Pickled red onion and habanero salsa is so good and simple to make that I had to share this recipe with you! Here I pickle red onion and habanero strips in lime juice and salt for a super simple, spicy salsa.
Where is pickled red onion and habanero salsa from?
Pickled red onions and habaneros are a traditional condiment in the Yucatan peninsula. In Spanish, this salsa is known as cebollas con habanero (onions with habanero pepper) or rajas de cebollas con habanero (onion strips and habanero pepper). These pickled vegetable strips are served with panuchos, tacos, and especially cochinita pibil, a Yucatan-style pork seasoned with achiote.
The recipe that I am sharing here isn’t an authentic version of this Yucatan salsa. It is simplified so you can whip it up in just a few minutes to enjoy on tacos, tostadas, scrambled eggs, or just about anything!
How to make pickled red onion and habanero salsa
This recipe is so simple, I almost hesitate to call it a recipe at all. But since we make this often in our house, I wanted to share it so you can make it too!
Slice the onions and habanero peppers
Start by thinly slicing the red onions. I like to quarter my onion, and then thinly slice each quarter. This makes the onion strips about as long as the habanero strips, so my vegetables are roughly the same size. Some folks like to chop their onions and habaneros, but I think these purple and orange strips are especially pretty.
If you don’t have red onion, you could substitute for white onion. The flavor will be a bit different and you won’t have the pretty contrasting colors, but you will still get excellent results!
Next, thinly slice your habanero peppers. These peppers are super spicy! I remove the seeds and veins to tame them a bit. So I don’t need to touch these little devils with my hands, I steady them in place on my cutting board with a fork, while I clean and slice them with a knife. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth while working with these, and wash your hands thoroughly afterward!
Keep in mind that you can always adjust the spiciness to your liking! Leave the seeds and veins for extra hot peppers, add more peppers, or leave some out if you prefer a less spicy salsa.
Juice the limes
I like to use freshly squeezed limes for this salsa. I didn’t provide a total number of limes in the recipe since the size and juiciness of each lime vary. I had a few really big limes on hand and I was able to get about 1 cup of juice from just 4. You may need a few more if your limes are smaller or not as juicy.
Putting everything together
Once your limes are juiced and your onions and peppers sliced, all that is left to do is mix everything together. How simple is that?
Be sure to use a glass or plastic container to mix and store these strips!
If you are in a hurry, you can eat these immediately. But I would suggest that you wait. The magic happens when these onions and peppers have some time to really soak in the lime juice. I cover these and set them in the fridge for about 2 hours before we eat them. You could even make these a couple of days in advance as they will keep well covered in the fridge for 3-5 days.
See how the texture and colors change after they have had time to rest?
The onions release extra liquid as they pickle in the lime juice and the texture softens up a bit. You still have a bit of a crunch, but the flavor will mellow. But don’t worry though, this salsa still packs a punch!
What to eat with pickled red onion and habanero salsa
This pickled red onion and habanero salsa has flavors traditional to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It is a must-have condiment for cochinta pibil, relleno negro, or other Yucatan-style foods.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t eat it on other foods too! We use this on just about anything! Scrambled eggs, tostadas, tacos, salads, tamales, quesadillas…the sky is the limit!
It is the perfect salsa to add a spicy, tangy, crunch to just about any dish!
I would love to know how this salsa turned out for you, so let me know in the comments! Happy cooking!
Pickled Red Onion and Habanero Salsa
- 1 1/2 lg red onions, thinly sliced ~1 pound
- 3 habanero peppers, thinly sliced stem, seeds, and veins removed
- 1 cup lime juice
- Salt to taste
- Mix all ingredients in a glass or plastic container1 1/2 lg red onions, thinly sliced, 3 habanero peppers, thinly sliced, 1 cup lime juice, Salt to taste
- Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving