Why are my pickled onions not pink? (+Tips to make perfect Onion Pickle)

The crunchy, tangy, and perfectly seasoned onion pickle- that’s my Gramma’s magic!

I don’t know what she uses but Each bite is a burst of flavor that will leave me wanting more.

I asked her what the secret is.

Here is her answer, “Carefully chose a blend of spices and seasonings to create a savory brine & a lot of loveeeeee”.

And guess what? I tried that famous old-fashioned Onion pickle recipe from our family recipe book. I was ok (ish) but I wasn’t happy with the result, it’s not as vibrant pink as her.

Wanna know Why are my pickled onions not pink? Let me share my experience……

How Bright Pink Pickle Onion look like

Why are my pickled onions not pink?

Made the first jar of your onion and wondering Why did my pickled red onions turn brown??

First of all, you’re not alone.

Pickling is actually a complex process and it needs a lot of expertise and practice to be pro at it. We are so used to seeing pickle onion in Pinkish. If you somehow thinking about what may go wrong, here is a few possible reasons behind it.

You didn’t pick the right type of Onion!


The amount of pigment in the onion will affect the final color of the pickled onion. And Some onions have more pigments than others, like red Onion.

Plus, they have a higher concentration of pigments than white onions. So, No wonder they will produce a more vibrant pink color when pickled. 

Pro Tips: If you want to achieve a pink color when pickling onions, try using red onions.

It could be the Amount of Vinegar: 

If you did not use enough vinegar or if the vinegar was not acidic enough, this could prevent the onions from turning pink.

The Length of Time for fermenting!

If you did not leave the onions in the pickling solution for long enough, they may not have had enough time to absorb the color from the vinegar.

Was there Heat involved?

If the pickling solution was heated, this can also affect the color of the onions. Heat can cause the pigments in the onions to break down, resulting in a less vibrant color.

BTW……Here are some of my favorite pickles right now……
Vlasic Purely Pickle
Berrak Cabbage Pickles
Rick's Picks Phat Beets

First, what onions are best for pickling?

Though it depends hugely on personal preference, here are some onion varieties I like to use for pickling:

Pearl Onions – These small, sweet onions are perfect for the pickling whole. They come in white, red, and gold-ish and give a vibrant look which I like.

Cipollini Onions – These small, flat onions are sweeter than most onions and have a slightly different flavor profile that works well with pickling. This greenish-yellow to golden brown is hugely used in Italian cuisine and pickle.

Red Onions – Red onions can add beautiful color to your pickled onions. But they are more prone to losing their texture during the pickling process. 

Shallots – These small, mild onions are perfect for pickling and can be sliced thinly or pickled whole.

Old-fashioned Onion pickle Recipe

My gramma got it from her Gramma’s family recipe book that has been passed down for generations. Here is the recipe…..


· 2 medium red onions

· Hot water

· 1 ½ cup apple cider vinegar or additional white vinegar

· 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup or sugar

· 2 teaspoons kosher salt

· And lots of love

Optional ingredients

· 2 garlic cloves

· 2-3 jalapenos (sliced)

· 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

· 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns


1. At first trim the onion roots and tops. Then peel them and wash them properly. After that slice the onions thinly and put them into a bowl or colander sit inside a pan.

2. Pour some boiling water over the onions. Stir the onions for 60 seconds to 90 seconds. This is done to remove the oniony flavor. However, if you like the oniony flavor then just leave it in there for about 30 seconds, or don’t leave it in the hot water at all. Then strain out the water.

3. In a jar take the one-half cup of hot water and then add one and a half cups of apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons of honey, and two teaspoons salt. Give this a good mix.

4. Place the onions in a clean mason jar evenly. Try to get rid of unnecessary air pockets. Fill up the jar with a hot vinegar mixture. If you want to use the optional ingredients then add them to the jar.

5. Cover the jar and Store it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day you will have your onion pickle ready to eat. But it is best to wait a few days to get the finest texture.

Do homemade pickled onions go bad? How do you make pickled onions last longer?

Yes, homemade pickle onion goes bad even more quickly than a store-bought jar. It is recommended to consume the pickle within 3 weeks.

Even if it’s in the refrigerator, don’t keep it for more than 4 weeks.

How to keep it a little bit longer?

Using a vinegar solution with a pH level of 4.6 or lower can give a great result. Make sure that The onions are fully submerged in the solution and stored in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator. 

How do you know when pickled onions go bad?

If you notice any signs of spoilage, like taste sour, found foul odor, sliminess, mold, or an off taste, it indicates that the pickle goes bad. Discard the pickled onions immediately.

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