Easy and Traditional British Pub Style Pickled Onions

Total Time
1080hrs 15mins
Prep 15 mins
Cook 1080 hrs

I have been making these for years and years now, and I always like to have a jar handy in the pantry. They are great to munch on with cold meats, cheeses, bread and crackers, as well as being a much loved and traditional accompaniment to Ploughman's Lunch and also Fish and Chips. You will often see large jars of pickled onions in British fish and chip shops, AND on the bar in British pubs! If you start these in October, they will be ready to eat by Christmas and New year - making them an ideal addition for your cold buffet table and cheese boards. Please note, this is an easy and therefore a NON BRINING method; they will last for about 6 to 9 months in ideal conditions, a cool and dark pantry or store cupboard. If you wish to make these in bulk to last a couple of years, you need to brine the onions first; I have added brining notes at the end of the recipe instructions. I hope you will enjoy these as much as we do!

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 lbs pickling onions, peeled
  • 1 12 pints malt vinegar or 1 12 pints pickling vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ready-mixed pickling spices (OR 2 tablespoons of your your own mix using -- green, white and black peppercorns, coriander seeds,)


  1. Peel the onions and pack one third of them tightly into a large Kilner jar or preserves jar. (You can also use several smaller jars if you wish.).
  2. Scatter one third of the pickling spices over the top of the first layer of onions and continue packing the onions in to the jar - adding two more layers of pickling spices as you go.
  3. Pour the malt vinegar into the jar, making sure that all the onions are covered by the vinegar.
  4. Add some extra vinegar if there is not quite enough.
  5. Seal the jar and store in a dark, cool place for at least 6 weeks before using the pickled onions.
  6. Brining Notes:.
  7. You need to begin 2 days ahead by placing the onions in a large non-metallic bowl. Then mix 2 pints of water with 4 ozs of salt together, pour this over the onions and leave them covered with a cloth for 2 days.
  8. Drain the onions and dry them well, continue as above. These onions will last for up to 2 years + in ideal conditions - a dark and cool pantry or store room.
Most Helpful

These sounded awesome and easy. I had to try making them. I used my little teeny walking onions for this. Boy, do they suck up the vinegar. Loved the way the Catawissa onions felt after brining-like an olive. I'll add to the review after I get to taste them. I think they'll ba a hit on the buffet tray. Thanks Ms. Tart for another great recipe.

Potatoes Browning October 08, 2008

mmm can hardly wait, these look wonderful!! I went the brining route, but didn't get them bottled for 3 days. I used bought pickling spices and used 3 small jars. These were so easy, except for peeling them :cry: but I wish I had bought more onions!! Again I will be back around the end of October.

Derf September 01, 2009

Just found this recipe! I will be making these real soon and post my review when finished. I have been looking for a recipe like this for years... guess what FT had it ! Edited 08/09/08: I can't believe I did not come back here and finish my review! Tasty, wonderful, and great! The 3 jars I have stored will bring pleasure for some months!

Chef Shadows August 09, 2008