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Have you ever pickled your own vegetables? Learn how to pickle red onions with my recipe for flavorful escabeche rojo! Play around with the heat levels by adding jalapeño or habanero peppers, then serve with tacos, burritos, sandwiches, and more!
I’m always looking for ways to step up my sandwich game. I eat them most days for lunch, and over the years, I’ve discovered that the more condiments and add-ons, the better!
Some of my favorite sandwiches include the always classic egg salad sandwich, hearty and comforting Cuban sandwich, this unique Mexican-inspired pineapple pork sandwich, and cheesy pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich. All wonderfully tasty on their own, and even better with the addition of a tangy extra: Mexican pickled red onions!
Called escabeche rojo in Spanish, this recipe for pickled red onions requires minimal ingredients and is so easy to put together. My escabeche recipe only takes 15 minutes to make and is a welcome addition to any fridge. Not only can you add them to sandwiches, but I also love serving them on salads, tacos, nachos, and so many other dishes for an extra tang I can’t get enough of.
If you love pickles and are looking for something with the same flavor profile, give my escabeche rojo recipe a try! While these are soft and packed with nuanced flavors, I have another recipe for you… my easy Quick Pickled Red Onions are a different recipe that keeps them crisp without any cooking.
- Red Onions – I typically use medium-sized red onions for this escabeche recipe. You can use whatever type you have on hand.
- Garlic – To add a more savory, slightly spicy flavor to your onions.
- Olive Oil – You’ll have to sauté the garlic and other seasonings to bring out their flavor.
- Jalapeño – Depending on how spicy you want your Mexican pickled red onions to be, you could also sub in habanero peppers.
- Salt – To balance out the other seasonings.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar acts as a natural preservative so that your escabeche rojo lasts for up to 1 month. It also tempers the heat from the spicy peppers just a bit.
- Mexican Oregano – I find that Mexican oregano boasts a citrus flavor that you won’t find in Mediterranean varieties.
- Black Peppercorns – To add more spicy flavor to the rest of the seasonings.
- Allspice – For added warmth and dimension.
- Red Wine Vinegar – You need to use vinegar to deglaze the skillet after your onions have cooked just slightly. It’s what will actually “pickle” them!
- Sauté the Seasonings. Place a skillet over medium heat, then add the olive oil once warm. Add the garlic and sauté it for 2 minutes or until it turns golden. Add the jalapeño, salt, sugar, oregano, peppercorns, and allspice and stir. Allow the aromatics to cook for 1 minute.
- Incorporate the Onions. Add the sliced onions to the skillet and toss to coat for about 1 minute. Deglaze the skillet with the vinegar and toss with tongs. Let it cook for another minute.
- Cool & Store. Transfer the onions and their juices to a mason jar or another heatproof container with a lid. Allow the escabeche to cool (uncovered) until it comes to room temperature. Add to your favorite dishes and then store in the fridge.
How Long do Pickled Red Onions Last?
When properly stored, Mexican pickled red onions will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Make sure to keep them in a container or jar with a lid that closes tightly. I swear by mason jars!
Do You Have to Boil Onions Before Pickling?
You don’t have to with my escabeche recipe! I simply cook them for 60 seconds with lots of yummy aromatics like garlic, black peppercorn, jalapeños, and oregano. All you have to do next is deglaze the pan with vinegar, toss, let it cook for another minute, and allow it to cool before using! It really is that simple.
What’s the Best Vinegar for Pickling?
I typically like to use red wine vinegar for my Mexican pickled red onions as I love the tang and boldness it brings to the mix. You could also use distilled white vinegar — many pickling recipes will call for this variety.
Is Sugar Necessary for Pickling?
You may feel weird about adding sugar to such a savory condiment, but trust me on this one: you need sugar for pickling. Not only does it act as a natural preservative to help them last longer, but it also balances out the acidity in the vinegar. The results are a perfect balance of flavor that I just can’t get enough of!
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This recipe post, originally published on Kevin Is Cooking April, 2023, has been updated with new content, photos and/or video in October, 2023.
Escabeche Rojo (Pickled Red Onions)
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes until golden and add the fresh bay leaves, jalapeno, salt, sugar, oregano, peppercorns and allspice. Stir and cook another minute.
- Add the sliced onions, tossing to coat for 1 minute, and then deglaze skillet with vinegar. Using tongs, toss and cook another minute.
- Remove from heat and using tongs, transfer onions and juices to a mason jar or heatproof container that has a lid. Let cool to room temperature uncovered and store with lid in refrigerator for 1 month.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.