Mexican Pickled Onions

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Mexican pickled onions are a tasty topping for tacos, tostadas, beans, grilled meat, tuna salad, sub sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, egg dishes and more. Make quick pickled red onions in just 10 minutes with this easy no-cook recipe. Enjoy them today, or save them for later.

📌 Pin Mexican Pickled Onions

Mexican pickled onions served on a rustic clay condiment tray bought here in Mexico.

Here in Mexico, tangy pickled onions are a popular topping for a variety of entrees. They’re served on a condiment tray alongside fire-roasted chiles, limes, radishes, and red and green salsas like this authentic salsa verde.

🛒 Ingredients

  • Red Onions: The star ingredient of this Mexican pickled onions recipe.
  • Limes: We use Mexican limes (same as Key Limes) for authentic Mexican flavor.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Its acidic content is important for pickling the onions. In addition, it contributes a zesty, rustic taste that brightens the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Garlic Clove: This earthy ingredient pairs well with onions.
  • Dried Oregano: A classic spice used for Mexican recipes, including pickled onions. This robust herb adds an earthy, musty flavor and minty aroma.
  • Bay Leaf: Adds a complex aroma and depth of flavor, while helping to keep the onions from wilting.
  • Peppercorns: Add a rustic taste and aroma with a bit of heat.
  • Freshly-Ground Black Pepper: Easily distributes throughout the pickled onion mixture.
  • Sea Salt: In Mexico we use the type of salt sold along the Pacific coast at roadside stands near the ocean. But feel free to use kosher salt or whatever type you have on hand.
Ingredients for pickled red onion recipe plus a glass jar with lid and a lime squeezer.

🍋 Easy Ingredient Swaps

Missing an ingredient for this Mexican recipe? Don’t put on your shoes and head to the market! Instead, head to your pantry or fridge. Check for these easy ingredient substitutions.

  • Red Onions: Use white onions instead. (In parts of Mexico, like in the Yucatan, you’ll find this recipe made with either white or red onions.)
  • Limes: Use bottled lime juice instead. In a pinch, use lemon juice.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: White vinegar is the best ingredient swap. In a bind, substitute vinegar with orange juice or grapefruit juice.
  • Bay Leaf: If you don’t have this ingredient, it’s okay to leave it out!
  • Peppercorns: Sub with freshly-ground black pepper.
Mexican clay condiment tray with pickled red onions, salsa verde, salsa roja, and grilled chiles.

🧅 How to Make Mexican Pickled Onions

When photographing this recipe, I was standing in my Mexico kitchen with one of my local friends – a Mexican national. We discussed (in a mix of English and Spanish), that in Mexico there are 2 popular methods for making pickled onions (cebolla en escabeche).

  • The first method is to boil the onions in water, then add the other ingredients.
  • The second is to marinate the red onions in lime juice and vinegar. No cooking involved. My favorite way? This easy no-cook version!

📖 Recipe Steps

How to make pickled red onions step by step, as shown in a 4-image collage.
  • STEP 1: Thinly slice the red onion(s) about 1/8 inch thick.
  • STEP 2: Add the onions to a glass jar or small bowl.
  • STEP 3: Add garlic clove, oregano, bay leaf and peppercorns. Season with salt. If desired, grind a bit of black pepper over the top.
  • STEP 4: Add vinegar to the jar. Squeeze lime juice over the top. With a spoon, mix the ingredients together. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour, or overnight. The longer the onions sit in the liquid, the brighter pink they become! Before serving, adjust salt to taste.

👩🏻‍🍳 KITCHEN SMARTS: When adding the dried oregano, crush it between your fingertips. This releases the flavor and aroma of the dried spice.

Authentic Mexican Pickled Onions served in a glass jar with small condiment fork and wedges of lime.

🧑🏼‍🍳 Recipe FAQ

These are the most commonly-asked questions for making the BEST Mexican pickled onions, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

Can this recipe be doubled?

Yes. This easy recipe can be doubled or tripled. Just use a larger bowl, or several glass jars with lids. This is the ideal condiment for large parties and get togethers.

How to give pickled red onions a touch of heat?

Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Or for a spicier outcome, dial up the heat with jalapeños or thinly-sliced habanero peppers. You can also add in some sliced baby carrots. In the marinade, they’ll soak up some of the heat as well. So delicious!

