Pickled Red Onions, Cebollas Encurtidas

I loved tacos so much as a kid that my extended family members used to invite me over to their houses for dinner on the nights they were making tacos for their respective families. There were weeks where I’d happily eat some version of tacos 4 or 5 nights in a row, a habit I’ve definitely carried with me far into my adult life as a rancher. Part comfort food and part you-can-turn-anything-into-a-taco convenience make tacos the PERFECT way for me to keep things exciting and seasonal in the ranch kitchen even when I’m having even the busiest, craziest, most exhausting of work days/weeks/months/years.

Pickled red onions, generally speaking, are one of my fav quick ways to fancy up any kind of taco, burrito, tostada, nachos etc. and because they’re so quick to make and last up to a week in the refrig we get a lot of miles outta these beauties.

There are many easy and great versions you can do with these and some of which I’ll likely end up detailing in later blog posts. but. Today I’m sharing my version that I make based on the Ecuadoran curtido Cebollas Encurtidas which relies on the acidity of lime juice versus a pickle brine as the marinade. At this time of year I find that I crave the acidity and zing of the citrus to maybe wake up my hibernating taste buds and remind me of the warmer days ahead …which are trade offs I thoughtfully but gladly occasionally make for knowing that I’m buying out of season non-local limes. Red onions are one of the storage crops we have around the root cellar at this time of year so we’ve got plenty of those readily on hand.



2 medium onions
juice of 3 limes
3 tsp Salt, plus 2 tsp 
2 tsp Peppercorns
1/2 tsp Coriander
1 tbsp Oil (whatever you generally use, Olive oil etc)


1 small mason jar with lid OR non-reactive (non-metal i.e. glass or ceramic) bowl and plastic wrap. You want it to be a pretty tight fit in the jar and not leave a bunch of room for air.


  1. Thinly slice the onion. A mandolin can be helpful but however thick or thin you cut the onions is totally up to you and your preferences. I like mine real thin. Just keep in mind that they’re a topping so enormous rings or pieces can be hard to manage- or not! 100% what you prefer.
  2. After you put the sliced onions in a non-metal bowl, sprinkle them with the 2 tsp salt plus more if need be to coat and a little lime juice (the equivalent of a lime wedge, set one aside while juicing if that’s helpful) and then set aside for about 12-15 mins.
  3. Blanch the onions. Bring a sauce pan of water (enough to fit and cover all the onions) to boil. Add onions and completely submerge for about 15-20 seconds or just until they turn soft. Drain immediately. Return to the bowl OR glass jar if you’re going that route.
  4. Add the the lime juice, oil, salt, peppercorns and coriander seed to the onions and toss. 
  5. Cover and let cool before refrigerating. The mixture will turn that perfect shade of pink after a few hours but I, personally, like to give them overnight to let the flavors fully enmesh. 
  6. Enjoy! The mixture keeps for about a week give or take.