Cipolline sott’Aceto: Marinated Baby Onions

Marinated Baby OnionsCipolline onions (those small wide flat onions) are another sign that Spring is on the way. This recipe uses inexpensive commercial Balsamic vinegar to create syrupy sauce. If you can’t find Cipolline onions or don’t want to pay the price, use small boiling onions. Serve as a side dish to meat or as an antipasto.

Recipe for 4 servings as a side dish, 8 servings as an antipasto.

Ingredients and equipment:

  • 2 pounds small cipolline or boiling onions (about 1-½ each)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup commercial-grade balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup water (if needed)


Bring a large enameled cast iron pot of unsalted water to a boil. Meanwhile. cut a “cross” in the root end of each onion. Meanwhile, Add the onions and boil for 1 minute. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Once cool, use a knife and trim off the very top of the onion. Remove the skin from the onion, which slips away fairly easily. Wash your hands frequently as this will help with peeling the onions. (You can leave any tiny roots on the onions intact).

Add the olive oil to the large pot that was used to boil the onions. Bring the oil to almost smoking hot and add the butter. Stir the butter in the pot until it melts completely and the foam from the butter subsides. Add the drained onions and cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown all over. You will need to stir the onions frequently so they color on all sides. While browning, any skins that you failed to take off the onions will come loose. Use a pair of tongs to pick them out of the pan and discard.

Add the sugar, vinegar and rosemary to the pot. Cook the onions over a medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes until nicely colored. If the mixture becomes dry, add ¼-cup of water at a time to add liquid.

Once the onions are cooked, removed them to a serving dish with a slotted spoon. If necessary, boil the vinegar mixture down to create a syrup. Be careful not to burn. Sparingly spoon the syrup over the onions. A little goes a long way.

Serve hot as a side dish to a meat or allow to cool to room temperature and serve as an antipasto.

Join the Conversation

  1. Hi there.
    hoe long will these onions keep in the fridge?
    would it be possible to put them in sterilised jars & keep for several months? Thank you for your help, kind regards,

    1. Annie.. Thanks for your question. These should keep for about a week in the fridge. As far as storing in jars, I don’t think that will work for this recipe as written. Storing things in jars requires a liquid. Perhaps you could create one with a little water and vinegar. Thanks. Joe

    2. says:

      Thank you for your reply. Annie

  2. These are spectacular — i served than as a condiment at our Thanksgiving and they stole the show. And let me tell you, there was some competition. Thank you so much for offering this recipe.

    1. Julie: Thank you very much. These are one of my favs too! Happy Thanksgiving! Joe

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