These copycat Panera Pickled Red Onions are tangy, sweet pickled red onions. No canning involved, these refrigerator quick pickled red onions are the best for salads, burgers, pizzas and only take 15 minutes to make!
If you are a pickling newbie, run, don’t walk to make these scrumptious complimentary pickled red onions.
I really wanted to title this post, “Pickled Red Onions – For Dummies” because that would fit me, I’ve never canned or jarred or pickled…well, anything really.
I wasn’t raise on a farm, an orchard or a ranch, instead I was raised in the San Fernando Valley (yup, I’m a true Valley Girl; like totally, for sure; gag me with a spoon!), growing up in suburbia, there weren’t many opportunities to can green beans, fresh peaches or pickles, though we did boast a fine guava tree, several citrus trees along with an abundant apricot tree.
Pickled Red Onion Recipe
This recipe is from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles and I’ve been admiring for awhile. I thought it would pair perfectly with my Blackberry Grilled Chicken Salad and I was right.
Ingredients for Panera Pickled Red Onions
- Red Onions | With a little bite that turns sweet when adding a simple brine.
- Apple Cider Vinegar | I love using Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar | Two vinegars give these Panera pickled red onions great flavor
- Granulated Sugar | I use organic cane sugar, unbleached, but you could use white sugar too
- Spices | We will use kosher salt, ground allspice and a shake or two of red pepper flakes.
I must have ranch-hand/farm-girl roots in me somewhere; my grandmother grew up on a sugar beet farm in South Dakota. I love getting my hands dirty, growing things, I adore the smell of fresh cut hay, grass and more.
Well all of that to say, I really enjoy others pickling skills but I have never tried it myself, until this past week. I love red onions in salads, on sandwiches, pizza, or calzones…but sometimes when they are raw they don’t quite like me. Know what I mean. You’ll want to give these a try!
How to Make Refrigerator Pickled Onions
Cutting the top and bottom off of the onion, cut in half and then peel away the top layer/skin, slice into thin slices, I wish I had used my mandoline actually to make them a little thinner and more uniform, next time.
Next pour your vinegars (I used Bragg’s unfiltered apple cider vinegar, not necessary to use barrel aged red wine vinegar, just what I happened to have) into a medium pot over medium-high heat, add in the sugar (I use all natural, unbleached cane sugar)…
…sea salt and bring to a boil, whisking or stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Remove pan from heat once sugar is dissolved and stir in allspice…
…and a shake of red pepper flakes.
Slide your sliced red onions into the pot carefully and stir until coated.
Allow to sit, cooling completely in the pot, at room temperature. Once cooled, transfer the onions and pickling juice to a glass container.
I, like Brenda from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles used a larger canning jar, which is the perfect size. They will also work just fine if you put them in a mason jar, glass storage container with a tight fitting lid, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are not doing a hot water canning bath, then yes, these pickled red onions need to be refrigerated. Which is why they are called refrigerator pickled onions.
Between 3-4 weeks when kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
- Make Spicy Pickled Red Onions by adding up to one teaspoon of red pepper flakes, or slice up a jalapeno and add it to the red onions when placing in the brine.
- Garlic | Add 2-3 cloves of garlic to the pickling mixture!
- Peppery | Add up to a teaspoon of peppercorns, black, mixed or red peppercorns would be delish!
- Herbs | Add a few sprigs of your favorite herbs; dill, tarragon, oregano or even bay leaves would all be wonderful.
- Use different onions | White onions, Vidalia onions, sweet yellow onions would all be amazing!
- Change up your vinegar | Use rice wine, balsamic (I would mix this with another vinegar), white vinegar, white wine or any vinegar combination you’d like to try.
The onions will take on a brighter red hue about 24 hours after they are pickled!
TIP | These are not shelf stable, but are intended to keep refrigerated.
Original recipe by A Farmgirl’s Dabbles; mine varies only in that I used natural unbleached cane sugar & unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Photograph inspired by A Farmgirl’s Dabbles.
How to Store Refrigerator Pickled Onions
Pickled red onions will last up to a month when stored in an airtight container in the fridge! Make them often!
Ways to Use Refrigerator Pickled Onions
- Salads | Want to kick up your bagged salad big time? Toss some of these Panera Pickled red onions on your favorite salad! Also great on pasta salads.
- Pizzas | Whether you are heating a storebought pizza, or just adding to a delivery pizza or making your own homemade pizza, these refrigerator pickled onions will take them to the next level.
- Burgers & Sandwiches | Pile them on in place of caramelized onions on this bison burger, or slather on this amazing roast beef slider.
- Mexican | These sweet pickled red onions will add flavor to all of your Mexican cuisine, try on these copycat Chipotle Chicken bowls, or these easy Instant Pot Carnitas or perhaps serve on the side with this Tamale Skillet Pie.
- Asian Dishes | Talk about rocking your world, try on any stir-fry, add to recipes like this healthy Mongolian Beef, or this Honey Bourbon Chicken.
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Panera Pickled Red Onions Recipe
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- Slice off the top and bottom of your onion, cut in half and peel back skin and top layer. Slice thin, about ⅛ inch, if you have a mandoline might be easier and more uniform.
- Over medium heat, in a medium saucepan, add the following: apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and stir or whisk bringing to boil. Once sugar is dissolved, remove pot from heat and stir in allspice and red pepper flakes.
- Add sliced red onions carefully to the pot of hot vinegar and stir gently to combine. Allow to come to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Once cooled; spoon onions and pour liquid into a large jar or storage container.
- Refrigerate until chilled, ready in about 24 hours, but the flavors will enhance with time. Keep pickled red onions in refrigerator, use within about a month.