You’d think that an island situated in Italy would have almost the same cuisine as its country but such is Sicily that it has a unique cuisine all of its own. This means that you can't just rely on Italian cookbooks, you need cookbooks that are specific to Sicily.
A lot of those differences are due to the island's incredible history. For over two millennia, Sicily has been occupied by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French, and Spanish. This has resulted in the local cuisine absorbing their various cooking traditions and techniques so that Sicilian cuisine became a league of its own from Italian cooking.
And yet they both share some traits; Sicilian food still uses lots of pasta, olive oils, wines, and seafood. But where they differ is in the use of various agrodolce (sweet-and-sour) sauces which are paired with vegetables, fish, and pasta sauces, along with strong bitter flavorings from the use of local, seasonal ingredients like artichokes, cardoons, and wild greens.
A good Sicilian cookbook will teach you all that and give you a strong selection of authentic recipes to draw upon. But the best ones also offer you a gorgeous look into the culinary history of the region’s food and cooking techniques.
These books combine great food writing with detailed recipes so that when one reads through the cookbook, it’s like being on a trip to Sicily because the flavors are so evocatively described and the pictures so vividly photographed.
In this list, I’ve selected the best cookbooks that offer accessible recipes with great food writing. You’ll be reading them from page to page long after you’re done cooking the recipes.
Here are my top ten Sicilian cookbooks on Amazon.
Table of Contents
- Best Sicilian Cookbooks
- 1. Made in Sicily Hardcover – Illustrated
- 2. Sicilian Feasts, Expanded Edition Hardcover
- 3. Sicily: Recipes from an Italian island Hardcover
- 4. The Sicily Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from a Mediterranean Island Hardcover – Illustrated
- 5. Sicily Hardcover
- 6. Sicilian Food: Recipes from Italy's Abundant Isle Paperback – Illustrated
- 7. Ciao Sicily: Recipes from the PBS Series Cucina Sicilia (Ciao Series) Hardcover
- 8. Sicilia in Cucina: The Flavours of Sicily Hardcover
- 9. Foods of Sicily & Sardinia and the Smaller Islands Hardcover
- 10. Flavors of Sicily: Fresh and vibrant recipes from a unique Mediterranean island
- Top Pick
Best Sicilian Cookbooks
- Made in Sicily Hardcover – Illustrated
- Sicilian Feasts, Expanded Edition Hardcover
- Sicily: Recipes from an Italian island Hardcover
- The Sicily Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from a Mediterranean Island Hardcover – Illustrated
- Sicily Hardcover
- Sicilian Food: Recipes from Italy's Abundant Isle Paperback – Illustrated
- Ciao Sicily: Recipes from the PBS Series Cucina Sicilia (Ciao Series) Hardcover
- Sicilia in Cucina: The Flavours of Sicily Hardcover
- Foods of Sicily & Sardinia and the Smaller Islands Hardcover
- Flavors of Sicily: Fresh and vibrant recipes from a unique Mediterranean island
1. Made in Sicily Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook explores the rich food culture of Sicily with authentic recipes and great writing on the history and communities of Sicily and Sicilia. Most of the recipes are based on typical Sicilian ingredients like anchovies, eggplant, olives, artichokes, tomatoes, capers, and dry pasta. There’s also a chapter on Sicilian wine.
Some of the recipes require advanced techniques and long prepping times but in general, the selection is very accessible since these are basic family recipes used regularly in Sicilian home cooking. Directions are straightforward with workable and easy to make alternatives for Sicilian ingredients. There’s also beautiful food photography.
Readers liked the food writing and the quality of the recipe selection. One said that this cookbook has one of the best insights into the history and food culture of this ethnic cuisine. Another liked how it’s also a great travel guide for anyone wanting to visit the island.
Recommended for experienced home cooks and anyone interested in Sicilian home cooking.
2. Sicilian Feasts, Expanded Edition Hardcover
This is a cookbook that presents traditional recipes that date back to the 19th century and earlier. In this expanded edition, a new chapter explores the origins of the Mediterranean diet and includes Sicilian recipes that fit its guidelines. Samples of the recipes include Winter Caponata, Kohlrabi Soup, Kale with Fava Beans, and Sesame Candy with Almonds.
