Pickled onions

Pickled onions

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(6 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 5 mins Plus overnight soaking


Makes 2 large jars
Preserved shallots in malt vinegar make a classic condiment that will never get old. Beautiful with cheese and cold meats

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal37
  • fat0g
  • saturates0g
  • carbs8g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre0.3g
  • protein0.5g
  • salt0.3g
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  • 500g small shallot



    Related to the onion (as opposed to being a younger version of it), shallots grow in clusters at…

  • 50g salt
  • 500ml malt vinegar
  • 200g clear honey


  1. Place the onions in a large heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave to cool. Once cool, trim roots and tops and peel. Sprinkle the salt over the peeled onions, stir and leave overnight.

  2. Next day rinse the onions well and dry with kitchen towel. Place the vinegar and honey into a large pan and gently heat just to dissolve the honey into the vinegar, but do not boil.

  3. Pack the onions into clean, sterilized jars. Pour over the hot vinegar mixture to fill the jars, and check there are no air pockets. Seal the jars and leave to cool. The onions will be ready to eat after about 1 month or better if kept for 2. Once opened store in the fridge.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Charles Loft's picture
Charles Loft
29th Sep, 2018
I pickle onions in a mix of salt and vinegar. I also add plenty of ground peppercorns to the mix, and shake the jars every once in a while. The resulting pickled onions are spicy and very delicious!
15th Nov, 2016
i've been doing onions for years too - and one year i did add the vinegar when it was hot....i ended up with softer onions! Now my vinegar is cold when it goes in the jars. Also - i never bother with the overnight salt thing anymore....its such a faff and makes absolutely no difference. My onions are as hard and crunchy as ever! :) Its much quicker too!
3rd Sep, 2016
been doing onions for years .... peel onions salt them over night .as much salt as you want so all water comes out . rinse.. pat dry ..pack in jars and pour cold vinegar over ..dont add any thing to them and they all get eaten ..
17th Oct, 2015
I don't add the honey (too sweet), I put them in a colander, sprinkle salt, leave overnight. I rinse off the salt, put into jars with pickling spices and a couple of chilli peppers, fill with cold vinegar. They are spicy and crispy, last for months (actually up to 1 year!). Just got some on the go for Christmas presents for my loved ones-a treat!
13th Sep, 2015
really easy to make, quick, very little mess and really looking forward to eating them in a few months
2nd May, 2015
easy and delicious. my daughter even likes them and its the only pickled onions she will eat
26th Oct, 2014
Just made these, simple enough to do, but I agree with previous comments about excess vinegar. I used 1.5kg onions with 1litre of vinegar which made 5x 454g jars with no vinegar, and just 5 or 6 onions, left over. I also only used 200g honey which tasted about right to me.
22nd Jun, 2014
MY FAVOURITE ONIONS!! I've tried loads of different recipes using different vinegars and spices, but this one really is my favourite. It made several different sized jars to which I also added a blade of mace, some peppercorns and a dried chilli. I still have one jar left from last autumns batch and they are delish (and not devilishly hot either). I'll definitely be using this recipe from now on.
5th Nov, 2013
Easy to follow, but far too much vinegar. The way filled my jars I needed only about half this amount. Off to buy some more onions!
15th May, 2013
I thought they looked more like small onions then shallots, but then I read the text and it changes between the two. I like the idea of adding honey as we used to pickle onions when I was a kid (92 now). Why put a pickle in the fridge? That's the point of pickling - to preserve things.


12th Sep, 2019
Do you return onions to water before adding salt or pour salt on the onions in separate bowl?
goodfoodteam's picture
12th Sep, 2019
Thanks for your question. No, you don't return the onions to the water. Simply discard the water, then prepare the onions as above and salt.
Green Thickies
1st Aug, 2017
Hi there, I absolutely love this pickled onions recipe, mostly as it uses 'honey' instead of sugar. EVERY other recipe I tried needed sugar, so this one is special. I would also really love to feature this in our website Greenthickies.com. Of course with your permission. Would it be okay if I used one of these images for that? I will not post the actual recipe & its contents, but just the image and title and link directly back to this recipe page. Thanks a lot. Katherine, Greenthickies.com
goodfoodteam's picture
4th Aug, 2017
Hello, thanks for getting in touch. Could you please email this question to the Good Food inbox (goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com) and we will get back to you. Thanks, BBC Good Food Web Team.
20th Mar, 2016
Why clear honey? can dark buckwheat honey be used?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th May, 2016
Thanks for your question. We used clear honey as it is light in colour, mild flavoured and one of the less expensive ones, but any honey would be absolutely fine to use.
2nd Feb, 2014
Maybe this is something everyone knows, but the recipe doesn't make clear for novices like me. After the onions have been peeled are they salted in or out of the water. The understanding from other recipes is that they're dried,but this recipe goes on to instruct "stir". That verb surely implies they're in liquid for the overnight rest yet other recipes caution against the onions going mushy if left in water. Which is it please?
goodfoodteam's picture
7th Feb, 2014
Hi there, thanks for getting in touch. The onions are salted out of the water. Stir refers to stirring the onions so they're evenly salted and doesn't refer to liquid. Sorry if this wasn't clear. Thanks, BBC Good Food team
6th Oct, 2013
I put the onions into the jars I am filling (ones I collect over the year) and only peel enough to fill the jars. I bought a 5kg bag from the farm shop (and a 2 litre container of malt vinegar) and am ploughing through. What I don't keep or gift I will donate to local church/food bank. I use peppercorns/chilli flakes in some and leave out the sugar/honey for a bit of a bite. I heard you can add whiskey ?
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