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Looking for a tasty, tangy topping for your next meal? Look no further! In today’s post, I’m going to teach you how to make Quick Pickled Red Onion using my super easy pickled onion recipe. With minimal ingredients and no cooking required, you’ll have a delicious, flavor-packed onion condiment in no time. 

About this quick pickled onion recipe 

My quick pickled onion recipe is a versatile and delicious way to add zing to your favorite dishes. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to pickle red onions fast, this one’s for you. You’ll have a bowl of bright, beautiful onions soaked in vinegar on the table in no time!

My no-cook pickled red onions method involves soaking onions in flavorful apple cider vinegar and hot water for just a few short minutes. It’s the best way to enjoy pickled onions quick as can be without sacrificing flavor.

If you love pickling fresh vegetables, try these seriously delicious pickle brine recipes next: pickled jalapenos recipe and recipe for homemade dill pickles.

Why you’ll love this onion pickle!

Aside from being gorgeously jewel toned and lip-smacking-tasty, this ultra quick pickled onions recipe is also:

  • Made With Just 4 Simple Ingredients – All you need are onions or shallots and a few pantry staples. 
  • Easily Customizable – Add your own flavorful flair to these vinegar onions by adding any of my hand-picked flavor boosters. Feel free to mix and match to your heart’s content!
  • Super Versatile – Once you make these beauties, you’re never going to want to be without them. They add tons of flavor to everything from eggs or breakfast sandwiches and pizza to smoked salmon platters and tacos.

Quick pickled red onion ingredients

  • Red Onions or Shallots – While you can technically pickle any allium you like, red onions and shallots are my two faves. Opt for shallots when you want less bite.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Acid is essential to the pickling process. The vinegar’s acidity helps to break down the onions’ cell walls, allowing them to absorb the flavorful pickling liquid. I personally like pickling with apple cider vinegar because it has a slightly sweet and fruity taste, which I just can’t get enough of.
    • Substitutions: White vinegar or rice vinegar are also lovely, light vinegars that will add tons of flavor to this quick pickled red onion recipe. 
  • Hot Water – Make sure you use hot, not boiling, water here. The heat helps advance the pickling process, but if you go TOO hot, it’ll leave you with slightly limp (but still yummy) onion pickles. If you, like me, want crunch, this is less than ideal.
  • Agave – For a touch of sweetness to balance out the acidity of the vinegar and the spicy, sulfurous bite of the onions.
    • Substitutions: Feel free to use the sweetener of your choice here. Regular sugar or brown sugar work well, but dissolve them in the hot water first. Maple syrup, honey, or brown rice syrup are great liquid alternatives.
  • Salt – Seasoning is everything. Adding salt to the brine helps to emphasize all the other flavors of these red onion quick pickles!

Optional variations

Once you master the basic recipe for quick pickled red onions, then go to town with your choice of add-ins. 

You can add sliced jalapeños for a spicy kick, or substitute the apple cider vinegar with red wine vinegar for a different flavor profile. You can also use different types of spices such as mustard seeds, coriander seeds, or fennel seeds in the pickling mixture. 

Here are some of my other favorite additions:

  • Garlic Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Bay Leaf
  • Fresh Herbs (thyme, dill, rosemary, etc.) 
  • Whole Spices
  • Whole Spices (black peppercorns, star anise, cumin seeds, etc.)
  • Lemon Peel or Slice of Lemon

Feel free to mix and match to create your own unique quick onion pickles!

How to quickly pickle onions and shallots

This recipe for quick pickled onions is easy peasy! With a handful of ingredients and 5 minutes, you can have tender, tangy onions in the most delicious pickling liquid. Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Prep work: Gather all your ingredients. Peel and slice the shallots or onions as thin as possible using a mandoline slicer or a sharp Chef’s knife. 
  2. Transfer Onions to Jar or Bowl: Transfer the thinly slices of onion to a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid, an airtight container or a medium shallow bow, and set aside.
  3. Make the Pickling Solution: In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or a small bowl, add the vinegar, hot water, agave, and kosher salt. Whisk vigorously, stirring until the salt dissolves into the pickling liquid.
    • Optional – add more flavor: Whisk any additional flavoring ingredients you love, such as mustard seeds and a lemon peel, to the pickling liquid, if using. 
  4. Pour Pickle Liquid over Onions: Carefully pour the warm pickling solution over the thinly sliced onions. Then use a long spoon or fork to stir the onions and completely submerge them in the liquid.
  5. Pickle the Onions: Cover the jar, container, or bowl and transfer to the refrigerator. Let the onions pickle in the refrigerator until they turn bright pink
  6. Use or Store: Use pickled red onions or pickled shallots in your favorite recipes or use them to garnish your favorite dishes, such as egg sandwiches, tacos, grain bowls, salads and more! Alternatively, store pickled vegetables in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Expert tips for pickling onions quickly

To make the perfect pickle onions fast, follow these expert tips:

  1. Thinly slice your onions for a faster pickling process and a better texture.
  2. Use a mandoline for even slicing and to save time. Just make sure to watch your little fingers!
  3. If you prefer a bright, beautiful, jewel tone color (honestly, who wouldn’t?!?), use a combination of half red wine vinegar and half apple cider vinegar in the pickling solution especially if you’re pickling shallots. 
  4. Allow your quick pickled onions to sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour for the best flavor. The longer they sit, the more flavorful they’ll become. 
    • For a lighter pickle flavor, pickle the onions for just 30 minutes
    • For a rich tangy pickle flavor, let the onions sit in the pickling liquid for 2 hours or more.

FAQs: frequently asked questions

How long does it take to pickle onions?

With this quick pickled red onions recipe, it takes just 5 minutes of prep and only 2 hours of soak time to enjoy the prettiest, tastiest pickled onions, no cooking required.

