How do I Pickle Onions?

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  • Written By: Janis Adams
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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The process to pickle onions requires a number of steps. These steps ensure that onions maintain their freshness once pickled and that the resultant flavor is pleasing. The two essentials when setting out to pickle onions are the choice of onions for the pickling process and the selection of spices for the flavoring.

As indicated, the first step is to choose the type of onions to be used. A popular choice is the pearl onion, as it is small and does not necessitate peeling. The cidalia onion, which does require peeling, is also a favorite, as it is a sweet-flavored onion. Another option is to pickle a combination of different types of onions. This will enhance the flavor of the pickling along with the spices, as different onions bring different taste factors to the mix.

To pickle onions, wide-mouth jars are needed to house the finished product. The most popular jar for canning is the mason jar. Any wide-mouth jar can be used, however.


Making the juice to pickle onions is not difficult, as most of the choices to be made are personal ones. What spices will be used are truly up to personal choice. Canning salt and vinegar, however, must be used along with the spices for the chosen batch. Spices can include, among a host of others, sugar, any type of pepper, and pre-mixed pickling spices. These ingredients must be boiled prior to the addition of the onions and any other ingredients to be pickled.

The liquid and spices need to be brought to a full boil before the onions should be added. It is important not to let the onions overcook, or they will become soft and unappetizing when served. The onions should retain their firmness and their shape. The onions should only remain in the boiling liquid or brine for a few moments.

Once the cooking process is complete, the pot should be removed entirely from the stove so that no further cooking occurs. After the onions and the brine have cooled, they should be immediately transferred to the sterilized jars and stored in a refrigerator.

Pickled onions are often added to sandwiches or served as part of a country-style meal. With all their flavor, they do not go unnoticed when served as a part of any meal. Learning to pickle onions may take a bit of practice, but the end result is well worth the work.


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