Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions
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Salty, Sweet & Sour Thinly Sliced Red Onions. A delicious condiment for Kebabs or other Grilled Meat, Burgers, Hot Dogs or Sausages, Fish, and Tacos. It’s easy to make too and adds a unique aesthetic look. If you never had Pickled Red Onions, you really need to add this as a condiment for various foods.


One of the very first things I noticed about moving to Ontario is the Sumac Trees. These are everywhere. You can literally go out and pick them to bring home and make a sumac drink, or dehydrate the Sumac to make Sumac powder and use it right here for this recipe.

Of course, you can just purchase the Sumac, as it is relatively cheap. But it’s pretty neat to see these almost everywhere on the side of roads and highways.

Staghorn Sumac
Staghorn Sumac

There is also a poisonous variety that can be identified by smooth leaf edges instead of serrated as pictured above. These are usually found in wetlands or marshes. Also, the twigs on poisonous Sumac are smooth, whereas the Staghorn or edible Sumac has tiny hairs.

Fresh Red Onion Salad

The Fresh Red Onion Salad version. Thinly sliced Red Onions soaked in Lemon Juice and Sumac. Sometimes with the addition of Salt, Sugar, Oil, and Parsley.

Mix the following and either serve immediately for crisp Salad or let marinate to soften the onions.

  1. 1 Red Onion, peeled and Sliced from root to root.
  2. Mix 1 Tbl Lemon Juice, 1 tsp Pomegranate Syrup/Molasses, 1 Tbl Olive Oil, 1 tsp Sumac, 1/2 tsp Sea Salt, Red Pepper Flakes or Aleppo Pepper to taste, and Parsley
  3. Pour over Thinly Sliced Red Onions and Toss before serving.
Fresh Red Onion Salad
Fresh Red Onion Salad

Or a simpler one which consists of 1 Red Onion Thinly Sliced root to root, 1 Tbl Sumac, 2 Tbl Parsley, 3 Tbl Vinegar and marinate.

Pickled Red Onions

The Fermented or Refrigerator Red Onions are all of those ingredients combined. Other Ingredients such as pickling spice or other Herbs and Spices may be included. With a Brine Solution no lower than 2 %. I use slightly more and with Vinegar.

Stuff the Thinly Sliced Red Onions into a Jar. Fill with the brine solution, cover, and keep refrigerated.


To get 2 % Salinity. Weigh the amount of water and multiply that by the salinity amount desired. In this case, 2 %. To determine how much salt should be added by weight.

For example, The water weight of 1 Cup is about 236 grams. Multiply 236 by 0.02 for 2 % Salinity which gives 4.72 you can round this up to 5 grams of salt.

In this recipe, we use a bit more salt to bring some saltiness to the red onions and add in Vinegar. You can use less salt, but don’t go below the 2 % salinity. The 2 % Salinity is the same basic brine we use for Sauerkraut, which is about 1 Tbl Sea Salt per 4 Cups of water.

Processing Red Onions Tips

If you find the Onions too sharp or want to take the sharpness off. Pour hot water over the onions, or allow the onions to soak for some time in the water before using.

If you want them softer, you can process these the same as Cabbage for Sauerkraut. Which is to sprinkle some Kosher Salt, 2 % by weight of the Red Onions and mix in and squeeze. Then allow resting for 30 minutes or longer.

Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate Syrup or Molasses is one of those ingredients that is sometimes included. It goes really well with the Red Onions. I absolutely love it. It offers additional Sweet Tartness. I pick mine up at a Middle Eastern Grocery Store.

Pomegranate Molasses
Pomegranate Molasses

If you can not find or source this, I Imagine Grenadine would work, although I haven’t tested that. However, the ingredients are pretty much the same except that Grenadine is not boiled down as much and so offers more of a sweet flavor whereas Pomegranate Molasses would offer more of a Tart flavor and darker coloring.

JAH Pickled Red Onions

My version or take on this is a half solution or 1:1 ratio pretty much of Brine Solution which is the distilled water with Sea Salt and Vinegar. Since I like a bit of sweetness, I also add an equal amount of Sugar to Salt.

My Favorite addition is Sumac by far. Followed by Pomegranate Syrup. There are numerous things that can be added to tweak it. As long as you have your base established, everything else is just flavoring and aesthetics.

Combine all the ingredients together except for the Onions and mix well. Set this aside as our brine liquid.

Slice the Red Onions very thinly. Place them into a Mason Jar and fill with the Brine Solution close to the top, cover and keep refrigerated.

Pickled Red Onions Additions

  • Hot Peppers
  • Apple Cider, Red Wine or other Vinegar’s
  • Clove, Allspice, Peppercorn, Bay Leaves, Fennel Seeds, Mustard Seeds, other herbs & Spices or Pickling Spice
  • Beets, Bell Peppers, Radish, variety of Chilies
  • Different Peppers like Tellicherry Peppercorn, White Pepper, Pink or Green Peppercorn, Cubeb Pepper, Bukovo Pepper, Sansho, Chili Flakes
Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Salty Sweet & Sour Thinly Sliced Red Onions marinated with Sumac used as a side Salad or Topping on various grilled meats. Cover and keep refrigerated.
Prep Time10 minutes
Servings: 1 portion


  • 1 Mason Jar


  • 1 Red Onion - – Sliced root to stem
  • 1 1/2 C Distilled Water
  • 1 C Vinegar
  • 1/2 C Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 Tbl Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbl Sea Salt & Sugar
  • 1 Tbl Sumac
  • 1 Tbl Pomegranate Syrup/Molasses - – Optional
  • 1 tsp Parsley - – or more
  • 1 tsp Urfa or Aleppo Pepper - – Optional


  • Combine all Ingredients together except the Red Onions. This is the Brine Solution we will use to fill the jars up. Set this aside for now.
  • Thinly slice Red Onions and stuff the Red Onion Slices into a Mason Jar and Fill with Brine Solution almost to the top. Cover and refrigerate.


Fresh Red Onion Salad

Combine the following and let marinate.
  1. 1 Red Onion, peeled and Sliced from root to root.
  2. Mix 1 Tbl Lemon Juice
  3. 1 tsp Pomegranate Syrup/Molasses
  4. 1 Tbl Olive Oil
  5. 1 tsp Sumac
  6. 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  7. Red Pepper Flakes or Aleppo Pepper to taste
  8. Parsley as desired.
  9. Pour over Thinly Sliced Red Onions and Toss before serving.
Course: Condiment, Ingredient, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: Pickled Red Onions, Red Onion Salad
Author: JAH
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