Sicilian sauces: traditional recipes

Sughi Siciliani: le Ricette della Tradizione

Introduction to traditional Sicilian sauces

In our exploration of the best Sicilian sauces to enjoy in all seasons, it is essential to begin with an Introduction to traditional Sicilian sauces. Sicilian cuisine is renowned for its richness of flavor and the way it combines simple ingredients into extraordinarily delicious dishes.


  • Caponata is a sauce made from aubergines, celery, tomatoes, onions, green olives, capers and pine nuts. This preparation is a riot of flavors that blend harmoniously into a rich and tasty dish. At Frantoi Cutrera you can also find its variant based on artichokes .

Pesto sauce in the Trapani's style

  • Trapani pesto is a Sicilian variant of classic pesto, made with dried tomatoes, almonds, basil, extra virgin olive oil and pecorino cheese. Its intense flavor and creamy consistency make it ideal for seasoning pasta.

Sicilian ragù

  • Sicilian ragù is a thick, rich condiment prepared with beef, sausage, tomatoes, onions, celery and carrots. It is traditionally served with fresh pasta such as tagliatelle or semolina pasta.

In Sicily, the preparation of sauces is an art passed down from generation to generation, with each family jealously guarding their secret recipes. Combining high-quality ingredients and culinary passion, Sicilians create dishes that capture the essence of the region in every bite.

The story behind Sicilian sauces

Sicilian sauce recipes have deep roots in the history of the island and reflect the influence of the various civilizations that have governed Sicily over the centuries. This extraordinary culinary tradition expertly mixes native ingredients with exotic spices from distant lands.

  1. The Arabs: During the period of Arab domination in Sicily, ingredients such as saffron and raisins were introduced, which give Sicilian sauces a unique and refined flavor. Furthermore, the Arabs introduced the concept of sweet and sour, which has become a distinctive feature of many Sicilian sauces.

  2. The Normans: With the arrival of the Normans, Sicilian cuisine underwent further influences. Ingredients such as cinnamon and black pepper were introduced, adding depth and complexity to Sicilian sauces. Furthermore, the Normans brought the use of dried fruit and citrus fruits, which are often present in many traditional recipes.

  3. The Spanish: During Spanish rule, various preservation techniques were introduced, such as the use of olive oil and anchovies in oil. These ingredients have become pillars of Sicilian cuisine and are often used to prepare rich and tasty sauces.

  4. Today: Today, Sicilian cuisine continues to evolve, but the historical roots of the sauces remain solid. The recipes handed down from generation to generation tell the fascinating story of an island rich in flavors and culinary traditions unique in the world. Let yourself be transported back in time as you savor the delicious Sicilian sauces that tell centuries of history in every bite.

Key ingredients for authentic Sicilian sauces

When creating Sicilian sauces, we use fresh, high-quality ingredients to ensure an authentic and delicious flavour. Here are some of the key ingredients that cannot be missing to prepare traditional Sicilian sauces:

  • Fresh Tomatoes : We use ripe, juicy tomatoes to create the base of our Sicilian sauces. Sicilian tomatoes, such as cherry tomatoes or those of the datterino type, provide a sweet and intense flavor. You can find different varieties and types of Sicilian tomatoes in our shop.

  • Fresh basil : Basil is a fundamental aromatic herb in Sicilian sauces. Its fresh and strong aroma adds a touch of freshness to our dishes.

  • Onions and garlic : Sweet onions and fresh garlic cloves are essential ingredients for creating the aromatic base of Sicilian sauces. They allow us to give depth of flavor to our dishes.

  • Anchovies and sardines : Anchovies and sardines are blue fish widely used in Sicilian cuisine to add a salty flavor and unique aroma to sauces.

  • Pine nuts and raisins : Toasted pine nuts and raisins soaked in vinegar are typical ingredients of Sicilian sauces that add a crunchy and sweet note to our dishes.

  • Pecorino and ricotta : Sicilian cheeses such as pecorino and fresh ricotta are often used to enrich sauces with creaminess and flavor.

  • Chili pepper and cinnamon : Spicy chili pepper and ground cinnamon are spices that give a warm and enveloping touch to our Sicilian sauces, creating a unique balance of flavors.

