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How to Make Pickled Onions - Easily! With Step-by-step Directions, Photos, Ingredients, Recipe and Costs

Pickled Red, White or Yellow Onions

Yield: About 6 half-pint (8-ounce) jars

Click here for a PDF print version

Making and canning your own pickled red (or white) onions is easy, safe and allows you to grow more onions that you can eat fresh, and have them in the cold of winter! This is based on the traditional recipe as seen in the Ball Blue Book.


  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) red, white or yellow onions
  • 4 cups red wine vinegar (5%)
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled, crushed, or pureed)


  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars) 
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
  • 1 large pots; teflon lined, glass or ceramic.
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • 1 Water Bath Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.).  Note: we sell many sizes and types of canners for all types of stoves and needs - see canning supplies
  • Pint canning jars (Ball or Kerr jars can be found at grocery stores, like Safeway, Publix, Kroger, grocery stores, even online - about $9 per dozen jars including the lids and rings).  Be sure to get wide mouth jars to fit the pickles in!  Pint size works best! 
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar.  They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars.  They may be reused many times.

Pickled red onions - Directions - Step by Step

New photos are coming! (these show white onions, which can be pickled like this also!)

Step 1 - Get the jars and lids sanitizing

Canning jars in the dishwasherThe dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle.  I get that going while I'm preparing everything else, so it's done by the time I'm ready to fill the jars.  If you don't have a dishwasher, submerge the jars in a large pot (the canner itself) of water and bring it to a boil.Sterilizing jars

Be sure to let it go through the rinse cycle to get rid of any soap!

Get the canner heating up

Fill the canner about 1/2 full of water and start it heating (with the lid on).




Start the water for the lids

Put the lids into the small pot of boiling water for at least several minutes.  Note: everything gets sanitized in the water bath (step 7) anyway, so this just helps to ensure there is no spoilage later!)

Need lids, rings and replacement jars? 

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Step 2 - Peel the onionsboiling onions

With your hands rub the onions and remove any loose dry outer skins.  You can then either peel the onions with a knife and cutting board or by immersing them in boiling water then cold water.
To peel onions by immersion, place a few at a time in a wire-mesh basket or strainer, (or lacking those, simply dump them in) into a large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove and place in cold (preferably icy) water for 30 seconds. Cut a 1/16th-inch slice from the root end, and then remove the peel and 1/16th inch from the other end of the onion. The tough outer layer should slide off easily now.

Step 3 - Slice the onions

Slice the onions 1/4 inch thick and then separate the slices into rings.

Step 4 - Heat the vinegar and garlicboiling water, vinegar, sugar, salt


  • 4 cups red wine vinegar (5%)
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled, crushed, or purreed)

in a large pot (8 quarts or larger) and bring to boil  and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Step 5 - Add the onions and simmer

Add onion rings and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and heat until the onions are half-cooked (about 5 minutes).


Step 6 - Fill jars with onions, pickling liquid and seal

Discard the garlic (if in a clove form). Fill hot jars with the hot onions, leaving 1-inch headspace. Cover with hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids.

Step 7 - Process (boil) the jars in the water bath canner

Process in a boiling water canner, as recommended in the table below.


Ball Blue Book recommended process time for pickled red onions in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints 10 min 15 20

Step 8 - Done!

Let cool, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours and check for seals. Allow pickled onions to sit in processed jars for 3 to 5 days before consuming for best flavor development.  The jars should be good for about a year if stored in a cool dark place.



Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

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