Mexican Pickled Onions | My easy pickled onions recipe replicates my favorite Mexican-inspired condiment. Made with lime juice, vinegar, Mexican oregano, and sliced red onions, these are great toppings for so many dishes. Try them on everything from Yucatecan Panuchos to savory burgers, tacos, sandwiches, hummus toast, grain bowls, or on top of a bowl of curry.
I've spent the winter months in Yucatan, Mexico for the past few years and it's introduced me to new ingredients, dishes, and ideas when it comes to cooking. Pickled red onions seem to be served with almost everything in Yucatan. In Spanish pickled onions are called cebollas curtidas.
During my winters living in Mexico, I've learned how to make some versatile recipes like using masa dough for different recipes, salsas, and sauces out of fresh ingredients and dried peppers, and these bright pink pickled onions.
For this recipe, you'll take the humble red onion, add simple ingredients like vinegar and spices, and the results are beautiful bright pink slivers of tangy, punchy onions.
How do you pickle onions quickly?
Heating vinegar and lime juice allows the spices to really mix well and jump-starts the pickling process.
These onions are a 'quick pickle' and not a canning recipe, so there's nothing more to do than mix everything together and let the ingredients do their job.
It takes about 30 minutes for the onions to start pickling and change color.
See the recipe card below for exact amounts.
How to Make Pickled Red Onions
How to cut onions for pickling
Use either a knife and a cutting board, or a mandoline to cut the onions. A mandoline is a kitchen tool that cuts thin even slices out of your ingredients, including onions. If you use a mandoline be careful and use the cutting guard! These are super sharp.
You can cut onions into different shapes for pickling depending on your preference. I like rings for things like burgers and sandwiches because they stay in place better. For salad and tacos, it's easier to eat the onions in slices or diced.
- Rings. Cut the onion into rings for use on sandwiches or burgers. To do this, peel the onion and cut the top off and discard it. Slice the onion into thin rings until you reach the root. Discard the root. Gently separate the rings for pickling. It's better to use a large jar for this shape.
- Slices. Cut the onions into slices or half moons for use on tacos, panuchos, and pizzas. To do this, peel the onion and cut it in half from the top to the root. Lay the onion on its flat side and cut the top part of the onion off. Discard it and then keep slicing the onion into thin slices until you reach the root. Discard the root.
- Diced. Cut the onions into a large dice for use on tacos, pizza, curry, and salad. To do this peel the onion and cut it n half from the top to the root. Lay the onion on its flat side and cut into the onto with the tip of your knife pointing toward the root end. Cut slices into the onto from one side to the other. Turn your knife the other way and cut through the slices to create little squares or a "diced" cut.
Adding the pickling liquid to the onions
To make the onions, you'll warm the vinegar and lime juice and add everything to a jar and then let it sit.
Add the onions to the jar and then add the vinegar.
Pour in the lime juice.
Add the sugar and salt.
Next, add oregano if using, and black peppercorns. Add the lid and gently shake the jar to mix everything well.
How long does it take onions to pickle?
Let the onions sit at room temperature in the pickling liquid.
After 30 minutes the onions will have turned pink. Store them in the fridge until needed. I keep mine in the fridge for about 2 weeks.
Tips for making
How to serve pickled red onions
I will put these on just about anything, including burgers, sandwiches, my Crispy Chicken Wrap recipe, and my Mexican Inspired Chopped Salad. They're good on top of pizza, empanadas, chicken tacos, potato tacos, tacos fries, and grain bowls.
How do you store pickled red onions?
Pickled onions in vinegar and lime juice last 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
Quick pickles or refrigerator pickles are made without the canning process. Heated pickling liquid like vinegar and lime juice is poured onto the vegetable and then left to pickle over the next half hour to a couple of hours. This is much quicker than the canning process which can take weeks for the pickles to be ready.
This is not a canning recipe, it's a quick pickle recipe. You won't be canning or boiling jars for this recipe. The onions are quick pickled and then stored in the fridge for a week or two.
You can slice the onions with a kitchen knife instead of using a mandoline. Try to cut even thin slices.
You don't need to boil onions when making quick pickled onions. The acid in the vinegar and lime juice is enough to pickle and soften the onions.
Mexican Pickled Onions
- Chef's knife or
- 1 medium red onion
- ½ cup white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (fresh)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon granulated white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional)
- Peel and cut the onion into your preferred shape: rings, slices, or diced.
- Combine vinegar and lime juice and heat them in the microwave for about a minute until hot.
- Add the onions to a jar. Pour in the vinegar and lime juice. Add the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and oregano if using. Stir or add the lid and gently shake the jar.
- Let sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before using. Store in the fridge.
Nutritional information is an estimate. Values vary based on products used.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.
This recipe was originally posted on May 3, 2019.
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