With the use of these authentic and genuine ingredients, we are able to prepare Sicilian sauces that pass down tradition and passion for local cuisine.

Classic recipe for sauce alla norma

We Sicilians love to celebrate the culinary tradition of our land through dishes rich in flavor and history. One of the most loved recipes is certainly the sauce alla norma , a condiment that brings with it all the authenticity and taste of Sicilian cuisine.


  • Purple aubergines: 2
  • Extra virgin olive oil: 4 tablespoons
  • Peeled tomatoes: 400g
  • Fresh basil: to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper as needed
  • Salted ricotta cheese: 100g
  • Spaghetti: 320g


  1. To start, we cut the aubergines into cubes and place them in a bowl with plenty of salt for about half an hour. This step serves to eliminate the typical bitterness of aubergines.
  2. After letting the aubergines rest, rinse them under running water and dry them carefully.
  3. In a large pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil and add the aubergines. Cook until they become soft and golden.
  4. Add the peeled tomatoes and a pinch of salt, cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, boil the spaghetti in plenty of salted water.
  6. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and season it with the standard sauce.
  7. Before serving, add fresh basil leaves and grated ricotta salata cheese.

Thus, by preparing and enjoying this dish together, we will celebrate the love for Sicilian cuisine and its traditions handed down from generation to generation. Enjoy your meal! If you don't have the time or way to prepare the traditional Sicilian sauce alla norma, you can find it prepared by us by clicking here .

Secrets for a perfect Sicilian tomato sauce

We love preparing Sicilian tomato sauce following some secrets that make the dish even more irresistible. Here are our recommendations:

  • Use fresh, ripe tomatoes : the secret of a good tomato sauce lies in the quality of the ingredients. We choose Italian tomatoes, preferably in season, to obtain an authentic flavour.

  • Brown the garlic and onion slowly : before adding the tomatoes, fry the garlic and onion in extra virgin olive oil over a low heat. This step will give the sauce a rich and enveloping flavour.

  • Add fresh basil at the end of cooking : to preserve the fresh aroma of the basil, we add it only at the end of the preparation, stirring delicately to blend the flavors.

  • Adjust the sauce with a pinch of sugar : if the tomatoes tend to be too acidic, add a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors and make the sauce more balanced.

  • Cook over low heat : let the tomato sauce simmer over low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. This way, the flavors will concentrate and the sauce will become tastier.

By following these secrets, we will be able to prepare a Sicilian tomato sauce that will conquer the palate of anyone who tastes it.

The tasty sardine sauce

In Sicily, sardine sauce is a traditional dish prepared with simple ingredients but with an intense flavour. The family recipe that we have passed down from generation to generation involves starting by carefully cleaning the sardines, removing the bones and the head, and then marinating them in a mixture of lemon juice, parsley and garlic. While the sardines rest, prepare a sauté with onion, celery and fennel which will flavor the sauce.

"The aroma wafting through the kitchen as the sardine sauce slowly cooks is simply irresistible."

We add fresh peeled tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, raisins, saffron and black pepper to create a mix of flavors that blend delicately. When the sauce has reached the right consistency, add the marinated sardines and let everything cook over a low heat until the fish is soft and tasty.

  • We marinate the sardines in lemon juice, parsley and garlic
  • Let's prepare a sauté with onion, celery and fennel
  • We add fresh peeled tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, raisins, saffron and black pepper
  • Add the sardines to the sauce and cook slowly

Sardine sauce is a dish that embodies the genuine Sicilian tradition, a combination of flavors that blend harmoniously into a unique and irresistible dish. Definitely worth trying in every season, to savor a piece of Sicily through a tasty culinary journey. If you're already hungry, at Frantoi Cutrera you can find various fish-based sauces in our Sauces category.

