Mexican Pickled Onions (Cebollas en Escabeche)

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Do you want a magical topping that will add a flavorful zing to tacos, sandwiches, or burgers? You simply must make my quick and easy recipe for Mexican Pickled Onions. Also known as cebollas en escabeche, these magenta beauties are not only gorgeous, but are also a tangy, crunchy, and flavorful addition to just about any savory plate.

Yellow hand painted bowl filled with Mexican pickled red onions.

About This Recipe

Pickled red onions are a staple at meals throughout the Yucatan peninsula and are one of my all-time favorite condiments. They are perfect for adding zesty flavor to everything from fish tacos and turkey burgers to chili and tortas.

Because they’re so versatile, you’d be hard-pressed to find my kitchen without these beautiful babies. They can turn even the blandest and most boring meal into something to be relished! Once you have a taste, I have a feeling you’ll be hooked.

What’s more is that they only take a few minutes to make — 5 to be exact! Aside from slicing the onions, there’s almost no prep work involved.

As if that weren’t enough to love, my Mexican pickled red onions recipe takes just 4 ingredients: red onions, salt, fresh limes, and fresh oranges. What could be simpler?

So come along with me to the kitchen and learn how to make these magical morsels. I have a feeling that once you try them, they’ll become a staple in your meal-planning routine, too.

How To Make Mexican Pickled Onions

I call these Mexican pickled red onions magical because making them is like a magic trick: they’ll be ready before you can say “Abracadabra!”

mason jar filled with sliced onions and hot water as part of making the recipe for Mexican pickled red onions.

Step 1: Par-cook onions. First, place the onions in a glass bowl and pour in enough boiling water to cover the onions. Wait one minute, and then pour the onions into a strainer.

Step 2: Add acid & salt. Return the drained onions to the bowl, add lime and orange juice, and stir in the salt. Cover and set aside until serving time, preferably for a full hour for them to soak in all the tastiness.

a halved red onion, a halved orange, a halved lime, and a wooden spoon of salt on a wooden cutting board.

Step 3: Enjoy! That’s it — your pickled red onions are ready to use. How easy was that?!?

Watch this video to see how truly simple this jar of quick-pickled Mexican red onions are made.

Make-Ahead Tip: If you’re not ready to serve the onions right away, they’ll last for a week in the refrigerator.

Serving Suggestions

These brightly acidic pickled red onions bring a punch of color, flavor, and crunch to just about anything they touch. Try them on:

What’s YOUR favorite way to use pickled red onions? Let me know in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use red onions for Mexican pickled onions?

I tend to reach for red onions whenever I’m making pickled onions because they are so dang pretty on a plate. That said, you’re welcome to swap in any sweet or yellow onion variety you prefer, or go out on a ledge and use mild shallots instead!

What is the best way to slice onions for pickling?

Ever since I read the great J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s piece on the best method for cutting onions, I will only ever cut them vertically (from root to tip) for the rest of my days.

How long do Mexican pickled onions last?

Since we’re using fresh fruit juice instead of vinegar, Mexican pickled onions have a shorter shelf life than some other options. Be sure to use them within 7-10 days to prevent spoilage. I promise you won’t have any trouble finding lots of uses for them!

More Tasty Condiment Recipes

If you tried my quick and simple recipe for Mexican Pickled Onions (Cebollas en Escabeche), please be sure to rate and review it below! You can also sign up for my email newsletter to get more delicious authentic Mexican recipe inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

Pickled Red Onions (a.k.a. Cebollas en Escabeche) in a small white ramekin with a mason jar filled with mexican pickled onions in the background.

Mexican Pickled Onions (Cebollas en Escabeche)

Do you want a magical topping that will add a flavorful zing to tacos, sandwiches, or burgers? You simply must make my quick & easy recipe for Mexican Pickled Onions. Also known as cebollas en escabeche, these magenta beauties are not only gorgeous, but are also a tangy, crunchy, and flavorful addition to just about any savory plate.

  • Place the onions into a glass bowl. Pour enough boiling water to cover the onions, wait one minute, and then pour the onions into a strainer.

  • Return the drained onions to the bowl, add the lime and orange juice, and stir in the salt.

  • Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

  • Since this recipe doesn’t use vinegar, it won’t last quite as long as others. Please be sure to use the onions within 7-10 days for best results.
  • Feel free to swap in sweet yellow onions or shallots instead, though you won’t get the same pop of color if you do.

Calories: 37kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 584mg, Potassium: 156mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 75IU, Vitamin C: 29mg, Calcium: 17mg, Iron: 1mg

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