Until I wrote the The Complete Guide to Pickling, I rarely pickled onions on their own. I dropped slices into other pickle jars, from refrigerator zucchini to canned bread-and-butter cucumbers to fermented kimchi. They weren’t just garnish and always ended up on sandwiches or in breakfast potatoes. But I rarely devoted pantry or fridge space to jars of pickled onions.
Once I started creating just such onion-focused recipes for the cookbook, I couldn’t stop. There were so many fun variations, flavors, and uses. Now I’m simply making the book’s recipes for my own enjoyment, and if you open my fridge today—you’ll find plenty of onion pickles.
A Pickle for Every Onion
Using recipes from my pickling cookbook, you too can pickle all varieties of onions. Cover pearl onions with vinegar or salt brine to drop into cocktails. Quickly pickle red onions in lime juice, letting them turn the juice a bright pink, to serve on Sourdough Bagels with Homemade Fromage Blanc. Let them sit longer in salt brine, topped with a slice of beet, for more gorgeous color. You can even learn to grill them and blend them into a relish.
One of the simplest pickled onion recipes in the book slightly sweetens yellow onions with apple cider vinegar and a spoonful of sugar. I add them to several recipes you can find on the blog, including Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Quick Potato Salad.
Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe, taken straight from The Complete Guide to Pickling, but here are the basics:
You need just 2 main ingredients plus some spices and pickling staples: vinegar, sugar, and salt.
1. Toss the onions with salt and let them sit.
2. Make the brine.
3. Pack everything in a jar and refrigerate.
4. Wait 24 hours, and enjoy.
Tips & Tricks
- My favorite tool for thin, even onion slices is a mandoline. Onions can get slippery as you near the end, so I always wear a cut-resistant glove. As a bonus, my hands smell less oniony afterward than if I’d been bare-handed.
- If you’re considering your first canning project, the instructions for packing the jar will give you a chance to practice a hot pack without committing to a full canner load of sealed jars. But they’re more than just practice: hot-packing the onions, leaving headspace, and removing air bubbles help to ensure you won’t check the jar the next day and find a top layer of exposed, unpickled onion.
Twice as Tasty
You could call pickling my newest technique for preserving onions. There are other options. Dry storage is the easiest—if you have the appropriate space. Otherwise, my favorite nonpickled technique is to grill and freeze them.
Now that I’m convinced pickled onions deserve some of the limited space on my refrigerator shelves, I like to dry-store onions and make up several pickled recipes a jar at a time. Then I use both the onions and their brine in a range of recipes that I’ve included in the companion to The Complete Guide to Pickling: the digital recipe collection The Pickled Picnic.
Once you’ve finished your jar of Apple-Sweetened Yellow Onions, you’ll find the brine delicious on Crispy Brine-Glazed Tofu; the last slices of onion can be tossed with the crisp cubes and other vegetables for a stir-fry. If you’ve already eaten all the pickles, the glazed tofu is delicious served with another The Complete Guide to Pickling recipe: Jerk-Spiced Banana Pickles. The slightly sweet pickled onions are also delicious atop pizza. For those who haven’t yet committed to a sourdough starter, I’ve included my favorite dry yeast recipe in the The Pickled Picnic.
Get the books—and check out my newly redesigned book page! Click here to order a personally signed, packaged, and shipped copy of The Complete Guide to Pickling directly from me. I share more tasty ways to use pickles in The Pickled Picnic, a digital collection in an easy-to-read PDF format. It’s available exclusively through Twice as Tasty.