I love condiments. Soon after creating this blog, I named my 15 essential condiments. I haven’t changed the post, but now I would add a 16th – pickles. And these easy pickled red onions are the simplest and best pickles I’ve ever made.
I don’t mean to disrespect more complicated or sophisticated ones, like the scrumptious fennel, orange, and olive pickles I made from Cathy Barrow’s wonderful book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry. Still, if you’re starting out making condiments from scratch, these are a great place to start.
Easy pickled red onions are a condiment building block. A perfect foil to meat, poultry, cheese or vegetables, you can prepare them in minutes. Like traditional cucumber pickles, they can be simple. Then again, you can spice them up however you’d like. If you’re in the mood for a Mexican or southeast Asian version, you can do that. Or add Southwestern flavors.
To pickle onions the only ingredients you absolutely need are an onion and vinegar or other acid such as lime juice. You can use any vinegar you like – white, cider, red wine. I’ve even seen a recommendation to use white vinegar, adding a splash of red balsamic at the end. Many, if not most, pickled onion recipes add a sweetener too. Some also add salt (in varying amounts) and occasionally you find one that includes water.
My recipe is for pickling red onions. But you could just as easily pickle a shallot or a white or yellow onion. You could even do a Vidalia or other sweet onion, although using such a mild onion rather defeats the purpose of pickling.
There is great variation in the method for pickling onions too. Some recipes call for blanching (briefly boiling the sliced or cut onion), while many do not. Most recipes use at least some sugar for the sweetener. And they bring the vinegar to a boil with the sugar to dissolve the sugar crystals. However, even that is optional. There are recipes that simply call for mixing onions and vinegar and letting them sit for a while.
You can chop or slice the onion. I sliced mine in thin half moons, which makes for lovely little strips once the half moons separate in the during blanching.
Then I used the Simply Recipes method of blanching the onions first for 2 minutes because I don’t like the taste of raw onions. If you’re a raw onion fan, you can skip the blanching or do it for just 30 seconds.
For the liquid, I added a bit of water and salt from the Food & Wine recipe on The Bitten Word to the vinegar. But then I went off on my own, using cider vinegar and half sugar/half honey as a sweetener.
After blanching, you simply drain the red onion slices
and then put them in the hot liquid (vinegar, water, sugar, honey, and salt.)
Once the mixture cools down, refrigerate it.
The result is a tangy treat that adds zest to sandwiches or wraps and plays nicely with brie on crackers or baguette slices .
Hope you enjoy these red sweet-and-sour delights!
Easy Pickled Red Onions
This simple condiment, which takes only minutes to make, will amp up any sandwich or wrap. It also goes well with cheese and crackers.
- 1 medium-large red onion, thinly sliced into half moons Approximately 8 ounces or 225 grams
- 1 cup cider vinegar Approximately 237 ml.
- 1/4 cup water Approximately 118 ml.
- 2 tablespoons sugar 25 grams
- 2 tablespoons honey Approximately 42 grams
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt Approximately 1.25 grams
Boil a small pot of water. Add the thinly sliced red onion, bring the water back to a boil, then cook for 2 minutes. Drain the onion slices and set them aside.
Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, honey and salt in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, stir to assure that the ingredients are mixed and then add the drained red onion slices. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Once cool, move the mixture to a glass container and refrigerate it.
Blanching the onion slices makes them less sharp. If you like the sharp taste of raw onions, skip that step or cut the cooking time to just 30 seconds. Note that the blanching process does make the red color less vibrant. That doesn't bother me, but if you want the onion to look bright red, you'll want to skip this step.
Once refrigerated, the red onion pickles should last for several weeks if you don't use them before then.