Posted in Recipes

Pickled Shallots

When I was growing I loved pickled onions. Not the tiny, cocktail type silver-skins, but whole, regular onions. Sadly, in these past many, many years, I have been unable to buy them in local stores. The cocktail types are easily found, and I like them too, but they just aren’t the same.

Unfortunately, after deciding to remedy the situation and make my own, I waited in vain for suitable size ‘pickling’ onions to appear in my store. Accordingly, I hit on using shallots as a suitable substitute as the ones available are about the same size as the onions I would have liked to have used. Naturally, if you wish to reproduce the basic recipe here, you can use onions instead…

The Ingredients

  • 2 cups, more or less, of Shallots (or smallish onions);
  • 1 Tbsp. Coarse Salt;
  • Pickling Spice (see below);
  • 1 tsp. Sugar (or more if you prefer);
  • White Vinegar (I forgot to record the amount, but it was I believe, 2 cups also).


First you need to peel your shallots. The easiest way is to trim the ends, put them in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. After a few minutes, drain them and slip off the skins. After that, sprinkle over the salt, rub it well in to the shallots and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight.


Next make your pickling mixture by putting your spices, sugar, and vinegar in a saucepan and let it come briefly to the boil. For the spices, you can use a tablespoon or so of a commercial ‘pickling spice’ blend, or use whatever suits your fancy. I used a teaspoon each of green peppercorns, coriander seed, and brown mustard. For good measure, I also added a single dried red chilli.


Next, put your shallots in a suitable jar, pour over the pickling mix and cap immediately. Store the jar in a cool place (I used my kitchen window which is pretty darn near refrigerator cold). I would suggest you leave them for a month to pickle properly and allow the flavors to blend and infuse).

Finally, a couple of notes…

First… these were delicious; easily as good as any I remember. I thought of using Malt Vinegar instead of white as that seems to be what I recall as being used in the pickles I used to enjoy. I could find none, though, but the white turned out just fine. I was rather tempted to dilute it a little in case it was too sharp but I decided against it and, in the end, I think that was the better choice.

Also, I was rather surprised that the end result was sweeter than I expected for the amount of sugar. This may not be the case with onions instead of shallots but I would be hesitant about adding more sweetener unless you really want a sweet product.



I am a lawyer by profession and my practice is Criminal... I mean, I specialize in Criminal law. My work involves travelling on Court circuits to remote Arctic communities. In between my travels I write a Food blog at

One thought on “Pickled Shallots

  1. Love pickled vegetables and want to try these! I don’t dilute my pickling brine either. If I find a pickle is too salty or too sour, it is easy to soak it in a little water a few mins before serving to tame the flavor without losing the picklyness.

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