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Mexican Pickled Onions with Lime Juice

I love pickled onions so much. These Mexican pickled onions in lime juice are so simple, so flavorful, and so beautiful (that bright pink color!) that I just can’t get enough.

Mexican picled onions in a canning jar with squeezed limes

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This quick and easy Mexican pickled onions recipe makes frequent appearances on my table. It’s a recipe that I make all the time. I like to keep a jar of these onions in my fridge at all times. Just a few slivers can really dress up a simple taco or sandwich.

Mexican Pickled Onions Aren’t Just for Tacos

Lime juice makes these quick pickled red onions a perfect match for Mexican food, so I made up a batch to top some tacos a couple of weeks ago.

Since then I’ve put them on scrambled eggs; a pita sandwich stuffed with broiled salmon; a salad with Romaine lettuce, feta cheese, and tomatoes; bagels and lox; and about a million other things.

What ingredients do you need to make Mexican pickled red onions?

Did I mention they only have three ingredients? Yep.

  • Red onions
  • Lime juice
  • Salt

That’s it!

How do you make them?

It’s seriously as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Thinly slice the red onion.
red onions sliced in a bowl

2. Pour boiling water over the onions and let stand for about 10 to 20 seconds before draining.

Pouring hot water over sliced red onions for making mexican pickled onions

3. Add salt and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Squeezing lime juice over red onions to make Mexican pickled onions

Pickled Red Onions Have Tons of Flavor with Less Bite than Raw

I love this recipe because, although I do like the bright snappy flavor of onions, particularly in Mexican food, I don’t like them raw.

But here the onions are quickly blanched in boiling water to tame their bite, and then pickled in lime juice and salt.

The recipe takes less than 5 minutes of hands-on time to make. Your pickled red onions will be good to go after sitting for just 30 minutes, but they get better and better after a day (or a week) in your refrigerator.

Mexican pickled onions in a jar with squeezed limes around it

Can you make these with white onions or yellow onions?

You can absolutely make Mexican pickled onions with white onions or yellow onions. They won’t be as pretty, and they’ll likely be slightly less sweet, but they will still be delicious!

You can also use sweet onions like Vidalia onions, which will be sweet like the red onions, but without the bright pink color.

Can you add other ingredients to these?

Yes! I like to add chiles to my Mexican pickled onions. I often have jalapeno peppers in the house, in which case I’ll just slice one into rings or strips and add it along with the sliced onions.

Habanero peppers are also great to add here for an extra kick of spice. Like with jalapenos, I slice the habanero thinly and add it along with the sliced onion. Habanero peppers are small, but they pack a lot of heat, so you only need one!

You can also add other vegetables like thinly sliced radishes or carrots. Radishes can be added after you drain the water off of the onions. Add carrots to the bowl with the onions before pouring the boiling water over them.

You can also add whole spices like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, or a cinnamon stick. Add these after draining off the boiling water.

If you don’t have lots of limes, you can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in place of the lime juice. The flavor will be different, but still delish!

Keep a Jar of Quick Pickled Red Onions in the Fridge

Mexican Pickled Onions will last for at least a month in your refrigerator and I guarantee you will not run out of ideas for things to put them on. May I suggest:

  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • Fish Tacos, or really any type of tacos or tostadas
  • Chilaquiles
  • Chili
  • Grilled meat or fish
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches (mmm, how about on a tuna, chicken, or egg salad sandwich? Or on top of a bagel with cream cheese and lox! Or pulled pork sandwiches.)
  • Burgers (they’re a great way to add punch to a turkey burger!)
  • Hot dogs or sausage sandwiches
  • Cochinita pibil (a Yucatecan specialty of pork braised in banana leaves)
Mexican pickled onions are perfect on carnitas tacos

I could go on and on. But bottom line, you should make these Mexican pickled onions now. You won’t regret it.

Pickled onions pinterest pin
Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

Mexican Pickled Onions with Lime Juice

Mexican Pickled Onions with Lime Juice

This quick Mexican pickled red onions recipe uses just lime juice, red onions, and salt. It takes only a few minutes to make, and is ready to eat after sitting for just 30 minutes or so. The pickled onions will keep well in the refrigerator for up to three weeks and they're great on everything from tacos to sandwiches, salads, and more.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (from about 6 limes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Put a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Place the sliced onions in a heat-proof and non-reactive bowl (glass or ceramic). When the water boils, pour it over the onions to cover. Stir and let sit for about 10 seconds, then pour into a colander to drain.
  2. Return the onions to the bowl and add the lime juice and salt. Stir to mix well. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 9Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 318mgCarbohydrates 2gFiber 0gSugar 1gProtein 0g
Last Updated: January 23, 2021

14 thoughts on “Mexican Pickled Onions with Lime Juice”

  1. I can’t wait to try these! I just bought 8 lines and have red onions on hand! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. As a fellow CA girl, I prepare a lot of Mexican food at home.
    My question is, when storing in the fridge, is it just the lime juice that they sit in, or do you add anything else to the jar?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Julie! You are going to love them! They are just stored in the lime juice and salt mixture. You don’t need to add anything else. In the fridge, they will last a long time.

    • I don’t know how much salt you actually consume with them. There is a fair amount of salt in the recipe, but a lot of it ends up in the liquid that you’re not consuming. They don’t taste salty, but I can’t tell you how much salt you are actually eating, sorry!

    • I’m so sorry! Thanks for pointing this out. I have fixed it now–it should be 10 seconds. It won’t hurt to do it a bit longer, 20 or 30 seconds, but I meant 10 seconds.

    • I imagine there are many different recipes used by people in Mexico, not just one way that it is done. You certainly can skip the blanching step. It will just take longer for the onions to pickle. I like to be able to eat them right away, but if you have time to let them sit, skip the blanching.


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