This is my favourite easy pickled onions recipe with delicious sweet dill pickle brine made as a small batch. Made in a few minutes and improved with time in the fridge. Quickly made using refrigeration pickling method, so the whole recipe is made in just a few minutes!
Perfect for making if you want a small batch or just something different as gift for your friends. These delicious onion pickles are ready to eat straightaway, but they get even better with time.
Pickled onions are great for adding to salads, sandwiches or to serve with cheese, meats or pate.
MORE PRESERVING & PICKLING RECIPES
What type of onions to use
I’ve used red onion for this recipe, but you are welcome to use any type of onions you have. The final flavour of your pickled onions, will have a slightly different taste depending on what type of onion you use.
White Onion – straightforward flavour
Red Onion – slightly sweeter flavour
Shallots – sweeter and milder flavour
Spring Onions – use the white ends only – very mild flavour – great for people who don’t like strong onion flavour
Recipe quantity – small batch
I’ve deliberately made this recipe a small quantity because we are using my homemade simple cold pickling method to make these onion pickles and they don’t last as long as if you make them in the traditional way using hot water bath.
This recipe will give you 1 medium to large jar.
I sometimes prefer to make this recipe into 2 smaller jam jars, because once you open one jar you should eat the pickled onions within a week.
If you are thinking of making these as gifts or want to make a larger batch, simply double or triple all the recipe ingredients.
Keep the onion pickled jam jars in the fridge for at least 8 hrs, before giving them to your friends and family. This way, they can taste them straightaway, because they would have been already pickled.
The refrigeration preserving process
This small batch pickled onion recipe uses a quick and easy refrigeration process. This involves making a vinegar & salt brine and pickling the onions for a minimum of 8 hrs in the fridge.
There is no need to use traditional canning methods of boiling in water bath. Because of the quick refrigeration preserving process, the pickled onions will have a shorter shelf live (about 2-4 week), but this is why this recipe is small batch size. You only make a small amount to last you few weeks.
I usually leave to pickle the onions for at least 8 hrs (overnight), but if you can wait longer, their flavour does improve with time.
You can start eating the picked onions any time, but the longer you leave them the flavoursome and slightly softer they become, allowing the spiced vinegar to marinate and flavour the onions.
There is no need for complicated preserving or canning process, although you can make a large batch, preserve them in a water bath and keep them for up to 12 months.
MORE PRESERVING & PICKLING RECIPES
You will need one large or two small jam jars for this recipe and you need to make sure that your jars are clean and sterilised. This prevents bacteria from developing inside your onion pickles.
To sterilise your jars (and lids) wash them either in a dishwasher on a very hot cycle or wash them by hand and then put them in the oven on 100 C (or 210 F) for about 10 minutes. This is enough to kill any unwanted bacteria and sterilise your glass jars.
Any type of jam jar or traditional mason jar is suitable for onion pickles, but don’t use any metal jars or containers.
When making gifts for my friends and family, I’d often make the onion pickless in small jar jars and decorate them with pretty labels, ribbons and fabric covers.
Ingredients for pickled onions
- dried dill
- sugar – optional (for sweet & tangy flavour)
The pickling liquid can be made with different spices and different proportions of sugar and salt to give you slightly different flavour.
My grandad always added these, although you never actually eat them afterwards. Extra flavour!
A large pinch of ground cloves add a sweet spiciness to the pickling liquid.
If you are short of time you can also buy ready-made pickling spices or liquids.
How to make small batch pickled onions using the refrigeration preserving method
Clean the onion and take off the first layer of the onion skin.
Slice the onion fairly thinly and layer into your glass jar.
Measure out all the other ingredients in a separate bowl and mix in to dissolve the salt (and sugar if used).
Pour the liquid mixture into the jar covering the onions (add more water if needed to make sure the liquid is nearly to the top)
Leave in the fridge overnight (about 8 hrs) to marinate before using and eat within 1-7 days (whilst keeping it in the fridge). The onion flavour will mellow over period of time.
How to serve onion pickles
Serve with meats, pates, salads or sandwiches.
How to store small batch pickled onions
Store in the fridge in glass jars (with screw on or cellophane lids). Check once in a while for any mould developing. A slight foggy discolouration of water is usually fine, all you need to do is to shake the glass jar to disperse it.
How long will onion pickles last
I usually recommend to keep these onion pickles for about 2-4 weeks and not much longer. They do have a shorter shelf life since we are not canning them in a hot bath and only using cold pickling method.
Once open, keep them in the fridge (with the lids firmly screwed back on) and make sure that you use the pickles within 7 days.
Over the years I’ve tested different recipes and kept the pickles for various amounts of time. I know that I can sometimes keep them for up to 6 weeks and they are absolutely fine (and their flavour improves much more with time).
Quick Pickled Onions (Small Batch)
- 1 larger jam jar
- 1 cup onion thinly sliced (about ½ a large onion or 1 smaller onion)
- 1/2 cup vinegar white, clear (non-flavoured)
- 6 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon sugar optional (for sweet & tangy flavour)
- Clean the onion and take off the first layer of the onion skin.
- Slice the onion fairly thinly and layer into your glass jar.
- Measure out all the other ingredients in a separate bowl and mix in to dissolve the salt (and sugar if used).
- Pour the liquid mixture into the jar covering the onions (add more water if needed to make sure the liquid is nearly to the top)
- Leave in the fridge overnight (about 8 hrs) to marinate before using and eat within 1-7 days (whilst keeping it in the fridge). The onion flavour will mellow over period of time.
- Serve with meats, pates, salads or sandwiches.