Crunchy Pickled Red Onions

These pickled red onions can transform just about any meal. With their tender, crunchy texture, they add a flavourful punch to so many dishes. They are often preferred to raw onions.

Like pickles, they are piquant and you can add the seasonings that you prefer. If you want them garlicky, then throw in a few garlic cloves.

You can also adjust the level of sweetness or tartness, depending on how much sugar you add to the marinade. If you like sour, then omit the sugar!

Pickled red onions make for a great relish substitute or an accompaniment to all sorts of meals. I especially enjoy them in burgers, wraps, sandwiches, tacos or grain salads. They are incredibly handy and easy to make. They keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Crunchy Pickled Red Onions


  • About 200-220 grams red onions, sliced in rings (1 big or 2 medium onions)
  • 1 cup (237 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (237 ml) filtered water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (tbsps) fine salt
  • 6 tbsps granulated coconut or cane sugar (add less for a stronger bite; I like 6 tbsps)
  • 3 ice cubes (for crispy onions)
  • A handful of peppercorns + 1 garlic clove *seasoning options below

* Seasoning options: Can add or combine other spices or herbs such as a sprig of thyme or rosemary, a few bay leaves, coriander or mustard seeds, dry red pepper flakes, lime zest.


1. In a pot on high heat on stovetop, add the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Stir well. When the liquid starts to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 1 minute ONLY, stirring constantly. This allows for the sugar and salt to dissolve and the ingredients to mingle and merge.

2. Remove from heat. Set aside on counter top for 30 minutes to cool at room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, slice the onions into thin-ish rings, about 1/2 cm thick (0.2 inch). They don’t need to be paper thin and you don’t need a mandolin. I prefer not overly thin, so I use a sharp knife. In a big glass jar that fits at least 3 cups of fluid, add the peppercorns or other seasonings. Then add the sliced onions, separating the larger rings and stacking them into the jar.

4. When the liquid reaches room temperature, add 3 ice cubes and stir until they melt. Pour the cold liquid into the jar with the onions. Press down on onions so that they submerge in the liquid. Seal tightly, give the jar a few shakes and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours.

5. Enjoy in salads or as a condiment with your meals. Great in sandwiches, wraps, hamburgers, tacos, on scrambled eggs and more. Store in sealed glass jar in refrigerator. Keeps for two weeks.


Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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