Vidalia Onion Relish

August 22, 2018(updated on August 30, 2021)

Back in June, a box of Vidalia onions arrived in the mail. I arranged them prettily in a wooden bowl and let them sit. While they’re less storage friendly than other onions, they were far less demanding than the berries and cherries that were tumbling through my kitchen. Each week, I’d look at that bowl and think to myself, “this week. This week I’ll make a batch of onion relish.”

Then, that week would fly by and I’d start the process over again.

However, last night it happened. I made a batch of Vidalia Onion Relish. And I did it live. I riffed on a recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation that I first learned about from Lyn at Preserving Now (I trust her implicitly when it comes to ingredients native to Georgia). I’d made it first a few years back and when those jars were gone, I knew I had to make it again.

My version is a fairly thick cut relish, so much so that one might even call it a pickle. Because I like to eat it alongside chicken sausage or on a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, I think of it as a relish. To make it more like a true relish, you could use a grater blade on a food processor rather than a slicer blade, or a grinder attachment on stand mixer (or even an old school hand crank grinder). It’s really up to you.

However you make it, this is one worth having in the pantry.

5 from 4 votes

Vidalia Onion Relish


  • 5 pounds sweet onions
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoons turmeric


  • Slice the onions into thin half moons using a slicing blade on a food processor. Put the onions in a large bowl and add the salt. Massage the salt into the onions and let it stand for 30 minutes.
  • When the time is up, pour the onions into a large colander and squeeze the onions to remove the liquid that the salt helped draw out.
  • While the onions drain, prepare a boiling water bath canner and 4 pint jars.
  • Combine onions, vinegar, sugar, and spices in a large pot. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil and boil for 15 to 20 minutes. You want the onions to soften, the liquid to thicken, and for the whole mess to settle and marry.
  • Pack the relish into your prepared jars and cover with liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Vigorously remove the air bubbles. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  • When the time is up, remove the lid from the pot and turn off the heat. Let the jars stand in the cooling canner for an additional five minutes. When that time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

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5 from 4 votes (1 rating without comment)

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30 thoughts on "Vidalia Onion Relish"

  • This looks delicious! Do you think I can get away with reducing the sugar somewhat? I am one of those weird people who don’t like sweet and savory flavors together.

    1. You can try it. There’s no safety or set implications in reducing the sugar here. You’ll just have a slightly reduced yield and somewhat shorter shelf life. If you use the relish you make within a year or so, you shouldn’t have any issues, though.

  • We ate this relish on burgers last night – deelish! Making another batch today – definitely a holiday gift item. Thank you!

  • Made this, reduced the quantity slightly as I had 4 lb onions and had to trim quit a bit from two. So there was lots of liquid left. Peeled and deserved a couple of cucumbers and am trying the brine as refrigerator pickle. How long do you think these would need to set in fridge before I can eat them?

    1. No rinsing. It’s not actually that much salt, and so does double duty. It helps remove excess water and helps season.

  • If i made this in half pints at 10 min waterbath would it be safe? Im at 448-581 ft sea level where i dont have to ad any extra time.

  • 5 stars
    While I plan on making this exactly as is, I have come into a lot of onions I need to process. I wonder this: Would it be safe to pressure can caramelized onions without vinegar or sugar? The vinegar is in this recipe so it can safely be water bathed and the sugar is for longevity. Dry spices can safely be omitted or upped based on taste. Onions can be pressure canned. In theory, I think it’s safe as long as no fat is added but I’m wondering what you think as I can’t find an approved recipe specifically for caramelized onions.

  • I do a lot of canning: my wife loves that I cook! (My French ancestry.)
    I bought 50lbs of Vidalia onions at a 4H fundraiser and thought I’d use a new recipe for my relish this year. Delicious!
    I pushed up the “spicy” on one batch, using some Carolina Reaper pepper the we’ve greenhouse grown. A little goes a long way!

  • So I’ve made the recipe for the first time. I’m concerned as it doesn’t appear that there is very much liquid in the jar. Is this normal? And could this recipe be pressure canned? Thanks.

    1. The onions absorb a good deal of the vinegar, so they don’t need to have a ton of liquid. However, you could pressure can it if you are uneasy.

    1. Sometimes it helps to open the jar and let it breathe for a few minutes before eating. That can help temper the intensity of the vinegar.

  • 5 stars
    This is the best onion relish recipe!
    Thank you for sharing it.
    I did add a little more heat but I do that to a lot of recipes. This is definitely a keeper.
    Do you have a pickled green bean recipe?

  • 5 stars
    Excellent! One of the best relishes I’ve made. Easy and I’ve found you can use any sweet onion. Of course Vidalia onions are the best.