Mexican Pickled Onions. Ready in 10 minutes!

Mexican pickled onions are a delicious side dish perfect to accompany a variety of dishes such as tacos, stews, and Mexican snacks. They are also very easy to prepare and can be ready in about 10 minutes!

Mexican Pickled Onions (cebollas en escabeche) in a Mason jar.

What are Mexican pickled onions?

Mexican pickled onions are a very simple Mexican preparation that elevates any dish to the next level. This preparation includes the onions cut into thin rings and marinated in a mixture of lime juice, vinegar, and spices.

As time passes, the onions acquire a consistency that is tender on the inside but still crisp on the outside, very typical of pickled vegetables, like chiles en vinagre.

Cebolla desflemada, cebollas en vinagre, cebollas encurtidas and cebollas rojas en escabeche are just some of the Spanish names by which this preparation is known all over the country.

Cebollas en escabeche, aka Mexican pickled onions, inside a jar and seen from above.

Popular Versions

There are various ways to make Mexican pickled onions (cebollas en vinagre) that depend on the state where they’re prepared.

  • In the State of Yucatán for example, onions are marinated together with slices of habanero or Xcatic pepper to accompany the delicious cochinita pibil traditional dish.
  • Other versions include the use of olive oil, various types of spices such as peppercorns, garlic, whole cloves, and fresh or dried herbs like oregano, thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, etc.
  • And we will also find those that are prepared with white instead of red onions and that is pretty common in several states such as Colima, Michoacán, and Jalisco.
Two jars with red pickled onions made with peppercorns, bay leaves and marjoram.
Mexican pickled onions with peppercorns, fresh bay leaves, and marjoram.

How To Make Red Pickled Onions

Start by cleaning the onions, you can use any type you prefer just make sure they’re not too old because vinegar can bring out some weird flavor and smell on old onions.

Peeling red onions.

Now, cut the ends of onions and slice them into 0,11″ (0.3mm) thick rings. Or you can also cut them into half-moon slices if that’s easier for you.

Purple onions sliced on a cutting board.

Place them into a medium bowl, season with salt and oregano, and then add the lime juice. If you don’t have limes, use lemon juice instead.

Squeezing lemon on top of sliced onions on a bowl.

Mix water and vinegar and pour them into the bowl. Mix thoroughly to coat perfectly the onions.

Adding vinegar and water onto the bowl with onions.

Allow them to marinate for about 5 to 10 minutes and serve them with your favorite dishes as suggested below.

Useful Chef’s Notes

  • These Mexican pickled onions can be eaten straight away after being prepared, but if you want to enjoy their flavor 100% and bring out that marvelous bright color, I recommend that you let them marinate for at least a whole day. You will see that the taste becomes even more delicious.
  • If you’re lucky enough to get Mexican oregano, use that one, because it definitely tastes different (and more delicious, in my opinion) and is perfect for this recipe.
  • You can certainly prepare this side dish with any type of onions such as white, golden, red (purple), or even spring onions!. But the red onion has a slightly spicier flavor, which makes it perfect for pickling.
A bunch of red onions on a rustic white surface.

How to serve

Chicken tostadas topped with mexican pickled onions.
Chicken Tostadas topped with pickled onions

How to store

  • Thanks to the vinegar, cebollas en vinagre store perfectly for two to three weeks in the refrigerator.
  • But, if you want to keep them for much longer, I recommend that you sterilize some jars and use them to preserve the onions. Just remember that once the jar is opened, you should keep the pickled onions in the refrigerator and consume them within a week.

Related: How To Properly Sterilize Jars For Pickling.

  • If you made a large quantity of this recipe and want to keep them in jars (without sterilizing them), you can add more vinegar and top with one or two tablespoon of olive oil. The oil will create a protective coating on the onions and helps to keep them longer.
  • Remember to always take onions with a clean fork or spoon to avoid cross contamination that could possibly spoil the onions.
Pickled onions stored in jars.

More Mexican Side Dishes To Try

Mexican pickled onions recipe.

Mexican Pickled Onions

Mexican pickled onions are the perfect side dish perfect to accompany tacos, mexican stews, sandwiches, burritos and many other delicious dishes!
PREP 5 minutes
resting time 10 minutes
TOTAL 15 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 2
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • ½ lb red onions (sliced into thick rings)
  • 1 lime (juice)
  • dry oregano (to taste)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water (room temperature)
  • salt (to taste)

Instructions

  • Place onions, oregano, salt and lime juice into a medium bowl.
  • Mix together vinegar and water and pour it into the bowl.
  • Mix everything for one minute and adjust with salt and oregano if needed.
  • Let it marinate for 10 minutes and serve.

NOTES

  • These Mexican pickled onions can be eaten straight away after being prepared, but if you want to enjoy their flavor 100% and bring out that marvelous bright color, I recommend that you let them marinate for at least a whole day. You will see that the taste becomes even more delicious.
  • If you’re lucky enough to get Mexican oregano, use that one, because it definitely tastes different (and more delicious, in my opinion) and is perfect for this recipe.
  • You can prepare this recipe with any type of onions such as white, golden, red (purple), or even spring onions.
Nutrition
Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3502mg | Potassium: 203mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 19IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
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