Preserving Fruits and Veggies

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Red onions, thyme, garlic, and vinegar freshly packed into a quart size jar

These quick pickled red onions couldn’t be faster or easier to make! Yet they add pizazz to so many dishes including a wide range of salads, tacos, quesadillas, burgers, wraps, and more. They’re crunchy, colorful, piquant, and overall delightful.

Two of my kids are home from college due to this coronavirus situation (a silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud). While home, my daughter Laura has been making jar after jar of these incredible pickled red onions. I honestly hadn’t come across these gems before – how did I live all these years without them?!

Laura makes her quick pickled red onions with full strength white vinegar. I prefer a milder pickle, so I use a diluted apple cider vinegar brine. It is still acidic enough to safely store in the refrigerator for weeks.

Compounds from onion have been reported to have a range of health benefits which include anticarcinogenic properties, antiplatelet activity, antithrombotic activity, antiasthmatic and antibiotic effects.

Phytotherapy research
Onions – A Global Benefit to health

Method Overview

  • Slice onion
  • Add to jar with garlic cloves and sprigs of thyme (or rosemary)
  • Heat up vinegar with water, honey, salt, and peppercorns
  • Pour brine into jar; refrigerate

Red onions, thyme, garlic, and vinegar freshly packed into a quart size jar
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Quick Pickled Red Onions

Course: condiment
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 quart


  • quart jar with lid, such as a Mason jar
  • small saucepan


  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3 sprigs thyme, or rosemary
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon raw honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, optional


  • Peel the onion and cut it in half lengthwise from stem to root. Place one half-onion on a cutting board flat-side down; cut off and discard a thin slice from each end. Cut the rest of the onion into 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch slices. Repeat with the other half.
  • Put the onion slices into the jar. Arrange the garlic cloves and sprigs of thyme (or rosemary).
  • Pour the vinegar and water into a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the honey, salt, and peppercorns and warm up while stirring just until the honey and salt blends into brine. Do not boil.
  • Pour the brine into the jar and cap. At first it will seem like there isn't enough brine (see first photo at top). Don't worry; the salt draws moisture from the onions and they will soften. After about an hour you'll see that there is plenty of brine to cover the onions. Flip the jar over periodically to help the process.
  • After the brine cools down, refrigerate the quick pickled red onions. Wait a few hours or until the next day before eating so the flavor has a chance to set in.


  • The vinegar tends to rust Mason jar screw bands or other caps. To prevent this I suggest covering the mouth of the jar with a square of parchment paper (double layer) before capping.
  • Feel free to add different herbs or spices to the brine such as allspice, red pepper flakes, star anise, or fresh dill.
  • Raw honey contains beneficial enzymes that are destroyed when heated. Only warm the brine until the honey and salt dissolve, then remove from heat.
  • Once the onions are eaten don’t throw away the leftover brine; it is flavorful and contains nutrients from the onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. Use it in place of vinegar when making salad dressing.
Two mason jars of quick pickled red onions
The brine turns a brilliant red color
Jamie planting onion seedlings in the garden.

Jamie and Laura planted 130 red onions this spring. I’ll be pickling plenty!

If you like this recipe you may also enjoy my Pickled Radishes with Jalapeños and Asparagus Pickles.

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