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 with this easy no-cook recipe!
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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.
- Red onions
- Apple cider vinegar
- Garlic clove
- Dried oregano
- Bay leaf
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- Sea salt
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.
HOW TO MAKE PICKLED RED ONIONS
There are 2 popular methods for making Mexican-style pickled red onions (cebolla en escabeche).
The first method is to boil them in water, then add in the other ingredients. The second is to just marinate the red onions in lime juice and vinegar. My favorite way? This easy no-cook version!
- 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.
expert tips & faq
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.
Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Or for a spicier outcome, dial up the heat with jalapenos 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!
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.
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.
No. Not using this specific recipe! It was not developed for canning. Here is pickled onion recipe that uses special canning equipment and sterilization methods for long-term storage.
When stored in a covered container and kept refrigerated, Mexican pickled onions can stay fresh with a good texture for up to 5 days.
MEXICAN RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH PICKLED ONIONS
There are so many delicious recipes to enjoy with this tangy condiment. Here are a few to try right now! Each recipe below is a family favorite.
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Friends here in Mexico love these authentic Mexican pickled onions! It’s a common refrigerator staple. If you enjoyed this recipe, give it a 5-star rating in the comments and share it with a friend!Print
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!
- 1 medium red onion
- 6 – 8 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
- 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.)
- Add garlic clove, oregano, bay leaf and peppercorns. Season with salt. If desired, grind a bit of black pepper over the top.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
CAN I LIGHTLY SWEETEN THIS RECIPE? Some Mexican family recipes include granulated sugar or agave syrup to balance out the tang. Another option is adding a bit of honey.
HOW LONG DOES THIS CONDIMENT 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.
- Category: Condiments
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: Mexican Pickled Onions, Pickled Red Onions, Quick Pickled Onions
PICKLED ONIONS > JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Have you ever tried this Mexican condiment at home or on vacation? Have you served it on Taco Tuesday, or for Cinco de Mayo celebrations? Join the conversation on pickled red onions in the comment section below!