Lacto-Fermented Onion Pickle

Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 0 min

Lacto-Fermented Onion Pickle

Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 0 min

About This Recipe

Growing up, we always had sliced raw onion as a kind of salad or condiment on the table. It’s a very Punjabi thing, but I was never very fond of it. When I went to boarding school, I made a lot of Punjabi Sikh friends whose households made a quick-pickled onion condiment instead. For a kid like me who never liked raw onion, it was such an upgrade! My lacto-fermented version of this dish has slightly more mellow, complex flavors than the quick pickle, but is still nicely crispy, sour, and naturally sweet.

The Benefits

Onions are high in vitamins B6 and C, fiber, manganese, and biotin. Onions may have potential to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks. Additionally, various antioxidants in onions — particularly the flavonoid quercetin — may have anti-cancer properties. Regularly make a batch of this pickle to add both flavor for greater satiety, and gut-friendly probiotics and spices to your meals.

Equipment: measuring jug (1 qt/ 1 L), clean glass jar with lid (1 qt/ 1 L)

Note: The chlorine in tap water can inhibit fermentation; I recommend using filtered water, water that has been boiled and cooled, or allowed to sit out for half an hour so the chlorine can dissipate. Use red or white onions, whichever you prefer. Use any kind of dried red chile in this recipe; different varieties will make the pickle slightly sweeter or hotter depending on their flavor profiles. The optional beet enhances the pinkish color of the ferment, recalling the pink vinegared onions often served at Indian restaurants.


Makes 26 oz (735 g)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 g) Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water, filtered or boiled and cooled
  • 3 Tbsp local honey
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar, with the mother
  • 2 cups (175 g) onions sliced medium to thick
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 to 3 whole dry red chiles
  • Small piece of beet, peeled (optional)


  1. Step 1
    Make a basic brine by completely dissolving the pink salt into the filtered water.
  2. Step 2
    Add the honey and apple cider vinegar.
  3. Step 3
    Fill up a sterilized or well-cleaned glass jar up with the sliced onions and spices. Add the beet if using. Pour all of the brine over the onions.
  4. Step 4
    Close the lid and let the jar of onions ferment at room temperature for about 7 days. Open the lid daily to release carbonation. You can start tasting it after 4 days — once the fermentation is complete to your liking, store in the refrigerator. You can ferment this for as long as 21 days.

Substitutions: Use coarse sea salt instead of Himalayan pink salt. To make this recipe vegan, use unrefined sugar instead of honey.

Serve It With: In an Indian thali meal along with roti, dal and vegetables; alongside kababs; in salads or on toasts. The possibilities are endless.

Zero-Waste: Use any leftover brine in dressings and marinades.