Canning Recipes

How to Make and Can Pickled Onions

Last year, our onion crop didn’t do the best. We worked hard to keep weeds away, to make sure the bulbs were adequately watered, and to provide our onion sets with the most TLC possible.

Success just wasn’t in the cards, unfortunately. 

Our large plot of onions yielded quite a few bulbs, but all of them were undersized and not very well-suited for long term cold storage without being processed.

So we looked for solutions, and found that our freezer was already pretty well loaded with all of the other produce (green beans, zucchini, carrots, etc) we had frozen. We were lucky enough to be given a phenomenal recipe for canned pickled onions, and decided to give it a try.

Needless to say, we ate our entire stock of pickled onions within a few short months. This winter, we bought a few bags of onions from a produce stand, and then canned those once they started to go by the optimal date of freshness. 

Our pickled onion stock has been restored!

If you’re looking for an easy, convenient way to use up all of your onions this canning season, you’ve got to consider this recipe for pickled onions. 

canned pickled onions

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How To Eat Pickled Onions

Pickled onions are incredibly versatile and can be eaten in a ton of different ways. Our favorite ways to eat them are as toppings on cheeseburgers, but they also taste great in sandwiches. I’ve eaten pickled onions in salads (both green salads and prepared salads, like pasta salad) as well as in entrees, too. 

Try them on tacos and nachos, too!

Pickling takes onions to the next level. It not only makes them tangy and crisp but gives them a unique zesty flavor that really can’t be duplicated in any other way. 

Plus, pickled onions don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen, so they’re easy to store for months on end with very little space required. 

Recipe Information 

canned pickled onions

If you’re new to pickling and think that this hobby is too challenging for you, think again. Pickling is incredibly easy and allows you to make just about any vegetable a water bath canner-friendly vegetable (because most vegetables, being low-acid, need to be canned in a pressure canner).

Really, to pickle, all you need is some vinegar, water, and spices (occasionally sugar and salt, too). 

With this recipe, you’ll get about one canner load (seven pint jars) of pickled onions. We usually double or triple the batch depending on how many onions we need to get through. My recommendation? Make a lot of jars, because once you break one out at your next family gathering or potluck, you’re going to be getting a lot of requests from friends and family! 

This recipe calls for apple cider vinegar as the main vinegar source. You can use white vinegar, too.

I like apple cider vinegar because it gives the onions a bit more sweetness and zest – plus it makes the brine a pretty color! I buy this kind of apple cider vinegar – it’s much cheaper to buy in bulk than what I can usually find at my local grocery store.

Plus, it has the Mother. You Don’t have to have the Mother (which is where all those beneficial probiotics and added nutrients from vinegar come from) when you are canning, but I really don’t think it hurts!  

Recipe Tips

canned pickled onions

When you’re making this recipe, you’ll need to start by cutting up the onions. You can cut the discs into any shape you’d like, but I recommend getting them as small as you can. This will help them pack better into the jars. You’ll want to make sure you remove air bubbles after you add mixture, too. 

Before you eat your onions, let them cure for a few days in storage. This will really allow all the flavors to soak in! 

You can use any kind of onion for this recipe – red, white, or anything in between. I prefer using red onions because when they’re pickled and canned, they turn your brine a deliciously beautiful pink color! However, when I made pickled onions the last time, we only had white onions – and they still turned out fantastic! 

Finally, this recipe is for canned pickled onions. You can easily make these pickled onions and simply skip the canning steps. I like to can pickled onions so I can make big batches but you could also do some simple math and make just a jar or two to stash in your fridge.

If you’re going to be cunning, always start with clean, sterilized canning equipment. Don’t reuse lids between canning batches – always buy new ones. You can reuse jars and bands, however, and it’s easy to find inexpensive water bath canners for sale. So there’s no reason to skimp on the lids! 

Prep Time

30 minutes (approximately)

Cook Time 

15 minutes

Total Time 

45 minutes/canner load


7 pints

Materials Needed


  • 4.5 cups apple cider vinegar (you can also use white vinegar)
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar 
  • 3.5 tbsp pickling salt 
  • 7 lbs onions (red or white will work)
  • 3 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns


canned pickled onions

1. Begin by sterilizing your jars and bands. If you have a dishwasher, set it to the quick wash cycle but at the hottest temperature possible. No dishwasher? Make sure your jars are clean and hot by the time you’re ready to. Some people just warm them on the stovetop as the canner is heating up. 

2. Heat up your water bath canner. Fill with water to the fill line (or estimate to about where your pint jars will hit – you may need to add a bit more water once the canner gets going). 

3. While your jars and canner are getting ready, start slicing your onions. Make sure they are washed and peeled, then slice them into quarter or half moons (if you have very tiny onions, like pearl onions, you can leave them whole). Slice them as thinly as possible and make sure you trim the ends off. 

4. In a separate stockpot, combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar, along with seven cups of water. Bring it to a boil. 

5. Once the mixture has reached a rolling boil, add your other spices. Stir in before removing the pot from the heat. 

6. Load your onions into the jars. Pour brine into each jar, making sure you leave about half an inch of headspace at the top of the jar. 

7. While you are loading your jars, set a pot to boil with your lids on the stovetop. This will sterilize your lids (not necessary, especially since you’re using brand new lids out of the box, but I find it helps you get a better seal).

8. Remove any air bubbles with a bubble remover tool. Don’t use a metal tool, as this can etch the glass. Add more onions and brine if necessary until the jars are full.

9. Wipe away any residue that may be remaining on the lip or sides of the jars. Apply your hot lids and bands and tighten them just until they are finger-tip tight.

canned pickled onions

10. Load your jars into the water bath canner. Put the lid on and return the cleaner to a rolling boil (you may need to add water if the water does not cover the tops of the jars). 

11. Once you reach a boil, set your canning timer. Process the jars for ten minutes, then remove them and let them rest for 24 hours on a clean towel (this will protect your table from any water marks). 

12. Check your jars for proper seals after 12-24 hours. You may hear popping noises as the jars seal, but this is nothing to worry about. Just make sure your jars are left to cool in an area that is free from a draft, as this can cause your jars to crack. Check for a seal by pressing down on the top of the jar. If the lid does not flex, you have a perfect seal. If it moves at all, either start over with the canning process (use a fresh lid) or store the jars in the refrigerator.

13. Store your jars in a cool, dark location. They’ll last at least a year in storage! 

There you have it! An easy way to use up that bountiful onion harvest I know you’re sure to have. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever made pickled onions before, and how it worked out for you!

Want to learn more about farming? Be sure to take a look at these other articles.

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Author: Rebekah PierceI'm a writer and small farm owner, and lover of everything outdoors. I'm hoping to share my passion for farming, gardening, and homesteading with you on my blogging journey.

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