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posted May 09, 2019

Pickled Red Onions

These pickled red onions are little bites of tangy heaven. Even the biggest onion critics will find themselves reaching for serving after serving of these addictive onions. They are THE side to serve with your platter of BBQ and are a perfect compliment to pork, beef, sausage, or chicken.

pickled red onions in a mason jar. Text overlay reads "Pickled Red Onions."

Quick Pickled Red Onions

I love to pickle vegetables. They help the veggies keep longer in the fridge and completely transform them into delicious additions to your BBQ recipes.

“But I don’t like onions!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this when I mention pickled onions. This is definitely one of those situations where you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it. By pickling the onions, you rid the onion of that sharp bitterness that many people dislike. Similar to how sautéing onions changes the flavor and gets rids of that onion “bite,” the same thing happens when you pickle the onions.

Plus, did I mention how delicious pickled red onions are with a pile of pulled pork? I personally love them with my BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends. They compliment the richness of the meat and give you a crunchy, tart bite. The acidity in the onions is the secret trick to BBQ. If you have something tart to eat with your meat, you cleanse your palate and are able to enjoy more meat! Score!

pickled red onion ingredients on a cutting board.

How to Pickle Red Onions

Pickling red onions is easy, FAST, and extremely straightforward. You only need 4 ingredients to get the perfect pickled onions: red onion, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and salt. That’s it! No need to fancy it up with additional ingredients.

Begin by slicing the onion into nice, thin slices. I recommend using a Kamikoto Kanpeki knife to make quick work of slicing or chopping your vegetables. Cook the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat until the brown sugar and salt have dissolved (approximately 2-3 minutes). Place your sliced onions to a wide mouth mason jar and pour the juice over the onions, making sure they are fully submerged. Let everything cool, then refrigerate the jar for at least 2 hours before serving.

I prefer to have my onions prepped and in the fridge the day before I plan on using them so they’re off my mind and ready to go. Pickled red onions can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed glass jar for up to 1 week (assuming they last that long!).

Honestly, if you open my fridge at any point during the week, you’re guaranteed to find a jar of these onions. They’re that good, and delicious with many different foods (think tacos, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and of course, grilled and smoked meat).

Tips for Pickled Red Onions

  • Try to cut the onions as thin as you can. While you don’t need them paper thin, you want them thin enough to fit easily in your jar and give you a good bite as you add them to your favorite meats.
  • Use RED onion. White and yellow onions tend to be more potent with a sharp onion flavor. Red onions are better consumed raw and make for a more delicious pickled onion.
  • Use the right container! Make sure to use an appropriate container for these onions – one that is approved for pickling, canning, or fermentation. I prefer to stick these in a wide mouth, glass mason jar with a canning lid. This ensures that no flavors leach from your container, and your onions stay fresh and flavorful in your fridge.
  • Get creative with flavor. You can always get creative when pickling red onions. Adding herbs and spices changes the flavor of the onions and brings a new punch to your BBQ. Add a couple sprigs of fresh cilantro, rosemary or thyme, or 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns to the jar if you’re feeling adventurous.

pickled red onions on a BBQ Burnt ends sandwich.

Recipes for Pickled Red Onions

Have a jar of these red onions in your fridge? Try them on some of these delicious Hey Grill Hey recipes:

Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket
Simple Smoked Pulled Pork
Burnt Ends Sandwich with Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onion Recipe

Sealed jar of pickled red onions

Pickled Red Onions

Susie Bulloch (
These pickled red onions are little bites of tangy heaven. They are THE side to serve with your platter of BBQ and are a perfect compliment to pork, beef, sausage, or chicken.
3 from 2 votes
Prep Time : 5 mins
Cook Time : 5 mins
Total Time : 10 mins
Servings : 16
Calories : 15kcal



  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt


  • Cut the onion into thin slices.
  • Heat the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until all ingredients have dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.
  • Add the sliced onions to a wide mouth mason jar. Pour the pickling juice over the onions until they are fully submerged in the liquid.
  • Tightly screw a lid on the jar. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Onions can be stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Calories: 15kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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