has cooled. 

Nutritional Information

Serving: 1onion, Calories: 41kcal, Carbohydrates: 9.5g, Protein: 1.3g, Fat: 0.2g, Sodium: 2.8mg, Potassium: 156mg, Fiber: 1.3g, Sugar: 4.4g, Vitamin C: 8.1mg, Calcium: 1.6mg, Iron: 1.3mg

The Golden Lamb provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

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I hope it was an easy recipe for you to follow! If you think this is the best recipe for pickled onions, or if you have any other feedback, I’d love to hear from you! 

-Kelsey

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