Golden Crunchy Pickled Onions: Foodie Christmas Gift #7

These golden rings of crunchy, flavorful pickled onions are just about the perfect thing for topping salads or roast meat sandwiches,  adding a unique touch and pop of color to buffet spreads and antipasto trays, and accompanying cold meat loaf.  Plus, when you’ve fished the very last onion ring out of the jar, the leftover oniony, pickly syrup makes the base of the world’s best corned beef glaze. 

A jar of this, suitably decorated, makes a beautiful, unique (the good kind of unique- not the “That’s unique” kind of euphemism my Mom uses when she doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings), and memorable holiday gift. 

This is the kind of pickle you can create year-round, but this is an especially good time for the project.  Grab a bulk bag of onions and these end up being an incredibly budget friendly pantry and gift item.  As I have never seen a comparable product on store shelves, I don’t have a ‘homemade vs. purchased’ price breakdown.  I can still give you an idea of what the project will cost.


Cost Breakdown:

$7.99    A dozen pint canning jars with two piece lids

$6.00   Six pounds small to medium mild onions in bulk bag

$3.50   Cloves, peppercorns, turmeric, ground cinnamon, mustard seed and celery seed purchased in bulk

$3.50  One gallon cider vinegar

$1.50  Four cups sugar from a five pound bag

$0.30  Salt

Grand Total:  $22.79 for a dozen finished jars ($1.90 per jar)


Golden Crunchy Pickled Onions:  Foodie Christmas Gift #7


This recipe is from the out-of-print “The Good Stuff Cookbook” by Helen Witty.  If you can lay your hands on a copy snap it up!  It’s worth it’s weight in gold(en crunchy pickled onion rings!)

The quantities I’ve given below are for making a dozen jars.  If you don’t think you can find homes for all those jars, simply reduce the amounts called for below.  The original recipe was written to yield three pints.  I think you’ll find, as we did, that three pints was simply not enough.  You should allow two weeks after preparing these before eating.  They’ll be tasty right away, but they’ll be sublime if you exercise two weeks worth of patience!

If you intend to give a jar or two of this to appreciative friends as a gift, use a ribbon to tie serving ideas and directions for glazing a corned beef with the leftover syrup (directions after the pickled onion recipe!)



  • 6 pounds small to medium mild onions
  • 72 whole cloves
  • 72 whole black peppercorns
  • 12 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 6 teaspoons celery seed
  • 8 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To each sterilized pint jar (for instructions on how to do this click here) add 6 cloves, 6 peppercorns, 1 teaspoon mustard seed and 1/2 teaspoon celery seed.  Set aside.

Peel and slice the onions into 1/4″ thick rings.  Separate the onion rings carefully and divide among the jars.

In a large nonreactive (in other words, glass, enamel or stainless steel) saucepan, stir together the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, turmeric and cinnamon over high heat.  Heat the syrup to boiling and then allow to simmer for 2 minutes. 

Pour the hot liquid over the onion rings being sure to leave 1/4″ of headspace.  Use a chopstick or skewer to remove air pockets that might be in the jars by running it along the inside wall of the jar.  If needed, add more hot syrup to maintain the 1/4″ headspace.  This prevents bacteria from growing, so don’t be tempted to half fill a jar. 

At this point, you can wipe the rims of the jars, put the clean two-piece lids on the jars and store them in the refrigerator for up to a year.  However, I recommend going the extra step and canning them so your giftees can keep them in the pantry or on the shelf until needed.  It’s not that difficult.  I’ll talk you through it!


To can the onion rings:

For those of you with canning experience I’ll first give the succinct version of how to do this: After sealing jars with new two-piece canning lids, boiling water process them for 10 minutes.  Cool.  Label.  Store.  Done.

For folks who may not have yet aquired the canning bug let me break it down a little more.  Carefully wipe the rims of your jars, place the flat lid on the jar top and screw the outer ring into place taking care not to over-tighten it.  If you do that, air cannot escape the jar during processing and that will prevent a good seal. 

