(Quick AF!) Quick Pickled Red Onions

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE SALES LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY FULL DISCLAIMER POLICY FOR DETAILS.
Say hello to your new go-to topping: Quick AF Quick Pickled Red Onions! These easy pickled onions are completely no-cook, made with 5 simple ingredients, & prepped in just 5-minutes of active time. They'll add the perfect amount of tangy zip to just about anything & their neon pink pop of color is a special bonus! Naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, & vegetarian.
An overhead shot of three open jars of quick pickled red onions on a light blue surface. There is a light blue linen napkin in the upper left hand corner.

Say hello to your new go-to topping: Quick AF Quick Pickled Red Onions! These easy pickled onions are completely no-cook, made with 5 simple ingredients, & prepped in just 5 minutes of active time. They’ll add the perfect amount of tangy zip to just about anything & their neon pink pop of color is a special bonus! Naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, & vegetarian.

Pin this Quick AF Quick Pickled Onions recipe for later!

A PWWB Fridge Staple – The Ultimate Flavor Bomb

If you peeked into my fridge at any given moment, I can almost guarantee that you’d spot a jar of these quick pickled red onions. I like to call them the ultimate flavor bomb because they add so much flavor, brightness, & the perfect pop of color to just about any meal.

While there are lots of ways to pickle onions, this recipe is by far the quickest & easiest I’ve come across. More than anything else, the method was born out of laziness on a day when boiling water for pickled red onions just felt like too much (who doesn’t love a good lazy girl recipe?!). The secret? The pickling solution is made with warm water, liquid sweetener (maple syrup FTW!), & just a little bit of salt, so no boiling water is necessary.

These Quick AF Quick Pickled Red Onions are the kind of thing I like to toss together on Sunday night or when I do my mise en place meal prep for the week. They take just 5 minutes of active prep, & they’re ready & waiting in my fridge by the time I want to use them during the week.

An angled shot of three jars full of quick pickled red onions on a light blue surface. One jar in the background is close the other two are open. The jar in the center foreground features rings of pickled red onion at the top of the jar and a light blue linen napkin is in the background.

Hot pink food is the best food, I swear. ♡ Read on to learn more about these Quick AF Quick Pickled Red Onions, or jump straight to the recipe & get prepping!

Ingredients for Easy Pickled Onions:

Other than taking no time at all to whip up a batch, the best part about these quick & easy homemade pickled onions is the fact that you only need 5 simple ingredients to make them. A major bonus? They’re all pantry staples that you probably already have on hand!

Quick pickled red onion ingredients arranged on a light blue surface in individual bowls & dishes: two red onions, maple syrup, rice vinegar, warm water, and kosher salt.
Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You will need

  • Red onion – Raw red onions are pungent & a little bit spicy, but once they’re pickled they take on a delicious tangy bite. (& that gorgeous pop of neon pink doesn’t hurt, either!)
  • Pure maple syrup – My go-to vegan sweetener! Just a little bit adds the perfect amount of sweetness to contrast the zippiness of the vinegar.
  • Kosher salt – Remember osmosis? A little bit of salt helps draw out the onion’s natural moisture & replaces it with the flavorful pickling liquid.
  • Rice vinegar – Its naturally mild & sweet flavor creates just the right amount of zippiness!
  • Hot water – Helps the pickling solution come together & accelerates the pickling process. No stovetop or boiling required!

Tips for the best quick pickled red onions:

The best onions Look for a healthy & firm red onion. If you’d like you can use another type of onion, you certainly can. Other types of onions will give a slightly different flavor profile (ie. white, sweet or pearl onions).

Best vinegar to use You can use any number of vinegars to make quick pickled red onions, I love the mild flavor of rice vinegar. This rice vinegar is my favorite; I always have a bottle or two in my pantry!

Best sweetener to use Rather than using a granulated sweetener, I like to use liquid sweetener to add just the right amount of sweetness to offset the bite of the vinegar. Pure maple syrup is forever my go-to, but honey & agave both work just as well.

How to Make Quick Homemade Pickled Red Onions:

These quick pickled red onions take less than 5 minutes to prep, & they couldn’t be any easier to throw together!

