Citrus Pickled Onions

Citrus Pickled Onions

Each winter, when all manner of citrus is in season, I make these Citrus Pickled Onions.  Crisp slices of red onion are marinated in a mixture of citrus juice, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and allspice until tart and tender.  Charred jalapeño and bay leaves are added to the mix to bump up the savory spice factor.  Two of the things that I love the most about this recipe are its ease and versatility.  This quick pickle requires just 10 minutes (if that) of prep time, and 3 to 6 hours of unattended marinating time.  Also, you can vary the types of citrus used in the pickling liquid.  For this batch, I used grapefruit, lime (from my backyard) and orange.  In previous batches, I’ve substituted in lemons, blood oranges and pomelos.  You can use these pickled onions as a accompaniment to burgers, braised or grilled meats, and tacos.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Citrus Sliced Onion

Citrus Pickled Onions
Adapted from Serve Yourself.
Recipe type: Pickle
  • 1 fat jalapeño
  • Half of a jumbo red onion, sliced thin (2 cups)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (dried works as well)
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed citrus juice (I used equal parts lime, orange and grapefruit)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Preheat broiler to high. Place jalapeño on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil the jalapeño until blackened on all sides (5 to 6 minutes). Cut jalapeño open lengthwise and place in a large bowl.
  2. To the bowl with the jalapeño, add the sliced red onion and bay leaves.
  3. In a small bowl, combine citrus juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and allspice, whisking to combine. Pour the pickling liquid over the sliced red onion, jalapeño and bay leaves, tossing to combine.
  4. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 6 hours, tossing the ingredients every 2 hours. If you like a crunchier pickle, you can reduce the time to 3 hours. Season to taste with additional salt. Transfer pickled onions to a jar, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.

Related articles and recipes:

Sweet and Sour Pickled Onions

Hot Mama Fried Pickles

Sesame & Orange Marinated Kale Salad

Pickled Carrots with Dill and Serrano

Greek-Style Chicken with Pickled Onions, Tomatoes, and Tzatziki


    • Brandon Matzek says

      Hi Jen, check out the link above for Sweet and Sour Pickled Onions. You can adapt that method with this recipe. Seems like it would take about 10 minutes in boiling water. Enjoy!

  1. Aron says

    I’m new to pickling anything and a little unclear on how these get stored. Do you keep them in a jar dry, or cover them with some kind of liquid?

    • Brandon Matzek says

      You’ll want to transfer everything to an airtight jar (onions, jalapeno, liquid, etc.). The liquid will not cover the onions, but that’s ok. Enjoy!

  2. Shannon says

    I made a variation of these last night and they are FANTASTIC! I just keep eating them right out of the jar.

    I doubled the recipe and used the same citrus juices but I didn’t have a jalapeno so I added 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. I also omitted the allspice and added 1 tsp of sumac, 1 tsp of toasted cumin seeds, a few sprigs of cilantro, and 1/2 cup of simple syrup.

    I’m sure this is not authentic in any way but holy cow are these good. Tomorrow night they’ll be even better.

    Thanks for posting!

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Hi Shannon, so glad this worked out for you! Your variation sounds pretty tasty :) I love eating these right out of the jar as well.

    • Brandon Matzek says

      You need to try these! I always have a jar on hand. I do like to pickle with just red wine vinegar as well though. Usually when I forgot to buy citrus!


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