Anna Maria’s Cipolline in Agrodolce (Little Onions in Sweet and Sour Sauce)

Anna Maria, my next door neighbor here in Umbria (who is originally from Rome), shared with me her version of this popular Roman recipe for onions – an ideal dish for autumn. Small, whitish onions, cipolline, are used here in Italy, but you can substitute pearl onions or even larger sweet onions, cut into pieces. The visual result won’t be the same with cut onions, but they’ll taste just as good!


  • Approximately 20-24 cipolline, cleaned and peeled
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste

Warm the olive oil in a deep pan on low/medium heat, then add the onions, wine, balsamic vinegar and spices. Cover and simmer on low for 3-4 minutes, then uncover and continue to simmer, stirring gently as needed. Continue to cook until the onions are soft, and the liquid has reduced to the consistency of thick syrup. (If needed, add a bit of water to continue to cook the onions until they are soft.)

Serve warm, or at room temperature, as a side dish.


Pamela Haack is an author, specialized travel consultant and founder of Off the Beaten Strada where she creates and hosts custom retreats in central Italy, for travelers who wish to be immersed in the history, culture and traditions of the region.

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  1. Those onions look so yummy! Great plate they’re sitting on also!! 🙂

  2. I have never made these! They look so yummy. I must try them.

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