There is something about pickled onions that can take your meal from tasty to out-of-this-world delicious with just a few slices.
These delicious little condiments are made using a blend of vinegar, salt, sugar, and water so that each bite is tangy, sweet, and sour.
The food blogging world loves pickled onions and you may have seen some recipes cropping up here, there, and everywhere and been tempted to give one a try. I say you go for it!
You won’t be disappointed in the final product, and but you might be wondering how long your onions will last.
So, how long do pickled onions last? The answer depends on the preparation. Quick pickled onions will last about 2 to 4 weeks in the fridge, while vacuum sealed pickled onions can last up to 2 years in the pantry. Once opened, you should move them to the fridge and eat them within a month.
Keep reading to discover what pickled onions are, how long they last in the fridge or pantry, and a recipe to make your own quick pickled onions right at home.
What Are Pickled Onions?
I love pickled onions! They’re one of my favorite kitchen condiments since they can take any meal from just okay to exceptional thanks to their bright, fresh, and tangy flavor.
Regardless of what kind of pickled onion you enjoy they are all made with at least vinegar, salt, sugar, and onions.
Often other flavors, spices, seasonings, and ingredients are added to make them unique, but a basic pickled onion is preserved (or pickled) using a mix of vinegar, salt, and sometimes water.
If you use whole onions, then they are generally boiled prior to pickling.
There are a couple of different types of pickled onions that you can choose from depending on your preference.
The first kind is whole pickled onions, which are generally made from small pearl onions. These are great to snack on plain.
They are first boiled, then pickled in a warm solution of red wine vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander, mustard seeds, and black peppercorns.
Another kind of pickled onion that is popular on food blogs across the web is the pickled red onion. This one is versatile and can be used in salads, on tacos, in wraps, sandwiches, as a side dish, the options are virtually limitless.
Instead of a whole red onion, these onions are thinly sliced and pickled with a vinegar, salt, and sugar solution.
I will often do a very quick boil of the onions in the solution just to give them a little softness, but this step isn’t necessary if you prefer a little more crunch to your onions.
How Long Do Pickled Onions Last In The Fridge?
The thing about pickling foods is that it is technically a method of food preservation that helps prevent your food from spoiling. Generally, store-bought pickled onions will last longer than homemade ones.
When it comes to storing homemade pickled onions in the fridge, there are a couple of guidelines that you can follow.
Remember that if you see any mold growth, it’s safest to throw away the entire jar to prevent any food poisoning or illness.
- Generally, once opened, most folks will give a timeline of 2-3 weeks before the onions go bad. I find that you can extend this by another 1-2 weeks as long as you always use a clean utensil when removing your onions from the jar to prevent any contamination.
- You can also help your onions last longer by keeping them in the cooler part of the fridge. That means keep them on one of the shelves instead of the door since this is exposed to warmer air every time you open your fridge.
Your store-bought pickled onions may last longer in the fridge since they will have extra preservatives added to the mix to prevent spoilage.
Generally, they will last a couple of months so long as you don’t get any other food particles or bacteria in there that can cause contamination.
Basically, homemade pickled onions will last about 2-4 weeks in the fridge, while store-bought ones can last 2-3 months after opening.
Always make sure to check your expiration dates on store-bought food. And if there’s any mold, throw the whole jar away.
How Long Do Pickled Onions Last In The Pantry?
One of the great things about pickling food is that it can be stored without refrigeration and stay safe and edible for long periods of time.
With that being said, any of the recipes that you encounter online that don’t take the step to properly seal the jar, as you would when making regular pickles, won’t have the long shelf life of their preserved cousins.
When you have done the process of cleaning the jars (boiling the pickled onions in the jars until their lids pop before storing them) then they will last about two years in your pantry.
Once they are opened, you should move them to the fridge where they should be eaten within about 2-4 weeks.
If you haven’t don’t the specific preservation and pickling process, it’s probably safer that you store your pickled onions directly in the fridge.
When foods are kept at room temperature and not boiled to fully vacuum seal the contents, then they can continue to ferment and grow bacteria.
Not all the bacteria that grow in this state will be beneficial, so to prevent illness, any quick pickled onions that haven’t been vacuum-sealed should be stored in the fridge for safety and freshness.
What Is The Best Way To Store Pickled Onions?
The best way to store your pickled onions will depend entirely on how they were prepared and sealed and whether they are a homemade or store-bought variety.
The best way to store your homemade quick pickled onions is definitely in the fridge.
Since these recipes don’t typically boil the jars to vacuum seal the contents, they are prone to bacterial growth and contamination if left at room temperature for long periods of time.
Store your homemade quick pickled onions in the fridge for about 2-4 weeks for the freshest flavor.
Remember to use a clean utensil whenever you take them out of the jar and to store them in the colder part of the fridge (avoid the door).
The best way to keep store-bought pickled onions is in the pantry until you break the vacuum seal. They will last about 2 years in the pantry (unless otherwise noted by the expiration date).
Once you have opened the jar, move it to the fridge and use it within a couple of months to prevent spoilage.
If you have gone through the process of vacuum sealing your homemade pickled onions, then you can store them in the pantry for up to 2 years.
Again, once they are opened you will want to move the jar to the fridge and use them within a month.
How To Make Quick Pickled Onions
Now that you know how to properly store your pickled onions, let’s learn how to make our own quick pickled onions right in the comfort of our own kitchens.
This recipe is great to use on tacos because the lime adds an extra hit of freshness and zest.
- 1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 lime, juice and zest
- Water to cover
- Add your thinly sliced red onion to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Stir in the garlic, sugar, and salt until fully coated. You can give them a gentle mash here with a wooden spoon to soften the onions and garlic a bit.
- Add the red wine vinegar, lime zest and juice, and enough water to just cover the onions.
- Give the whole mixture a good stir and gently mash the onions to soften them even more.
- Let the mix sit at room temperature for about 1 hour or so before enjoying them. You can then transfer your leftovers to a clean mason jar.
- Place the pickled onions in the fridge and use them within about 2-4 weeks.
You can feel free to get creative with this recipe and use other types of vinegar such as apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar.
You can also add different herbs like cilantro and green onions to the mix for even more flavor. And if you like spice, chop up a jalapeno and add it in.
When it comes to pickled onions, the options are limited only by what you have on hand and your taste buds, so enjoy experimenting until you find your perfect pickling recipe.
Up Next: 9 Best Sugar-Free BBQ Sauces