Learn the simple secret to making the most vibrant condiments in your fridge! I’m going to teach you everything I know about 2-ingredient quick-pickled veggies!
There’s one recipe that everyone wants to know about when I post a fridge pic: “What are those pink veggies up top?”
I get it–my eyes always jump to pink things too!
When I started my whole food, plant-based, nutritarian journey I really wanted to make pretty food because (and I’ve said this before) I have a serious case of eat-with-my-eyes-itis.
In 2014, I was lucky enough to come across an amazing vegan account on Instagram called Stuff On Toast (who I’ve followed ever since). Stuff On Toast taught me this super-simple method for creating the most gorgeous quick-pickled veggies, right in your fridge, and I’m eternally grateful!
After some tinkering and experimenting I found out that you don’t need to add any salt, sugar, spices or herbs to make an incredible-tasting condiment!
And that’s when the obsession became something I make every. single. week. as part of my weekly batch prepping program.
Now I’m sharing these gems with you too!
Super-Cheap, Super-Simple, Super-Healthy & Incredibly Beautiful
You can make these fridge pickles right now If you have:
- some vinegar
- an onion/red cabbage/radishes
- a container with a lid
And I suppose that’s the reason I never thought to make this into a real “recipe.”
I have a printable guide for you at the bottom of the post–but this isn’t like a traditional recipe at all.
It’s better-described as learning a simple technique with loads of gorgeous pink and purple photos along the way–because everyone needs more pink and purple photos in their life 😉
Here we go…
These refrigerator pickles are not picky.
You can literally make these in anything you have as long as the vessel has a tight-fitting lid. Plastic containers, glass snap-lock containers, even washed-out hummus or miso paste tubs!
But, you might have noticed, I’m kinda partial to one container in particular…
What can I say? Wide-mouth Mason jars are a girls’ best friend, especially for these refrigerator pickles!
For ease of use, I like to replace the canning lids that come with the jars with these plastic caps instead:
So, grab what your container and let’s get going!
You’re Going to Need a Bigger Bottle of Vinegar
After you make your first batch of refrigerator pickles and taste that tart, bright, crunchy goodness you’re only going to be thinking one thing: “I need to get a bigger bottle of vinegar.”
Vinegar does ALL the magic here.
I recommend you use white vinegar because it has no additional flavor like an apple cider, balsamic or red wine variety would. Rice vinegar would be my second recommendation if you don’t have white.
It’s astonishing to me that adding this one simple ingredient to chopped veggies can absolutely transform them.
And that’s really all there is to this thing guys:
You’re going to chop up red onion, red cabbage or radishes, fill them in your vessel, cover them with white vinegar, secure with that tight-fitting lid and let them hang out in the fridge.
And that brings me to the next point: timing…
How Long in the Fridge?
Above you’ll see pickled red onions in three different stages.
I’ve sampled these refrigerator pickles at various stages but I prefer them after at least 3 days marination time. They can last for WEEKS in the fridge, getting better with time!
As they marinate their taste changes, especially the onions. The onion flavor mellows considerably compared to a fresh-cut onion. That’s why my husband prefers these on his sandwiches at work (cause nobody likes onion-stink-breath at work meetings, amiright?).
So, the peak window for your refrigerator pickles is: 3 days to 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks the vinegar gets a bit cloudy (with the onions especially) and the veggies start to degrade a little bit too much for my liking.
Let’s Talk Color
As your refrigerator pickles “marinate” they also change color.
RED ONION: You’ll get varying levels of pink depending on how much pigment your onions have to begin with. Sometimes I get a very light-pink pickle and other times a very vibrant and saturated pink. Try to look for red onions with strong purple-colored outer layers.
RED CABBAGE: Of all the veggies you can pickle red cabbage has the most consistent color results. Since every leaf is deeply pigmented, once they interact with the vinegar the color starts to immediately change from purple to a deep magenta.
RADISHES: There are a lot of radish varieties, as you can see here. My favorite for pickling are the round, “Easter Egg” radishes you commonly find in the produce isle. After marinating, the radishes lose the pigment from their skin and turn a bright pinkish-red.
For this post, I experimented with pickling watermelon radishes you can see the results on the left in the picture above. I was rather disappointed that their lovely pink pigment turns red almost instantly after being exposed to the vinegar. They tasted great (much better than in their raw state) but considering their higher price tag I recommend sticking with the round radishes instead.
A Few More Notes For You on Refrigerator Pickles
Can we just stop for a sec and admire how gorgeous these pickles are?
From left to right: pickled red onion (on the lighter-pink side), pickled radishes (watermelon radish on top), more pickled red onions (on the darker-pigmented side) and pickled red cabbage.
TASTE: All varieties of these fridge pickles are tart. If you’re not a fan of the taste of vinegar then this is definitely not the condiment for you! The veggies retain their crisp and crunchy texture and their natural flavors mellow out a bit.
