Making hibiscus pickled red onions is a sweet and tangy way to flavor burgers, tacos, salads, and more. Dried hibiscus flowers add a splash of color to this pickled vegetable.
Since I have discovered how to make these pickled red onions, they take up residence in my refrigerator.
During the summer these pickled red onions are the perfect accompaniment for recipes like our Sous Vide Corn On The Cob.
Raw red onions come with a strong bite and bad breath. My pickled red onions recipe is sweet, tangy, tart, and delicious!
The secret ingredient is hibiscus flowers. I love the deep red color and tartness they deliver.
Whether you buy pickled red onions at the store or make them yourself, they are the perfect addition to many recipes. Below is a visual image of the ingredients you will need.
- Red onions - You can use yellow or red onions for this recipe! I find that red onions have a milder bite and a nice sweet flavor!
- Red wine vinegar - White vinegar pickled red onions are popular, but I prefer red wine vinegar for the red color.
- Honey - We used honey as a refined sugar-free sweetener. Maple syrup is a nice natural sweetener as well.
- Hibiscus - Do you want bright pickled red onions? Hibiscus is a dried red flower that is a natural food coloring.
- Garlic - For flavor
- Peppercorns - Contributes a slightly fruity and spicy flavor!
Chef Tips and Variations
- Use a mandolin. It is important to have uniform, thinly sliced onions. Mandolins are great because you have the ability to adjust the thickness of your onion slices. Use a sharp knife if you don't have a mandolin.
- Don't remove the onion core. The core is what holds the shape of an onion. If you remove the core, the onion will fall apart when cutting or slicing.
- Let the pickling liquid steep. By letting the hibiscus flowers steep it adds color and flavor.
- Refrigerate overnight. The onions will start to pickle in just a few hours. If you are in a hurry or just can't wait to taste them, knock yourself out. I always recommend waiting 24 hours for the ultimate pickled onions.
- Spicy Pickled Red Onions. Try adding some sliced jalapeno peppers or a bit of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Balsamic Pickled Red Onions. Using balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar adds a deep and complex flavor.
- Lime Juice. Citrus can be used in pickling because it's acidic. To make lime-pickled red onions add ½ cup of lime juice and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt to your onions. Let pickle for 10 minutes before serving.
- Pickle any onion. Traditional pickled red onions are popular but don't stop there. Try pickling yellow onions, pearl onions, or cippolini onions.
How to pickle red onions
These delicious pickled red onions are an essential condiment, let me show you how to make them!
Step 1: Cut the top of the red onion off leaving the core intact. Peel.
Step 2: Thinly slice the onion. Slice your onion as thinly as possible using a chef's knife or a mandoline.
Step 3: Make the pickling liquid. In a small saucepan combine water, vinegar, honey, hibiscus, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes until the honey dissolves. Turn off the heat and steep for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Straining the hibiscus flowers. Pour pickling liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove the hibiscus flowers.
Step 5: Prep the Jar. In a 16-ounce mason jar, fill it with sliced onions, garlic, and peppercorns.
Step 6: Pickle. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the red onions. Secure with a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours.
What to do with pickled red onions
You can put these onions on just about anything! Here is a list of my favorite ways to use hibiscus pickled red onions.
- Tacos - You should put these onion and chicken, beef, or carnitas tacos for a pop of flavor!
- Salad - Top my Deconstructed Burger Bowls with these pickled onions.
- Breakfast - Top your huevos rancheros, breakfast sandwiches, or eggs.
- Sandwiches - Top your lamb gyros or burgers with these onions for a sweet and tangy condiment.
How to store
- Store in a non-reactive container. Glass, stainless steel, and plastic containers are all good options. I personally like to pickle and store my onions in large mason jars.
- Refrigerate. Pickled red onions should be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.
- Submerge in the pickling liquid. You should keep the onions covered completely with the pickling liquid to preserve them and maintain their flavor.
Yes, you can pickle white onions instead of red onions. Red onions are commonly used for their natural sweetness and mild flavor. White onions make a great substitute, they just have a stronger onion flavor.
Basic kinds of vinegar are great choices. Some of my favorites are red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and champagne vinegar. Stay away from aged vinegar like balsamic.
No, you can cold pickle. It just takes longer. Heating the pickling liquid dissolves the sugar crystals. The flavor melds better. Simply pour the hot pickling liquid over the onions. Cover, and refrigerate.
Yes, this is a great base recipe to pickle any type of vegetable. I would remove the hibiscus so you don't turn all of your vegetables pink. Carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, and cucumbers are all great pickling vegetables.
Hibiscus Pickled Red Onions
- Peel and thinly slice red onions using a mandoline or knife.
- Fill a 16-ounce mason jar with sliced onions. You may need to press the onions down to fit them all in.
- Place garlic cloves and peppercorns into the mason jar.
- In a small saucepan combine red wine vinegar, water, honey, salt, and hibiscus flowers. Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and let the hibiscus steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain out the hibiscus flowers using a fine mesh strainer. Pour the pickling liquid over the red onions into the glass jar.
- Secure the mason jar with a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Practice knife safety when using a knife or mandolin.
- You can use large or small mason jars. I used a large 16-ounce jar in this recipe.
- Adjust the amount of honey, depending on how sweet you want your onions.
- Use a non-reactive glass container for pickled onions.
- Soak onions in ice water for 10 minutes to remove the bitterness.
- For tangy pickled onions, reduce the amount of honey in this recipe.