Sicilian foods

Sicilian Foods: A Culinary Itinerary For Every Season

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Ah, Sicilian cuisine – a melting pot of the most unique foods, resulting from the melange of history, culture, and flavors that only this magical island can offer. If there’s one thing I, a proud Sicilian, know for certain, it’s that our food isn’t just sustenance; it’s a love letter to life itself. So, my fellow food friends, welcome to a journey that will transport you through the heart and soul of Sicilian gastronomy.

Picture yourself strolling down cobbled streets that have whispered secrets for centuries, and be prepared to savor the unbelievable food aroma that’s going to hit you from different sides. It could be the fresh scent of the beautiful market produce, or the warm sugary aroma of freshly baked cornetti, not to mention the fragrance of sfincione. 

I just gave you a taste of what’s to come, but that’s nothing compared to all the Sicilian foods we will explore together in this article. Get ready to discover the most authentic, mouthwatering typical Sicilian dishes. I hope you are not too hungry!

“Amunninni”.

(Let’s go in Sicilian)


Sicilian vs. Italian Food

Alright, let’s talk about a culinary showdown that’s as old as time – Sicilian food versus mainland Italian food. There’s no doubt here that both sides bring their A-game to the table. It’s like a friendly rivalry where everybody wins because, well, we get to enjoy the spoils of their kitchen tussle.

So, what sets Sicilian food apart from the broader Italian cuisine, you ask? Imagine a love affair between fresh Mediterranean ingredients and a history that’s as rich and diverse as the island itself. Traditional Sicilian cuisine is a result of centuries of invasions, trades, and cultural exchanges, all simmered down into dishes that are bursting with personality.

When you savor a bite of  authentic Sicilian caponata, you’re not just tasting a symphony of eggplants, olives, and capers – you’re biting into the island’s history, influenced by Greeks, Arabs, and Normans who once left their flavorful footprints. And let’s not forget about Sicilian seafood – oh, the seafood! If you love seafood and fish, think of Sicily’s coastline as your own genie’s lamp. 

Now, don’t get me wrong – mainland Italy has its culinary masterpieces that I love. But while Italian cuisine often celebrates simplicity and purity, Sicilian food is like that spirited cousin who spices things up, daring you to try new flavors and combinations.

From the hearty pasta dishes to the irresistible sweets, every region in Italy boasts its culinary heritage. But here’s the thing: Sicilian food is the canvas on which all these influences converge, resulting in a variety of dishes that are simultaneously familiar and delightfully unpredictable.

So, whether you’re Team Sicily or Team Italy, there’s no losing here. My advice is for you to always keep an open mind, whichever part of Italy you visit. That will help you savor every step of your journey.


Sicilians love cooking with olive oil

Sicilian Food History

There’s only one way to delve into Sicilian food history: by highlighting the most significant events on the island’s timeline that have not only left a mark on Sicilian cuisine but have also played a pivotal role in shaping it into the culinary wonder we know today.

Here are some key milestones in the history of Sicilian cuisine:

  1. Ancient Roots and Greek Influence (8th – 3rd Century BCE)

Sicily’s culinary journey begins with its colonization by the Greeks. The latter introduced olives, grapes, and wheat, thus laying the foundation for staples like olive oil, wine, and bread that are integral to Sicilian cuisine to this day.

  1. Arab and Moorish Rule (9th – 11th Century CE)

The Arab influence brought exotic spices such as saffron, cinnamon, and cloves, which found their way into Sicilian dishes, adding depth and complexity to flavors. The cultivation of citrus fruits, almonds, and pistachios also became prominent during this era.

  1. Norman Conquest (11th Century CE)

The Normans, descendants of the Vikings, brought a gustatory legacy from northern shores to Sicily. They introduced smoked and pickled herring, prized game, and spit-roasted meats. This infusion birthed salt-preserved cod known as baccalà and stoccafisso, playfully named piscistoccu by Sicilians. 