Take your sealed jars and place in a large stockpot or canner.  Add enough tepid water to the pot to cover the jars by at least 1 1/2″.  Place a cover on the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once water reaches a boil, set your timer for 10 minutes.  When time is up, use canning tongs (or regular tongs, in a pinch) and  extra doses of care and caution to remove the jars from the water to a cooling rack over a towel on your counter. 

Don’t fiddle with the hot jars.  Let the process take care of itself from here.  Allow to cool, undisturbed, overnight.  When jars are cool, wipe down with a clean, damp rag and allow to air dry.  Label your beautiful jars and store for up to a year in your pantry or cupboard.


To Glaze a Corned Beef with Golden Crunchy Pickled Onion Ring Syrup:

Preheat oven to 425°F- 450°F.  Place a hot, fully cooked corn beef in a roasting pan or baking dish witht he fat side up.  Drizzle generously with the leftover syrup and then sprinkle generously with brown sugar. 

Bake for about 15 minutes, basting occasionally with more syrup, until the coating has bubbled and formed a crust.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.  This is fantastic hot and equally delicious cold and stuck between a couple slices of rye with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing.  I am looking forward to hearing from you around St. Pat’s day because I know you’ll love it!


  1. Jeanene says

    we have finally ventured into the land of home canning and this was our first recipe, they are SO good!! can not wait to try the corned beef glaze!

  2. says

    Finally opened my first batch and boy are these yummy! I am cooking beets right now and plan on pouring them over the cold beets and letting them all chill overnight! I also think they would be great on a hot dog!!!

  3. Also hates "veggies" says

    This looks like a great receipt, but gosh I hate the word “foodie.” When did adults begin to name themselves with baby talk?

  4. Marcy says

    THANK YOU! I had this book for years and loaned it out and never got it back. I could not remember the title but a google search for this recipe led me to your site. I agree, these are super-yummy and I can’t wait to make them again.

  5. Linda says

    Will Vidalia Onions work with this recipe? If you choose to can them using the Water Bath method, will they still be crunchy

    • says

      I think Vidalia onions are best raw, but if you’re absolutely without other options, they’ll still be great here. And yes, they remain crunchy using the water bath method. They might look a little shrivelly when they’re freshly processed, but they plump back up in the brine!

  6. Serena Lau says


    What do you mean by “mild” onion? Just candied 6 lbs of jalapenos bc the naanwich I made last year WAS the best thing ever!!!!!!!! I used yellow last time but didn’t remember the “mild” description. White onions perhaps?

    Also… do you ever oven-can your pickles/etc? It’s such a mess-free process. i do jams (and your jalapenos) that way. Thought I’d ask. Thank you so much for your recipes!


    • says

      Hi Serena- By mild onion, I mean a yellow or white onion. And if you like what you put up, repeat that!! :)

      I don’t actually oven can because while it is super convenient, research seems to indicate that it’s a less safe way to can. The goal in canning isn’t just to get the lid to seal, it’s to penetrate to the center of the contents of the jar with a certain temperature with the microbes. The sealing of the jar is ancillary… it does keep the bacteria from entering the jar, but it doesn’t do anything to kill bacteria that are already inside the jar which is what the boiling water bath and pressure canning does for you. I DO, however, know a lot of folks who do it. I’ve just opted to go with the recommendation for safety’s sake.

  7. Serena says

    Sorry if this is a duplicate questions. Since I didn’t see my comment, I am sending again since I am so excited about this recipe!

    What is a “mild” onion? Do you mean white onions perhaps? I can’t wait to make these to go with my 6 lbs of candied jalapenos. Naanwiches are the ultimate!!!

  8. Serena says

    Thank you so much for the advice. Just water-canned a whole batch and they are simply gorgeous! (Seriously, I coincidentally stuffed the onions in virtual layers so they are waves of goldeness). =)

    New question: Some of the onions are not submerged. Either bc they are floating or bc I stuffed too many in. Will that be an issue?


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