An easy recipe for Mexican Pickled Onions using red onions and lime juice as your base. A very popular condiment in Mexico for tacos, tostadas, tortas and more!

A small clear jar with Mexican Pickled Onions and a fork.

These zesty crimson gems are bursting with flavor and add a delightful crunch to any dish. However you decide to serve these onions slices, they will the steal the show!

My method of making pickled onions is very simple and quick; just marinade them in fresh lime juice and that’s it! Many recipes call for curing the onions in boiled water first but I skip all that since I feel it takes away from the delicious flavor that the red onions provide.

Why this recipe works

  • So healthy: Red onions are high in fiber, vitamin c, potassium among others. This recipe is naturally gluten-free  and no fat!
  • So easy & quick: Prep time is only 10 minutes or less!
  • Versatile: This condiment goes with many Mexican dishes and others that pair well with pickled onions like salads, sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese boards, burgers and hot dogs, on avocado toast and more!
A bowl with sliced red onions and squeezed limes on the side.

Ingredients

The ingredient list is so simple that you probably already have everything handy!

  • Red onion: You may be able to substitute with white onion but it won’t be the same. Red onion is best for pickling.
  • Fresh limes for their juice. Limes make the best curing ingredient!
  • The vinegar: We don’t need much. Choose apple cider vinegar but white vinegar or rice vinegar will work too.
  • Kosher or sea salt fresh ground black pepper.

Do you love citrusy recipes as much as I do? Check out my Shrimp Ceviche, Fish Ceviche or my Aguachile. They’re fresh and so good!

A white cutting board with sliced onions and a knife.

Featured comment (people can’t get enough!):

” Que rico! We have been using this recipe for a few months now. A few months because it is PERFECT!!! Over the years we have tried countless recipes, trying to duplicate that sabor we get when we are in Mexico. Never! Until we found yours. We went from never to whenever…we want. Muchisimas Gracias!”

Michael K.

How To Make Mexican Pickled Onions

This is a visual overview of the steps to make this recipe. See the detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.

A woman slicing onions to make Mexican Red Onions.
  1. Start by slicing the onions thinly with a sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline.
A bowl with sliced red onions and squeezed limes on the side.
  1. In a large glass bowl or jar, add the onions, salt and pepper.
Squeezing lime juice on top of sliced red onions.
  1. Squeeze the lime juice by hand or using a citrus squeezer.
A bowl with sliced red onions and squeezed limes on the side.
  1. Then toss to combine making sure the onions are coated through.
  1. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Shake or mix the onions at least once while they cure. This will ensure all of the onions are covered in the juice and will pickle evenly.
  2. Taste before serving and add salt if needed.
A small clear jar with Mexican Pickled Onions and a fork.

Tips & Notes

  • Make sure to use a glass container since metal & plastic are not a good choice to cure in lime juice. The acidity does not go well with these materials.
  • Use a lime/lemon squeezer to get the most juice out of your lime.
  • Use enough lime to cover all of the sliced onions.
  • It’s okay if some of the lime’s pulp get into the brine. It adds a nice texture!

Variations

  • Want to spice things up? Slice some jalapeños or habanero pepper and add to the mix. Red pepper flakes add a delicious kick too!
  • Add some parboil carrots or radishes.
  • Finely chop a handful of fresh cilantro and sprinkle it over the onions.
  • Make sweet and spicy pickled onions: Add a couple of tablespoons of honey or maple syrup to the vinegar mixture for a touch of sweetness. Add jalapeños red chili flakes.
  • Sprinkle some Mexican oregano for an herby taste.

Serving Suggestions

three tacos made with cochinita pibil topped with red pickled onions

Here are some ways to enjoy this perfect citrusy and crunchy goodness on your favorite Mexican dishes :



How to Store

  • Fridge: Transfer theonions to a clean, airtight glass jar like a mason jar or a container with a tight-fitting lid. Make sure the onions are fully submerged in the pickling liquid to maintain their quality. Consume within 5 days for best taste.
  • Freezer: I do not recommend to freeze pickled onions.

FAQs

Can the leftover brine (liquid) be reused?

If the leftover lime brine is still fresh (onions eaten within a day or so), yes you may add more onions to pickled them on the same liquid.

Can I make these with lemon juice instead of limes?

Limes are the preferred curing citrus but can use lemons if that’s all you have. However, do note that the onions won’t “cure” as well as if you were to use fresh limes.

Can I use white vinegar? I don’t have cider vinegar.

