Bobby Flay's Secret To Colorful Pickled Onions

Pickled onions can be a sneaky but successful game-changer in various dishes. You can use the extra acidic and crunchy onions as a topping on tacos, salads, and even sandwiches. Plus, pickled onions make for a great garnish, especially when they appear bright, pink, and vibrant.

Getting this appearance, however, is easier said than done. Pickling onions isn't the same as fermenting them, though the resulting flavor is similarly acidic. To get perfectly pickled onions, you have to cut the vegetable and submerge the slices in a jar of spices and a vinegar-based liquid. This liquid typically consists of vinegar, water, sugar, and salt that have been heated and poured over your onions. Once you refrigerate your submerged onions for a few hours, they'll be pink and pickled.

Yet to ensure that your onions have the right color and taste, celebrity chef Bobby Flay recommends adding another pickling ingredient to the mix — or, rather, to the jar. Flay has no shortage of home cooking tips and tricks, but this particular suggestion may catch you by surprise. His secret ingredient is as sweet as it is pink and draws inspiration from yet another vibrant food.

Grenadine lends a pomegranate-red hue and sweetness to pickled onions

For a pop of sugar — and pomegranate-pink onions — Flay adds some grenadine to his pickling mixture. "For the perfect pickle, we also need a little bit of sweetness," the chef explains on Food Network (via Twitter).

Paired with red wine vinegar, grenadine is an untraditional pickling ingredient. After all, homemade grenadine — a syrup of pomegranate juice, lemon, and sugar — typically pairs best with Shirley Temples and fruit-based cocktails. In pickling, however, grenadine adds a hint of sweetness that counterbalances and brightens vinegar's acidity. While you can surely use regular sugar alongside your vinegar, grenadine adds color. It serves multiple purposes and is a one-stop shop for your pickling needs.

To pickle onions with grenadine, simply combine the syrup with red wine vinegar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and pour the resulting liquid over your onions. You'll have pickled onions in no time. But if impatience strikes, why not use the leftover grenadine to whip up a tequila sunrise cocktail? Depending on your intended use for the onions, you can choose between cocktails that pair well with tacos, salads, or whatever else you're planning to make. Who knew that grenadine could be an all-purpose ingredient? The next time you make pickled onions, you won't be in a pickle to put grenadine to good use.