Cebollas Curtidas (Mexican Pickled Onions)

"Posted for Zaar World Tour 2005. Pickled onions are served alongside meat dishes all over Mexico, but you can serve them with anything you want, like me when I make this recipe! Will last in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. The lime juice, zest and grapefruit make something called sour orange juice. I've never heard of it, can't buy it in the store and I wouldn't want to experiment with regular orange juice to make it! The beet juice is used to turn the onions red(der). Serving size is a guess. Chilling time is included in cooking time. From a special issue of Saveur, The Best of Tex-Mex Cooking."
photo by Rita1652 photo by Rita1652
photo by Rita1652
Ready In:
1hr 20mins
1-2 cups




  • Put beets in medium saucepan and add garlic, bay leaves, vinegar and 4 cups water.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Put onions in a medium bowl. Strain hot beet cooking liquid over onions and set aside to rest until onions soften slightly, about 5 minutes.
  • Drain onions and return to bowl. Add sour orange juice (or lime juice, lime zest and grapefruit juice) and salt to taste and toss well.
  • Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Mariana SB
    Hi! The recipe is wonderful! I´m from Mexico and I just wanted to say that we have an orange that is actually sour. We call it "naranja acida" (sour orange). It´s skin is like an normal orange but has a lot of lumps in it and the color is a bit more green. We make juice out of it too! But we add sugar, because it´s realy sour. The recipe works perfect with limons or limes. Thanks for sharing Mexico´s recipes to the world!
  2. Anniesthisnthat
    Excellent, Very close to what I had in Mexico. I sliced mine too thin though and they were a little stringy, will go a little thicker on the next batch. Thanks for the great recipe!
  3. Mrs.Jack
    Oh my, these are fantastic!!! I made this morning and just sneaked a bite and they are DELICIOUS-reminds me of the Yucatan-can't wait to serve them! I made recipe exactly as written and I must stress the importance of slicing onions as thin as possible. Thank you, Kumquat, for a great recipe! Made for the Think Pink Tag Game In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, October 2008.
  4. Muffin Goddess
    I made these as an accompaniment to Cochinita Pibil #217960 the other day. They were a perfect tangy offset to the pork. So vibrantly colored, too, thanks to the beets. Unfortunately, I didn't think of it until after I had poured them down the disposal, but I probably would have enjoyed the discarded beet shreds, too (I love beets). Oh well, maybe next time! Thanks for posting!
  5. davinandkennard
    I had these in Merida. Wonderful! T.J.


<p>Clockwise from upper left, my dear friends Cranberry, Quincy, Kumquat and Kiwi. All of our cats were born in the wild and adopted by us. Zaar Chefs I have met so far: Elmotoo, justcallmeToni, ~Rita~, Midwest Maven, Bird&amp;Buddha (both of them) and most recently, Ms*Bindy from upstate New York:) Wonderful, sweet, friendly people and great chefs! Most relevant thing to mention here is that I am a vegetarian, and recently became a&nbsp;vegan&nbsp;(almost 100%). To put vegetables and other things not meat or fish on the table I work as an actuary (in my case anyway, a combination of statistician, number-cruncher and/or programmer). For fun I like to travel. Just came back from&nbsp;Namibia, a peaceful democracy in Africa with lots of animals! Got some terrific pictures of lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, rhinocerous, hyenas, all kinds of antelopes, giraffes and zebras. Namibia is the second most sparsely populated country per square mile, just behind Mongolia. Update:&nbsp; We went to Italy this Spring.&nbsp; We had lots of pizza and pasta.&nbsp; The pizza is so much better in Italy, particularly the crust.&nbsp; The Amalfi coast was absolutely beautiful.&nbsp; Spectacular natural scenery (Canada and Alaska are really beautiful, Patagonia in Chile is sublime, Iceland is unique) has been my latest passion as far as travel destinations but I have seen quite a few big cities too (Paris, Berlin, London and Madrid to name a few). On my bulletin board at work I keep a list of every country I've visited (other than the U.S. of course). So far I've made it to five continents: Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and North America of course. I've got only two other continents to conquer:) I don't usually have difficulty finding vegetarian dishes here in the U.S. or overseas, but finding vegan dishes is much harder. I have no kids, just cats, Kumquat, Cranberry, and more recently Quincy and Kiwi. They are purebreds, of the breed alley caticus (okay, American shorthair I guess). Our cats are not vegetarians, though my boyfriend (significant other, long-term partner, whatever) is. I am a friend of all animals both tamed and wild. In addition I am a freethinker and my boyfriend studies philosophy. Either way, we get along pretty well.&nbsp; Also, please allow me to say that my BF and I recently bought a condominium in NYC.:)&nbsp; Pet peeve? Okay, I don't like public scenes, especially parents yelling at their children, lovers' spats, etc. If it must be done please do it in private:D Participation &amp; Awards:</p>
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