Homemade Garlic Pickled Onions

Every year we like to make pickled onions for Christmas.  They can obviously be made at anytime of the year, but it has just become one of our little traditions around the festive season.  We think they taste better and we do like to experiment with different flavours.  Some have worked, some have not worked so well.

The recipe we did last year was a success, so we think we’ll try it again:  Homemade garlic pickled onions.


The garlic and the onions all react together in the vinegar and can turn turquoise in colour.  It’s believed to just be the reaction of the enzymes in the garlic cloves with the vinegar and it is completely harmless and not change the flavour in any way.


  • Onions
  • 1 large garlic bulb.
  • Rock salt……possibly.
  • Pickling Vinegar – for ease, we buy pre-spiced Sarson’s pickling vinegar.  It also has a slightly higher acidity, so even when the pickles leach water into the mixture and dilutes it, the flavour will still be great.
  • You can create your own customised pickling vinegar by adding them to the malt vinegar and bringing to the boil.  Leave to cool overnight, if possible, but for at least a couple of hours and then strain the mixture.

Typical spices found in pickling vinegar are:

  • 1 tbs Coriander seeds
  • 1 tbs mustard seeds
  • 1 broken cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • 1 tbs cloves
  • 1 tbs black peppercorns
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • 1 tbs red chilli flakes
  • 1tbs whole allspice

You can experiment with the spices to get it how you like it or even add additional spices if you wanted to.


  • Sterilise your (aff link) Kilner jars by washing them out with soapy water and then after drying, place them in an oven on a baking tray for 15 mins at 120 – 140 degrees Celsius.  We sterilise the rubber seal by putting it in a bowl of water with a Milton (sterilising) tablet as dry heat can damage the rubber. 

  • Peel the onions.  We top and tail them and then take off the skin plus a few of the first layers of the onion to leave an unblemished, firm onion to pickle.

  • You now can salt the onions with either a dry salt or brine technique. We have in the past put them in a colander over a saucepan and poured over the salt and left them for the night (dry salting).  It draws out the additional moisture in them to make them extra firm, but we’ve found that this can actually make them less firm as they all leach into each other overnight.  Maybe it’s just the way we’ve been doing this process, but this year, we are just going to put them straight into the mixture as it’s given us good results.  Make sure you rinse the onions thoroughly  after either salting method.

    • Put the dried off onions in the cooled sterilised jar.
    • Separate the cloves from the bulb, top and tail them, peel and then add to the jar.
    • Add the pickling vinegar into the jar until full to the brim.
    • Seal the (aff link) jar and place in cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks.
    • We tend to check them every week or so to see if the jar does need topping up with malt vinegar or spiced vinegar.  We want all the onions to be covered with the vinegar all the way through the pickling process to avoid going off and in turn, ruining the whole jar.

    Please share this recipe and give it a try. Also, let us know if you have any favourite pickling recipes you use.

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