Pickled Onions for Christmas

This one is for those pickled onions lovers and perfect for that Christmas snacking throughout the day. Or, this is a great recipe to use as buffet food for any Christmas parties you may be hosting.

Intended for those real foodie lovers and who are willing to prepare this a couple of months in advance for Christmas. Only takes about 30 minutes to prepare, then 24 hours' brining time. All you have to do after that, is leave them to mature for a month or two (they get better the longer you leave them), and then serve them up at Christmas! 

Chef’s tip: for extra spicy onions add a small fresh chilli that has been pierced with a fork to each jar.

Updated October 2022: this year we have made three batches. One with our original recipe. And two others, one with three small dried Chipotles and the other with two small dried Aji Limon chillies added to the jar. So far tasting incredible!

Result of the chilli experiment: They both worked incredibly well. The Chipotle ones were spicy and smoky. The Aji Limon ones were more vibrant, very spicy and lemony fresh tasting. Will be making all three versions again and again!!


  • 500g shallots or pickling onions
  • 1 tsp mixed peppercorns (favourites are pink and Szechuan)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 400ml malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 60g salt
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cm cube fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (omit if using extra fresh or dried chillies)
  • 75g demerara sugar


  1. Make brine – put the salt in a pan with 600ml water, bring it to the boil then cool.
  2. Peel the shallots – top and tail, pop into a bowl, pour some boiling water over them for a few minutes, then drain. They should now peel very easily.
  3. Add the peeled onions/shallots to the brine, cover, then leave for 24 hours somewhere cool. After 24 hours, wash them under cold water, then drain and dry carefully.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients to a pan, heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  5. Sterilise the jars in a hot oven for 10 minutes or so.
  6. Add the shallots to the jars. Remove the ginger and cinnamon from the vinegar mix.
  7. Pour the mix over the onions and make sure each jar has bits of the spices in.
  8. Add fresh or dried chillies if you fancy.
  9. Seal jar the jars and store in a cool, dry place for at least 1 month. Turning every week or so. They’ll be better after 2 months though!


Looking for ways to make your Christmas feast spectacular this year?

Feel free to check out our other Christmas recipes including our Mincemeat Recipe, our recipe for making the Perfect Roast Potatoesand our recipe for making the most succulent Christmas Roast Turkey!