  1. Spanish Domination (15th – 17th Century CE)

The Spanish influence introduced tomatoes, peppers, and chocolate to Sicilian cuisine. Tomatoes became a crucial ingredient, leading to the creation of iconic dishes like pasta alla Norma and Sicilian-style pizza.

  1. Arab Revival and Continued Innovations (18th – 19th Century CE)

The island’s cuisine continued to evolve with the return of Arab culinary techniques, reflected in dishes like Sicilian couscous alla Trapanese. 

  1. Modernization and Global Exchanges (20th Century CE – Present)

The 20th century brought further influences from mainland Italy and international trade. Sicilian cuisine retained its distinct identity while embracing innovations.

  1. Artisanal Revival and Culinary Renaissance

In recent decades, there has been a resurgence of appreciation for traditional Sicilian ingredients and recipes. Artisanal producers have revived ancient techniques, contributing to a renaissance in Sicilian gastronomy.


Sicily is famous for its oranges

Sicilian Food Culture

Sicilian food culture is a puzzle, where each piece adds to its unique and captivating picture.

Here are some key aspects that come together to create the rich fabric of Sicilian gastronomy:

Sicilian Seasonal Food

In Sicily, the rhythm of life harmonizes with the changing seasons, and this is no more evident than in the culinary journey that unfolds from market to kitchen. The island’s reverence for seasonal ingredients isn’t just a custom; it’s a way of life that colors every plate with an authentic taste of Sicilian tradition.

Imagine strolling through vibrant markets, where sun-kissed lemons and fragrant basil tempt the senses in spring. A Sicilian’s basket might overflow with the first peas and fava beans, destined to create vibrant pasta primavera, while gorgeous zucchini flowers promise tasty ricotta filled fritters.

Summer arrives, and the market brims with luscious tomatoes, ripe for sauces that burst with the intensity of the sun itself. Sicilian kitchens resonate with the sizzle of eggplant slices destined for caponata, parmigiana, and pasta alla Norma.

fish market in Catania, Sicily

Summer also brings Sicilian sea gifts, with sardines and swordfish grilled to perfection and enjoyed alfresco. As the days grow shorter, families gather around tables to share simple but warming dishes like pasta e fagioli, polpette al sugo, and homemade focacce.

As autumn’s embrace deepens, porcini mushrooms and chestnuts emerge, signaling hearty ragùs and soups. Winter’s cool breath inspires hearty soups like minestrone, rich with seasonal vegetables, and the tender embrace of olive oil-soaked bread.

This rhythmic dance of market and kitchen is a testament to Sicilians’ respect for the land’s offerings. Sicilians celebrate the arrival of each season like an old friend, anticipating the treasures it will bring. It’s a way of living that carries on the legacy of generations and is deeply intertwined with the environment, where the act of cooking becomes a tribute to both tradition and season. 

10 Sicilian Must-Eats, Independently of the Season

If you managed to read even just a few lines of what I’ve shared with you so far, you should be sold on trying as many as Sicilian foods as you possibly can during your next visit. Even if you don’t plan to travel to Sicily, I am sure you’ll be tempted to google Sicilian food near me. It’s inevitable, and we’ve just started.

To truly embrace Sicily’s essence, one must indulge in its local delights, which have stood the test of time. Here are 10 must-eats that transcend seasons, inviting you to savor the very essence of this remarkable land.

Arancini (n.1 savory dish in Sicily)

No Sicilian food tour would be complete without them. These golden, crispy rice balls filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables are a Sicilian emblem. If you want to go a step further, make sure to try all flavors, including the butter and ham one.

Cannoli (also available with pistachio cream)

A true masterpiece, cannoli’s delicate pastry tubes are filled with sweet ricotta, its origins tracing back to the Middle Ages. You can also find them filled with custard, chocolate, and pistachio cream. Native to Sicily, you can’t miss having one or 10 during your visit to Sicily.

Paste di Mandorla (also available with pistachios)

Almond sweets with a crumbly exterior and a soft, nutty core, paste di mandorla are an iconic Sicilian treat that’s also perfect to take back home as a souvenir. No Sicilian food guide would be complete without these, so make sure to taste them. 

