How to Make and Use Pickled Red Onions

They're pretty in pink but pack a big flavor punch.

If you've ever had pickled red onions as a garnish on your food, you know that they're more than just a bright pink topping — that sweet and tangy condiment brings instant elevation to just about any dish, from sandwiches to salads, soups, dips, and more. You can even use the pickle brine to make cocktails.

Watch the video above as Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, shows you how to pickle red onions at home (it's so easy!) and shares 10 ways to use pickled red onions to make good food taste even better. And be sure to scroll down to get her pickled red onion recipe and tips.

How to Make Pickled Red Onions

side view of a glass jar filled with homemade pickled red onions

Get Nicole's recipe for Perfect Pickled Onions

Fresh, cold, and crisp pickled onions. So easy to make, you should always have these on hand to jazz up sandwiches, salads, charcuterie boards, tacos, and more. The leftover pickling liquid can be used to make dressings or marinades. They add a bright, tangy bite when served alongside rich foods. —NicoleMcmom


  • 3 medium red onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, or to taste
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, sliced, or to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns


  1. Cut onions into very thin slices; place in two 1-quart glass jars or one large bowl, packing them tightly together. Add garlic cloves, jalapeno slices, bay leaves, and pepper flakes.
  2. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour warm liquid over the onions and press down if necessary to submerge. Cover and refrigerate, 8 hours to overnight. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

10 Ways to Use Pickled Red Onions

  1. Sandwiches: Brighten up any deli sandwich, burger, or saucy BBQ sandwich.
  2. Tacos: The sweet acidity is especially good on fish tacos and carnitas.
  3. Mayo-based salads: Add chopped pickled red onions to egg salads and potato salads, or use as a topper for deviled eggs.
  4. Green salads: Top any salad with pickled red onions to add flavor and eye-candy.
  5. Hot dogs: If you love relish on your hot dog, wait until you taste pickled onions.
  6. Stew or chili: The sweet and tangy bite of pickled onions balances the richness of stews and chilis.
  7. Avocado toast: Bright pink pickled red onions on avocado-green toast? It's an Instagram moment waiting to happen. (And it tastes fantastic.)
  8. Dips: Add chopped pickled red onions to rich dips like artichoke dip or stir it into pimento cheese.
  9. Marinade or salad dressing: When you finish off your onions, use the liquid like you would use any vinegar to make marinades and salad dressings.
  10. Cocktails: Pickled red onion liquid + gin = a pretty pink Gibson. Looks like a cosmo, tastes like a dirty martini. Let's just call it a new way to get pickled.


You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

More tips, tricks, and ideas from Nicole:

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