Pickled Onions

To finish a dish or revamp leftovers often what you need is a great garnish, one that adds some color but also piquant flavor…something to get your mouth watering. Pickled onions are what I often reach for, especially in summer. They liven up cold chicken dishes, are great on top of vegetables like avocados or roasted cauliflower, perfect on green bean salads or legumes. I also use them on top of feta cheese and couscous or rice salads. When made correctly, they seem to last forever in the refrigerator. Blot them dry of the marinade before using them as a garnish.

Essential Prep

Cut red onions in half, going from root to stem end (pole to pole), cut off the root and stem ends and peel. Following the striations, thinly slice the onion into half-moons, about 1/8 inch thick. Toss the slices to separate and plunge into boiling water for a minute. Drain and spread out on a folded paper towel. The onion should be pale in color, flexible but still crisp. Gently squeeze out extra moisture.

Rick Bayless’s Mexican Style


1 cup cider vinegar

½ tsp of cracked black pepper

½ tsp coarsely crushed cumin seeds

1 tsp dry Mexican oregano

4 garlic cloves, peeled and gently bruised

½ tsp salt.

Optional: thinly sliced hot chilies


Pour this mixture over the blanched onion and add water to cover. Onions will turn bright pink and be ready in a couple of hours. Although Rick says they last only a week, I find they have a much longer shelf life in the refrigerator.

Southeast Asian Style


For 2 small red onions make a mixture of:

50% white distilled vinegar or coconut vinegar

50% golden brown or white sugar

1 tsp salt

Optional: thinly sliced hot chilies can be added to the marinating liquid.


Cover the blanched onion with the marinade. Onions will turn bright pink and be ready in a couple of hours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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