Scacciata (a traditional dish for the holidays)

This savory pastry, resembling a folded pizza, bursts with fillings like cheese, greens, and sausage, a blend of flavors emblematic of Sicily’s culinary diversity. You can also find ham, cheese, and potatoes or the traditional scacciata di tuma, tuma being a local cheese. The one below is my personal creation, filled with potatoes, black olives, broccoli and pecorino cheese.

scacciata pie with olives and broccoli

Pasta alla Norma

Named after Bellini’s famous opera, this Sicilian pasta dish features tender eggplant, tomato sauce, and ricotta salata (aka salted dried ricotta), offering a symphony of Mediterranean flavors. And it’s so good we also have the pizza version. If you love tomatoes, this is a must-eat, and you can enjoy it throughout Sicily.

Local Bread

From mafalda to scacciatella, vastedda, and pani cunzatu, Sicilian bread varieties hold the stories of ancient grain cultivation and daily sustenance.

Olive “Consate” or Condite

A delightful assortment of olives marinated in herbs and spices, these olives are a testament to the island’s love affair with the Mediterranean’s most cherished fruit. Make sure to try the local Nocellara del Belice variety, which has a DOP certification (Protected Denomination of Origin).

nocellara del Belice olives DOP

Cartocciate

A very popular street food from my hometown of Catania, at the foothills of Mount Etna, cartocciate resembles mini calzone pizzas with an array of fillings. From classic tomato and mozzarella to inventive combinations like ham and mushrooms or eggplant and cheese, each cartocciata is the perfect mid-morning or lunch snack.

Casarecce Pasta with Sicilian Ragù

A marriage of textured pasta and slow-cooked ragu, this dish speaks of family gatherings and the art of transforming simple ingredients into comfort. Casarecce is one of the local pasta shapes that you must try.

Baccalà alla Siciliana or Polpette al Sugo alla Siciliana

Whether it’s succulent codfish or tender meatballs bathing in savory tomato sauce, these dishes will surprise you with simplicity and a ton of flavor.


In the next few sections, we will discuss the best food Sicily has to offer by season. So whether you visit in Summer or Fall, you are sure to find a long list of tasty foods to try.


mountain etna Sicily in the snow

Savoring Winter: Top Sicilian Dishes for Chilly Days

As winter wraps its cool embrace around the Sicilian landscape, the culinary stage transforms into a cozy haven, echoing with heightened flavors that mirror the season’s festivities, from the cherished traditions of Christmas to the exuberance of Carnival. 

If you ever find yourself in Sicily this time of the year, I suggest you try a few of the foods on this list. You are going to love them not only because they are seasonal, but also because they are part of the island’s culinary tradition, plus you’ll be eating like a Sicilian.

PS: If you visit during Winter, don’t miss a trip to Sicily’s Etna Mountain, especially when the peaks are full of snow.

Polpette di Mucco

A Sicilian specialty crafted from the petite and elusive bianchetti, or mucco. These tasty meatballs, or patties, are made using the tiny and expensive fish mucco, also called neonati, which are quite difficult to find and are mostly caught in January. They are made with simple ingredients like garlic, parsley, parmesan, eggs, and flour.

Crispelle di Riso Catanesi (aka Zeppole di Riso)

Crafted by the nuns of Catania’s Benedictine Monastery in the 16th century, these sweet rice fritters are a fragrant delight, infused with the essence of oranges and adorned with plenty of local honey. Originating as a cherished treat for the Feast of San Giuseppe on March 19, these fritters have evolved into a year-round comfort. If you taste them, you’ll understand why that’s so.

Sfinci with Anchovies

Sfinci with Anchovies, also known as zeppole, frittelle, crespelle, and “sfinci cu l’anciuovu” are a classic Sicilian street food. Crafted from leavened dough and fried to perfection, these savory fritters are best enjoyed piping hot. While traditionally savored during the festive Christmas season, these make all year long delightful appetizers. 

