Pickled Red Onions

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Getting back into canning has been something I have thought a lot about, but have had a hard time actually making happen.  I never really had the right set-up to easily and efficiently hot water process jars. I have a glass top stove, and according to the internet, my big old enamel canner could be a problem weight wise. So I experimented with an outdoor propane burner, but managing two cooking locations (one indoors and one outdoors) wasn’t fun.  I also tried converting a standard stock pot into a canner with a handy little silicon trivet I picked up for Walmart, which would have worked great for small batch canning, but the scalding water splattering all over my kitchen was obvious, not to mention somewhat dangerous. This all changed for me when I ordered the Ball® freshTECH Electric Water Bath Canner + Multicooker ,  in fact, I was so excited when it when on flash sale I mentioned it here.  I promised an in-depth review, and that is definitely coming, but you might have already guessed I am kind of in love with it, and can not wait to share a bunch of canning recipes with you this summer!

When I received my new canner fresh produce season really wasn’t quite here yet. But I could not wait to start canning, and I had a bunch of purple onions that were just a tad more potent than I prefer, but they were perfect for making pickled red onions.

If you are on the fence about pickled onions, let me share a little secret with you…Something magical happens to the onions during the pickling process that makes even the most pungent onion mellow out.  And once you try these you will love them! These pickled red onions are a great addition to most savory dishes, especially tacos, burgers, and hot dogs. And that pink color, how pretty is that?  This garnish is no wall flower, that vibrant pink color adds visual appeal to whatever you are serving it with.

This recipe can’t be any easier, the hardest part was dealing with my ridiculously watery eyes while I was slicing the onions. If you have never pickled before this might be an excellent starter recipe for you. The brine vinegar/water ratio are non-negotiable, but you have free reign with the flavors. Follow the basic recipe below, or feel free to add or omit whatever you wish.  Some popular choices are peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf, sliced garlic or mustard seeds, but really, it comes down to your own personal preferences, add or omit whatever you please. Create your own signature flavored pickled onions.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Yield: 3 pint jars of pickled onions
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes




  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar white vinegar or cider vinegar is fine, as long as the acidity is 5 percent
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tbsp Pickling salt


  • 2 lbs. red onions
  • 1 3/4 tsp Pickling salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. peppercorns, divided
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled


To Make the Brine

  1. Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepot and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Set aside until ready to use.

To make the pickled onions:

  1. Trim the onions and slice into thin strips. Toss onions with 1 ¾ tsp pickling salt and allow to sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse. 
  2. Evenly distribute the peppercorns and bay leaves between the pint jars. Add about 1/2 lb of sliced onions to each jar. Gently press down with tongs to make sure the jar is loosely packed with onions. 
  3. Cover with brine, leaving about ½ inch of headspace. Once the jar is full, tap the jar lightly to dislodge any air bubbles. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary. 
  4. If making refrigerator pickles (not processing/canning), make sure your brine is hot when you pour it over the onions. 
  5. Let the jars return to room temperature, put the lids on, and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The longer they sit the more they’ll pickle. 

To process and can the pickles:

  1. Clean the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Place the lids on the jars and seal with the bands using just your fingertips so that they are not too tight. 
  2. Process for 10 minutes using the boiling water bath method. As soon as the timer goes off, carefully remove the jars using the jar lifter. Place them on a clean towel and allow to cool undisturbed for 24 hours . 
  3. After 24 hours you can remove the bands and test your seals by lifting the jar, by the lid, a few inches from the counter top. If the lid supports the weight of the jar, the seal is good. Jars with good seals can be kept in a cool dark place for up to a year. If the seal is broken, store in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks.

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  1. So tasty. I packed in 1/2 pint jars because I wanted little gifts to give out over the holidays and I did find that I was short on brine. Perhaps I could have packed my onions tighter. I ended up making a 2nd batch of brine and that did the trick for me!

    1. Readers are allowed to leave a star rating without a written review. I don’t moderate any star ratings. Do you have a question I could help you with?

  2. This looks like a great recipe. Does the 2:1 water/vinegar ratio affect the ph? All the pickling recipes I see at Extension sites say to use 1:1. Did you test this one with a strip? Thanks. 🙂

    1. @Madrona, if you don’t trust it, don’t make it. I’m sure you could adjust it to one to one if you want. I made this, and added a green cardamom pod. Its great.