How Long Do Pickled Onions Last: A Complete Guide To Pickled Onions

There are some foods you may have in the house that it seems almost impossible to imagine going off.

We’re talking about the foods with a “best before” date that is years away and the foods that sit at the back of the refrigerator for months without really going off.

How Long Do Pickled Onions Last: A Complete Guide To Pickled Onions

There is one food that meets these criteria more so than anything else – that food is pickled onions. 

Pickled onions have been enjoyed for many years, and they can be dated all the way back to the times of the ancient Greeks.

There is one major factor that has contributed to these vegetables remaining popular for so long, and it isn’t actually their taste. Instead, it is the fact that it really is difficult for pickled onions to go bad, so they will remain safe to eat for a very long time. 

In this guide, we’re taking a look at how long pickled onions last and lots more. So if you want to find out more about these vegetables, keep on reading! 

How Long Do Pickled Onions Last In The Fridge?

When unopened, pickled onions will last for years, but as soon as you open your jar of pickled onions, you will shorten the shelf life(see also: A Quick Guide To Brussels Sprouts Shelf Life). Once opened, pickled onions will need to be stored in the refrigerator, and consumed within 12–18 months.

If you do not store your opened jar of pickled onions in the refrigerator, they will go off much quicker. 

However, most people will agree that homemade pickled onions taste better than store-bought ones. So what is the fridge shelf life for homemade pickled onions?

Generally, they will last around the same amount of time as store-bought pickled onions (assuming you don’t eat them before then!).

How Long Do Pickled Onions Last In A Jar?

If you are making your own pickled onions, then the first place that you will store them in is a jar. Jars can be used to extend the shelf life of fresh fruit (see also: How To Keep Fruit Fresh In Mason Jars: A Complete Guide)and vegetables, but what about pickled onions?

Well, the length of time that your jar of pickled onions will be safe to eat will depend on where you store the jar. If you were to leave the jar on the side of your kitchen countertop, you would likely have around 3 months to eat the pickles. 

But if you were to put the jar in the fridge or freezer, the shelf life will extend. We’ll take a look at how long homemade pickled onions will last in the freezer later on, but generally, you will have around 4–6 months if you store them in the fridge. 

How Long Do Pickled Onions Last Once Open?

As we said earlier, opening the jar that contains your pickled onions will speed up the rate at which they deteriorate. This is because oxygen will enter the jar as soon as you open the lid.

However, you will still get a good few months of time to eat your pickled onions. If you leave your opened jar of pickled onions on the countertop, then they will be safe to eat for around 1-2 weeks maximum.

In the refrigerator, you will get around 8–12 weeks to eat your pickled onions, and if you freeze them, you will get around 6–8 months to eat the pickled onions. This really highlights how much the shelf life reduces as soon as you open the jar. 

How Long Do Pickled Onions Last In Vinegar?

To create pickled onions, vinegar is used to preserve the pickled onions. So, if you soak your pickled onions in vinegar until you want to eat them, the onions will be safe to eat for much longer than if you dried them before storing them. 

Generally, pickled onions in vinegar will be safe to eat for 2–3 weeks on the counter, 1–2 months in the right refrigerator conditions, and 5–6 months in the freezer. 

Vinegar is a preservative, so when you soak your pickled onions in vinegar, the vinegar will preserve the onions and prevent them from going rotten. That is why a lot of store-bought pickled onions will be sold in a jar of vinegar/pickle juice. 

When you make your own pickled onions, you generally have 2 options – pickle them in vinegar, or pickle them in salt and water. If you want your pickled onions to last, then vinegar is the best option for you!

How Long Do Pickled Onions Last In The Freezer?

As is often the case with food, the best way to extend the shelf life of your pickled onions is to freeze them. Believe it, or not, you can actually freeze your pickled onions in the jar that you pickled them in. So freezing these vegetables is really straightforward. 

Once frozen, pickled onions are generally safe to eat for around 2–3 years. So, if you have made too many pickled onions, freezing them could be a great way to ensure you have plenty of pickled onions to eat in the future. It will reduce waste too!

How Long Do Pickled Onions Last At Room Temperature?

When unopened, pickled onions can last for a pretty long time at room temperature. On average, homemade pickled onions will be safe to eat for around 6 months when left on the kitchen counter. The shelf life is even longer for store-bought pickled onions.

The salt and vinegar that are used to pickle the onions will also help to preserve the onions, and protect them from bacteria. That is why pickled onions are generally safe to eat for around half a year when stored at room temperature. 

