Bobby Flay's Secret Hack For Perfect Pickled Onions

When it comes to elements that can elevate a dish without much effort on your part, the pickled onion is one you should not overlook. Epicurious explains that the versatile component transforms the simple onion into something with much more complexity and flavor. It can be used to top items like sandwiches, burgers, tacos, salads, or even scooped atop hot dogs for the perfect leveled-up barbecue offering.

Television personality, restaurateur, and cookbook author Bobby Flay is also firmly in the pro-pickled onion camp. In a short video clip shared by Food Network on Twitter, the culinary star praised the ability pickled onions have to bring a combination of tartness, sweetness, and crunch to a dish, all at once.

He walked an eager audience through his particular process for making the versatile ingredient, including how he slices the raw onion into thin half-moon shapes to get long pieces of perfectly pickled onion. Flay, who is used to whipping up dishes in a hurry on the culinary competition shows he's involved in, also shared his tip for how to fast-track the pickling process, explaining how he pops the onions pickling in hot liquid into the refrigerator with a few ice cubes so they'll be ready in a mere 30 minutes or so.

However, Flay also shared a unique ingredient that is his secret weapon for making perfect pickled onions — and it's likely one you may not have thought to ever use in this context.

The secret ingredient: grenadine

Grenadine is something you might have kicking around with your cocktail ingredients, and you might assume it can only shine in beverages. After all, as explains, it can give a red or pink tint to a variety of cocktails, infuse a bit of sweetness to counteract the spirits or sour elements in the drink you're whipping up, and also provides a hint of fruity flavor notes.

As Bobby Flay explained in the Twitter clip, all those elements that make grenadine a superstar in the cocktail world are exactly why it works so well in pickled onions. First of all, it adds some sweetness, which is needed to balance out the tartness of the vinegar in the pickling mixture (while you could use whatever vinegar you have handy, Flay prefers red wine vinegar). Second, unlike sugar, which imparts sweetness and nothing else, the grenadine also gives the pickling mixture and therefore the pickled onions that signature reddish-pink tint that makes them so distinct. So, whatever dish you're using the pickled onions on will receive not only a burst of flavor but also a pop of color.

Food blog Eat The Bite whipped up Flay's pickled onion recipe — which includes just enough grenadine to add that sweetness and color without being overpowering — and one commenter who made the dish couldn't get enough. They wrote in the comments section that the pickled onions "turned out so delicious that I want to put it on everything!"