Regional variations of Sicilian sauces

The regional variations of Sicilian sauces offer a culinary journey through the different traditions and tastes of the island. From Trapani to Catania, from Palermo to Syracuse, each area has its own peculiarities and recipes handed down from generation to generation. Here are some regional variations of Sicilian sauces that are worth tasting:

  • Trapani sauce :

    • Typical ingredients include fresh tomatoes, almonds, basil and garlic.
    • The consistency is dense and rich, perfect for seasoning short pasta such as busiate or casarecce.
  • Catanese sauce :

    • A sauce made with tomato, fried aubergines, salted ricotta and fresh basil.
    • A perfect combination of flavors that represents the Catania culinary tradition.
  • Palermo-style sardine sauce :

    • Prepared with wild fennel, breadcrumbs, raisins and pine nuts.
    • A mix of flavors that recalls the Arab influences in Sicilian cuisine.
  • Syracuse sea urchin sauce :

    • A seafood concentrate prepared with fresh sea urchins, garlic, parsley and chilli pepper.
    • A delicious dish that celebrates the Syracuse coast.

Tasting these regional variations of Sicilian sauces will allow you to immerse yourself in the culture and culinary traditions of the island, offering a tasty and authentic experience. Enjoy your meal!

How to use Sicilian sauces in the kitchen

We love experimenting in the kitchen and Sicilian sauces offer a wide range of possibilities to create tasty dishes in all seasons. Here are some ideas on how to best use them:

  • Pasta with tomato and tuna sauce : Boil the pasta al dente and add it to the tomato sauce seasoned with tuna, capers and olives. A classic combination that will make you feel like you are in Sicily. We prepare a mouth-watering version! Discover it by clicking here.

  • Rolls with sauce alla norma : Prepare meat rolls stuffed with fried aubergines, cheese and ham. Cook them in the sauce alla norma, rich in tomato and aubergines, for a dish full of flavours.

  • Swordfish with lemon and almond sauce : Sauté slices of swordfish and blend them with a sauce made with lemon, parsley and chopped almonds. A light and tasty dish perfect for summer.

  • Meatballs with tomato and mint sauce : Prepare meatballs flavored with fresh mint and serve them with a slightly spicy tomato sauce. A tasty alternative to classic meatballs with sauce.

Experiment with Sicilian sauces in the kitchen and be inspired by the culinary traditions of this magnificent Italian region!

Tips for storing homemade sauces

When we prepare our delicious homemade Sicilian sauces, we want to make sure that they keep their incredible flavors intact even in the following days. Here are some tips on how to best preserve homemade sauces:

  • Cooling down:

    • Wait for it to cool completely: Before storing sauces, make sure they have cooled completely to room temperature.
  • Suitable containers:

    • Airtight containers: Transfer the sauce to airtight glass or plastic containers to maintain freshness.
    • Individual portions: If you prepare a large quantity of sauce, dividing it into individual portions will allow you to defrost only as much as necessary.
  • Freezing:

    • Freeze correctly: If you want to preserve the sauce for a longer period, freezing is the best solution. Be sure to freeze the sauce in suitable containers and label them with the preparation date.
  • Quick consumption:

    • Within a few days: Fresh homemade sauces are best consumed within 2-3 days. Be sure to consume them quickly to fully appreciate the flavor.

By following these simple tips, you will be able to enjoy your delicious homemade sauces for a long time.

Conclusions and next steps

We traveled through the scents and flavors of Sicilian cuisine, discovering traditional and tasty recipes to prepare sauces that will delight the palate in every season. Now that we've learned how to create some of the island's most iconic dishes, we can put our culinary skills to use and delight family and friends with our favorite Sicilian dishes.

Here are some next steps we can take to continue our culinary journey through Sicily:

  • Exploring new recipes: Let's try experimenting with other Sicilian sauces, such as pesto alla trapanese or sugo alla norma, to broaden our culinary repertoire and discover new fascinating flavours.
  • Visit to local markets: To ensure we use the freshest and most authentic ingredients, we can visit local markets to purchase typical Sicilian vegetables, spices and condiments.
  • Cooking courses: To deepen our knowledge of Sicilian cuisine, we can participate in specialized cooking courses that will teach us traditional techniques and the secrets for preparing delicious dishes.
  • Sharing our creations: We invite friends and relatives to taste our Sicilian dishes and share with them the culture and culinary tradition of the island, creating special and convivial moments.

The journey to discover Sicilian sauces has just begun. We continue to explore, savor and share the delights of the cuisine of this wonderful Italian region. Enjoy your meal!