HERBS & SPICES: You can definitely add any herbs and spices you love and get creative with flavor combinations too! In my premium ebook I include spice and herb blends for refrigerator pickles that compliment the cuisine themes for each week.
USES: My favorite way to use refrigerator pickles is on my salads! They add a lovely tart, brightness to the rest of the veggies in my bowl! Other ways to use them: in sandwiches, in pasta salad, on avocado toast, and as a pizza or flatbread topping!
2-Ingredient Refrigerator Pickled Veggies
Learn a super-simple, no-cooking-required technique to making your own no-salt, no-sugar refrigerator pickles!
- 2 cups raw onion, red cabbage or radishes sliced or diced
- white vinegar
Chop or dice your veggies into your desired shape.
Fill your 16 oz. glass Mason jar (or other container) with the chopped veggies.
Cover the veggies with white distilled vinegar. Add any spices or herbs, if desired.
Secure the Mason jar tightly and place in refrigerator.
All the veggies to marinate in the vinegar for at least 24 hours, but more preferably 3 days before first use.
The pickled veggies will last in the fridge for at least 2 weeks and usually longer.
Red cabbage and radishes lasts the longest with minimal deterioration after the second week. These can be eaten at the 3 week mark.
Red onions will start to get a little milky looking around the 2-week mark.
Use on salads, sandwiches, flatbread and pizzas!
I hope you enjoyed learning how to make one of my all-time-favorite nutritarian condiments!
If you give this pickling technique a try, I’d love to hear what you think–please leave a rating and comment below!
Do you do this with any other veggies? Maybe cucumbers, carrots, or jalapenos?
I have done it with cucumbers but I used citrus juice instead of the vinegar! Yes, you can definitely use carrots and I’ve done them with jalapenos together like at taco places!
Thank you Thank you Thank you! I am just starting out with the nutritarian style of eating. Actually, I haven’t even started yet, researching to start new years after a fast, but that’s another subject. My biggest issue thus far it I really don’t like onions and mushrooms! I sort of started experimenting the other day by tossing some cut onions in the leftovers from pickles. But as I have been reading more I got to thinking that there’s probably a whole lot of salt in that brine! I have been looking to see if you could pickle without the salt. I literally just got done deciding it is not worth it to get the 50$ a month membership to Dr. Fuhrman’s site just so I could ask this one question when your email appeared in my box! Now for my next trick a creamy salad dressing made from blended mushrooms? Maybe you have an idea? I don’t mind the taste of mushrooms but the texture just gags me. So onions down, now to mushrooms 🙂
So wonderful to meet you, Victoria!
HUGE congratulations on starting your nutritarian journey!!
Now that’s a serious case of serendipity–I love it!
So happy you are working towards getting your GBOMBS met! I’ve worked with a lot of readers who don’t like the taste or texture (or both) of mushrooms. I’ve tried blending mushrooms before when I was making a suce and it just results in a strange, kind of unstable texture. I definitely recommend roasting them int he oven with some balsamic vinegar instead. They will last for the week and you can “practice” eating one bite a day.
This was the best advice I ever got from a doctor–literally bite and chew the veggie you don’t like and if you feel that you have to, spit it out. After repeated exposure your taste buds change!
Please check in again on your journey!
Have you tried chopping your mushrooms super fine? I hate the texture as well but dont mind the flavor. I alwsy chop them super fine so I cant feel them and if Im cooking I put them in first to cook so they cook down really well! 🙂
Wow, these look great, thanks Kristen. Will definitely give a try!
I love Dr Fuhrman’s work and your approach to making Nutritarian easy and delicious (and colourful).
I recently interviewed him on my podcast Eternal Health too BTW, do check it out.
So nice to meet you Laura!
Thank you for your kind words! And how wonderful that you got to interview Dr. Fuhrman!! I will definitely check it out!
This sounds awesome easy! Love the idea of the plastic lids. I will probably use rice vinegar as I don’t know the source of the distilled vinegar so it might not be gluten free. Thank you!💕
So excited you’re going to give them a try, Merry! I think rice vinegar will work just fine!
Can you use Apple cider vinegar?
I haven’t used apple cider vinegar but I’m sure you can try it out. It definitely has a different flavor than white vinegar. If you give it a try please let me know how it turns out!
This was the biggest salad game-changer I found after purchasing your prep book! I have tried the red onions (twice…. with a double batch), and I can’t wait to give the red cabbage and radishes a try in the coming weeks!
Thanks so much for all you do to encourage old nutritarians and to make new ones! 🙂
Oh thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment and review on the refrigerator veggies, Amy!
Can this be done with lemons?
Hi there! I’m not sure about substituting the lemon juice for the vinegar. It might work the best with red cabbage, because I’ve made coleslaw with citrus juice many times before.
Let us know if you end up trying it!
This looks like a great recipe! So simple and straight forward. Can’t wait to make some of my own quick pickled veggies for the family! Thanks so much!
So happy to hear that you’re excited about it Billy!
