Cipolline all’agro Dolce

Braised Sweet and Sour Onions

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Italian Cooking

Classic Italian Cooking

By Valentina Harris

Published 2008

  • About

This is one of my favorite vegetable dishes and is traditionally made using those marvelous flat little ready-peeled button onions which you can so conveniently buy in Italy. If you can’t find these onions (called borettane) you can use pearl onions or small shallots instead. You can use less or more vinegar for this recipe, partly because of personal taste, but also because I find the acidity level in good-quality vinegar sometimes varies wildly.


  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 lb small onions, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a wide, deep skillet for about 3 minutes, then add the onions. Toss them in the hot oil until they begin to brown, then add both vinegars, sugar, and seasoning.
  2. Stir and simmer, uncovered, until the acidic fumes from the vinegars have burned off. Add just enough water to barely cover and reduce the heat.
  3. Cover the skillet with a lid and simmer gently for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. If there is too much liquid left at the end, when the onions are tender and soft without being mushy, remove the lid then remove the onions with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish. Increase the heat to reduce the excess liquid. This can be poured back over the cooked onions. Serve hot or cold.