Indian Pickled Onions


indian pickled onions

Questions that I should maybe be embarrassed about asking my mom, dad, and MIL include:

  • How do I make rice?
  • How do I know what kind of potatoes/onions to use in a recipe?
  • What does a “fistful of chole” mean? A “tip of a finger” of jeera/cumin? (How did our parents learn to cook?!)
  • How do I make quick pickled onions, Indian style?

I’ve pretty much figured out the answer to all of these questions and I try to share those details (if they matter) when I write a blog post/recipe. Today, I thought I’d share a recipe that probably doesn’t need to be a recipe, but it’s one you might find useful if you’re someone like me who sometimes needs help making really basic things.

My mom and my MIL both make tangy, crisp Indian pickled onions, but they do it slightly differently. My mom uses a good amount of vinegar and my MIL uses a little and then squeezes/removes any excess liquid before serving (onions release a bit of water as they sit). She also adds sliced serrano peppers. My method is perhaps a mix of both styles but leans more towards my MIL’s method (minus the squeezing).

How to make Indian pickled onions?

To make these pickled onions, just combine a few ingredients and let them sit together in the fridge for a few hours or better yet, overnight. The longer they soak, the more pickled they’ll taste and the pinker they’ll get.

Truthfully, nowadays I don’t bother measuring the amount of onion or vinegar or chilies that I use. I keep a jar of pickled onions in the fridge, adding more of whatever ingredient I think is necessary throughout the week. And yeah, we always have a jar of this in the fridge. As an onion lover, I think it’s a must with any Indian meal. And not just Indian food, it’s great on top of burgers, with eggs, in wraps, on a turkey sandwich.

You can switch out the type of chili if you want something different. Sometimes I’ll use a habanero instead of a serrano or Indian chili.

This is an easy recipe that doesn’t require measurements but I’ve listed out exact measurements anyway for my fellow food fledglings – I’ve been there, we all have. Sometimes, you need someone to hold your hand while you make really simple pickled onions, and that’s okay.

onion salad

Indian Pickled Onions

indian pickled onions

Indian Pickled Onions

5 from 2 reviews
Pin Recipe Print Recipe


  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onions
  • 1 –2 serrano peppers or Indian green chilies thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar can add more if you’d like
  • ¼ teaspoon salt to taste


  • Combine the ingredients together in a bowl and mix well – the onions will soften a bit as they sit (I like to make mine the night before serving, but a few hours will do).
  • You can keep this in the fridge for up to a week.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

Pin This Recipe

Like this recipe? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board now so you will remember to make it later!

Pin Recipe Now0

Related Recipes


Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


Subscribe to get our latest content by email. We won't send you spam. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment & Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Kanchan says

    Hi Ashley – sometime I also add a slice of beet when soaking the onions and it makes the onions even pinker and oh so tempting!

paneer lababdar

Ashley's Secrets



Favorite tips & tricks to

easy & delicious Indian cooking