I make at least one batch weekly!
I’m a little confused – I’ve heard for years that white, distilled vinegar is really bad for you. Is that not true, then? It’s allowed on the Nutritarian diet/way of eating? Of course, I read that you wrote rice vinegar and ACV are acceptable substitutes, but I’m still wondering about the white vinegar, since I’ve seen on your blog and via your emails that you eat very carefully…
I’ve never heard of white, distilled vinegar being a problem–from what I’ve read Dr. Fuhrman has never mentioned it.
I personally have no problem with it and yes I use it quite frequently in my condiments!
Thanks for sharing how easy it is to pickle foods! I’m diving deeper into fermenting this year and I always looked for special pickling recipes, but here we go, easy peasy! I did this with red onion and cabbage recently and enjoyed them both. I even caught my husband adding the pickled onion to his omnivore food.
YAY!! So, so happy to hear that you and your hubby are loving these pickles!
I agree, they are too easy and yummy not to make every week!
Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and review, much appreciated!
I am so loving your blog. Your ideas, recipes, and comments are helping me transition to ETL. I am looking forward to the pickling part. What about beets? Can I pickle these?
So, SO happy to hear that you’re finding the site a helpful resource on your journey!!
Yes, you can pickle beets, I just started this myself! I just shred raw beets and follow the same process!
O just made up three batches. 2 with red onion and one with redcabbage. I’m anxious to see how they turn out. Can you reuse the vinegar on additional batches!
So wonderful to hear you’re trying out one of my all-time favorite recipes! I personally don’t use the leftover vinegar on other batches if it’s been longer than 3 weeks. Sometimes, with the onions especially, the vinegar can get cloudy.
Can’t wait for you to try them out!
My wife and I are using your recipes . We were wondering why you prefer garlic powder to fresh minced garlic.
Thanks for the resources!
Bob and Terri Johnson
You can always sub garlic powder with minced fresh garlic if you prefer. I usually use powder because it’s faster and more people have it on hand!
So happy to hear you and your wife are enjoying the resources!
I tried adding onions as per Dr Fuhrman’s recommendations to salads but hated the taste of raw onion regardless of the variety and my husband hated my onion breath even more! I purchased your power prep plan and although I’ve had many taste revelations in my journey, pickling onions was by far the biggest one. No onion breath and delicious, a double winner! In fact I make a batch every single week so I can get onions on my salad and I adore the crunchy texture. I have learned never to be with one jar in the fridge and when it gets low I immediately make another! Thank you so very much Kristen!
I’m SO happy to hear that you joined the prep program! I haven’t seen you in our support group, are you on Facebook?
I love that you’re enjoying these pickled onions–they were a game-changer for me!
Thank you for taking the time to leave such a lovely review and comment!
how does the vinegar process here compare with the fermentation process of fermenting / saurkraut cabbage? Any ideas?
Also, do you have a way to ferment/pickle fruit. As far as I know fruit is best preserved with sugar, but I am looking for a way of doing this without sugar. But I guess sugar is the preservative, so without the sugar the fruit won’t last as long. I am still looking into this but would appreciate any ideas from the community here. tks
I don’t do any traditional fermentation although my mother-in-law taught me how to make kimchi. Because there’s no added salt in this recipe it relies entirely on vinegar for preservation. The process is different than with salt fermentation. The veggies soften and change color over time.
I am also interested in fruit preservation without sugar and the best I’ve come up with is making fruit jams with dates. I keep the jams chunky and have used it with apples, peaches, berries and pineapple to good effect! You can find out more in my book Fridge Love on pp. 253-58. I also have the apple recipe up here!
Thanks so much for such great oil-free and delicious, especially the pickled vegetables!! 😊
So lovely to hear that you’re enjoying the recipes Marsha!
Hi, Thank you so much for this lesson. I have recently tried quick pickle with red onions, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots and onions. I did not know you could use just vinegar. So I will try that with next batch. Mine called for boiling water, and 1/4 of vinegar. but I had wondered if the boiling water took out some nutrients, I used flavored vinegar thought with spices. I will be looking for your ideas of the different things you have tried to go with week themes, Where can I find them? Thank you for all you do to help us! I used some of Dr. Fuhrman’s flavored vinegars in some of pickling.
Hi Lesa, so happy to hear that you enjoyed this pickling technique!
I’m wondering if you’ve tried re-using the vinegar? Since it’s acidic I wonder if that would keep it safe to reuse? Perhaps building more flavour / colour.
Hi Jim, yes I have reused the vinegar on a few occasions–especially with the red onions. I will say that it’s not as acidic on the second use so the taste is a bit different in that regard.
I love your ideas! Thank you for sharing and making eating healthy fun! I was wondering though if I could mix in some water with the vinegar. I really don’t like vinegar that much.
Thank you again!
Yes! You can definitely add water to the vinegar to make the brine less intense!
So happy to hear you’re enjoying the site too!