Thomas Keller's Quick Pickled Pearl Onions


Thomas Keller created these these pickled pearl onions to add contrast to rich roast meats.

Quick Pickled Pearl Onions

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Barrett Washburne

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins
1 cup

These pickled pearl onions add a sweet, tart bite to any dinner plate. Thomas Keller likes to serve these as an accompaniment to his juicy grilled chicken.

Frequently asked questions

How do you pickle onions?

Be sure to trim the pearl onions before cooking them. Scoring the onions with an "X" before cooking them makes it easy to slip the papery skins off the onions after they cook. Then, pour the brine over the onions and let them sit for at least an hour so they pickle.

How do you eat pickled onions?

We like to serve these pickled onions alongside a rich meaty roast or stew. They also make a nice accompaniment to a cocktail like a Gibson.

Make ahead

The drained pickled onions can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Notes from the Food & Wine Test Kitchen

The vinegary mixture is great for pickling other vegetables, like baby carrots and Kirby cucumbers. Once you've made pickled onions a few times, you'll see how easy they are, and how you can customize the flavors with just a few ingredient swaps. Feel free to play around with the spices used in the brine: You can swap in equal amounts of nigella seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, or different types of peppercorns in your brine. And you can vary the vinegar used for the brine as well. Pick any kind of vinegar to make these pickled onions — red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar.


  • 16 white pearl onions (about 1 cup), root ends trimmed and scored with an X

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns


  1. In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pearl onions until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Transfer the onions to a glass bowl.

  2. Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, bring the water and vinegar to a boil with the sugar, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns. Boil until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Pour the liquid over the onions and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Drain before serving.

Originally appeared: August 2005
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