sweet and sour cipolline

Sweet and Sour Cipolline

  • Author: Flavia Scalzitti


Adapted by Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome by Rachel Roddy


  • 1 pound cipolline onions (you can also use “boiler” onions or shallots)
  • 1 plump garlic clove
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 generous Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Peel the onions and soak them in a bowl of cold water for 4 hours. Drain them through a colander. Take two of the onions and chop them finely along with the garlic clove.
  2. Heat a heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sauté the onion-garlic mixture in the oil until they are golden and soft, adjusting the heat as necessary to ensure they do not burn. Once the onion-garlic mixture is cooked, add in the rest of the whole onions and stir to coat them thoroughly with the oil. Season the onions with salt and sprinkle on the sugar. Next, add in equal amounts of red wine vinegar and water until the onions are almost submerged.
  3.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low so the liquid simmers. Partially cover the pan and let it simmer slowly for 2 hours, stirring the onions occasionally. The onions are ready when they are soft and can be easily pierced with a sharp knife. The liquid should be mostly evaporated, thick, and sticky in texture. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Use my measurements as a guideline–the amount of vinegar and water you use will depend on the size of your pan.