Pasta ai Cinque Buchi

In the heart of Sicily, precisely in the Catania region, a delectable first course comes to life during the Carnevale week. Unique to the area, Pasta ai Cinque Buchi boasts a pasta shape lesser known in the rest of Italy. Traditionally accompanied by a rich ragu con sugo di maiale (pork meat sauce), and served on Giovedì Grasso (Fat Thursday), each forkful becomes a celebration of Sicilian flavors and tradition.

Timballo di Pasta

Winter calls for hearty indulgences, and timballo, a pasta pie, rises to the occasion. With layers of pasta, meat, cheese, and eggs, and often enclosed in pastry or fried aubergines, it’s a dish that warms both body and heart.

Falsomagro

Another winter delight, falsomagro is a rich stuffed beef roll that graces Sicilian tables, especially on special occasions, like Christmas. This is a dish that originated in Sicily in the 13th century but has stood the test of time. And while it’s traditionally filled with an array of meats, cheese, and peas, each Sicilian family holds tight to their recipe.

eels Sicilians like to enjoy roasted

Anguille Arrostite

Crispy barbecued eels evoke memories of Christmas meals, a tradition rooted in Sicily’s abundance of fresh fish. These roasted eels are cooked on the traditional Sicilian barbecue, called “u fucularu” in the local dialect. Crispy outside, and soft inside, this fish is sweet and savoury, perfect paired with simple salads or a rich caponata.

Mpanatigghi di Modica

These stuffed meat pastries flavored with chocolate, nuts, and warm spices, are a winter delight with a history stretching back centuries, reflecting Sicily’s Moorish influences.

Buccellato

The holiday season brings this fig and nut-studded cake that finds its place on Parlermo’s Christmas tables. If you are in the area, make sure to try some.

Cucciddati

Another fig treat, these fig cookies, are delicious and enjoyed around the Christmas holidays. You can find them plain, or dipped in icing and topped with festive sprinkles.

Minni di Virgini or Minna di Sant’Agata

February’s arrival brings the Sant’Agata Festival in Catania, and these delicacies pay homage to the Saint, who suffered the infamous episode of having her breasts removed. They symbolize her endurance and devotion. Encased in delicate shortcrust pastry, the minne are filled with ricotta di pecora, sweetened with sugar, and adorned with candied fruit and rich dark chocolate. Once baked to perfection, they are iced and topped with a candied cherry.

Raviole Catanesi alla Ricotta

Next time you come during the Winter make sure to indulge in these heartwarming ricotta filled fried pastries. These soft, fried squares of dough hold a delectable ricotta and cinnamon cream, a tempting treat that’s both addictive and unforgettable. If you, like me, happen not to eat ricotta, then you can enjoy graffe Siciliane, a sugary donut that has similar flavors, minus the ricotta.

Sicily in Bloom: Best Foods to Enjoy in Spring

From fresh yet rich soups to Easter delicacies, your time in Sicily during Spring is sure to be a tasty one. Here are my top 6 suggestions for Sicilian foods you need to try during this time of the year.

Maccu di Fave

As spring graces Sicily, Maccu di Fave takes center stage, a comforting soup crafted from crushed fava beans and fragrant fennel. Its heartwarming essence captures the essence of renewal, making each spoonful a taste of the countryside’s vitality. Keep your portion small, as this one is a very tasty but filling dish.

Sfince di San Giuseppe

Sfince di San Giuseppe, delicate pastries filled with ricotta, chocolate, pistachios, and candied orange, honor the beloved Saint Joseph. This sweet treat enjoyed on Father’s Day in March, is a cherished symbol of spring’s arrival and family togetherness.

Capretto al Forno

A classic on Italians’ Easter tables, this roasted kid goat dish is accompanied by golden potatoes. It’s a simple, traditional, yet delicious roast dinner that never lets you down, provided it’s cooked right.

busiate pasta usually enjoyed with pesto trapanese

Busiate col Pesto alla Trapanese

Pasta col Pesto alla Trapanese showcases the vibrant flavors of spring with basil, almonds, and tomatoes. You might have tasted it and loved it, but did you know that the dish was inspired by the Genovese Pesto when the fleets of the Republic of Genoa stopped in Trapani on their way back from Asia?