Recipes are simple and use ingredients that are easily available in fresh markets. Most of them are ideal for everyday meals and there is a small selection for holiday or party fare. It also includes Feast Day Menus and an appendix that lists where to buy authentic Italian ingredients and cooking equipment.
Those with Sicilian heritage found the selection authentic and reminded them of heirloom recipes that their grandmothers used to make. Those who tried them had great results. Another enjoyed the snippets of Sicilian culture showcased in the book.
Great for anyone looking for heirloom Sicilian recipes and home cooks familiar with Sicilian cuisine.
3. Sicily: Recipes from an Italian island Hardcover
This cookbook immerses the reader into Sicily’s food scene with a collection of recipes that range from street food to pasta dishes and salads to mains. Most of the basic Sicilian recipes are well covered in this book, with some surprising additions like gluten-free focaccia and pasta dishes. Samples of the selection include Pasta Alla Norma (pasta with tomatoes and eggplants), Ricotta-Filled Sweet Delight Cannoli, Slow-Cooked Pork, Beef & Sausage Ragu, and the classic Semifreddo.
Recipes are well-written and easy to follow. Most have beautiful full-color photos of the featured dishes.
Readers liked this book because it reminded them of their grandma’s cooking. One liked it because it effortlessly conveyed a sense of the place through the well-curated selection of recipes. Another enjoyed its food writing.
Good entry-level book for beginners and experienced home cooks.
4. The Sicily Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from a Mediterranean Island Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook features recipes from three types of Sicilian cooking: Cucina Povera (peasant food), Cibo di Strada (street food), and Cucina del Monsù (sophisticated food). It has more than 70 traditional recipes that use lots of spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplants, and seafood.
Recipes are easy to follow but since they rely on traditional ingredients, most of the items on the ingredient lists may be hard to find in American markets. There are, however, some recipes that can easily be replicated in a home kitchen.
The food writing is good though which makes this an enjoyable read for foodies interested in Sicilian cuisine. One recommended this book for three stand-out recipes: the Vegetable Pie with Pasta and Custard filling, Pasta with Ricotta, and the St. Bernardo Sauce.
Great inspirational cookbook for Sicilian foodies and cookbook collectors.
5. Sicily Hardcover
From the Silver Spoon Kitchen, this cookbook features more than 50 simple and authentic recipes that highlight Sicily’s regional produce and important ingredients.
Recipes are straightforward with clear instructions. Each one comes with full-color photos of the dish for easy reference. Those who’ve tried them found them to be reliable and delicious. Samples of the selection include Classic Arancini, Farsumagru (Stuffed veal), Pasticcio di Pollo (Chicken pie with pistachios and almonds), and Gamberi e Capperi (Prawns/shrimp with capers).
Readers found this a good companion to Phaidon’s Silver Spoon cookbook on Italian cooking. One found it an informative read on the history and geography of Sicily as it shaped the local cuisine. Another liked its book design.
Recommended for any serious cookbook collector and fans of the Phaidon cookbook imprint.
6. Sicilian Food: Recipes from Italy's Abundant Isle Paperback – Illustrated
This is a historical cookbook that mixes authentic traditional Sicilian recipes with great writing about the island’s history and gastronomy. There is lots of information about the culinary origins of many ingredients, along with old engravings and drawings. There are also lots of black and white photos that supplement the visual layout of the book
Many of the recipes are accessible by beginner and experienced cooks, should one wish to try them. Some readers found this book useful as a resource for culinary inspiration. One was able to cook a seven-course Sicilian Easter feast by drawing on the book’s recipe selection for inspiration. Another called this the definitive book on Sicilian cuisine.
This is essential reading for Sicilian foodies and a must-have for cookbook collectors.
7. Ciao Sicily: Recipes from the PBS Series Cucina Sicilia (Ciao Series) Hardcover
A book tie-in of a popular cooking show, this cookbook features over 150 Sicilian recipe favorites that have a dash of American influence. Samples of the selection include Swordfish Stewed with Tomato, Potatoes, Olives, and Capers, Pasta with Sicilian Squash and Fava Beans, Sicilian Seafood Soup, Pasta with Sardines and Fennel, Pork Chops with Caper Sauce, Lamb Stew, and Blood Orange Cake.
