Vietnamese Pickled Onions (Hanh Dam) is a great side to enjoy with many popular Vietnamese dishes. All you need is 3 ingredients and 30 minutes!
These Vietnamese Pickled Onions (Hanh Dam) are a Vietnamese classic!
You've seen these beautiful pickled tucked into banh mi sandwiches, served on top of steaming bowls of pho, and as side accompaniments to many Vietnamese plates with rice (or rice noodles), steamed meats and grilled meats.
Like Nuoc Cham / Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce), Vietnamese Pickled Onions are one of those supporting items that you don't think too hard about. It's just always there.
But if you even omit it from a dish, it feels like something key is missing. So pickled onions might be considered a side dish, but it's a super important one.
These onions are bright and tangy and make a wonderful contrast to meats and starch. They also help add a layer of unexpected complexity and brightness to any rich or heavy dish.
Best of all? They are super duper easy to make. You just need an onion, vinegar, and sugar. And 30 minutes!
You can then use the pickled onions to complete and enhance a number of dishes (we have a ton of suggestions down below). I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Here's what you'll need:
- Onion - you can use a plain yellow onion, but if you can find sweet onions, definitely use that instead.
- White vinegar
See recipe card for quantities.
Let's get cooking ^_^
In a large bowl, combine the white vinegar and sugar. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Add the thinly sliced onion. Gently mix and make sure all the onions are completely covered with the vinegar mixture.
Set aside for 15-30 minutes to let the onions pickle and absorb the vinegar. You can occasionally mix the onions to make sure that all the slices are being evenly soaked in the pickling liquid. Then it's ready to eat and enjoy!
Store leftovers in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few popular ideas that we like to do:
- Make it spicy - Add finely chopped red chili peppers to the pickling mixture. We like to use red Thai chili peppers. If you don't have fresh chili peppers, consider using red chili flakes.
- Rice vinegar - Use rice vinegar instead of white vinegar for a more gentle pickle. We also use rice vinegar in our recipe for Japanese Pickled Cucumbers.
- Red onion - Use red onion (instead of yellow onion or sweet onion) for a different, more bold flavor profile.
- A variety of spices - You can add a number of other spices to the pickling liquid. Peppercorns and coriander seeds are very good with this recipe.
How To Serve
Vietnamese Pickled Onions are super versatile! There are many ways to serve them:
- Add the pickled onions to salads, like we do in our Vietnamese Salad / Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga).
- Layer the onions into sandwiches (like banh mi).
- Add the onions to a bowl of pho.
- Serve the onions as a side to accompany other Vietnamese dishes like Vietnamese Ginger Chicken, Cha Trung (Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf), and Thit Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork and Egg).
- These onions also pair well with bbq type of dishes like Lemongrass Chicken.
- We also love adding them to homemade tacos!
Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Place the leftovers in a container and add a little vinegar (just enough to cover the onions).
Note: The longer you keep the leftover the more pickled/vinegar-y they will get. We like it best when it's lighter/less pickled so we try to prepare just enough for a few days.
These are quick pickles (just 15-30 minutes) but if you're really really short on time, slice the onions extra thin.
The thinner you slice the onions, the quicker they will pickle!
Make simple Japanese Pickled Cucumbers ^_^
Soak the sliced onions in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes before adding them to the vinegar and sugar mixture. This will make the onions extra crisp and fresh tasting.
Yes, the longer you pickle it, the more vinegar-y it will taste. We generally prefer a light/quicker pickling period. However there is no right or wrong, it's just personal preference and taste.
We do not recommend reusing the pickling liquid.
These pickled onions goes by a few different names, and they all refer to the same thing:
- Vietnamese Pickled Onions
- Hanh Dam
- Vietnamese Style Onions in Vinegar
- Vietnamese Vinegared Onions
You can add a pinch of salt for extra flavor!
Sometimes we also stir a spoonful of Nuoc Cham / Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce) into the mixture ^_^
Vietnamese Pickled Onions (Hanh Dam) Recipe
Vietnamese Pickled Onions (Hanh Dam)
- In a large bowl, combine the white vinegar and sugar. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Add the thinly sliced onion. Gently mix and make sure all the onions are completely covered with the vinegar mixture.
- Set aside for 15-30 minutes to let the onions pickle and absorb the vinegar. Then it's ready to eat and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator. It will keep for 2-3 weeks.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these: