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Can You Pickle Yellow Onions? A Complete Guide

Food Guide

Onions are a versatile vegetable that can be used in many dishes, from salads to sandwiches and everything in between. While raw onions add a nice crunch and flavor, pickled onions take things to the next level. Their tangy, pungent taste enhances other ingredients and makes an excellent condiment or topping.

If you’ve never pickled onions before, you may wonder – can you pickle yellow onions? The short answer is yes! Pickled yellow onions are easy to make at home and taste delicious.

In this complete guide, we will cover everything you need to know about pickling yellow onions, including:

  • Benefits of Pickled Onions
  • Best Onion Types for Pickling
  • Ingredients Needed
  • Step-by-Step Pickling Instructions
  • Storage and Serving Tips
  • Recipe Ideas

Let’s start with why you should consider adding pickled onions to your repertoire.

Benefits of Pickled Onions

Pickled onions offer several advantages over their fresh counterparts:

Longer Shelf Life

The pickling process acts as a preservative, allowing pickled onions to last for weeks in the refrigerator compared to only a few days for raw onions. This makes them a great make-ahead condiment.

Enhanced Flavor

While raw yellow onions have a sharp bite, pickling mellows their harshness and brings out their sweetness. The brine adds tangy, complex flavors.

Varied Texture

Pickled onions provide a nice crunch that contrasts well with softer ingredients. Their crisp texture adds interest to dishes.

Easy to Make

With just a few simple ingredients like vinegar, salt, and sugar, you can quickly pickle onions at home without any special equipment.

Nutrient Retention

Studies show pickled vegetables retain many of their nutrients like vitamin C and polyphenols, unlike cooking which can destroy some beneficial compounds.

Now that you know the perks of homemade pickled onions, let’s look at which onion varieties work best.

Best Onion Types for Pickling

Most types of onions can be pickled, but some are better suited than others. The best onions for pickling include:

Yellow Onions

Yellow onions are one of the most popular choices because they hold their shape well through the pickling process. Their medium pungency provides a nice balance of flavors.

White Onions

White onions are similar to yellow but have a slightly milder taste. When sliced, they make attractive opaque pickled onions.


Shallots offer garlicky, oniony undertones. Their small size is perfect for pickling whole or in chunks.

Pearl Onions

Pearl onions have a naturally mild, sweet taste that gets even sweeter when pickled. Their petite round shape is excellent for pickling whole.

Sweet Onions

Sweet onion varieties like Vidalias and Walla Wallas turn deliciously syrupy when pickled. They add sweetness without extra sugar.

No matter which you choose, select fresh, firm onions without sprouts or bruises. Now let’s go over the simple pickling process step-by-step.

Ingredients Needed

Pickling onion ingredients include:

  • Onions
  • Vinegar – white wine, cider, or rice wine vinegar work well
  • Water
  • Sugar or other sweetener like honey
  • Salt
  • Spices and aromatics (optional) – peppercorns, coriander, mustard seeds, garlic, herbs

Step-by-Step Pickling Instructions

Pickling onions at home is very straightforward:

1. Prep the Onions

Peel and slice onions into thin rounds or wedges. Separate whole pearl onions. Smaller pieces allow flavors to penetrate better.

2. Make the Brine

In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, and any spices like peppercorns, coriander seeds, or mustard seeds. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool.

3. Pack Jar(s)

Tightly pack peeled, sliced onions into sterilized jars. Wedge garlic cloves or herbs in the gaps.

4. Pour in Brine

Cover onions fully with the cooled brine liquid. Tap the jar gently to remove air bubbles.

5. Seal and Store

Secure the lids tightly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating to allow flavors to meld.

That’s all there is to it! Now let’s go over some serving tips and recipe ideas.

Storage and Serving Tips

  • Store pickled onions in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

  • Always keep onions fully submerged in brine to prevent spoilage.

  • If brine evaporates, top it off with a splash of vinegar.

  • Rinse pickled onions briefly before serving to remove excess saltiness.

  • Chop and add to salads, tacos, burgers, sandwiches, and more!

  • Mix into creamy dips, dressings, potato salad, or coleslaws.

  • Skewer with other pickled veggies for an antipasto platter.

  • Garnish soups, stews, and grain bowls.

Now let’s look at some tasty ways to use your homemade pickled yellow onions.

Recipe Ideas

Pickled yellow onions liven up all kinds of savory dishes. Some creative ways to use them include:

Pickled Onion and Olive Tapenade

Blend pickled onions with Kalamata olives, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs for a zesty spread.

Pickled Onion Potato Salad

Toss diced boiled potatoes with chopped pickled onions, mayo, sour cream, mustard, bacon, and fresh dill.

Pickled Onion Panzanella Salad

Incorporate chopped pickled onions into the classic Italian bread salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and a red wine vinaigrette.

Pickled Onion and Apple Coleslaw

For a sweet and tangy twist, add shredded pickled onions to coleslaw made with green cabbage, grated apples, carrots, Greek yogurt, cider vinegar, and poppy seeds.

Pickled Onion Tortilla Soup

Ladle hearty tomato-based tortilla soup into bowls and garnish with sliced pickled onions, avocado, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Pickled Onion Smashed Potatoes

Top creamy smashed garlic potatoes with a dollop of sour cream, crumbled bacon, and chopped pickled onions.

Pickled Onion Fried Rice

Toss pickled onions into vegetarian fried rice along with peas, carrots, mushrooms, and soy sauce.

Pickled Onion Bacon Jam

Caramelize onions and mix with browned bacon, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, coffee, and pickled onions for a unique jam.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless for using pickled yellow onions! Their bright, tangy crunch takes sandwiches, salads, dips, and other savory dishes to the next level.

Now that you know how easy it is to pickle onions at home, give it a try! Customize each batch with different spices, sweeteners, and aromatics. In no time, you’ll have a tasty condiment to jazz up meals anytime.


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