Involtini di Pesce Spada

Originating from the island’s coastal towns, Involtini di Pesce Spada are tender rolls of swordfish filled with capers, olives, breadcrumbs, and tomatoes. They are famous throughout the island, but especially in Palermo and Western Sicily, where locals love cooking with swordfish.

Gamberi Rossi di Mazara

Gamberi Rossi di Mazara, or red shrimp of Mazara, shine as vibrant jewels of spring. Served raw or gently cooked, their succulent sweetness is a testament to the sea’s offerings, embodying the essence of the season’s culinary delights.


outdoor restaurant; Sicily in Summer

Eat These If You Visit Sicily in Summer

If you’d rather visit Sicily during the scorching hot Summers, there are many delicious dishes that are going to make enduring that heat worth it.

Granita ca brioscia

Sicilian summer mornings are best greeted with “a granita câ brioscia” – a true match made in culinary heaven. The refreshing granita and the fragrant brioche creates a symphony of flavors and textures, that’s great eaten for breakfast but also as a mid-morning snack. This icy treat is a blend of water, sugar, and fruit, churned into a granular yet creamy consistency. 

Granita is eaten with the “brioscia col tuppo”, referring to the soft bun, where the top part resembles a hair chignon worn traditionally by Sicilian women. The most typical flavors include almond or chocolate, although usually the two are combined in the same glass. Granita di limone and granita di gelsi (mulberries) are also very loved by the locals.

Brioscia con Gelato: The Sweetest Union

For those who like me love the “brioscia col tuppo” so much, granita can’t be the only way to eat it, right? Well, that’s probably what led to the tradition of cutting the brioche in half and filling it with ice cream, any flavor you like, topped with fresh cream and crumbled nuts. This is the perfect Summer treat, or merenda, to enjoy while you are out and about or when the ice cream van comes around. 

spaghetti con le cozze

Spaghetti con le Cozze

In the heart of summer, Spaghetti con le Cozze captures the essence of the Mediterranean coastline. Succulent mussels play the lead role in this pasta dish, accompanied by plump cherry tomatoes that burst with vibrant flavor. A sprinkle of breadcrumbs adds a satisfying crunch, providing a delightful contrast to the tender seafood. This is a simple yet flavorful dish that proves how tasty poor man’s food can be.

Pasta con le Sarde

Pasta con le Sarde tells a tale of Sicily’s cultural fusion, where sardines meet fennel, pine nuts, raisins, and saffron. This rustic pasta dish embodies the flavors of both sea and land. According to a local tale, pasta with sardines was invented by an Arab chef serving under General Eufemio from Messina, during the Arab military campaign in the area of Siracusa.

Sicilian fried seafood called fritto misto in Italian

Fritto Misto

As summer unfolds, Fritto Misto emerges as a crispy delight – a medley of golden-fried goodness. Battered and fried seafood and vegetables – from fried eggplant to cauliflower, arancini and panelle – should all be on your Sicilian street food tour.

Insalata di Polpo

Cool off in the summer heat with Insalata di Polpo, a refreshing octopus salad that captures the essence of the sea. Tender octopus mingles with crisp celery, carrots, and the briny pop of capers, all drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a splash of lemon. It’s a refreshing taste of coastal charm, perfect for a light and satisfying Sicilian meal.

Caponata

Caponata is a beloved Sicilian dish that embodies the bounty of summer. Tender eggplant, savory olives, and tangy capers come together in a rich tomato-based sauce, creating a delicious dish to enjoy as contorno (side dish) or antipasto. You can enjoy it warm or cold, but whatever you do, make sure to have it with local bread.

parmigiana di melanzane aka eggplant

Parmigiana

Layers of thinly sliced, fried eggplant are the star of Parmigiana, a comforting summer dish. Although it’s not clear whether this dish originates from Parma or Sicily, I am going to stick with the Sicilian origins, especially since the main ingredient – eggplant, was first introduced in Sicily by the Arabs. Like many local dishes, every Sicilian city and family has its variations. Mine includes layers of fried eggplant, with a classic tomato sauce, plus cotto ham, parmesan, mozzarella, and both beaten and boiled eggs.


