FoodSauces and Condiments

Pickled Onions

Pickled onions are one of those piquant condiments that are in almost every home, used to complement cold meats, cheese platters and, of course, on sandwiches. Try having a toasted cheese sandwich with sliced pickled onions – they work perfectly to complement the cheese and creates a delicious combination. What about a rare roast beef sandwich with mustard and pickled onions? What a match! Just one or two pickled onions alongside your evening meal will take it to a different level. And don’t forget to try that pickling juice in your next vinaigrette.

Pickled Onions

Servings: 6  Time: 35 minutes   Difficulty: Easy


  • 1kg small pickling onions
    (or larger pearl onions)
  • 3 cups malt vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns 
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sliced chillies (only if a hot bite is required)


  1. To more easily peel the onions: Trim the ends off of each onion and place them in a heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water over them and let them sit for a minute. Then drain, rinse with cold water and remove the peels.
  2. Place the peeled onions in a bowl, sprinkle with the salt and toss to distribute the salt
  3. Cover with a towel or loosely with plastic wrap and let them sit at room temp overnight
  4. Don’t let them sit longer than 12 hours or the onions will lose their crispness
  5. Rinse well and drain thoroughly
  6. Place all remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil at a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved
  7. While the brine is simmering, pack the onions into sterilized Mason/Kilner/Ball jars
  8. Pour the hot brine over the onions and then distribute the spices among the jars
  9. Use a skewer or other long object to push down the side of the jars to ensure there are no air bubbles
  10. Wipe the jar rims down with a clean, damp cloth
  11. Place the canning lids on the jars and screw shut while hot to create a vacuum seal
  12. Let the onions cool and then place them in a dark place, at room temperature to mature for at least 3-4 weeks before eating, the longer the better as the flavour improves with age
  13. Store them in a cool, dark place where they will keep for up to a year
  14. Once opened, store them in the fridge where they will keep for 3+ months

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