Pickled Red Onion & Carrot Relish

from 5 votes

Get ready to elevate your summer grilling game with a zesty and vibrant condiment you won’t be able to get enough of: Pickled Red Onion and Carrot Relish! In just 15 minutes, you can whip up this sweet, tangy, and spicy relish that adds a burst of flavor and crunch to burgers and so much more. Stock your fridge with this delicious relish and get ready to take your meals to the next level!

Two glass jars are filled with pickled red onions and carrots. The lids and some carrots sit nearby.

There are many things I love about living in California, but one of the biggest benefits is that grilling season is basically all year round. There’s just something about that slightly smoky flavor, perfect char marks, and al fresco kitchen that makes everything taste better!

And if you peek your head around these parts, you’ll notice I have a strong affinity for condiments that pack a punch. From spicy ketchup and homemade ranch dressing to cowboy butter and chimichurri sauce, condiments are practically a food group in my house.

Today, we’re adding a new contender to the mix with quick pickled red onion and carrots. It’s the ultimate grilling condiment for transforming your everyday burgers, dogs and chops into all-star main dishes loaded with the perfect balance of spicy, sweet and tangy tastes. Best of all, it’s ready to eat in just 15 minutes and will last up to two weeks in your fridge.

Why You’ll Love This Condiment

  • Made with 7 simple ingredients.
  • Keeps for 2 weeks. Store this relish in the fridge, and it will stay fresh for up to two weeks.
  • A great combination of flavors. These quick pickled onions hit all the flavor sensors: sweet, salty, spicy, sour.
  • Versatile enough to elevate burgers, tacos, salads and more.

Ingredients

Clear glass bowls are filled with the ingredients to make pickled red onions and carrot relish, including red onions, carrots, sugar, black pepper, salt, crushed red pepper and white vinegar.
  • Onion: Red onions are best for this recipe because of their crisp texture, spicy flavor and red hue.
  • Carrot: A diced carrot adds sweetness and crunch.
  • White vinegar: The tangy base that brings everything together. The best vinegar for pickling has a 5 percent acidity. White vinegar fits the bill, as it has a neutral tart flavor.
  • Sugar: Balances the acidity of the vinegar and helps preserve the vegetables.
  • Crushed red pepper: The same ones you sprinkle on pizza — add a kick to the pickled vegetables. If you buy a jar for this recipe, you can use the rest in no-cook tomato sauce or shrimp tacos.
  • Black pepper: Use freshly ground pepper for the best flavor.
  • Salt: Pickling salt, which is pure sodium chloride without caking agents or other additives, is commonly used in pickling brine, but in a quick pickle recipe like this one, kosher or table salt is fine.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Quick Pickled Onions with Carrots

This pickled relish takes only a few minutes to make. Follow these steps for pickling perfection:

  1. Blanch the vegetables. Blanching — cooking briefly in boiling water — will kill bacteria, preserve color and texture, and give the onion a milder flavor. Drain them in a sieve before adding them back to the empty pan.
  2. Add the brine. You can add all the brine ingredients directly to the drained onions in the pan. As the mixture heats, give it a few stirs so the salt and sugar will dissolve more quickly.
  1. Fill the jars. You’ll need two pint jars (16 ounces) to hold the entire mixture. Use tongs if needed to fit long pieces of veggies into the jar.
    Pickling mixture is being poured from a liquid measuring cup into a glass jar filled with red onions and carrots. A filled jar and a lid sits nearby on the white marble surface.
    1. Cool and refrigerate. Leave the lids off until the mixture is room temperature, then cover and store in the fridge until needed. 

    Pro Tip: Glass jars are the best for storing pickled onions. Plastic containers will absorb the strong odor or taste of the onions. 

    Kelly’s Recipe Tips

    • Use tongs. To fill the jars without too much mess, use tongs to pack the vegetables into the jars. Then pour the pickling liquid into the jars. Transfer the pickling liquid into a liquid measuring cup with a spout for easier pouring.
    • Get creative. Add dried herbs and spices, such as whole mustard seed, caraway seed or dill seed to the pickling mixture for even more flavor. 
    • Use the leftover pickling liquid. The flavorful pickling liquid can be used in salad dressing or to quick-pickle another batch of veggies.

