Quick & Easy: Lime-Pickled Onions

It’s the transformation that gets me. The beautiful change of colour in the purple onions to almost magenta.

Groundnut Chop toppings
A table full of toppings

It’s the acid in the fresh limes that result in this. That creates this thing of beauty.

The bite of the onion is tempered, and the texture is slightly softened. The acid in the lime juice sets the colour and creates this vibrant pickle in a matter of minutes

We know the effect of citric acid on fruit and vegetables – think of how acidulated water slows down browning in bananas and artichokes and most other fruits. It maintains and sets the colour and brightens it.

Great in salads – both fresh and cooked, On wraps, as a garnish, as a condiment/side. As…….

Chicken & Avocado Tortilla wrap with pickled onions

And all it requires is three ingredients – onions, salt and lime juice. Freshly squeezed.

Also delicious in a sandwich of bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato

Red onions are our go-to-onions in Nigeria. Purple onions should I say, the colour the richest hue of any purple cabbage, and very much ‘in-season’ in these times.

A basketful of red onions

Pickling the onions is easy – all it requires is slicing the onions, adding a sprinkle of salt and the juice of freshly cut limes.

Red onions for sale in a Nigerian market

And then a gentle massage, before they the onion slices are ladled into a jar.

Lime and salt pickled onions

And left to transform.

In anywhere from minutes to hours, the colours change. A magenta hue begins to emerge – the effect of the acid. Perhaps something to do with the lime changing the pH values in the onions.

The result is as beautiful as it is delicious.

The lime and salt soften the bite, the harsh bit of onions such that you can chomp on them raw (they don’t take away the witch breath though).

You can have them garnish platters of rice and take rank with other condiments.

Groundnut Chop

You can toss them on pizza.

Wrap them in warm, soft wheat tortillas

You can keep them in the fridge, purely to admire science at work.


You can do many things with them.

Your lime-pickled onions. Your choice.


To help you along, I’ve made a short video, with background music from one of my favourite Nigerian musicians – Yemi Saxs.

[vimeo 88579391 w=500 h=375]

Lime-Pickled Onions from Ozoz Sokoh on Vimeo.

Enjoy.[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Quick & Easy: Lime-Pickled Onions – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]


  1. I have been sorely absent lately, been running the cafe and teaching so many cooking classes that I have had hardly a moment.

    I am very excited to try this! I love pickled foods and I love onions…a perfect condiment for me. And your video was quite nice.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Hi dear, I totally understand.

      So have I….been swamped but alive. Finding ‘happy’.

      Stay well and will head on over to yours soon to get news about the cafe.

      Lots of love xxx

  2. I SO need to make me a little jar of this! How long will it last in a jar anyhow? …I totally believe you that this would taste amazing. I accidentally came across a beet salad that had red wine vinegar and shallots and i thought the shallots were AMAZING as an accent of flavor. I make a lot more fish dishes these days and I think with dish, a pickled sour element is so key! – Lovely video!

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  4. I love pickled onions as a source of cutting through a particular fatty item. They complement so many foods. I generally do them with vinegar but I love lime and will definitely try this.

  5. We get those type of onions here in Dubai too. Soaking cut onions in water takes away that slightly biting nature of the flavour so imagining what lovely sharp lime juice would do. This could be addictive.

  6. I am smitten with the stellar photos of the red onions at market. The seductive ruby color has captured my imagination! I will try the robust pickled onions soon. What a sumptuous addition to any wrap or sandwich!

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