Cannoli and arancini are some of the most famous Sicilian dishes. But before you go to Sicily, make sure to check out our guide for the best places in southern Italy and Sicily. Then, be prepared to be amazed at how diverse and varied Sicily’s food is!
Sicily’s hot-potato history, where everyone from Normans to Arabs has governed it, means that Sicily’s cuisine is a mix of many cultures. The island is also extremely fertile, producing a variety of produce including olives and lemons, tomatoes, olives, oranges, and lemons, as well as grapes, almonds, and grapes. What is the result? The result? A fresh, diverse, and delicious cuisine!
These are just a few of our favorite Sicilian foods!
Arancini Take a bite out of one of these fried rice balls and you’ll find everything from meat ragu, mozzarella, or peas inside. They are a popular street food from Sicilia, and they are the southern cousin to Rome’s cheese-filled Suppi.
Pani Ca meusa: The name of this street food literally means “bread with the spleen”. Don’t let this scare you. It’s a bread with a sesame flavor, filled with chopped spleens, and stuffed full of veal lungs. It’s delicious! This is Palermo’s speciality. Nota Bene: Don’t miss this amazing city. To learn more about Palermo, visit our Palermo City Guide.
Pane and pannelle: Panelle, or chickpea fritters, are a Palermo street food that is served with bread like a sandwich.
Sfincione: Like a pizza… but even better. The crust is soft and delicious and the toppings include onions, caciocavallo and bread crumbs.
Caponata This dish is similar to many Sicilian recipes. It’s based on eggplant. The eggplants are sliced and fried. Finally, they are seasoned with sweet balsamic vinegar, capers, pine nuts, raisins, and sometimes capers. This sweet-and-sour “salad”, which is delicious as an accompaniment to the main meal, can be used as a contorno or even as the main dish.
Parmigiana di melanzane: Yep, more eggplant! English speakers refer to eggplant as “eggplant Parmesan”, although there is no parmesan in this dish. It’s sliced and fried and then layered with cheese, tomato, and other ingredients. You won’t find chicken or veal Parmesan in Sicily, nor anywhere else in Italy. That’s because that’s what the immigrants from Italy made up when they left home.
Spaghetti al Ricci: Seafood, even sea urchins, is a specialty of Sicily. Although this spaghetti is simple to prepare, it can take a while. The sea urchins must be cut in half, avoiding the spines. The “good” portion of the meat should be removed. The meat gives the spaghetti a subtle, slightly salty flavor. It takes approximately 15 sea urchins to make one serving of this pasta dish.
Pasta Alla Norma: This popular Italian pasta dish is a result of the migration to eastern Sicily. It’s made with fried eggplants, tomatoes, basil, and ricotta Salata.
Pasta Al Pesto Di Pistacchi: Although most people think of basil from Liguria when they think of pesto, it could also be used to make any other sauce similar to pesto.
Pasta con le sardeSardines are a popular ingredient in Sicily so you’ll often see them used as a topping to pasta. Bucatini with sardines and saffron, saffron pine nuts, and raisins are a common choice.
Involtini Siciliani: These “Sicilian rolls”, made of veal and tomatoes, are filled with onions, tomatoes, raisins, and pine nuts.
Polpo bollito Sicilian fish is so fresh that it rarely comes with sauces or seasonings. This is the classic example: Simply boil octopus.
Frutta Martorana:Other countries call it “marzipan”, but in Sicily the almond paste is made into tiny (extremely realistic!) shapes. Fruits–hence fruit of Martora or frutta maritorana.
Cassata Siciliana: A sponge cake is made by soaking it in liqueur and then layering slices with sweetened Ricotta. The whole thing is covered in almond paste and then icing. You can also add candied fruits and other treats to the cake. This one is for serious sweet tooths!
Cannoli What’s not to like about this Sicilian delight? A tube of fried dough is filled with sweetened mozzarella and often decorated with candied fruit, pistachios or chocolate chips.
Granita The perfect summer refreshment is granita. It originated in Sicily and can be found all across Italy (including Rome–see the video below!). Granita is simply ground ice mixed with sugar and fresh fruits. But it’s as refreshing as it sounds.