Harvesting Fall: Sicily Food Guide of the Season

If Fall happens to be your favorite travel season, then you might also like to know that’s the perfect season to come to Sicily. It’s warm, but not hot, and certainly not cold. You can still enjoy many of the Summer delicacies I just shared with you, but you can also enjoy many dishes and products available in the colder months. Here are the ones I suggest.

Zucca in Agrodolce (Sweet and Sour Pumpkin)

A rustic dish from Palermo, zucca in agrodolce is a simple yet delightful creation. This Sicilian specialty features tender chunks of pumpkin, infused with the harmonious contrast of sweet and sour flavors. Typically enjoyed as a side dish or a starter, it captures the essence of fall’s comforting culinary traditions.

Pasta chi Vruccoli Arriminati

Another beloved Palermo classic, “pasta chi vruccoli arriminati” boasts bold and intense flavors that define the Sicilian palate. The term “arriminato” refers to the skillful blend of ingredients – tender broccolo-cavolfiore, complemented by the sweetness of onions, raisins, and pine nuts. Saffron and salted sardines lend depth to the dish, while toasted breadcrumbs provide a satisfying crunch.

Broccolo cavolfiore refers to a hybrid between broccoli and cauliflower that grows near Mount Etna, and it’s bright green.

Spaghetti col Nero di Seppie (Squid Ink Pasta)

Hailing from Eastern Sicily, spaghetti col nero di seppie reflects the resourcefulness of Sicilian fishermen. The dish marries the flavors of fresh squid, squid ink, garlic, pomodorini, and parsley. Every twirl of the fork captures the essence of the sea, delivering a memorable and rich taste of Sicilian coastal cuisine. 

Pasta Ncasciata

A cherished creation across the Messina region, pasta ‘ncasciata is a layered pasta dish made of maccheroni, ragù, meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, salami, caciocavallo cheese, fried eggplant, and peas. The result is a rich pasta dish that never fails to impress.

Bottarga

Bottarga, a delicacy crafted from salted and dried fish roe, graces Sicilian tables during the fall. Made from muggine (grey mullet) or tonno (tuna) eggs, bottarga offers a burst of savory richness. Often grated over pasta or enjoyed as an antipasto, it adds depth to dishes and pays homage to Sicily’s maritime heritage.

Couscous alla Trapanese

This dish marries flavors of Sicilian cuisine with North African influences, resulting in a captivating dish that captures the essence of the fall season. This flavorful creation features tender fish, aromatic spices, and toasted almonds.

Rame di Napoli

My favorite Sicilian Fall treat, with its intense chocolate flavor complemented by cinnamon and cloves, will surely please all chocolate lovers. These cookies, soft and cake-like in texture, are crowned with a luscious dark chocolate glaze and adorned with grated pistachios. Originating from Catania, they add a touch of elegance to fall celebrations, particularly around All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Ohh, how I wish I had one of these, or better four, as I write this during mid-Summer :).


All Year Round Sicilian Foods To Try

If all the above suggestions weren’t enough, you can find more in this long list of Sicilian dishes and local delicacies available all year long.

