If you’ve never pickled at home before, onions are a wonderful place to start.
This post originally debuted September 2019, and with over 10,000 views, is now updated & republished January 2021 - ENJOY!Jump to Recipe
Onions pickled with exceptional spices such as cinnamon and cloves can best be described as tangy, a bit sweet, and crunchy all at the same time. If you’ve never pickled at home before, onions are a wonderful place to start. I especially like them added to a sandwich or burger, but they also brighten up tacos, salads, and Poke bowls. All that is required, you likely have on hand - onions, acid, salt, and sugar. In about an hour they can be enjoyed, although if you can hold out for a day, they taste even better. Cinnamon and Spice Pickled Onions are truly a little bitty luxury in my fridge.
Methods for pickling onions vary. I say this because I have both cold pickled, a process whereby cold liquid is used to cure the vegetable, as well as the boil process I am highlighting here. The difference? I am unsure I can accurately say, as I like both equally. What I do know is that the boil method outlined in this recipe allows for the ‘toasting’ of the spices in a dry, high-heat pan; the spices are really opened up and the aroma of the Silk Road are sent drifting throughout my kitchen and the feeling is pure hygge…
Yeah, yeah you only need a dozen for this recipe, however one grind from these little hotties packed into your pepper grinder and you'll be a convert! Kitchen necessaries, click image for pricing.
Stick cinnamon is one of those aromatics that just brings a sensation of absolute comfort and safety whether you are tasting it or smelling it. I think it's wonderful in Cinnamon and Spice Pickled Onions. My rule of thumb for toasting the cinnamon is one stick per jar of either red or white onions. Kitchen necessaries, click image for pricing.
Lucky for Charleston, that we have several spice and tea and kitchen stores locally. Cinnamon, cloves and black peppercorns are my go-to spice blend for pickled onions. Sometimes, I also throw in a Star Anise or bay leaf for good measure 😉
The choice to add spices is your decision. These delightful sandwich add-ons are good on their own by adding no spices, or by adding any combination of cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, crushed red pepper flakes, whole garlic, star anise, bay leaf, mustard seeds, fresh ginger slices, fennel seeds, coriander seeds or cumin seeds. Today, I picked up cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, whole cloves and star anise at my local spice market. Cinnamon, cloves and star anise are my go-to spice blend for pickled onions. Sometimes, I also throw in a bay leaf for good measure 😉
The clove tree is an evergreen that grows up to 39 feet tall, with large leaves and crimson flowers grouped in terminal clusters. The flower buds initially have a pale hue, gradually turn green, then transition to a bright red when ready for harvest. They are mighty tiny, but make a BIG IMPACT on all kinds of cuisine. Kitchen necessaries, click the image for pricing.
Fact time: approximately 90% of the world's star anise crop is used for extraction of shikimic acid, a chemical intermediate used in the synthesis of oseltamivir, otherwise known as Tamiflu. Kitchen necessaries you NEED in your life, click image for pricing.
Enjoy Cinnamon and Spice Pickled Onions in sooooo many ways!
served in the salad atop Chicken Milanese
with "everything barbecue" including my Oven Baked Deep South Barbecue Ribs
garnishing my Curried Salad Eggs
on Tuscan Turkey Sliders as a condiment
and especially with a Greek salad and Copycat Zoe's Greek Salad Dressing
Not long ago, my coworkers and I decided to 'salad' our lunches for a full week, so it was easy to conclude I would be putting up a jar or two because I adore pickled onions. We purchased everything needed for Zoe's Copycat Greek Dressing and prepared all of the fixings. Pickled onions made their debut on each of our salads that week. Since then, I've also paired them with Whipped Ricotta atop juicy turkey burgers, and they did not disappoint.
I would not have said this five years ago, but my mandolin is among my most used kitchen tools. I set the blade once and yield perfectly even slices, either thin or thick, every single time. My mandolin also helps me to speed up my processes in that it makes quick work of an onion! Kitchen necessaries, click image for pricing.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
- 8 ounce jar(s) with tight fitting lid(s)
Did you know that it’s super easy to print out a version of a half recipe or even a double recipe on Not Entirely Average? Hover over the serving size (highlighted in blue, it says 24 on this recipe) and then slide the the white line to the left to make less or to the right to make more. This "calculator" allows you to play until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
Rule: 1 Cinnamon stick per jar. So, if using 1 large onion divided between 2 jars, you will use 2 cinnamon sticks.
Ingredients for Cinnamon and Spice Pickled Onions
- 1 large red onion halved and thinly sliced
- stick cinnamon 1 stick per jar
- 12 whole cloves
- 12 black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons sugar begin with 3; taste and add if necessary
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar with Mother, I use Braggs exclusively
- 1/2 cup lime juice
optional additional ingredients
- star anise
- garlic cloves smashed but left intact
- mustard seed
- bay leaf
- fresh ginger
- red pepper flakes
- cumin seeds
- Toast cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns (and any additional spices you desire) until fragrant in a small saucepan over medium heat, 3 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully and move the spices around in the pan, as the high heat will scorch them. Off the heat. Whisk in the vinegar, lime juice, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar and salt have dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Taste for sweetness then add more sugar as needed. I used 5 tablespoons in my batch.
- Remove the cinnamon stick(s). Using the handle of a spoon, poke a hole amidst the onions to be able to insert the cinnamon stick down into. Pour brine and spice mixture over the onions. Fill to the top of the jar(s). Tap to loosen any air bubbles trapped in the onions. Allow to stand at room temperature until cooled, about 10 to 15 minutes. Place lid on jar and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 weeks.