    What to Do with Pickled Red Onions

    These pickled vegetables are a delicious condiment for a wide range of recipes. Here are just a few of the many ways to serve them.

    • Pile them onto burgers or hot dogs.
    • Garnish deviled eggs.
    • Use them as a topping for rice or grain bowls, such as Quick Korean Beef Bowls.
    • Add to a salad.
    • Set them out with all the fixings on taco night.
    • Add to your next charcuterie board.
    • Dice them up and stir them into tuna salad or egg salad.
    • Add them atop your avocado toast for a tangy contrast to the creamy avocado.

    Storage Tips

    Store in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. As I mentioned earlier, glass is best. To keep your relish fresh and flavorful for as long as possible, follow these storage tips:

    • Make sure the pickled veggies are fully submerged in the pickling liquid. This helps preserve their texture and flavor and prevents them from drying out.
    • Seal the container tightly after each use to minimize exposure to air, which can cause the onions to spoil more quickly.
    • Periodically check for any signs of spoilage, such as an off odor, slimy texture or mold growth. If you notice any of these signs, discard the vegetables immediately.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I use other types of onions?

    I like to use red onions for their crisp texture and the pretty pink color they turn in the pickling brine. But white onions, which are a little milder, or Vidalia onions, which have a sweet flavor, also would work well. 

    Can I use a different type of vinegar?

    Any vinegar with a similar acidity level, such as apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar, would work well in this recipe, although the flavor and color of the pickles will be different. Rice vinegar is lower in acidity but could also be used since the pickles are stored in the refrigerator.

    Can you reuse pickling liquid?

    Yes! Even after the pickled carrots and onions are eaten, the liquid that’s left is full of flavor. Add more sliced vegetables to it, use it in a homemade salad dressing or even pour a splash into your Bloody Mary mixture. I would recommend using it within a month. 

    More Condiment Recipes

    Use these condiments to raise the bar on your cooking.

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    Appetizer

    Pickled Red Onion and Carrot Relish

    Pickled Red Onion and Carrot Relish is the ultimate grilling condiment for transforming your everyday burgers, hot dogs and chops into all-star main dishes loaded with the perfect balance of spicy, sweet and tangy tastes. Best of all, it’s ready to eat in just 15 minutes and will last up to two weeks in your fridge.
    Author: Kelly Senyei
    4.80 from 5 votes
    Two glass jars are filled with pickled red onions and carrots. The lids and some carrots sit nearby.
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 3 minutes
    Total Time 13 minutes
    Servings 2 pints

    Ingredients 

    • 1 large red onion, sliced into thin rings
    • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced (small)
    • 1 cup white vinegar
    • 3 Tablespoons sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt

    Instructions 

    • Blanch the sliced onions and diced carrots in a small saucepan of boiling water for one minute.
    • Strain the vegetables into a colander and then return them back to the pan.
    • Add the white vinegar, sugar, crushed red chili flakes, pepper and salt. Then add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it for one minute.
    • Pour the pickled relish (with the liquid) into jars and let it cool completely before sealing the jars. The relish will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

    Kelly’s Notes

    • Use tongs to transfer the vegetables from the pan to the jars. 
    • For even more flavor, add dried herbs and spices, such as whole mustard seed, caraway seed or dill seed to the pickling mixture. 
    • Leftover pickling liquid can be used in salad dressing or to quick-pickle another batch of veggies.
    • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

    Nutrition

    Calories: 129kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 1197mg, Potassium: 177mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 5245IU, Vitamin C: 5.9mg, Calcium: 30mg, Iron: 0.2mg

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    Recipe inspired by Rick Bayless.


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    Comments

    1. 5 stars
      simple, delicious, used it on pork sandwiches, hot dogs, fish tacos…. yum. Love the hot pepper kick!

    2. I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), and I’d love for you to submit this to the site. Be sure to tag it #pickleparty. Good stuff!