Cebolla Morada en Escabeche - Mexican Pink Pickled Onion Recipe
Level: Easy
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2-3 cups
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Cebollas moradas en escabeche, also known as cebollas encurtidas, is a crisp, flavor-packed condiment found throughout Mexico, but most common in the Southern states, particularly in the Yucatan peninsula. If you've ever had cochinita pibil, it was surely topped with a generous helping of cebollas moradas, and you may have even seen them used as a substitute for salsa or pico de gallo if you eat Mexican food frequently. Cebollas moradas' hot pink color brightens up the look of any dish while their tangy flavor and crunchy texture bring new dimension to stews, tacos, tortas, barbecued meats and more. Cebollas moradas are incredibly simple to prepare and pack a serious punch. Traditionally pickled with bitter orange juice, the typical raw onion flavor is completely transformed and acquires refreshing citrus notes. Try cebolla morada en escabeche atop your favorite mexican and BBQ recipes or even as a side or snack eaten alone!
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 large red onions or 3 small purple onions
  • habañero, serrano or jalapeño pepper (optional), halved length-wise or cut into strips length-wise, depending on how spicy you want the onions to be
  • 1⅓ cups of bitter orange juice or vinegar ( white or apple cider)
  • 1 teaspoon of Mexican oregano (or substitute regular oregano)
  • 15-20 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (you can use more or less to taste)
  1. Bring the water to a soft boil and immediately remove from the heat.
  2. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Slice the onion into thin rings or strips.
  4. Mix the sugar-water with the vinegar, salt, oregano and peppercorns.
  5. If you'd like the onions to be spicy, add in strips of habañero, serrano or jalapeño peppers.
  6. Put the onions in a tupperware or lidded jar (with around 3 cups capacity), cover with the mixed liquid and give it a good stir.
  7. Close the container or jar and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
The onions will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks but taste best when eaten within the first week. In the Yucatan, it's common that cebollas moradas are pickled with habañero pepper. Habañero is extremely spicy for those who are't used to eating spicy food, and should be handled with rubber gloves, so please be careful if you do decide to use them. Bitter (or Seville) oranges can be difficult to acquire, depending where you live. If you want a bit of orange flavor but can't find bitter oranges, rather than using all vinegar, we reccomend a mixture of ⅓ cup of juice from regular oranges, ⅓ cup of fresh lime juice and ⅔ cup of vinegar. If you find the flavor of onion to be a bit on the strong side, you can blanch the sliced onion for 15 seconds in boiling water, then drain and immediately rinse in cold water to stop them from cooking.