Yes you can! Any mild vinegar works.

A small clear jar with Mexican Pickled Onions and a fork.
Pestle and mortar icon graphic.

More Condiments To Try:

Try any of my delicious sauces, dips & dressings…. Always easy & delicious!

I hope you like this recipe! Share it, or leave a rating and comment below. For questions that need an answer right away, please contact  me and I’ll get back to you asap. Gracias!!!! xx, Ana

Print Recipe:

A small clear jar with Mexican Pickled Onions and a fork.

Mexican Pickled Onions Recipe

Servings 2 cups
Ana Frias
4.95 from 92 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
This quick Mexican Pickled Onions recipe is so easy – no cooking required! These onions are a great addition to most Mexican dishes and more. Come learn how simple it is to make these quick and easy pickled onions.
2 cups

Ingredients  

  • 1 red onion peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 limes juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Instructions 

  • Slice the onions thinly with a sharp chef's knife or a mandoline.
  • In a large glass bowl or jar, add all ingredients and toss to combine making sure the onions are coated through.
    1 red onion, 4 limes, 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Shake or mix the onions at least once while they cure. This will ensure all of the onions are covered in the juice and will pickle evenly.
  • Taste before serving and add salt if needed.

Video

Muy Delish Notes:

  • Make sure to use a glass container since metal & plastic are not a good choice to cure in lime juice. The acidity does not go well with these materials.
  • The onions will turn into a deep pink color the longer they’re cured in the lime juice. I usually prepare this the night before I plan to serve them.
  • For optimal taste, consume them within 1 week in the refrigerator stored in a glass container.

Add Your Own Private Notes

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Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 27kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 94mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.

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Recipe Rating




64 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I only had white onions, but still they tasted very good! Unfortunately, my family and I aren’t to familiar with pickling or preserving stuff like onions and the day after, the liquid was bubbling, so my mother threw them out. Were they okay still?

    1. Hi Nolan! I’m so glad you liked the onions! I hope you give them a try again using red onions. They have a little different taste profile and you’ll love them! .

      As far as the bubbling goes, it’s so strange! I’ve never had that happened before with onions. There could be several explanations (I think)
      1 – Where the onions left overnight on the counter?
      2- The onion is still liberating some gases if it’s cut fresh
      3- Those veggies are mostly nitrogen, they contain way too little carbon for any bubbling reaction to occur. As they spoil. So naturally they would not spoil like this. (This phenomenon only happens with carbon-rich foods such as sweet sauces, syrups, jams and the like (because sugar is a fast CARBOhydrate)
      4- For next time, your nose is – in the vast majority of cases – an excellent judge of food freshness. Just don’t rely on it for salmonella, e-coli, botulism and flesh-eating bacteria.

  2. I tried the email to ask a question, but it said not a valid email and kicked back as not deliverable.
    If anyone can answer… Can this recipe be canned in a boiling water bath safely?? I would love to preserve my home grown red onions this way!

    Thank you,

    Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa! I’m sorry you had trouble with the email link. I’ll check to see what’s going on. I haven’t tried to can them, however, the problem with canning fresh lime juice is not knowing the ph (which can vary) to determine if it’s safe to can. I think it may get “metal-y” tasting? Sorry but I cannot say that I recommend! 🙁

  3. 5 stars
    Man I’ve been making these for a few years because I love the flavor, but never made the Hispanic connection. They are exquisite! I always have a jar or two on hand because I eat them as a snak as well as topping other dishes. I’ll have to try with the added vinegar because that’s the only ingredient I don’t use for mine.

    1. Oh wow!!! yes let me know how you like them with the vinegar, I love the pickled onion, they so versatile.

  4. 5 stars
    This is SO easy and delicious!! I do not cook and on a whim wanted to make a special Father’s Day breakfast and my son said we should have these pickled onions as part of the meal, so I quickly googled and found this recipe which is SO simple and on point! Thank you for this recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    Great pickled red onions! I made GZ’s 9 hours slow pork shoulder roast & used your lime pickled onion recipe. Love the bright red color! Thanks for sharing!

  6. 5 stars
    This is the BEST pickled onion recipe I’ve ever made! Thank you so much. I 4X-ed the recipe for a big party and it was a hit with everyone!!