  1. Pesto al Pistacchio: Delicious Sicilian pesto, made with pistachios for a unique flavor.
  2. Sfincione: Traditional Sicilian pizza, topped with tomatoes, onions, and caciocavallo cheese.
  3. Pasta coi Ricci: Pasta with sea urchin, capturing the essence of the sea.
  4. Spaghetti alla Carrettiera: “Cart driver’s spaghetti,” a simple and flavorful pasta dish.
  5. Pani Ca Meusa: A street food delicacy, sandwich with veal spleen and caciocavallo cheese.
  6. Panelle: Chickpea fritters are usually enjoyed inside a bun, perfect for vegetarians.
  7. Pane Cunzatu: Sicilian “dressed bread” with olive oil, tomato, and various toppings.
  8. Cipollina: A square shaped puff pastry filled with tomato sauce, onions, ham, and cheese.
  9. Crocche: Potato croquettes, a popular snack.
  10. Pizzolo: A rustic sandwich-style Sicilian pizza with various toppings.
  11. Carne di Cavallo: Horse meat, enjoyed roasted on the barbecue with a salad.
  12. Stigghiola: Grilled or fried skewers of lamb or goat intestines with lots of onion.
Sicilian sausage
  1. Fennel Seed Sausage: Flavored with aromatic fennel seeds.
  2. Involtini di Pollo: Chicken rolls often stuffed with cheese and ham.
  3. Insalata di Musso: Raw beef salad, a unique delicacy.
  4. Coniglio in Agrodolce: Sweet and sour rabbit stew.
  5. Insalata di Patate Siciliana: Sicilian potato salad, typically with capers and olives.
  6. Insalata Eoliana: Aeolian islands salad with tomatoes, olives, and capers.
  7. Salmoriglio: A tangy and aromatic dressing used for fish and meat, made with garlic, EVOO, lemon and seasoning.
  8. Carciofi Ripieni alla Siciliana: Sicilian stuffed artichokes.
  9. Ricotta (Fresh, Salted, or Baked): Different varieties of local ricotta cheese.
  10. Pecorino Pepato: Sheep’s milk cheese with peppercorns.
  11. Caciocavallo: Semi-hard cheese aged for robust flavor.
  12. Provola Siciliana: Smoked cheese with a distinct taste.
  13. Ragusano DOP: A semi-hard cheese from Ragusa.
  14. Cosacavaddu Ibleo: A local cheese from the Iblei mountains.
  15. Fiore Sicano: Soft milky cheese with a thin moldy crust.
  16. Canestrato Siciliano: Basket-aged cheese with nutty flavors.
  17. Nero d’Avola Wine: A popular Sicilian red wine grape variety.
  18. Vino della Casa: House wine, a staple in many restaurants.
  19. Marsala: Fortified wine used in cooking and sipping.
  20. Amaro: Bitter herbal liqueur enjoyed as an aperitif.
  21. Limoncello: Refreshing lemon-flavored liqueur.
  22. Mandarinetto: Mandarin-flavored liqueur.
  23. Rosolio: Sweet and aromatic liqueur.
  24. Cassata: Rich and elaborate Sicilian dessert cake.
  25. Frutta Martorana: Marzipan fruit-shaped sweets.
  26. Gelato: Traditional Italian ice cream.
  27. Torta Setteveli: “Seven veils cake,” a layered chocolate delight.
  28. Cioccolato di Modica: Distinctive, crumbly chocolate from Modica.
  29. Pistacchio di Bronte: Renowned pistachios from Bronte.
  30. Genovesi from Erice: Erice’s famous pastries filled with pastry cream.
  31. Mandarinetto al chiosco: a local zesty and refreshing drink in Sicily made with mandarin oranges; other flavors are also available.


If I could Only Eat 10 Classic Sicilian foods..

As we near the end of this rather epic article (trust me, it’s been a tasty journey), let’s dive into my top 10 Sicilian foods. Picture this: I’m stranded on a desert island and I can only have 10 Sicilian delights to keep me company. Tough choice, right? Thankfully, real life isn’t that strict, and I can still relish all those mouthwatering dishes I’ve come to love.

Here are the 10 dishes I would bring with me.

  1. Pizza alla Norma – local pizza topped with tomato sauce, fried aubergines, fresh basil leaves, and grated cured ricotta cheese.
  2. Scacciata di Broccoli e olive – stuffed focaccia with broccoli, olives, and pecorino cheese.
  3. Pasta con la mollica – rigatoni with a sweet tomato sauce made with onions, topped with toasted breadcrumbs and anchovies.
  4. Orata con salmoriglio – sea bream, usually grilled on the barbecue, topped with olive oil, lemon, garlic, and parsley dressing.
  5. Pane Cunsatu – my grandma’s homemade bread seasoned with local extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  6. Rame di Napoli – the chocolate spongy biscuits that are popular come November.
  7. Graffe – fried doughnuts in the shape of a horseshoe, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Gelato – tiramisu, “nocciola” (hazelnut) and chocolate are my favorite flavors.
  9. Panino con la melanzana fritta – local mafalda bread roll with slices of hot seasoned fried aubergines topped with melted cheese.
  10. Parmigiana di melanzane


Traditional Sicilian Food from My Childhood

Before I end this article, let me share with you three culinary experiences that I think you should embrace while in Sicily.