How to make sweetened pickle onions?

Just add granulated sugar, agave syrup or honey to balance out the tang of the lime juice and vinegar. It’s a flavorful spin on this authentic Mexican pickled onions recipe.

Best container for pickling onions?

Use a glass jar, or a ceramic or glass bowl. Avoid metal or plastic. Metal reacts with vinegar, and plastic containers tend to absorb food odors.

Is it safe to can these quick pickled onions?

No. Not using this specific recipe! It was not developed for canning. But this 👉🏻 pickled onion recipe by Tori’s Kitchen uses special canning equipment and sterilization methods for long-term storage.

How long do pickled onions stay fresh?

When stored in a covered container and kept refrigerated, Mexican pickled onions can stay fresh with a good texture for up to 5 days.

Red pickled onions in a Mexican clay bowl with a metal pickle fork.

🍽 Recipes to Enjoy with Mexican Pickled Onions

There are so many delicious Mexican recipes to enjoy with this tangy condiment. Here are a few to try right now! Each recipe below is a family favorite.

Rate This Recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friends here in Mexico love these authentic Mexican pickled onions. Both tangy and spicy, they’re a common refrigerator staple. This delicious condiment is also found at street taco stands, and at various restaurants throughout Mexico.

If you agree this recipe’s a keeper, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with friends. 📌 Pin it to Pinterest.

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Mexian pickled onions in a clear glass jar with a small fork and lime wedges.

Mexican Pickled Onions


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Description

Mexican pickled onions is a delicious condiment that’s quick and easy to make. Enjoy these tangy onions on tacos, tostadas, grilled meat, hamburgers, hot dogs, tuna salad, sub sandwiches and more!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 68 Mexican limes (same as “key limes”), depending on juiciness
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 twists freshly-ground black pepper
  • Sea salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice the red onion (about 1/8 inch thick). Add slices to a glass jar, or a small glass or ceramic bowl. (Avoid using a metal container or lid, or a plastic container. Metal reacts with vinegar. Plastic absorbs odors.)
  2. Add garlic clove, oregano, bay leaf and peppercorns. Season with salt. If desired, grind a bit of black pepper over the top.
  3. Add vinegar to the jar. Squeeze lime juice over the top. With a spoon, mix the ingredients together. The liquid should completely cover the onions. If not, add a bit more vinegar and lime juice to the mixture. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap.
  4. Refrigerate 1 hour, or overnight. As the red onions marinate in the liquid, they develop a beautiful hot pink color. Before serving, adjust salt to taste.

Notes

How to give these onions a touch of heat: Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Or for a spicier outcome, dial up the heat with thinly-sliced habanero peppers.

How to slightly sweeten this recipe: Some Mexican family recipes include granulated sugar or agave syrup to balance out the tang. Another option is to add a bit of honey.

How long does this condiment stay fresh? When stored in a covered container (like a mason jar) in the fridge, Mexican pickled onions can stay fresh with a good texture for up to 5 days.

  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Category: Condiments
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Mexican
Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

Mexican Pickled Onions 👉🏻 Join the Convo

Have you ever tried this Mexican condiment at home or on vacation? Would you like to serve it on Taco Tuesday, or for a Cinco de Mayo celebration? Join the conversation on pickled red onions in the comments below.

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11 Comments

  1. I love pickled onions and these were so flavourful and delicious! I am definitely going to make these again and again!






  2. I’m so excited to make these soon! These Mexican pickled onions look so delicious and flavorful! My hubby is going to love these on burgers.






  3. I love pickled onions, and this recipe was no exception! Enjoyed these on tacos this evening and it was the perfect touch of flavor; the whole family loved them!






  4. I am used to making pickled cucumbers, but I have never thought of using a similar approach to onions. I love the idea! I cannot wait to give it a try!






  5. This Mexican Pickled onion looks gorgeous. I can definitely put it in my sandwiches and it will be delicious.






  6. These marinated onions were amazing! And so easy to make. I served them as a topping for tacos. I’ll definitely be saving this recipe.






  7. These pickled onions look so flavourful! I’m gonna try them with the addition of habanero peppers… yum!! This is perfect for Taco Tuesday and Cinco de Mayo.