Can I pickle other types of onions?

Yep, you can totally use other types of onions (or even other alliums like wild garlic, ramps, or scallions). That said, red onions or shallots are my favorite because of their mild flavor and vibrant color.

Do I have to refrigerate these onions?

Mmm-hmmm. You’ll wanna store the pickled onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator where they will technically last for up to two weeks (but I’d be downright shocked if you still had some by then).

Can I reuse the pickling liquid?

Heck yes! One of the best things about these pickled red onions with apple cider vinegar is the resulting onion vinegar. Use it up to one more time for pickling another round of vegetables (topping off the batch with added vinegar as needed), or use it to add some serious sophistication to a simple vinegar and oil salad dressing. Just make sure to store it in the refrigerator and use it within a month.

Serving quick onion pickle

These apple cider vinegar pickled onions are perfect for those moments when you need to add a sprinkle of magic to your culinary creations. The vibrant pink hue, achieved by pickling onions in vinegar, adds a touch of fantasy to your plate, making every meal a memorable experience.

Here are a few scenarios when this quick pickled red onions no cook recipe will save the day:

Using pickled onions

Whether you’re hosting a ghostly gathering (to play Magic, the Gathering, perhaps?!?) or simply wish to add some enchantment to your everyday meals, like this super simple sushi tuna, apricot jam chicken or Chinese ground beef recipes, these quick pickled red onions are the perfect touch! 

Storing quick pickled onions

Store your pickled onions with apple cider vinegar in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. The flavor will continue to develop over time, so your vinegary, oniony yumminess will only get better!

Next time you’re in a dinner pickle, remember this hot water trick for pickling onions quickly. They’re sure to add dill-icious, zesty flavor to everything they touch. Okay, enough chatting — now that you know how to pickle onions fast, it’s time to seal the dill and DO IT ALREADY! Happy pickling!

Cheyanne

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More recipes for onions!

Simple recipe for pickling onions quick👇

Photo of a quick pickled red onion with garlic, bay leaf, and lemon peel in a white bowl

Quick Pickled Onion Recipe

Total Time: 5 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Looking for a tasty, tangy onion topping for your next family dinner? Look no further! Learn how to make Quick Pickled Red Onion and Shallot using my super easy onion pickle recipe. With minimal ingredients and no cooking required, you'll have a delicious, flavor-packed condiment in no time.
Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.

Equipment

  • 1 Mandoline Slicer or Chef’s Knife
  • 1 Storage Jar or Large Bowl
  • 1 2 Cup Liquid Measure

Ingredients 

Pickled Onions

  • 1 medium Red Onion OR 4-5 Shallots (SEE NOTES)
  • ½ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar substitute: white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • ½ Cup HOT Water (Hot, but not boiling)
  • 1 to 1 ½ TBS Agave (substitute: maple syrup or honey)
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt

Optional Ingredients for More Flavor

  • 1-2 clove(s) Garlic – Smashed & Peeled
  • 1 Thin Slice Ginger – Peeled
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • 3-4 Sprigs Fresh Herbs (Thyme, Oregano, Dill, or Rosemary_
  • 1 tsp Whole Spices (Black Peppercorns, Mustard Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Allspice Berries, Red Pepper Flakes)
  • 1 whole Lemon Peel or Thin Slice of Lemon

Instructions

  • Gather and Prep: Gather all your ingredients. Peel and very thinly slice the shallots using a mandoline slicer or a sharp Chef’s knife. (Note: Try to slice the onion as thin as possible. This makes the onions pickle faster AND their texture more delicate and delicious.)
  • Transfer Onions to Jar or Bowl: Transfer the thinly sliced shallots to a jar with a tight-fitting lid, an airtight container, or a medium shallow bowl. Set aside.
  • Make the Pickling Liquid: To a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or a small bowl, add the vinegar, HOT water, agave, and kosher salt. Whisk vigorously, stirring until the salt dissolves into the pickling liquid.
    Optional – Add MORE Flavor: Add any of the optional flavoring ingredients to the pickling liquid, if using. Whisk well to combine.
  • Pour Pickle Liquid over Onions: Carefully pour the hot pickling liquid over the thinly sliced onions. Use a long spoon or fork to stir the onions and completely submerge them in the liquid.
  • Pickle the Onions: Cover the jar, container, or bowl and transfer to the refrigerator. Let the onions pickle in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or until they turn bright pink. (See chart for pickling estimates.)
  • Use or Store: Use pickled onions in your favorite recipes or use them to garnish your favorite dishes, such as egg sandwiches, tacos, grain bowls, salads and more! Alternatively, store pickled shallots in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

  • Using shallots? If you prefer a bright beautiful jewel tone color to your pickled onions, follow this tip when for shallots: Use a combination of half red wine vinegar and half apple cider vinegar in the pickling solution. (Shallots aren’t as naturally vibrant in color as red onions. Using a little red vinegar helps keep the hue pretty!)
  • Approximate Pickling Times in the Fridge:
    • Super light pickle just to remove harsh bite from onions: 10-15 minutes
    • A light pickle flavor: 30 minutes
    • Proper pickle: 2+ hours
  • Recipe Yield: approximately 1 cup
  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Nutritional information is an estimate based upon 8 servings. Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.

Nutrition

Calories: 24kcal    Carbohydrates: 5g    Protein: 0.3g    Fat: 0.03g    Saturated Fat: 0.003g    Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g    Monounsaturated Fat: 0.001g    Sodium: 293mg    Potassium: 53mg    Fiber: 0.4g    Sugar: 4g    Vitamin A: 1IU    Vitamin C: 2mg    Calcium: 6mg    Iron: 0.2mg

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