This quick and easy topping adds bright flavor and a gorgeous pink color to any recipe, from Mexican Corn Salad to quesadillas to Mexican Street Corn Salad with Pasta. You can even use Mexican onions for tacos, giving you dozens of Mexican party food ideas. Take your Flank Steak Tacos, Brisket Tacos, and Black Bean Quinoa Tacos to the next level with one easy recipe.
Love red onions as a condiment? Also, check out our Roasted Red Onions recipe!
For this Mexican pickled onion recipe, you’ll need one large red onion, boiling hot water, fresh lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and kosher salt.
How to Make Pickled Red Onions for Tacos
Mexican-style pickled red onions are a cinch to make and even better to eat. One small batch of this pickled red onion recipe, and you’ll want it for all your Mexican meals.
- Prep the onions: Place the sliced red onion in a colander, set the colander in a bowl, and set aside. Pour two cups of boiling water atop the sliced onions and gently press with a spoon.
- Soak: Be sure to submerge all of the onion slices in the water. Let them soak for 45 seconds and drain.
- Add ingredients to the jar: Transfer the onion slices to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Then, pour the fresh lime juice and apple cider vinegar over the onions, and add the salt. Using a fork, make sure to push them down so that they are submerged in the liquid as much as possible.
- Add additional ingredients: If you’re using any optional add-ins, put them into the jar.
- Shake the ingredients: Close the lid over the jar and give it a good shake.
- Refrigerate the jar: Place the closed jar in the fridge and let it sit for a minimum of two hours.
- Serve: Serve the pickled Mexican onions as a condiment or garnish with your favorite taco, salad, or grain bowl recipes.
How to Store
To store leftover Mexican pickled red onions, place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. However, keep in mind that the more things you add in, the higher the potential of spoilage.
How to Use These Lime Pickled Onions
These authentic Mexican pickled red onions (aka Escabeche Onions) are a godsend when it comes to garnishing any of your meat or vegetable dishes. And guess what? They are not just for Mexican cooking! They can also be served with dishes from Cuban, Dominican, and even Spanish cuisine.
Needless to say, you can use this versatile condiment anywhere you use red onions, from tasty tacos to garden-fresh salads. Below are a few dishes from the archives to get you started:
Your Favorite Tacos & Quesadillas
These red pickled onions are mostly served for street tacos in Mexico, so it is a no-brainer to serve them with your favorite tacos in your home as well.
For a savory, protein-filled meal, add your onions to Flank Steak Tacos or Brisket Tacos (hello, meat-lovers!). Use it as a topping for your Salmon Avocado Toast. You can also serve vegetarian or pescatarian dishes by adding your pickled purple onion to a Spinach Quesadilla, fish tacos, or Black Bean Quinoa Tacos.
Chilis & Grain Bowls
Who can resist a bold and hearty bowl of authentic Mexican chili? Not me! You can add authentic Mexican pickled onions to rich and savory recipes, like Quinoa Chili, Chocolate Chili, and my fan-favorite Mexican Quinoa Bowl. Pink onions are also a great condiment in vegan recipes and surely a perfect match for my Vegan Chili and Burrito Bowl.
This quick recipe makes a delicious addition to dozens of your favorite Mexican dishes, from spicy Mexican Corn Salad to fresh Mexican Street Corn Salad with Pasta. You can even add this simple recipe to dishes beyond Mexican food, like my creamy, crowd-pleasing Potato Salad with Capers.
Mexican pickled red onion will last 2 weeks when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
To make quick pickled onions for tacos, use lime juice—also referred to as “Mexican vinegar”—as your pickling base. When you make pickled onion in lime, the citrus juice will break down your onions in less time than other pickling ingredients.
Other Recipes You Can Make with Red Onions:
Wondering what else you can do with red onions? Here are a few of my favorite recipes to help you use them:
- Peach Salsa
- Black Eye Pea Salad
- Spring Mix Salad
- Spinach Salad with Blueberries
- Ottolenghi’s Bulgur Salad
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Mexican Pickled Onions Recipe
- 1 large red onion sliced thinly (approximately 1 ½ cup sliced onion)
- 2 cups boiling hot water
- ¾ cup fresh lime juice*
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Optional Add Ins:
- 1 garlic clove sliced thinly (⅛ inch thick slices)
- ½ small jalapeno slice thinly – remove seeds if you like
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon honey maple syrup or granulated sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon oregano Mexican oregano if you can get your hands on
- ½ teaspoon all spice berries
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Place red onion slices in a colander set in a bowl. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the onion. Gently press with a spoon to make sure that the onions are fully submerged in water. Let it sit for 45 seconds.
- Transfer the now-drained onion slices to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour fresh lime juice and apple cider vinegar over the onions. Add in the salt.
- If you are using any of the optional add-ins, go ahead and add them in.
- Put the lid on and shake until everything is fully combined.
- Place it in the fridge and let it sit for at least 2 hours.
- Serve with your favorite taco, salad, or grain bowl recipes as garnish.
- Lime juice: I highly recommend using freshly squeezed lime juice here, but in a pinch, you can also use store-bought lime juice.
- Storage: If you have leftovers, place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- They lose volume as they sit in lime juice and vinegar mixture: When you are first placing them in the jar it might feel like you have a lot, but keep in mind that as they sit in the acidic brine juice, they lose some of their volume.
- Weck Jars or Pint Size Mason Jars are ideal: I use Weck jars for pickling (as you see in the photos), but pint-sized Mason Jars are also ideal. Just make sure that they have a large mouth and a tight-fitting lid.