Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Guys, I’m seriously worried that I might actually be living in a Portlandia sketch. Sometimes I watch it, and I laugh and laugh and then look around nervously to see if anyone is giving me the “um, that’s you” side-eye. I think it was the Battlestar Galactica episode that hit a little too close to home.

Nerd aside: some of you may remember my little black cat, Special Ed. Oh how I loved that boy. So Special Ed, being much adored, had about a hundred nicknames (mostly having to do with the fact that he was a skinny, scrawny, wee little gentleman). So during the height of my BSG obsession,  his name became “Edward James ALMOST” (another fave was “Roger PALTRY”). Still makes me laugh.

If you haven’t seen Portlandia, you’re probably wondering what the bleedin’ hell I’m on about, but one of their sketches is about people who pickle everything (a dropped ice cream cone, a used band-aid, a broken high-heel). Well, stop laughing immediately because pickles are delicious!

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

(Yes, it’s true that I’ve mentioned Portlandia before in the Spiced Pickled Grapes post).

All kidding aside, these Quick-Pickled Red Onions are great. They perk up all kinds of sandwiches and salads, I love them on tacos and quesadillas. They also add a tangy zing to bean dishes. Also their lovely jewel-toned pink color is just so darn pretty. I usually like to make a batch of these and a batch of Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes at the same time.

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

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5 from 1 vote

Quick-Pickled Red Onions

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings: 8 -10


  • 2 small firm red onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

Additional Flavorings (optional):

  • 1 small clove of garlic halved
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 5 pink peppercorns
  • 5 coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds


  • Put 2 or 3 cups of water on to boil in a kettle. Peel and thinly slice the onions into approximately 1/4" moons. Peel and cut the garlic clove in half, length-wise.
  • In the jar you will be using to store the onions, add the sugar, salt, vinegar and flavorings. Stir to dissolve.
  • Place the onions in a heat-proof glass bowl and pour boiling water to cover. Let sit for 30 seconds, then carefully strain the onions.
  • Add the softened onions to the jar and stir to evenly distribute the flavorings.
  • The onions will be ready in about 30 minutes, but are best after a few hours. Store in the refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks but are best in the first week.
Tried this recipe?Mention @NerdsWithKnives or tag #nerdswithknives!

6 thoughts on “Quick-Pickled Red Onions”

  1. Hey there,

    I was looking at your pulled pork shoulder sandwich and ended up here to compare our recipes and wanted to give you a pointer

    I dont know how keen you are on exploration but I have made the same pickled onions with and added Sumac to the recipe. It ups the game from any normal pickle to a fancier kind of pickle for me atleast. Would love to hear your thoughts and if you do try it out your suggestions.


    • Huh. Yeah, that’s quite similar, isn’t it? Oh well. It happens sometimes. Everyone influences everyone else, but it’s good form to give credit if the recipes and phrasing is that similar, especially since their site is MUCH larger than ours. Thanks for pointing it out to us. 🙂


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