    1. Wow this is great to hear Estela! I do think it’s the easiest and most delicious pickled onions recipe out there (if I say so myself 😛 ) I really appreciate the feedback and the review!

      xo, Ana

    1. Hi Cathy! For optimal taste, consume them within 1 week in the refrigerator stored in a glass container. I don’t process them any other way! Enjoy and please do let me know how you like them! xo, Ana

  7. Hiii! So in the recipe it calls for vinegar but I didn’t see it added as an ingredient in the video. Is it optional? what’s the difference? or did I miss it? thanks!

    1. Hi Lizzy! I forgot to film it! There are times that I forget to add it when I make the onions and they still come out great! So I guess I should put that it is optional? But try it with it first! It enhances the flavors. Enjoy! Ana

  8. 5 stars
    Ana, Ana, Ana. Que rico! We have been using this recipe for a few months now. A few months because it is PERFECT!!! Over the years we have tried countless recipes, trying to duplicate that sabor we get when we are in Mexico. Never! Until we found yours. We went from never to whenever…we want. Muchisimas Gracias!

  9. 5 stars
    Mexican pickled onions. Another new discovery from Muy Delish. Pardon my ignorance in this regard. Really enjoy these on the cochinita pabil taco recipe you did and on tortas.

  10. 5 stars
    OMG Outstanding! I doubled down on the lime, salt, and vinegar then added 3 diced carrots( white, purple, and orange )plus one large jalapeño pepper and one red Fresno chili pepper sliced. Perfection in my kitchen thanks to your recipe. As good as any Taqueria around. I put this on my homemade organic blue corn tortillas with my homemade picadillo just now and it’s perfection on a plate.
    Thank you very much!

  11. 5 stars
    The best pickled onions ever! This is my second time making these Mexican pickled onions. Simple, easy and delicious!!! This will always be my go to recipe. Thanks!

    1. This is so good to hear Linda! I’m so happy to hear you enjoy the way we make Mexican pickled onions. I’m actually making some today for cochinita pibil lol! have a great day!

  12. 5 stars
    Just made this dish for my family, they loved it. Even mg 6 year old liked it and she hates everything.

    1. So good to hear this George!!! I’m so happy to hear that even a 6 year old liked them! I rarely hear that 6 year olds like onions period! Thank you so much for the feedback.

  13. 5 stars
    I just stumbled upon your website today. My mouth is watering after watching video upon video. 🙂 Can’t wait to try out your recipes. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Anna! Thank you soooo much for stopping by and I’m so happy you’ll try some of these recipes! Please don’t be a stranger and stop by when you can. Have a great one!!

  14. 5 stars
    Just landed back from Mexico and want to make these!!! Your red onion prep shot is stunning! You nailed it! Thanks for sharing this super versatile condiment recipe :).

  15. 5 stars
    One of my faves! Could add pickled onions to so many dishes but anything tacos is always where we add them. Love how simple your recipe is!

  16. 5 stars
    Oh I love this recipe. Sounds so delicious. I bet this goes great with meat dinner. Super easy too. Winner! I’m saving this recipe and will give it a try.

  17. 5 stars
    I’m in your camp when it comes to limes! We use them a lot especially in marinades and you’re correct that you have to watch limes — they can cook the food. I’ve never tried pickling onions but it sounds delish. I’d love them on a sandwich. This is an idea I’m going to implement ASAP.

  18. 5 stars
    I love pickled onions, especially for the beautiful pink color it develops. Simply love the addition of lime to the pickles. It’s got to be the best pickled onions with the hint of tang as well. Amazing photos

    1. 5 stars
      Made these for enchiladas tonight and WOW. I used apple cider vinegar with the lime and tossed in a bit of cilantro. Amazing! This is wqy better than the regular old boild water and sugar. 10/10

  19. 5 stars
    I love the purple pink color of these pickled onions. And your photos are so beautiful! I also love any recipe that only has three steps 🙂

  20. The limes where I live are pathetic, so I usually need to use bottled lime juice. So, how much juice would that be for the 1X recipe (4 limes).

    1. Hi Drew! So sorry to hear about having bad limes where you are at! You substitute 2 tablespoons of lime juice for 1 lime. I usually get two tablespoons out of a very juice lime…you can start with less and adjust if you feel it needs more to cure the onions. Good question!

  21. 5 stars
    I love Mexican pickled onions and used to make and have them all the time, but I haven’t in a few years! Your recipe looks delicious and easy! Thanks for the reminder how fun and easy these are! Great recipe.

  22. 5 stars
    This exactly how I make it in Mexico! I add a little more vinegar since I love it. Can’t wait to make it again!