How to Pickle Onions – Easy Pickled Onion Recipe

Pickling onions is a really easy way to learn about how to make pickles and how to make each pickle your own. The basics are really simple, but the possibilities for variation are endless. You can use small onions, large chopped onions and shallots. Red or white it doesn’t matter.

You can work traditionally using malt vinegar with its dark caramel tones, or ring the changes with wine or cider vinegar. You could even add a dash of balsamic at the end to bring in a touch of the Mediterranean. Then, there are the spicing possibilities. Bay leaf and thyme are traditional. Chilies and garlic bring some pungency. Coriander, lime-grass and ginger bring a South East Asian flavor.

Follow this simple recipe for pickled onions but make sure you include a touch of your own imagination, flare and tastes too.

Pickled Onions


  • Onions, small pickling ones are traditional but you could chop larger ones.
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Vinegar

Use as many onions as you like. You will need enough water to cover them all. For every 4 pints of water you need 8 oz salt to ensure the brine is of the right strength to stop your pickled onions being soggy. The volume of vinegar needs to be enough to fill all your jars of pickled onions.

Pickled Onion Method

Peel all the onions, leaving the root in tact to stop the onions falling apart. I find it easiest to soak the onions in warm water first, to loosen their skins. Put all the peeled onions in a non-corrosive bowl and cover completely with the brine mixture. Weight down the onions with a plate to ensure they stay submerged properly. Leave for 24 hours.

Drain the onions and rinse quickly in cold water. Dry thoroughly with a clean tea towel then pack into clean sterilized canning jars. Top up the jars with cold vinegar and herbs and spices as you like.

Seal and label.

All pickled onions made at home, improve with keeping. I recommend you leave your homemade pickled onions to mature for three months before eating. This really mellows the flavor. Stored somewhere cool and dark, the sealed pickle will keep for between one and two years.

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For more information about how to pickle onions and more pickle recipes to make at home see the Recipe for Pickles site.

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