Pickled Red Onions Recipe

This is the simplest, healthiest, and quickest recipe for pickled red onions. Perfect for all sorts of garnishes and accompaniments, from ceviche to tacos, or just snacking on plain.

Pickled red onions recipe

Lime juice vs Vinegar

Pickled red onions lime juice

This particular version of pickled red onions calls for lime juice only. The acidity and flavor of the lime juice offers superb balance for adding your onions to any dish, from ceviche to tacos to garnish.

At most, you could substitute some of the lime juice for apple cider vinegar in a pinch, but you might find the lime juice to be far superior and versatile.

So what’s the difference between citrus and vinegar? Acetic acid is in vinegar. Citric acid is in citrus fruit. They’re different products from different processes and they taste vastly different. Acetic acid in vinegar comes from bacteria metabolizing alcohol. Citrus fruits produce their acid themselves.

Using a Mandoline Slicer

Pickled red onions mandoline slicer

When preparing your red onions, slicing them with a mandoline will help you with a more consistent slice and also allow you to get the onions as thin as you need. You can go from paper thin translucent to 9 mm.

I love the texture of a thinner onion slice, especially when incorporated into other dishes or layered on top of food for a little extra presentation effects.

Pickled red onions thinly sliced mandoline

This is the mandoline slicer I use. It includes cut-resistant safety gloves and a food holder.

I’ve seen other people and heard stories from so many chefs about cut fingertips, I don’t mess around with these things. It is easy to get momentum going and suddenly slice yourself. I did forego these for the sake of taking photos at the same time, but rest assured, as soon as I got a couple shots, the safety tools were back in use.

The mandolin slicer is an effective, and potentially dangerous tool.

Pickled red onions prepping onion
Protip: Slice the end of the onion off before peeling for an easier time.

Storing Pickled Red Onions

Make sure to store your pickled foods in a glass, ceramic, or plastic container. Using aluminum metal containers with acidic food causes a reaction that leeches metal into your foods. If you have those stainless steel containers restaurants use, those are safe for food storage.

I use ceramic mixing bowls and glass containers for storage, but you could also just make these inside of your glass storage and save some dishes.

The onions will last at minimum a week, and possibly up to several weeks. And if they last longer than that? Then you obviously aren’t eating them fast enough!

Simple Ingredients for Your Health

This recipe for pickling the red onions is meant to be dead simple and easy. Flavors of onion and lime juice acidity don’t get overpowered and washed away by other ingredients.

I went through dozens of other recipes in searching for different methods and alternatives and was horrified at some of the recipes out there. This is a recipe with less than 100 calories. Other recipes which incorporate numerous spices, vinegar, and sugars end up with upwards of 700 calories.

I’m of the strong opinion any other spices and additives should be saved for your dish itself that onions are being paired with. This gives you a more versatile base without limiting you to clashing flavors.

Pickled red onions lime juice
Blanch your onions to improve texture and get a better pickle.
Pickled red onions recipe 1 this is the simplest, healthiest, and quickest recipe for pickled red onions. Perfect for all sorts of garnishes and accompaniments, from ceviche to tacos, or just snacking on plain.
I don’t always pour this way, but when I do, I’m on camera!
Pickled red onions adding salt
Two teaspoons of salt in quick succession.
Pickled red onions recipe mixed ready to store
All mixed and ready for storage.
Recipe pickled red onions
Pickled red onions: ready to eat!

Pickled Red Onions

Michael Kahn
This is the simplest, healthiest, and quickest recipe for pickled red onions. Perfect for all sorts of garnishes and accompaniments, from ceviche to tacos, or just snacking on plain.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Resting Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Accompaniment, Appetizer, Side
Cuisine American, Mediterranean, Mexican
Servings 1 cup
Calories 74 kcal



  • 1 Red onion Small to medium sized
  • 1/2 cup Lime juice 3-4 limes freshly squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons Salt Flake salt or sea salt
  • 3 cups water


  • Start boiling several cups of water.
    3 cups water
  • Peel outer layer of red onion. Rinse underwater to remove excess sulfur and reduce eye irritation.
    1 Red onion
  • Thinly slice the onion with your mandolin slicer. Set slices into a large bowl.
    1 Red onion
  • Juice your limes until you have 1/2 cup of juice, generally 3-4 limes depending on how ripe they are.
    1/2 cup Lime juice
  • By now, your water has come to a boil. Slowly pour the water over the onions until they are fully submerged.
    3 cups water
  • After about 10 seconds have passed, dump the onions and water into a colander. Gently shake the onions and pat with a cloth towel to dry the excess water.
    1 Red onion
  • Put the onions back into the mixing bowl and pour the lime juice over them. Add the salt and gently mix thoroughly. Use a fork so as to not smash the onions.
    1 Red onion, 1/2 cup Lime juice, 2 teaspoons Salt
  • Place the entire mixture and onions into an airtight container, making sure the onions are fully submerged in the lime juice.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour. The onions will have completed their pickle process and are ready to accompany their food dish.


If you want a stronger onion flavor and less of the lime-pickle flavor, reduce salt to 1 1/2 teaspoon.
The pickled red onions will last for one week refrigerated.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 74kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 4693mgPotassium: 303mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 63IUVitamin C: 44mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Lime Juice, Red onions
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