Quick Pickled Vidalia Onions ~ this sweet onion refrigerator pickle takes just minutes to prepare, and you’ll reap the rewards all summer long on burgers, brats, steaks, sandwiches and tacos!
pickled Vidalia onions is quick and easy
Quick pickles, or ‘quickles’ as they’re sometimes called, are my specialty. I don’t go in for big vats of boiling water, tongs, and sterilizing jars, etc. I make my pickles the easy way, in small batches, and even without all the boiling, etc., these pickles will last a good long while in the refrigerator. Pickling is a natural preservation method ~ when you bathe food in a vinegar solution, the acidity kills bacteria. But a pickling brine adds tons of flavor, too, so it’s a great technique even if you want to eat ALL THE ONIONS right away. Like me.
Truly any onion can be pickled, I’ve made PICKLED RED ONIONS that are the most gorgeous magenta color, and you could use white or yellow as well. But Vidalias are only around for a short season, and so it just makes sense to grab them while you can, and use them in every way possible. For you Vidalia fans out there, I’ve got lots of great recipes on the blog, but probably the one I’m most fond of right now is my VIDALIA ONION SLAW, if you love these onions like I do, then check that one out.
how are Vidalia onions different from regular onions?
- Vidalias originated in the 1930s in Vidalia Georgia.
- True Vidalia onions can only be grown in Georgia, by law, but they’re shipped all across the country.
- The onions are so mild and sweet you can eat them raw like an apple. They have a characteristic squat shape and very thin, papery skin.
- The onions are so sweet because the soil they are grown in is unusually low in sulfur.
- Vidalia season is from spring to early summer, but that has recently been extended thanks to new technology in controlled atmosphere storage.
- There are other varieties of sweet onion such as Maui and Walla Walla. There are also generic sweet onions which you will find in your produce section year round.
- Use them just like you would any other onion, and prepare to become obsessed.
spices for pickled onions
Technically you can pickle with vinegar alone, but it’s really the added spices that contribute the flavor. Here in California I can pick bay leaves and pink peppercorns right from my neighborhood trees, I love it. I hardly ever return from a walk around the block without something in hand. There’s a Peruvian pepper tree in the side walk strip across the street, and I collect sprigs when the seeds are ripe, and then let them air dry. Pink peppercorns are a different species entirely from black pepper*, but they have a similar flavor. You can of course use store bought peppercorns of any color, black, white, pink, or green.
*Caution: pink peppercorns are from the same family as cashews and pistachios and can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to tree nuts.
how long will these quick pickles last?
Because this is a quick pickle you can use the onions in as little as a few hours. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for at least a month. The photo below was taken as I pulled the onions out of the fridge a month later ~ they’re just as pretty, and as crunchy ~ as when I made them.
TIP: You can use cheap white vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or any other pale vinegar for these pickles, but I like to use my O Olive Oil Champagne Vinegar, it has a wonderful delicate flavor. I’ll re-use the pickling liquid once my onions are gone, so it won’t go to waste. I can also use the leftover pickling liquid in salad dressings.
handy equipment to have
I use my mandoline slicer to slice the onions finely and evenly, and pint sized wide mouth canning jars for storing my quick pickled Vidalia onions.
more easy pickles
- Quick and Spicy Refrigerator Pickles
- How To Quick Pickle (almost) Anything!
- Quick and Easy Pickled Red Onions
- Quick Pickled Fennel
- Quick Pickled Rainbow Carrots
- Quick Pickled Jalapeños ~ easy recipe!
Quick Pickled Vidalia Onions
- 1 Vidalia onion
- 1 cup mild white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp pink peppercorns
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- Peel and very thinly slice the onion. I like to use my mandoline set on the 1/8 inch setting. If your rings are very large, you can slice them in half.
- Heat the vinegar, water, and spices in a saucepan over high heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the sliced onions, giving everything a stir to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes, then pack the onions into a wide mouthed pint sized mason jar. Pour the liquid, including spices, over the onions. Make sure the onions are completely submerged, if you need more liquid, add a bit more vinegar. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate.
- Plan to use within a month or so.
- Use any type of onion you like.
- Make it spicy by adding a sliced jalapeno, or 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes.
- You can can these onions by processing them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Be sure to use sterilized jars, and be sure to use, at minimum, equal parts vinegar to water to maintain a safe pH. You can use all vinegar if you like.
Questions and Reviews
My first pickling experience and it was both pretty and well worth my while; thank you for sharing!
I actually arrived at this recipe for my husband but ended up eating most of the batch myself over the last 6-8 months. [They lasted just fine!] They are that perfect complementary garnish of bite and bright.
One question: Is the boiling necessary?
I’m so glad you enjoyed these Pamela. The point of bringing the solution to a boil is to get the flavors well infused, but it’s not necessary.
I just made a batch with Walla Walla sweet onions (our Washington grown version of Vidalia) which is plentiful this time of year. Your picture with the pinky peppercorns was so beautiful, I knew I had to add those. No pepper trees around here to pinch from but I found a small bag of pink peppercorns at a local spice shop. They will be the perfect addition to smoked trout sandwiches for dinner. Thanks for this and all your great recipes!
How fun, I love that you used Walla Wallas. Let me know how they turn out, mine have lasted really well in the fridge, we just had the last of them the other day. Thanks for your support, Kristin!
These are so lovely, Sue, and would make a great hostess gift this summer. Come to think of it, I’ve made a a few of your recipes for hostess gifts and they are always a big hit. These are next! Your photos are simply stunning!
What an outstanding recipe Sue! Perfect for everything summer – sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, salads – and oh how I wish I had neighbors like that! Just beautiful 🙂
These are the best looking onions I have ever seen! Great pictures and the recipe sounds fantastic! These would be a nice change from the usual pickles I have sitting in my fridge (although I love those too)! 🙂
You mentioned Brazilian pepper tree (which is Schinus terebinthifolius), but after seeing your photos, and more specifically the pepper leaves in the photo, what it appears you’re actually using is California Pepper aka Peruvian Pepper (Schinus molle). Closely related trees, and both commercially used for pink peppercorns (though the S. molle is much more extensively used). Just being picky since I’m a professional gardener in New York but I’m a California native and pepper trees are one of the plants I miss most!
Thanks so much for the lesson, Ryan! I love that you noticed, and now I know…I’ll amend the post 🙂
Sue ! How lucky – you can pick bay leaves and peppercorns from across the street. I remember we did that years ago from our family’s summer home in Italy. And vidalia onions are our favorite onions !!
Thanks ladies ~ and oh to have a summer home in Italy…sigh…
So many great tips in here!! I’ve always been a little intimidated by pickling.
This is pickling for dummies, Katherine 😉
I remember those pepper trees from when I lived in the LA area, but I never realized that the fruits were edible. I definitely want to make these pickled onions, but I’ll have to find some peppercorns that would work. We don’t have Brazilian Pepper trees in El Paso, TX.
They sell multicolored peppercorns in regular grocery stores, so you can always use them, Susan.
I have a small bay tree and here in Port Aransas, Texas Brazilian pepper trees are everywhere! Now I’m on a mission to find some peppercorns! I always enjoy your posts and beautiful pics!
Bay trees are the best, I used to have one in my backyard, and I miss it so much, now I have to scour the neighborhood! You’re going to have such fun with the pink peppercorns 🙂