Mexican Dinner Menu: Pickled Red Onion Recipe

December 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Posted in Mexican/Southwest | 42 Comments
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Friends don’t let friends eat Mexican food without pickled red onions!

Our first Christmas celebration was with friends Greg and Cauleen. I decided on serving up a Mexican theme. Stay tuned for more dishes from this dinner, but for now let’s start out talking about pickled red onions.

So easy and with so much impact, there’s absolutely no excuse not to give these a try. Tart and sweet, add a hot bite from the onions, some heat from the red pepper and these onions bring the Fiesta to any Mexican meal. Scoop a heaping spoonful onto tacos, enchiladas, tostadas or even a hearty serving of pinto beans and you’ve got yourself a new flavor experience.

The first time I had pickled onions was as a topping for fish tacos at a local, now sadly defunct restaurant, Chama, created by my favorite local restauranteur, Sean Yontz. I thought they were the best thing since sliced bread.  Yontz has since opened up a new restaurant, El Diablo, and the fish tacos topped with these beautiful onions live on. 

This is my third attempt to duplicate Yontz’s recipe, combining ingredients from several versions I found on the Internet.  I believe I’ve come pretty close.

Pickled Red Onions

3/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries
5 whole cloves
a small, dried chile pepper (I used 1/4 of a dried ancho chile for medium heat)
1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings

In a small non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling. Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool.

Transfer the onions and the liquid into a covered container and refrigerate. These should keep for a couple of months in the refrigerator.

Pickled Red Onions….They’re What’s for a Mexican Dinner.



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  1. love pickled onions: and what a great color! the version I made was without heating anything: still got delicious results.

    thanks: now I want Mexican food 😉

    • So good to hear from you Olga. I decided to try the heat method because of that dried chile. Needed it to steep the flavor abit. Thanks for stopping by and the comment.

  2. I have been looking for a pickled onion recipe!! thanks!

    • You’re welcome Pam. 🙂

  3. I love pickled onions with Raclette. Unfortunately I lost my Raclette grill in some move.
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas!

    • I think we need to go out and buy raclette grills and eat some cheese and onions. 🙂

    • Must. Replace. 😉

  4. Oooh, we used to get the most lovely pickled onions at a local restaurant with their cheese plate. Must try this recipe… I love the color!

  5. I love the sound of these and even more…the ease. And so pretty too!

    Have you ever thought of asking a chef for their recipe; I go to a couple of restaurants that will provide me with theirs; they appreciate the marketing they get if a blogger includes their recipe and where it came from. Those that resist and think we’ll never ever frequent their place again don’t quite get it!

    Knowing how doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy going out!

    • I ask all the time, it just seems I’m asking the wrong person. I think it’s the wait staff that doesn’t quite get it.

  6. What a fun recipe. Mmmmm, fish tacos with these beautiful onions would be a nice change for the New Year. Whole foods, here I come!

    • Karen, as always thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m already envisioning a lot of Mexican food for after the holidays.

  7. Wow, I’ve never had these yummy red onions and I’ve eaten my share of Mexican food. If you think they’re the best thing since sliced bread, then you’ve convinced me that there’s no way I’m going to go on living without them.

    Happy holidays Lea Ann to you and your family.

    • I’ve not seen these onions served in any of the Tex-mex restaurants, but we do see them at Mexican restaurants here. Hope you like them Sam. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  8. I made pickled red onions a few months ago and they were amazing. They go so well on everything – sandwiches, burgers, tacos…the list is endless. These look great!

    • I’m just now trying these on different foods too Joanne! Love them. As always thanks for stopping by.

  9. Yum, these wonderful onions would perk up so many different dishes. I’m imagining them piled on a rare roast beef sandwich or fish tacos.

    • Lovin the Roast Beef idea Cathy!

  10. I love pickled onions. You got great color on yours. Thanks for the recipes. I do something similar, but you’ve added some additional spices that I think would make them even better.

    • I was surprised at the color too. I wonder if that dried red pepper had anything to do with it?

  11. These sound soooo good – full of all kinds of things I love! (please excuse the iPad brevity – there is much more to say) Merry Christmas!

    • You have an IPad????????? Don’t make me call you that B word! 🙂 Enjoy the visit with the kids, Merry Christmas and hugs.

      • Yes, I do! A very unexpected gift from D. Love, love, love it!

      • B 🙂 and hugs

  12. Now I want pork tacos! Thanks a lot! 🙂

    • It’s my job Kathryn! 😉

  13. These would be so good with fish tacos – or anything!

    • I think they’re probably best on Fish Tacos. Thanks for stopping by Karen

  14. Since you said there was no excuses, I’ll whip up a batch soon. Have a Merry Christmas Lea Ann.

    • They may not taste all that great on eggs, but probably you’d like it on some of that pastrami! 🙂 Merry Christmas Bev and Larry.

  15. These will definitely perk up any sandwich. Homemade pickles are really the best. Love the color too! Lea Ann, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

    • Thanks for stopping by Biren. Merry Christmas to you.

  16. I’m making fish tacos for Christmas and these are perfect to go with them! I was thinking cabbage but I like this idea much better. Merry Christmas! xoxo

    • Reeni, the fish tacos I’ve had have the cabbage plus these onions.

  17. Gorgeous color and even more alluring recipe, I can’t wait to try these with my next Mexican dish which may come as soon as tomorrow!

    • Merry Christmas Chris, hope you like them.

  18. We’re big fish taco fans in this house. I’ll have to make these the next time I’m serving them. Merry Christmas to you and all the best!


    • Thanks Kristi, Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  19. Lea Ann, I’m back to wish you a very merry Christmas filled with wonderful food, family and friends. Happy holidays to you and your family.

    Be good ’cause Santa Claus comes tonight.

    • Thanks so much Sam!

  20. This is definitely a recipe to bookmark! I love pickled anything but shy away from industrial products. This is a first rate creation, thank you and merry holidays!

    • Thanks so much Joumana

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