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How to Make Mexican Pickled Onions

Updated on September 26, 2008

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There aren't many Mexican dishes that don't benefit from a garnish of quickly homemade Mexican pickled onions.

Fresh and sweet and tart and crunchy and spiced, these onions are a staple food of the Yucatan, but to my taste go very well with foods from pretty much any region of the country. And although they are pickled, the procedure is a far cry from the tedious boiling and sterilizing rigmarole most of us associate with pickling. In a word - this recipe is EASY!

Serve these in a small dish tableside, letting diners top their own dishes as desired. These are particularly good with any form of grilled meat.

This is normally done with red onions, but sweet Vidalia or Spanish style onions are also very good, and in a pinch, any old onions will work just fine.

Also, although a quick blanching softens the onions up very well, I sometimes omit this step and allow the onions to mellow and tame in the vinegar on the counter for a few hours.

Mexican Pickled Onions

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed (not shopped)
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup of cider (or pineapple vinegar if you have it) or even regular old white vinegar will work.
  • ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of oregano

Easy Steps

  1. Drop your sliced onions in boiling water for 30 seconds and remove to drain.
  2. Mix together all other ingredients and add the onions into the mixture to steep.
  3. Let sit on the counter for a few hours (this is great done early in the afternoon for a later in the day Mexican dinner.)

These are ready for serving after a few hours of mellow pickling. Store any leftovers in the fridge where they will last for many days (not that you will have to worry about what to do with these delicious pickles!). In addition to being fantastic table side condiments for Mexican meals, these pickled onions are great with any form of BBQ or grilled meats and lovely on meatloaf or burgers.

Sometimes it's the little things that transport the everyday to something special. So next time Mexican for dinner is on the menu and you're in the kitchen washing up the dishes from lunch, take 5 minutes to prepare a quick and easy Mexican pickle, and bring an authentic taste of the Yucatan to your evening!

As a variation, mix in shaved cucumber or carrots with the onion.


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