How To Tell If Pickled Onions Have Gone Bad

Determining if your pickled onions have gone bad is generally very straightforward. Below are some of the most obvious signs that your pickled onions have gone bad:

  • They smell off – just like any other vegetable, pickled onions will develop a strange smell when they have gone off. 
  • They have gone moldy or discolored – if your pickled onions don’t look right, then this is generally a sign that you shouldn’t eat them. 
  • They have turned to mush – as soon as your pickled onions lose their shape, that is a big sign that they have turned.
  • They taste funny – if your pickled onions taste different from how they tasted originally, then they have likely gone off. 

The Best Way To Store Pickled Onions To Make Them Last

How Long Do Pickled Onions Last: A Complete Guide To Pickled Onions

If you want to make your pickled onions last as long as possible then correctly storing them is key. 

If you are buying pickled onions from the store, ensure that you purchase some with a long shelf life. Then take them home and store them in a cool, dark place until you want to use them.

Once opened, either refrigerate them or freeze them to further extend the shelf life. 

In contrast, if you are making your own homemade pickled onions, then we would recommend freezing them straight away. This will maximize the shelf life and give you plenty of time to enjoy your pickled onions.

What Do Fermented Onions Taste Of?

Some people choose to ferment their onions instead of pickling them, as this is another method that extends the shelf life.

Fermented onions taste quite different from pickled onions. They tend to be milder than regular onions, have a crunchier texture, and have a strangely sweet aftertaste. So, you won’t necessarily like fermented onions if you like pickled onions.

How Long Do They Last?

Fermented onions generally last for around the same amount of time as pickled onions. Fermented onions will generally last for a minimum of 2 months, and they can last for up to 1 year when stored in the refrigerator.

In contrast, homemade fermented onions will only last for around 2–4 weeks when stored in the fridge. 

What About Canned Onions?

If you love onions, then you may also be interested in canned onions. Canned pickled onions will generally last between 12 and 14 months when unopened. 

However, for the best quality, we would recommend trying to eat your canned onions in less than 6 months as the quality does start to deteriorate after this time. 

How Long Will Homemade Red Pickled Onions Last?

One type of pickled onion that many people choose to make at home is the red pickled onion. Store-bought pickled onions are difficult to come by, and they generally don’t taste as good as homemade red pickled onions.

So how long will homemade red pickled onions last?

The shelf life is much shorter for red pickled onions, and they will generally last for around 2–3 weeks after you make them. To maximize the shelf life of your homemade red pickled onions, make sure to store them in the refrigerator. 

Why Should You Soak Your Pickles In Brine?

An essential part of the pickling process is soaking your pickles in brine. In the pickling process, the pickles will need to be soaked in brine for around 24 hours.

This is a very important step as the brine preserves the pickles and protects them against microbes that could cause them to deteriorate. 

Do You Need To Use Sugar When Pickling Onions?

Some people choose to use sugar when pickling onions, but this isn’t an essential step. Sugar doesn’t play a vital role in the pickling process, instead, it is simply added by some people to add extra flavor to the onions. 

So when you are making your own, homemade pickled onions, it is totally up to you whether you add sugar to the mixture, or not. 

How Long Do You Soak Onions In Salt Before Pickling?

Soaking pickles in sugar during the pickling process isn’t an essential step, but soaking the onions in salt is. Salt not only adds flavor to the onions but also plays a big role in preserving them. So, how long do you soak onions in salt before pickling?

Generally, for the best results, you will need to soak your onions in salt for at least 2 hours before progressing with the pickling process if they are thinly sliced. If they are cut thick, then you should soak them in salt overnight.   

Which Vinegar Is Best For Pickled Onions?

When you are pickling your onions, we would always recommend using white vinegar because it has a nice aroma and a nice flavor to it. White vinegar really is the best vinegar for pickled onions.

Can You Use Apple Cider Vinegar?

That being said, if you really are a fan of apple cider vinegar, then you can use this to make pickled onions too.

Apple cider vinegar has a very unique flavor, but it works really well for pickled onions because of the additional flavor that the vinegar adds to the onions. 

Apple cider vinegar will also darken the onions in the process, so if you prefer dark pickled onions, then apple cider vinegar is perfect! 

Why Do You Need To Boil Vinegar For Pickling?

Boiling the vinegar when pickling onions is very important as it is the only way to ensure the different ingredients needed for the pickling process blend properly.

You do not want to boil the vinegar for too long, just long enough for the ingredients to combine and create a nice flavor. 

Once boiled, the vinegar will be ready for your onions to be added to. Boiling the vinegar is one of the biggest steps in creating homemade pickled onions, so once this is done, you will be well on your way to creating your own pickled onions.


In short, pickled onions will generally last for somewhere between 12 and 18 months once opened. That is assuming they have been stored in the refrigerator and kept in the recommended conditions for the full 12–18 months. 

In this guide, we’ve taken a look at how long pickled onions will last depending on the conditions you store them in, as well as how to make your own pickled onions. 

Thanks for reading! 

Amelia Haslehurt
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