What to eat in Sicily? What to try, 20 best Sicilian meals and desserts

The sicilian cuisine is incredibly rich and varied, often surprising to an inexperienced eye. What’s the Sicilian cuisine like? We’ve collected 20 meals and products that we believe are most worth trying on Sicily. What to eat in Sicily? What meals are must-try? Will vegetarians and vegans also be satisfied? What’s the local and general food like?

Local and general Sicilian cuisine

Although the sicilian cuisine has a lot in common with Italian food, there are many other inspirations to be noted, mainly Arabic, Greek, Spanish and French. This multicultural mold has been forming for over a dozen centuries now, creating what we can see in Sicilian kitchens nowadays. We can read about the beginnings of this mold in a Greek cookbook from the 5th century BC, written by a cook, Mithaecus.

Sicilian ice cream – brioche con gelato

An unironic ice cream sandwich? Seriously? Well, it’s actually deceptively genius. The roll is light and sweet, comparable to french dough or challah. Most food places make their own rolls for Brioche con gelato, so the dough is always fresh and very soft, wonderfully sponging the ice cream from the inside. The dessert is especially worth trying, as it’s incredibly rare to see it anywhere else in the world.

Sicilian Gelato

Cassata siciliana

It’s not without a reason that this, of all bakings, is the most popular on the island. Its form consists of a delicate, fluffy sponge dough (often soaked in Marsala wine), marzipan paste and cream ricotta cheese, with some sugar. The form is decorated with some frosting and candied fruits. The decorations do vary depending on the region of Sicily in question, the baker’s imagination and the occasion, which the cake will accompany. We can encounter Cassata Siciliana with only frosting on top, in the form of a coffee accompaniment or in a more rich setting, as a birthday or holiday cake.

It’s a traditional Sicilian cake, dating back to the Arabian times (around 10th century). Cassata Siciliana came to be as a result of the Arabian import of sugar, oranges and ricotta. In the beginning, the cake was a very simple dessert, which as time went on got modified further and further, like through adding chocolate, frosting or candied fruits. Nowadays, it’s a must to have it during Christmas (originally, it was a festive cake, nowadays eaten all year long).

Canollo siciliano

Most beloved in all of Sicily, Cannolo Siciliano consists of a deep fried dough, filled with a delicate cream, based on ricotta cheese. Often with additional chocolate, pistachio, orange peel or candied fruits. This aromatic, crispy cake is an absolute classic in Sicilian cuisine and you’re sure to find it in every bakery. Depending on the version, it costs around 3 EUR in Sicily, and it is vegan.

Canollo Sicily

Frutti di Martorana

Marzipan fruits are another very characteristic feature of the Sicilian cuisine, often displayed proudly on the storefronts. They’re shiny, beautiful and for many at first glance, they seem inedible. Well, no worries, you’re more than welcome to eat them, but the sheer sweetness of them won’t allow you to eat too many. The marzipan fruits started out in a monastery in Palermo. The nuns wanted to prepare something special, because of the impending arrival of a bishop, but they didn’t have any fresh fruits. So, they decided to use the sicilian almonds instead, and decorate them as if they were the proper ones.

Frutti di Martorana

Paste di Mandorla, almond cookies

Adorable little cookies, made of marzipan cream. Often decorated with almonds, pistachios or candied fruits. Sprinkled with powdered sugar or a bit of frosting on top, the cookies make up a great little snack. They’re easy to make as well, so we can make some at home, if we ever feel like reexperiencing the Sicilian feel. The dessert is vegetarian.

Almond Cookies

St. Agatha’s breasts, a breast-shaped dessert

These round pastries, soaked in frosting or punch, with a filling made of ricotta cheese, chocolate and oftentimes candied fruits. The outside layer is covered in white, thick icing, on top of which a candied cherry is placed. They’re known as St. Agatha’s breasts as a reference to her martyrdom. The dessert is vegetarian.

Saint Agatha Breasts

Cioccolato di Modica, chocolate straight out of Sicily

Modica is a beautiful Sicilian town, worth visiting even just for the beautiful centre, which due to its rich history, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Another reason for the renown of Modica is its local chocolate. Through the traditional, upkept method of making the chocolate, its incredible taste has persisted, and is simply breathtaking.

Modica Sicily

Granita – orange, lemon, chocolate and almond granitas

A fantastic option for when the sun is just a little too ruthless, and all you need is something icy and refreshing. The dessert is made of water, sugar and fruit juices. Its consistency is comparable to that of a sorbet. In Sicily, the most popular variants are the lemon and orange ones, but there are still places offering chocolate or almond granitas. One more to recommend is the coffee granita, which enlivens slightly, while tasting marvelous as it’s made on the basis of real espresso, instead of coffee syrup. The history of granita dates back to the Arabian times, who showed the Sicilians how to store ice, gathered from the high parts of Etna. Thanks to that, all the snow/ice based meals came to be in Sicily for all of us to cherish. The dessert is vegan.


Mpanatigghi, cookies with beef

If you thought that ice cream sandwiches were a bit questionable: there’s more madness – in the form of Mpanatigghis. It’s a cookie with a filling made of three ingredients: chocolate, almonds and beef. The meat is surprisingly not noticeable very much. If you want to taste something absurdly unusual during your Sicily trip, Mpanatigghi has got you covered.


Sicilian oranges, not just the juice

The sicilian blood oranges are everywhere in Sicily, in every shop, cafe, confectionery, etc. You’re sure to get the blood orange juice if you choose a hotel variant with breakfast. During walks, you might also spot them on a street bazaar, in the form of a sweet juice. The orange juice in Sicily tastes entirely differently, not just in comparison to Italy, but the rest of the world.

