I made an onion pickle recipe I saw on YouTube.

It was a brine of water and vinegar (1:1) and salt. You boil it, then pour over onion. Let cool. Store in fridge. It's very common on YouTube. They say, it gets done in overnight.

I made it and next day it wasn't done. I left it for 2 more days and still not done. I took it out of the fridge. And 2 days later and still not done!!

Why is it not done? and how do I make it ready quicker?

** My "doneness" meter is the color. Onion gets fully purple and so does the water. Mine is still just the outer surface purple and the flesh is white. The water is just semi opaque. Far from what I saw in the videos.

Edit : extra details

Here is the video pickled onion
Many other videos on YT under the name "pickled onion" share the exact same recipe.

And here is a picture of my current onion enter image description here enter image description here And here is what it's supposed to look like enter image description here

Update : results

I tried using this patch as is.
But it was sharp and had a bitter aftertaste.
So I decided to "fix" it following your recommendations.

Here is what I suspect went wrong. First thing as you guys mentioned below, my onion was pretty thick. Also, I realized that my vinegar was very stale and I still went with (1:1) ratio with water. Also, I didn't pour the brine immediately after boiling. And I just left it outside until it just cooled down to room temp.

So here is how I tried to reverse that.
I separated the onions from the brine to change a few things :

  1. I cut the onions more thin
  2. I increased the vinegar concentration (by adding extra amount then boiling it)
  3. I added more salt
  4. I poured the boiling brine immediately on the onions
  5. I left it outside the fridge for more than 3 hours

I left them for overnight because it's extremely cold here.

The results :
Color was way off than presented (very pale greyish purple).
The onion slice has a uniform color now.
Isn't vibrant whatsoever. but better than before.
Texture was amazing. (Crunchy as desired).
Taste was pretty good. (very tasty and vinegary).
I don't know if that what it supposed to taste like. But I like it so much.

If I made a new patch (I know I will) I will post if the results are different. Thanks for your time and help.

  • 1
    That's odd. My onion pickle is essentially ready in 5 hours (first 2 hours are outside, as the mixture cools down, next 3 in the fridge). Can you show a picture of your onions? Dec 17, 2021 at 20:28
  • Can you share the video link or recipe? I'm not clear on the purple part and the concept of done-ness. Refrigerator pickles are "done" when they are flavored. Also, sometimes people add beet juice to color pickled onions red. I don't think color is an indicator in this situation.
    – moscafj
    Dec 17, 2021 at 21:45
  • I do quick-pickled red onions frequently, but they do not turn "fully purple". As such, you're going to need to share a video if you want answers.
    – FuzzyChef
    Dec 18, 2021 at 0:50
  • 1
    @RooTenshi Just for the taste, I think. Not a chef by any means, so don't take my word for it. I'll make a batch at some point and add an image. Dec 23, 2021 at 22:18
  • 1
    @DonThousand , that's cool. would love to see it. thanks for your tips tho, I've been enjoying my onions since.
    – Roo Tenshi
    Dec 23, 2021 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


Refrigerator "pickles" are generally "done" when the flavor and texture is to your liking. There is no reliable color indication. There is no fermentation expected. It is not a long term preservation technique, but rather, a flavor enhancer. You can eat refrigerator pickles after a few minutes, or keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Just keep tasting until they are what you like.

Some things to think about: the onions in your photo are sliced more thickly and irregularly than the sample video. The thicker your slices, the longer it will take the cell structure to break down and for them to soften and take on the flavor you are looking for. If you want to replicate what you see in the video, you have to use the same onions, and slice them the same way.

Other variables to look at, are the type of onion itself, as this will, of course, impact the flavor. Also, consider the type of vinegar you are using. These vary in acidity and flavor.

Finally, if you intend to use them over a few days, I would certainly not stick my fingers into the storage container, as the person in the video does. Doing this increases the likelihood that you will introduce bacteria or mold spores into your pickles, greatly diminishing your storage time.

  • Ye I'm sure there is no definitive time for it to be ready. But I expect it to reach the same state in a similar frame of time. The factors you mentioned are very crucial. But would it delay the "breakage" so dramatically? Mine maintained structure (solid), taste (pungent), and color (white-ish) just like regular onions. I saw many videos, posts on reddit, they all got it quick. Do you have any recommendations do help speed the current process?
    – Roo Tenshi
    Dec 18, 2021 at 11:39
  • It's in my answer...slice thinly, check other variables...onion, vinegar...etc. Yes, these can have a significant impact.
    – moscafj
    Dec 18, 2021 at 11:48
  • I meant the current patch. Is it salvageable? Or do I just let it do its thing and try better next time? Because I don't think I should take the onion out and slice them again. I feel like it won't be sanitary tbh
    – Roo Tenshi
    Dec 18, 2021 at 19:13
  • 1
    If it were me, I would just use them.
    – moscafj
    Dec 18, 2021 at 21:33
  • That's good too. Thank you for your answer and your time
    – Roo Tenshi
    Dec 19, 2021 at 7:39

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