top of page

Quick Pickled Onions

I was definitely not in a pickle trying to choose what to have for breakfast today - I made quick pickled onions during my meal prep, and they were great on my toast this morning! I always thought pickling onions was a complex, long process, but then in my last culinary medicine class, we learned an easy method to quickly pickle onions! I was so excited to learn this, and so I had to make them for myself.

Breakfast today with pickled onions on toast!

I used a red onion, and it turned into such a pretty pink color! I would think that this pickling technique would work with other onions too, but it might be harder to tell when it is done since there won’t be a drastic color change. This kind of reminds me of acid base titrations with phenolphthalein indicator (can you tell I was a chemistry major?!), except you don’t have to worry about overshooting it since you can leave the onions in the pickling solution for quite a while if you want!

I used nine lemons because that was how many lemons I had, but the number of lemons is somewhat arbitrary and you could use more to ensure that the juice will completely cover the onion slices. But if the lemon juice does not completely cover the onions (this happened to me), add some apple cider vinegar! It’s ok to add a bit of water too, but you don’t want to dilute the acidity too much or the pickling won’t work as well. I learned this using fresh lemon juice, but I have also done this using just apple cider vinegar and it works equally well! It also takes much less time to use apple cider vinegar than to squeeze lemons, so that is a much faster options.

It only takes about 30-40 minutes, but if you want the onions to be further softened and pickled, you can cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight - this is what I did!


Here is how to quickly pickle onions:


1 large onion

About 10 lemons

Apple cider vinegar as needed

Dash each of: salt and ground black pepper


1. Slice the onion very thin - the thinner the slices, the faster it’ll pickle. Add the slices to a large bowl.

2. Pour hot water over your onion slices and let sit for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.

3. While the onions are in the water, squeeze the juice out of the lemons into a separate bowl.

4. Drain the onions, and pour the lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) over them. Add apple cider vinegar as needed until the onions are completely covered by liquid. Mix in a dash of salt and pepper.

5. Let the onions sit in this mixture at room temperature until they turn pink. I often make these in the evening and just leave them overnight, but they don't take that long, especially if you slice them

Pretty and pink!

6. Once the onions are pink and translucent, they’re done! You can cover and refrigerate them to continue the pickling process if you want.

7. When you are satisfied with the degree of pickling, rinse and drain the liquid, and you will have delicious pickled onions!! It’s that easy!

You can use these pickled onions in many meals or recipes. I think they would be great in guacamole, pasta, tacos, salads, sandwiches, and more! They went perfectly on my toast today as well: for my breakfast, I made toast with baba ganouj, tomatoes, pickled onions, a soft boiled egg, and mint. I also had Greek yogurt with berries, pineapple, and cinnamon.


bottom of page