Making the most of pickled pearl onions

If you look at pickled pearl onions and scratch your head about what to do with them, we're here to help.

My collection of pickled goods has increased dramatically since social distancing restrictions tightened in mid-March. It seems I can't go to the grocery store without picking up another jar of pickled something. One of the most overlooked jarred pickles you'll find on the grocery store shelves are pickled pearl onions.

With two options (sweet and sour, and I much prefer the latter) as well as a low price point to boot, there's no reason why you can't make room for a jar or two in your fridge.

Much like my love of using dill pickle brine in martinis, I will also indulge in a Gibson–the pearl onion equivalent of a dirty martini–from time to time. Outside of using them in this format or as a garnish for a Caesar, here are plenty of ways you can make the most of pickled pearl onions. Here's how.

Tomato sauce

Akin to the tangy presence of capers in a classic tomato-based sauce like puttanesca, roughly chopped pickled pearl onions can be added to those dishes as well. Try mincing and stirring them into pizza sauce to add another dimension to your homemade pizzas.


Adding to pestos, pistous and gremolatas

The addition of pearl onions to a pesto, pistou or gremolata brightens up everything the sauce is used in, from freshly cooked plain pasta to grilled carrots, pork chops and more.

Having garlic plus pearl onions might be a bit much for some. If that's the case, just swap out two pickled pearl onions for every one garlic clove.

Braised meats

When it comes to braising big cuts of meat like beef brisket or pork shoulder, people don't think to add pickled items (and their pickling liquid) into the mix. Much like adding wine in the slow cooking process, adding a cup or so of pickled pearl onions along with 1/2 cup of the pickle juice adds flavour as well as plenty of acidity.

Once braising is complete, reserve the braising liquid and cook it down to one quarter of its original volume for a sauce that you'll want to spoon onto everything.

Homemade barbecue sauce

Everyone's got a go-to homemade barbecue sauce recipe, but no matter which one you use, it's going to call for some type of vinegar. Instead of adding in a plain white vinegar in your next batch, swap it out for puréed pickled pearl onions, and adjusting the thickness with the pickling liquid. Once the barbecue sauce has cooked through, you'll have a sauce that's a little different than the usual and one which your friends and family can't quite figure out... in a good way.

Roast chicken

Many of you already know that nestling potatoes and sliced onions underneath a chicken before roasting will yield an absolutely delicious side dish as the vegetables slow-cook in the chicken's drippings. Tossing some pearl onions in with the vegetables not only adds a bit of flavour, when combined with the drippings, it will make a delicious pan sauce too.