Recipes are clearly written and are accompanied by photos of the featured dish. There’s also lots of advice on different techniques that beginner cooks will find useful.
Readers liked the section on how to set up a Sicilian pantry in order to replicate the recipes. Another liked its informative Sicilian daily meal presentations.
Recommended for fans of the Cucina Sicilia cooking show and anyone looking for Sicilian-American recipes.
8. Sicilia in Cucina: The Flavours of Sicily Hardcover
This cookbook presents a snapshot of Sicily’s culinary culture through its selection of 80 recipes that range from traditional favorites to modern creations. There is also a section on the island’s historic wineries and another on its herbs.
Recipes are straightforward but a bit more complex than the usual ones that accompany tourist cookbooks. Directions are written in English and Italian. Some of these recipes will require ingredients that may not be easily available in local American markets but will certainly be accessible through online outlets.
Those who tried the recipes found them manageable and delicious. Many liked the novelty of its bi-lingual recipes. Others found this book a great souvenir of their past trips to Sicily.
Recommended for experienced home cooks and anyone looking for a gorgeous coffee table cookbook on Sicilian cuisine.
9. Foods of Sicily & Sardinia and the Smaller Islands Hardcover
This cookbook not only highlights Sicilian and Sardinian cuisine but also the food found in the neighboring islands of Elba, Giglio, Capri, and Ischia. The regional recipes are accompanied by a gallery of color photos depicting wild landscapes, old ruins, and ancient cities. Samples of the selection include Grilled Eggplant in Salmoriglio, Sicilian Pesto, Pasta Baked in a Squid, Lemon-Flavored Ossobuco with Cannellini Beans, and Sardinia-style Polenta with Sausages.
Most of the recipes are seafood-based but some of the specialty ingredients may be difficult to source locally. There are, however, easy substitutions for most of them. None of the recipes are ideal for beginner cooks, as some have extensive prepping/cooking times, while others require homemade pasta.
Ideal for experienced home cooks and professional chefs looking for authentic regional recipes from Southern Italy.
10. Flavors of Sicily: Fresh and vibrant recipes from a unique Mediterranean island
This cookbook features light and tasty Sicilian dishes that would fit well in a Mediterranean diet. There are lots of vegetarian dishes, along with traditional dishes that have interesting twists. Samples of the recipes include Arancini di Riso (risotto balls) , Gustoso Olive Bianche (olive relish), Insalata di Tarocchi (blood orange and red onion salad), Minestra di Tenerumi (zucchini leaf and fresh tomato soup), Sarde a Beccaficco (stuffed sardines), and Abbacchio alla Cacciatovia (pan-fried spring lamb with herb and anchovy sauce).
Recipes are easy to follow and use staple ingredients like tomatoes, olive oil, sheep’s milk ricotta, wild fennel, and citrus fruits. Gorgeous food photography accompanies each recipe. The cookbook also has lots of practical and personal tips for every recipe featured.
Readers liked how the recipes are accessible and easy to make. One found it a great resource for summer entertaining. Another found it a great addition to any cookbook collection.
Recommended for cooks of all skills and anyone looking for light, healthy Sicilian cuisine.
MADE IN SICILY by Giorgio Locatelli
Both travel guide and recipe book, this cookbook will transport you to Sicily with its mixture of evocative writing and authentic recipes. Because it draws from Locatelli’s culinary adventures in Sicily, those who plan to visit the island would do well to pick up recommendations and tips from this book.
Recipe-wise, many readers who tried them found the dishes to be delicious and accessible for home cooks with general kitchen skills. There are also substitutes for ingredients that can only be found in Sicily, which should make replicating these dishes easy in an American home kitchen. One reader singled out its collection of sweets (dolci) recipes which are “stunning.” Another found its section on making Sicilian frozen desserts very instructive.
Overall, a great book to add to any cookbook collection.