Here’s what you’ll do…

  1. Thinly slice your red onion. Slice the red onion into half moons or circular. Both work perfectly, as long as you make sure they are very thinly sliced. Why ⇢ The thinner you slice the onions, the faster they will pickle! Do it by hand or (carefully!) break out your mandolin for a more uniform slice.
  2. Mix up the vinegar solution. Simply combine the remaining ingredients to prep the vinegar pickling solution. Why ⇢ By simply using hot tap water, you can completely bypass any boiling that many pickled onion recipes require. Whisk to dissolve the salt & ensure everything is thoroughly mixed & your pickling solution is ready to go.
  3. Combine the onions & pickling solution. Pour the pickling mixture over the onions to completely submerge the onion in the liquid.
  4. Store & enjoy! Let the onions pickle for 2-4 hours until they develop their bright pink, jewel-toned color. Top ’em on your favorite dishes & enjoy!
An overhead shot of thinly sliced rings of red onion inside of a mason jar and submerged in pickling liquid. The jar is set on a light blue surface. 2 other jars of easy pickled red onions are also partially shown.

Make-ahead: Since this recipe only requires a quick 5 minutes of prep, it’s the perfect recipe to make ahead of time. They are such an easy mise en place meal prep bonus & &you can enjoy them all week long with any of your weeknight meals!

Quick variations:

  • Make them herby Add dill, fresh rosemary, or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand directly to the pickling solution to change up the flavors a bit.
  • For a peppery kick Add 1 heaping teaspoon of whole black peppercorns to the pickling liquid for a punch of peppery flavor.
  • Include garlic Throw in a few cloves of smashed garlic to the vinegar solution for a hint of garlicky goodness.
  • Add some heat Take things up a notch by adding thinly sliced jalapenos for a kick of heat!

How to use your Quick Pickled Onions:

Once you have a jar of quick pickled onions in your fridge, it’s not difficult to find an excuse to toss them on top of all of your favorite dishes!

A few of my favorite ways to use these easy pickled red onions:

An angled shot of three jars full of quick pickled red onions on a light blue surface. One jar in the background is close the other two are open. The jar in the center foreground has a fork lifting thin slices of pickled red onion out of the jar and a light blue linen napkin is in the background.

Add these Quick AF Quick Pickled Onions to your meal prep list ASAP…future you will be so grateful! If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Want more quick & easy flavor bombs? Check out these 7 Go-To Grilling Marinades or this Seriously Good Kale Pesto next! Happy cooking! ♡

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
An overhead shot of thinly sliced rings of red onion inside of a mason jar and submerged in pickling liquid. The jar is set on a light blue surface.

Quick AF Quick Pickled Onions

  • Author: Jess Larson | Plays Well With Butter
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

These easy pickled onions are completely no-cook, made with 5 simple ingredients, & prepped in just 5-minutes of active time. Quick pickled red onions add the perfect amount of tangy zip to just about anything (& their neon pink pop of color is a fun bonus!). Naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, & vegetarian.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (or agave, or honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or another mild vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup hot water Quick pickled red onion ingredients arranged on a light blue surface in individual bowls & dishes: two red onions, maple syrup, rice vinegar, warm water, and kosher salt.

Instructions

  1. Prep: Peel & very thinly slice the red onion. The more thinly you slice the onion, the quicker they’ll pickle. Transfer to a small bowl, jar, or airtight container & set aside. An overhead shot of a wood cutting board that sits on a light blue surface. On top of the cutting board is a handheld mandolin slicer, a pile of raw red onion that has been thinly sliced, and a partially sliced raw red onion.
  2. Whisk together the pickling liquid: Add the syrup, kosher salt, vinegar, & water to a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Whisk to combine, dissolving the salt into the pickling liquid.
  3. Make the quick pickled onions: Pour the pickling liquid over the prepared onions from Step 1. Use a fork, as needed, to mix & submerge all the onions in the liquid. Transfer to the refrigerator & allow the onions to pickle for 2-4 hours until they develop their bright pink, jewel-toned color. Garnish your favorite dishes with them throughout the week & enjoy!


Notes

  • Storage: Quick pickled red onions will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. 

Keywords: quick pickled red onions, easy pickled onions, sauces & condiments, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

An overhead shot of thinly sliced rings of red onion inside of a mason jar and submerged in pickling liquid. The jar is set on a light blue surface.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Thank you so much for reading & supporting Plays Well With Butter. This post includes affiliate links for products I truly love & use on the reg in my own home. All opinions are always my own! Should you make a purchase using one of these links, PWWB will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original & free content.

Don’t forget to pin these Quick AF Quick Pickled Onions for later!!!

A profile shot of three mason jars full of quick & easy pickled red onions.

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

Topics

Sign up for our newsletter

Leave a Rating & Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. 5.6.21
    Sarah said:

    Such a simple and delicious recipe. Great pickled onions in a few hours, even better in a couple of days!

    • 5.7.21

      Couldn’t agree more, Sarah! So glad you enjoyed them as much as we do! Jess