Belizean Pickled Onions

Recipe 10 mins, plus marinationPreparation Time 0 minCooking Time
Belizean Pickled Onions

Belizean Pickled Onions

10 mins, plus marinationPreparation Time 0 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

This bright, tangy, crunchy, and fiery condiment from Belize lights up everything it touches. You may find it’s something you never want to run out of. The good news on this front: the vinegar will keep it fresh in the fridge for quite some time, so you can make a big jar of this incandescent tangle and be set for weeks. Many versions use diced onion, but I like thin slivers. Cilantro is lovely, but I generally leave it out of this so the onions and pepper can shine more brightly. And while white or yellow onions are traditional, red are so beautiful I can’t resist using them.

The Benefits

Red onion is high in antioxidant-rich plant pigments quercetin and anthocyanins, which may protect against heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes. Pickling in vinegar (cider, white wine or other) improves the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals such as folate, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, which boost overall cardiovascular health. Besides adding a fruit, sweet taste, the habaneros bring in a ton of vitamin C (one pepper has more than the recommended daily value).

Note: Habaneros are very hot, so wear gloves while prepping them and wash your surfaces and tools well immediately after prep.


Makes about 1 pint
  • 2 large red onions
  • 2 habanero peppers
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cider or white wine vinegar
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)


  1. Step 1
    Peel, halve and core the onions, then cut them longitudinally into slivers. Remove the stems, seeds and membranes of the habaneros, and cut them lengthwise into very thin strips. For a hotter pickle, leave the some or all of the seeds and membranes in.
  2. Step 2
    Put the onions and habaneros in an ample bowl, add salt, and stir to combine them for a minute or two, so the onions start to relax and release moisture. Add the vinegar, allspice, and cilantro (if using) and stir to combine. Transfer everything to a clean jar or container and let it marinate for at least an hour (overnight is even better), or up to 24 hours before refrigerating.
  3. Step 3
    To serve, use a fork or slotted spoon to remove the mixture from the vinegar, and don’t eat the allspice! This will keep for at least a month in the fridge.

Substitutions: This is unapologetically hot; if you want a mild version, use habanada peppers, a type of habanero without heat. Other types of chiles will work, but the flavor will be very different.

Try It With: Belizean rice and beans, as a garnish for tacos, in a Hippie Bowl, on eggs, or in all manner of sandwiches.

Zero Waste: Save the spicy, oniony vinegar for dressings, gravies, or to make another batch of this pickle.