The first, which is close to my heart, is the so-called “arrusta e mangia”, which usually involves the family around the table and one or two people barbecuing meats, and/or fishes, which are enjoyed with salads and other side dishes while chatting and laughing.

“Caffè ghiacciato” is another lovely memory I hold about my grandma making this cold coffee drink, which she would share with family and friends who came to say hello throughout the day. Caffè ghiacciato is similar to Caffè Shakerato – read more about that in my Italian breakfast article

And a final one is from when I was a tiny cute girl, and my Sicilian grandma used to make the “biancomangiare”, which translates to white food. This is a sort of custard that dates back to the Middle Ages, made with milk infused with spices, usually vanilla, and then stored into old ramekins until it cools down and solidifies. It’s best refrigerated and enjoyed cold. This was my favorite merenda, and I was lucky enough to hold onto a couple of the precious ramekins that used to belong to my grandma.



Final Thoughts on What to Eat in Sicily

As a proud Sicilian, I’ve had the privilege to share with you the beautiful and tasty Sicilian cuisine, where every dish is a testament to the island’s rich history and the passions of its people.

Walking those cobbled streets, wandering through vibrant markets, and unlocking the secrets of ancient recipes, we’ve woven a tale of how diverse influences have shaped and enriched Sicily’s gastronomic legacy. Sicilian cuisine isn’t just about ingredients – it’s a profound connection to our roots, a celebration of our culture, and a symphony of flavors that dance in harmony with the land and sea.

From the irresistible allure of a Cannolo, to the comforting embrace of Maccu di Fave, each dish carries a narrative that reflects the ever-evolving spirit of Sicily. The sweet Pasta alla Norma, the hearty indulgence of Sfincione – all echo stories told around family tables, in sunlit courtyards, and against the backdrop of breathtaking seascapes. This is more than food; it’s a journey into the heart of Sicilian life.

Now, whether you’re charting your course to Sicily or letting your taste buds explore from afar, I extend a personal invitation. Join me in savoring real and truly local Sicilian foods. 

Ni Viremu.

(Arrivederci in Sicilian, aka see you soon)


Frequently Asked Questions about Sicilian Food

Do Sicilians use butter? 

No, Sicilians rarely use butter in cooking. Olive oil is the fat of choice, except for baking.

What is the most famous Sicilian food? 

Arancini, the stuffed rice balls, are one of the most iconic Sicilian foods. Cannoli, caponata, and pasta alla Norma are other iconic dishes. 

What do Sicilians call sauce? 

Sicilians use the Italian word “sugo” to refer to sauces, especially tomato sauce. “Salsa” is also sometimes used.

What is the most common pasta in Sicily? 

Busiate, a long twisted pasta, and casarecce, a twisted pasta shape resembling strozzapreti, are very common in Sicilian cooking. Maccheroni is another widely used shape.

Why is bread in Sicily yellow? 

Sicilian bread is often yellow because durum wheat semolina is commonly used. The semolina gives it a golden hue.

What spices are used in Sicilian cooking? 

Common spices and aromatics include garlic, onion, oregano, basil, fennel, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chili flakes.

Do Sicilians drink coffee? 

Yes, coffee is very popular in Sicily. Cappuccino, espresso, and caffè ghiacciato are beloved morning drinks.

What food to bring from Sicily? 

Great edible souvenirs include olive oil, pistachios, almond pastries, marsala wine, limoncello, cannoli shells, and dried pasta shapes.

What food is Catania famous for? 

Catania is known for dishes like pasta alla Norma, carne di cavallo, cartocciate, and cassata Siciliana.

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