This pickled yellow onion recipe has a pungent flavor that people love and is the perfect condiment for a ton of different dishes; from sandwiches to salads and tacos, these pretty pickles add so much goodness.
Their punchy and pungent flavor is similar to cucumber pickles from the grocery store, except they are homemade and preservative-free!
If you like the look of these, check out my quick pickled red onions, pickled white onions, or balsamic pickled onions. Which is your favorite?
What is quick pickling?
Quick pickling is a fast method of preserving vegetables or fruit with simple ingredients by immersing them in a vinegar-based solution, also known as pickling brine. The process involves slicing or cutting the produce, then adding it to a jar with pickling brine.
The pickling brine typically consists of equal parts vinegar and water, which creates a tangy and slightly acidic flavor. Common types of vinegar used in quick pickling include white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and rice vinegar. This recipe calls for a little sugar; others sometimes call for more.
Unlike traditional pickling, quick pickling can be done without specialized equipment or knowledge. You can use a variety of containers such as Weck jars, mason jars, or other glass jars with tight-fitting lids.
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Yellow onions: The key ingredient in this recipe, although any variety of onions can be used, including pearl onions.
- White wine vinegar: If you don't have white wine vinegar, substitute it with plain white or red wine vinegar.
- Sugar: You can substitute the sugar with maple syrup but remember that the pickled onions' flavor profile will be slightly different. You may add an extra tablespoon of sugar if you prefer a sweeter vinegar brine.
- Sea salt: If you do not have sea salt, you can substitute it with Kosher salt or table salt.
- Spices: Bay leaves, mustard seeds, and white peppercorns, add a subtle spiciness to the pickled onions. If you do not have these ingredients, you can omit them or substitute them with other spices, such as black pepper or red pepper flakes.
- Fresh herbs, such as dill: add a bright and fresh flavor to the recipe. You can experiment with a variety of herbs such as fresh thyme or rosemary. Dried herbs work beautifully too.
- Garlic cloves: add a savory depth of flavor to the pickled onions.
- Thinly slice the onions: The thinner the onions, the better they will absorb the pickling brine. Use a mandoline or a sharp knife to slice the onions into thin, even pieces.
- Use high-quality ingredients: For the best results possible, use super fresh, preferably organic vegetables.
- Customize: Try different combinations of herbs, chilis, spices, and ingredients.
- Allow the onions to marinate for at least an hour: The longer they marinate in the pickling brine, the better they will taste. For the best results, allow the onions to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
Step-by-step instructions (with pictures)
STEP 1: Add the white wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a small saucepan. Over medium heat, bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a gentle simmer. Wait until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved.
STEP 2: Thinly slice the raw onions with a sharp knife or a mandoline. Peel the garlic
STEP 3: Add the sliced onions and garlic to a 16 ounces (500 ml) glass pint jar.
STEP 4: Pour over the vinegar mixture.
STEP 5: Add mustard seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf, and fresh dill. Make sure the onions are completely submerged in pickling liquid and close the jar with a lid.
STEP 6: Let it cool down for 15-20 minutes. Once they have reached room temperature, you can store them in the refrigerator or serve them immediately.
How to serve pickled yellow onions
- Quick pickled onions are a fresh alternative to caramelized onions. Top your plant-based burgers, vegan hot dogs, tacos, and sandwiches with them, and enjoy the bold crunch they bring to your dishes.
- These pickled yellow onions are a great way to change up your appetizer offering.
- You can also add them to rice and veggie bowls. I love how versatile they are and that they can be added to a variety of dishes.
Frequently asked questions
No, but you'll need to use clean jars.
Yes, you can try out different kinds of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar or a combination of apple cider vinegar and white vinegar work really well.
They will last around 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Pickled onions become slimy when they've gone bad. Also, make sure that are submerged in pickling brine the whole time.
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Quick Pickled Yellow Onions
- 16-ounces Weck jars (500 ml)
For the vinegar brine
- ⅔ cup (160 ml) white wine vinegar
- ⅔ cup (160 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the onions
- 2 yellow onions
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon white peppercorns sub black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of fresh dill
- Add the white wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and wait until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved.
- Thinly slice the onions with a sharp knife or a mandoline. Peel the garlic clove.
- Add the onion slices and garlic clove to a 16 ounces (500 ml) glass jar and pour the vinegar brine on top.
- Add in the mustard seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf, and fresh dill. Make sure the onions are completely submerged and close with a lid.
- Let them cool down for 15-20 minutes. Once they have reached room temperature you can store them in the refrigerator or serve them right away.
- You can store these red wine vinegar pickled onions in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 14 days.
- Always make sure the onions are completely covered in vinegar brine. Onion pieces that were not submerged in vinegar are prone to bacterial growth.
- If they feel slimy or if some onions were not covered with pickling liquid, it's best to throw them out.
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