Pickled Onions Recipe

pickled onions

Ingredients for Pickled Onions:

  • 3 lb (1.4 kg) pickling onions or shallots
  • 1 lb (450 g) salt
  • 2½ pints (1.4 litres) water
  • Approx 1 pint (570 ml) Spiced Vinegar

Method for Pickled Onions:

  1. Make a brine by boiling the water and salt together in a pan until all the salt has dissolved. Leave until quite cold before using.
  2. Put the onions, unpeeled,  into the brine and soak  for 24 hours, using a plate or something similar to keep the onions below the surface of the brine.
  3. Drain and peel.
  4. Put into fresh brine and leave to soak again for a day or two.
  5. Rinse well.
  6. Pack into clean, sterilized jars and cover with cold spiced vinegar.
  7. Cover and label with contents and date.

Note: Leave for a couple of months before using.  If you want a sweeter pickled onion, add a teaspoon of sugar to each jar of onions.

Pickled onions, kept in properly sterilized and sealed jars, should keep for a year in a cool dark place. Once opened, keep in the fridge and try to use within 4 weeks.

For More Information on Pickles & Vinegars

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Posted in Val's Preserves, Vegetable Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes, Pickles, All Recipes, Onions
71 comments on “Pickled Onions Recipe
  1. spacey says:

    I’ve made a few jars of pickles with all different herbs and spices but the garlic pickles I’ve done have turned blue?? Are they safe to eat and how come this as happened!!! Great web site.

  2. Malcolm says:

    Hi Val
    This is the first timeI have used your recipe for pickled onions and soaked in brine. As others have said my onions were also bought from the greengrocer in a bag marked pickling onions. I am just about to put them in the vinegar but have found that they have also gone soft. Previously I have just covered them with salt and left them for 24 hrs drained off the juice, gave them a quick wash and bottled them, they came out crisp. Fingers crossed these do as I have just peeled 5kg.
    Kind regards.
    Malcolm

  3. Pam says:

    Just found this site, some great recipes thanks. Re pickled onions, I never soak them in brine and they are always gorgeous. I follow the same procedure my mum always used all those years ago! With regard to them not keeping as well, I recently found one of last year’s jars in the back of the fridge and they are as crisp and crunchy as if I’d opened them last Christmas, 10 months ago. I use malt vinegar and pickling spice from the supermarket. However, this year I ran out of vinegar so had to do one jar with white distiller malt. We will see!

  4. pat says:

    Can you change the vinegar and re-spice if you don’t like the taste once you have tasted your pickled onions.

  5. glenys gunn says:

    Which is the best way of brining, 24 hours or 48hrs? Delia says 48 but every other recipe I’ve read says 24.

  6. pam carson says:

    how long do you leave pickled onions before you can eat them after pickling them

  7. Val says:

    6 to 8 weeks.

  8. david says:

    Help! My wife’s first attempt at making chilli pickled onions has resulted in the onions and the liquid going green 🙁 Is this normal and are they safe to eat??

  9. Charles says:

    I simply use malt vinegar with some (not too much!) cold boiled water and a moderately small amount of salt added. I grind in a decent amount of pepper (from black peppercorns), and shake the jar gently over a sink a few times (with the lid on!) for the first few days, then occasionally from then on. If you dilute the vinegar too much, they won’t taste as good or preserve as well. Too much salt will just have them tasting rather salty. Avoid white vinegar and too much salt, one supermarket uses this combination and they taste revolting! To salvage them I replace one or two onions with malt vinegar, and add the ground pepper. Works a treat. The onions to pickle just go straight into the vinegar as is, together with the salt and ground pepper. You can eat them any time on from 2 weeks or so, but they are better if left for 3 -4 weeks or a bit more. They taste every bit as good as the leading brand’s strong traditional pickled onions.

  10. Andy says:

    I have used this recipe twice as a guide now since August 11 and I’m very impressed with the results even having used shop bought pickling vinegar. I was fed up of buying pickled onions off the shelf and finding them to be soft or lacking in flavour, even the so called premium products. Soaking them in brine concerned me slightly as it just did not seem to be the right thing to do but my worries were blown away and I was proudly rewarded with the pickled onions that I have been searching for for years. Bunged a tablespoon or two of dried chilli flakes in a couple of jars and it worked a treat… Phew!!!

  11. StephenM says:

    Here’s an alternative recipe for some ‘spicier’ ones to get your taste buds buzzing…

    1Kg pickling onions
    1 Litre malt vinegar
    30g salt
    180g sugar
    chili flakes 1Tbl Spoon
    mustard seeds 1Tbl Spoon

    Peel onions, place in bowl , sprinkle salt over then & cover, leave 24 hours, then rinse & dry.
    Bring to the boil vinegar, sugar, chili flakes & mustard seeds – allow to cool

    Put onions into sterilsed jars, pour in ‘pickling’ liquid and seal.
    Leave for 2 weeks, if you can wait, longer for a fuller flavour. No idea how long they last, they’re usually eaten within a week or so of being opened!

  12. tony fuller says:

    I pickled some onions about 3 months ago. I’ve just tried some and they are extremely sour. Is it too late to add some sugar?

  13. Alan says:

    When covering with salt and soaking it says cover and leave 24hrs. Do you refrigerate these for the 24 hrs or leave on side?

  14. Val says:

    There is no need to refrigerate but do put in a coolish place.

  15. David says:

    Tried a couple of times to pickle onion (locally supplied shallots that have a mauve skin colour). Both times soaking them in brine water has made them go way too soft to use. First lot were not too bad and were just about OK to eat with a good flavour, but second lot are so soft I am not even going to try to bottle them. Bear in mind this is in the hot desert area of Arizona, so any ideas of why this is happening, and a solution to the problem? It is both wasteful and frustrating especially as I love POs.

  16. matt says:

    Do not put your onions in water over night they will be soft when you come to eat them (no good) just peel them put in a bowl cover with salt, cheap will do, leave over night and then next am or later just shake off salt. Don’t boil vinegar put onions in cleaned boiled jars, add two tablespoons of brown sugar, add vinegar and I put in a tablespoon of curry spices to spice and crunch it. Still use spiced vinegar when adding spice add pinch of powdered mustard and spoon of honey. When sealed shake jars and store in shed – a year later they will still be crunch.

  17. Susan wood says:

    How do you keep your pickling onions crisp

  18. Carl says:

    How do I stop the cores coming out of my onions during brine soaking. Is there not enough salt?

  19. Lesley says:

    @Malcolm: It’s not too late to pickle onions in time for xmas. Takes about a month perhaps 6 weeks – been pickling for 40 yrs

  20. Graham says:

    @Steve Salter: I have pickled onions for years both with and without salt. In my opinion it makes no difference, so years are better than others, pickles I am eating now were bottled this time last year, they are still solid and good and they were without salt

  21. welshwoman says:

    Made pickled onions about a week ago,using white pickling vinegar. The vinegar now has a definite pink colour to it – is it ok?

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