Oranges from Sicily

Pistachios, pistachio cream, ice cream and more

Sicily and pistachios are an inseparable duo, incredibly popular all over the island. We can find them in both the usual desserts and more consummate creations. You have to try at least a few options that utilise pistachios. The Sicilian cuisine can’t operate without them.

The pistachio ice creams can be found in every single ice cream parlour, often in many variants (for instance, salted, vegan, with cream, with chunks of pistachios). They taste better here than anywhere else in the world.

Pistachio Ice Cream

Pistachio croissants are a great option to accompany the morning coffee with. Sweet and plenty for the first few hours of the day.

It’s also worth it to being a jar of the incredible Crema di pistacchio home with you. You can find the best one near Etna.

Pistachio Sicily

Arancini, rice balls with rich stuffings

A Sicilian classic, which you’ll surely spot when browsing through galleries with Sicilian food. Arancini are rice balls (or cones) with a stuffing in batter, deep fried. The stuffing depends only on the creator’s imagination, but the more popular variants include minced meat with tomato sauce and peas (arancini al ragu), spinach and cheese or pistachio pesto. Arancini is included in fish meals, sometimes they’re served sweet or with just cheese – you’re bound to find something suitable for yourself, no matter how picky you may be. It’s a great option for when we don’t want to stop our journey for too long and want something small and fast. It’s mostly a part of street food, which we can get for around 2 EUR.

Arancini Sicily

Caponata, an Italian letcho

A great Sicilian dish, served both hot and cold. Mostly serves as an appetiser or a salad. It consists of an eggplant (extremely popular in Sicily), tomatoes, onions, often courgette. All the ingredients are braised together, thanks to which a great, aromatic sauce is created. The dish is vegetarian.

Caponata Sicily

Parmigiana di melanzane, an eggplant lasagna?

Although some consider this dish to be originally from Kampania, it’s for the most part considered a Sicilian dish. Another meal based off of eggplants and tomatoes. The layers of vegetables and cheese make this an incredibly aromatic snack. To make parmigiana, we most often use mozzarella, pecorino, scamorza or caciocavallo (one or few at a time). The vegetables are fried, then placed in layers on top of each other and baked in an oven. The dish is vegetarian.

parmigiana regiana

Sfinciona – Sicilian pizza

When in Italy, you’re bound to try the pizza at some point. Having ordered a pizza in Sicily, you’ll find out that it tastes completely differently than anywhere else in Italy. The Sicilians do their pizza their own way, just like everything else actually. The dough is thicker, the pizza is square and has an abundance of toppings. A true Sicilian adds some ingredients that come from Sicily and Sicily only, so often you can find the Sicilian olive oil, tomatoes and cheese. Back in the day, farmers used to take slices of Sfincione to the field, as thanks to its thick, fluffy dough, it was enough to last them half a day. It’s usually served in squares, as the pizza is formed in a rectangular shape. We highly recommend you give it a shot, but if you’re more of a diehard traditionalist when it comes to pizza dough, you’ll find plenty of standard pizza on the island as well.

Sicilian Pizza

Pasta alla norma, a classic pasta

An option for a dinner or supper. Very characteristic pasta for Sicily. It’s a pasta accompanied by eggplants, tomatoes and ricotta cheese. The Sicilian sun provides the tomatoes with a slightly sweet taste, while the fried eggplant becomes incredibly aromatic and strong in taste. Cheese added to this meal is often smoked. The dish comes from Catania, but it’s very popular on the entire island. We can also encounter it sometimes in the rest of Italy. The pasta’s light but nutritious, and is regarded as one of the biggest classics in pasta history of the region. A must-try, that one.

Pasta Norma

Sicilian fishes

Fishes in Sicily are of first-class quality. We can easily find a dedicated, well equipped fish market or a fish shop with some fresh catch. Nearly every marketplace has fishes to sell. In the towns near the seaside, you can even buy fish directly from the fishermen. Do you think you can also find sharks there?

Sicily Fish Market

Sicilian seafood

Similarly to fishes, the seafood of Sicily is praise worthy. We recommend buying some fresh ingredients and cooking something yourselves. If you’re not up for any of that though, you can easily find the seafood in the various booths on the streets or in bars. We highly recommend the red prawns, which although are quite pricey, are worth every penny.

Frutti di Mare on Sicily

Pasta al nero di sepia, the “black pasta”

The black spaghetti is quite an unusual sight. It gains its colour through the ink gathered from squids or cuttlefish. The dye fits adds a bit of a sea aroma, which fits perfectly with the seafood taste. Oftentimes, the pasta is served with vegetables, especially tomatoes and spinach. Nero di seppia, the black dye, can be purchased in jars, in many Sicilian shops, to allow you to recolour your own pasta. You can also try to buy it on fish markets or directly from the fishermen, who often rip out the bladder with the ink, offering a much better quality of the product.

Pasta al nero di sepia

Spaghetti alla Glassa, the ‘leftover’ cuisine

A type of pasta with sauce, typical for Sicily, which like many Italian dishes, was born due to poverty. In the past, pasta was added to stew, since meat was easily accessible during the winter season, and so came to be this dish. Nowadays, we can eat this type of pasta during the summer as well, although it’s not the greatest idea, considering the typical summer experience in Sicily. Spaghetti alla Glassa is a pasta with small chunks of meat (like in a stew), potatoes and some meaty sauce. Very nutritious, was used by heavy workers, like miners. Nowadays, it has become one of the symbols of the ‘leftover cuisine’ of Sicily. Sicilians are generally very attached to their traditions, so they still serve this dish in restaurants and eat it at home, although the economic situation does not force them to whatsoever.

Spaghetti alla Glassa

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