Quick Pickled Red Onions

Crisp, crunchy, garlicky goodness with the perfect amount of tang and natural sweetness. These refrigerator “pickled” red onions are easy to make, do not require canning, and are a great topping to tacos, pizzas, bagels, burgers, and much more!

quick pickled red onions

These little purple ribbons of crunchy goodness are my latest obsession. Though you can eat these with just about anything, my favorite way is to top theses refrigerator “pickled” onions on top of my breakfast tacos, and alongside my chicken dinners.

Needless to say, the hubby (Ali) is quite obsessed as well.

I have three words in mind. Onion-Garlic-Breath. 😬 Don’t go on any dates tonight!

In all seriousness, let’s talk about the ingredients you will need.

What ingredients do I need to make Garlicky Refridgerator Pickled Red Onions with Peppercorns?

That’s a good question.

Red Onions — have spiciness, and let’s face it, the color is gorgeous!

Vinegar — we will use white distilled vinegar. I have not tested other kinds of vinegar(s) with this recipe.

Garlic — pungent, aromatic garlic, will give off a nice aroma and flavor.

Peppercorns — are optional, but I recommend it.

Lime — because sometimes, vinegar needs a squirt of freshness.

Pure maple syrup — helps to balance the sour and tanginess.

And of course water, and kosher salt.

Now, let’s talk about the “pickling” liquid.

Do I have to cook the pickling liquid before adding it to the onions?

No, and as a matter of fact, it’s actually all about personal preference. As you can see in the image below, I like to whisk all of the ingredients together using a whisk and mixing bowl.

This will help the garlic seep into the vinegar better, dissolve the salt —creating a stronger flavor.

Why do pickled onions go soft?

The rigid cell walls of onion are what give the onions its quick snap. That’s what I love. Furthermore, when onions are in a hypertonic solution, meaning a liquid that is more concentrated with dissolved particles such as salt(s)—the cell will lose its liquid from its cell wall that can cause them to wilt.

You will also see that the onions may grow larger by a smidge. This is because they are in a hypotonic solution—which basically means that they are in a less concentrated medium such as water. As a result, the cell takes in so much water that the cell walls break—which can also cause them to wilt and go soft.

Some recipes call for one onion or even half an onion. I aim to make as much as I can while using a pint mason jar (16 oz.). The secret to fitting the most into your jar is to not separate each ring.

Keep them intact and stack one-by-one until you reach the top of the jar. Refer to the middle image above. Yes, there are two medium-sized onions in there!

red onion pickle

I know what you’re thinking. Once I pour the liquid into the jar, how will the peppercorns and garlic reach the bottom? Simple. Put on the lid and give it a shake.

As you can see in the picture above, all of the ingredients have spread out evenly. All of the garlic and peppercorns will eventually sink to the bottom while in the fridge. I like to enjoy my pickled onions after it’s been in the brine for a minimum of two hours or longer.

Last but not least, over time, the onions will get brighter in color and will turn your vinegar pink-ish. That’s my favorite part. 😍 You will be surprised by what you have just turned your onions into once it is ready to eat!

pickled red onions in a glass jar

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Without further ado, let’s make Garlicky Refrigerator Pickled Red Onions with Peppercorns!

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pickled red onions white vinegar

Quick Pickled Red Onions

  • Author: ashley
  • Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 1 pint 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Crisp, cold, and garlicky refrigerator pickled red onions with peppercorns that are tangy yet have the perfect amount of natural sweetness.



2 medium-size onions, thin sliced

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

1/3 cup water

1 tsp peppercorns

2 cloves of garlic, chopped 

1 lime

2 tsp pure maple syrup

1/4 tsp kosher salt


In a mixing bowl, add the vinegar, water, garlic, peppercorns, salt, pure maple syrup, and the juice of one lime. Mix to incorporate well. Set aside. 

Thin-slice the onions. Place the sliced onions into the jar, stacking them flat one by one. 

Pour the seasoned vinegar into the jar with the onions. Put on the lid and give it a shake. 

Store into the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours before enjoying. 



Do you want fast, wilted, warm quick pickled onions? Simply add all of the ingredients—minus the onions, into a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook just until the steam starts to evaporate from the pan. Pour the warm liquid into the heat-safe jar of onions and set aside for 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Note: if you do not uniformly stack them flat, one-by-one, you will not be able to fit 2 medium onions. If you prefer to separate the rings, you will be able to fit 1 medium size onion. 


How long do these refrigerator pickled red onions last? I would enjoy them for up to one week in the fridge.

  • Category: sides
  • Method: handmade
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pickled red onions white vinegar, uses for red onion, sweet pickled onions recipe, fridge pickled red onions

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