Quick Pickled Red Onions are a must for your summer BBQ season. Easy recipe.

pickled red onions with bay leaves and spices

I feel onions are under appreciated.

Sure.  I consider them a necessity. They are in my shopping cart almost weekly and we use them in 80-90% of our savoury dishes.

But rarely are onions the star of a dish. They play a supporting role, balancing and blending the other flavours, adding depth.  Without them our sauces would be flat, our soups boring.

Then I made this and I’ve never felt the same about onions again.

Picked red onions in a glass jar

I think I said “Oh My God those are good.”  My husband came into the kitchen and asked “What is that?”

And then he said “Oh My God those are good.”

What to do with Pickled Red Onions

  • This spicy pickle is perfect for BBQ season….. add it to your burgers, doggies or anything else that goes in a bun.
  • These onions add a special touch to falafel or other veggie filled wrap.
  • I like them on these vegetarian sloppy joes.  Or on top of my giant salads like this Detox salad.
  • top rice and beans with them too
  • And just to make me even happier about these onions, they turn the prettiest pink colour ever! Really, what could be better?

pickled red onions with a fork

How to make this easy pickle

Start with adding your spices to white vinegar and bring that to a boil.

Once it has come to a boil, add the onions and just bring it back up to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 seconds. (Seconds!, not minutes).  It is very quick.  Then let them hang out in the hot vinegar until they have cooled down.

making quick pickled red onions

Once cool, transfer them to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator. These will keep refrigerated for a few months.

pickled red onions with bay leaves and spices

The red chilies don’t add as much heat as you would expect, but you could use just one if you are afraid to get things too hot.  Feel free to change up the spices based on what you have on hand. I added the black mustard seeds and cumin seeds just because I have them and never seem to use them. They added the perfect warm heat.

In honour of all Fathers out there today… go make your Dad something to go with the new BBQ set you bought him.  You still have time. These will be ready before lunch and that assumes you still have to run to the store for a few things.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

A must for summer BBQ burgers everywhere - quick red onions pickled with spices and a bit of heat.
Prep Time15 mins
Cooling time1 hr
Total Time15 mins
Servings: 1 500ml jar


  • 2 large red onions thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 small dried red chili peppers
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 5-6 whole all spice berries
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each of the following spices: whole cumin seeds black peppercorns, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds


  • In a medium stainless steel pot, add vinegar, sugar, salt and all the spices and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add onions and bring back to a simmer, simmer for about 30 seconds. Using a pair of tongs, be sure to toss them in the vinegar so all the onions get doused. Don't worry if the onions seem a little raw a this point. They will soften as they sit in the hot vinegar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  • That's it. Store in a glass jar with enough juice to cover for about 6 weeks, refrigerated. I promise they will not last that long.