Quick Pickled Red Onions

Add a sweet, tangy crunch to your next BBQ with these quick pickled red onions.
pickled red onions

SmokedBBQSource is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page. Learn more

Pickled red onions are one of my favorite condiments for bbq. They’re sweet, tangy, and crunchy.

They’re also quick to make and require minimal ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand. They are the perfect complement for fatty bbq meats like pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and more. 

If you’ve never made pickled red onions, give this recipe a go, your taste buds will thank you for it.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Red Onions – you want large ones.
  • White vinegar – you could also use apple cider, red wine, or even rice wine vinegar for an Asian style.
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Honey
  • Garlic 
  • Black peppercorns
mandolin, red onion, sliced red onion on white plate, garlic on white plate

Equipment you’ll need

  • Mandolin – like this one, but a knife works perfectly fine if you don’t have one.
  • Pot
  • Mason jar – or a jar with a secure lid will work.

Pickled red onions as a garnish or topping

Pickled red onions are highly underrated, and I’m not sure why they aren’t more popular with backyard cooks.

Oftentimes you will see them served at bbq restaurants, but not enough home cooks are utilizing them. 

The bright pink color after the onions have been pickled gives bbq dishes a nice contrast but, more importantly, helps to balance fatty cuts of meat that can feel heavy at times.

I love them on a pulled pork sandwich, along with brisket, and especially in tacos and Asian dishes. I always have a jar on hand. 

Customizing with different spices

The great thing about pickling is that you can add different types of vinegar and ingredients to change the flavor. This recipe only requires vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. The rest of the ingredients are optional. 

Some additions I recommend are; whole garlic, honey, dried herbs, black peppercorns, and red pepper flakes.

Best way to store 

The best way to store pickled red onions is in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep for about three weeks.

Making Pickled Red Onions

1. Prep the onions

hand hold half an onion over a mandolin
hand holding onion ring over mandolin

Finely slice the onions. I like to use a mandolin to get thin slices, but you can also use a sharp knife.

plate of sliced onions
Just take your time and try to get nice, even slices.

2. Pack the jar

Add the sliced onions, black peppercorns, and peeled whole garlic to the jar.

jar of sliced onions, garlic and peppercorns
You should be able to put an entire sliced onion into the mason jar. 

Pack the onions into the jar so there is no wasted space.

3. Make the pickling liquid

Add water, white vinegar, sugar, salt, and honey to a pot and bring it to a boil. Ensure you stir well and completely dissolve the sugar and salt. 

Remove the pickling liquid from the heat, carefully pour it into each mason jar, and tighten the lid. Then place them into your refrigerator to start pickling. 

two jars of pickled red onions
The thinner the slices of onion are, the faster they will be ready. 

You will notice the color of the onions will start to turn a bright pink after a while. You could eat them after an hour, but I prefer to wait 24 hours for the best flavor.

Once you’ve eaten all the onions, use the leftover juice for our Pickleback Chicken Wings recipe.

Give some more of our homemade pickle and sauce recipes a go

pickled red onions

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Sweet, tangy and crunchy pickled red onions.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment/Side
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 61kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger


  • 2 large red onions
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 12 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns


  • Peel and thinly slice red onions with a knife or mandolin.
  • Into each mason jar, add 1 sliced onion, 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns and 6 cloves of garlic.
  • In a pot, bring water, white vinegar, sugar, salt and honey to a boil and turn off the heat. Stir to combine, and make sure the salt and sugar has dissolved.
  • Let the mixture cool down for a few minutes and then fill each mason jar with the pickling liquid. Secure the lid onto each jar and refrigerate.
  • Onions can be eaten after an hour but best after 24 hours. Store in regrigerater.


Vinegar – I used white vinegar, but you could also use apple cider, red wine, or even rice wine vinegar for an Asian style.


Calories: 61kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 295mg | Potassium: 63mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximation only. If you’re worried you could always add a side of kale.

Did you make this recipe?Tag @smokedbbqsource on Instagram so we can admire your work!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe!