Traditional Italian Friggione (which is Stewed Onions and Tomatoes) or what the Italians call ‘Il Friggione Bolognese’ is made with just 2 simple ingredients. Stewed for hours to bring out the sweetness of onions and tomato. Perfect as a side dish or an appetizer on crusty bread.

Friggione (cooked onions and tomatoes) in a large bowl viewed from overhead

What is Friggione?

Pronounced free-jo-nay, is a traditional local dish from Bologna, Italy. It is 90% onions and 10% peeled tomatoes that are stewed in a little fat (traditionally lard, but olive oil or butter can be used) until they are softened and naturally sweet. Sounds luscious, doesn’t it?

Wow, do the Italians know how to take 2 simple ingredients and turn into something so delicious or what? (Yeah, they do!).

Bologna is a beautiful city and to experience that city the right way, sitting outside at a restaurant in the Piazza Maggiore and sampling this local dish for the first time is definitely the right way! This is one of the great, simple culinary pleasures to come out of Italy and definitely not to be missed.

The Italians do call this a Bolognese sauce (not to be confused with my ever popular Bolognese Sauce/Ragu). And fun fact, both this Friggione recipe and the traditional meat Bolognese recipe is housed in the Bologna Chamber of Commerce. So, they’re very much authentic and are true Italian culinary delights.

This is a dish that can be made and served as an all-year round treat. You can serve it warm in the winter and room temperature in the summer. 

OK, I know what you might be thinking. Since this is an onion heavy dish that it is going to be overpowering on your taste buds when, in fact, it is strangely quite the opposite! Due to the onions being cooked for so long, they mellow out quite dramatically and become more flavorful and less pungent.

Preparing Friggione

You have to first prepare the onions. Once thinly sliced, they have to macerate (soften) in a little sugar and salt for 2 hours and be prepared as this step comes with a strong caution! They will omit the strongest onion aroma all over your kitchen and beyond. So, if you are sensitive and to some watering eyes, put them in a well ventilated area.

A closeup of onions and tomatoes that have been cooked until softened

Slicing onions for Friggione

With a sharp knife and good knife skills, you can slice them thinly by hand or use a mandolin, if you have one, which makes it much easier.

Use the best tomatoes for your Friggione

Good canned tomatoes or fresh seasonal Roma tomatoes are the best. If using canned, remember to buy a good brand like Mutti or San Marzano for the best flavor with no added ingredients.

When it’s tomato season, this would be a delicious and easy way to use up your bounty. However, there is a little more work involved to prepare the tomatoes, they must first be peeled. Want to know how to successfully peel your tomatoes? Read on!

How to Peel Tomatoes

There are 2 ways to peel a tomato. You can score the skin with a knife and peel. Or the easier method is to use boiling water. Score the bottom of the tomato with an X using a sharp knife.

Bring a pan of water to a boil and turn down the heat. Add the tomatoes for 20 seconds then remove them and immerse immediately into cold water. Once cool enough to handle, they will easily peel. Easy peasy!

How to make Easy Friggione

Keep in mind that although this is a relatively easy dish to make, it is not a quick one to make. The onions must sit for 4 hours with salt and sugar to soften and bring out their natural juices. Then they need to slowly cook in lard for 2 hours, after which the tomatoes are added and cooked for a further 2 hours.

Onions and tomatoes on a slice of crusty bread

Onions for Traditional Italian Friggione (Stewed Onions and Tomatoes)

Onions are the main component to this dish, so the correct onion should be used. White is traditional for it’s mild flavor, and definitely do not use yellow or red onions.


Lard is what is traditionally used in Italy. If you do not want to use lard, you can substitute a good olive oil (or oil of your choice) or butter.

Crostini topped with onion and tomato with chunks of Parmesan cheese.

How to serve Friggione

On top of crostini/crusty bread (like bruschetta), or served as a sauce with cooked chicken or fish. I also love to serve with chunks of Parmesan cheese (pictured above.

This recipe yields 5 cups/250 grams. 8-10 people for an appetizer.

More Italian Sauce Recipes:

Roasted Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

Sicilian Tomato Pesto Sauce

Italian Sausage Ragu

Yield: 8

Traditional Italian Friggione (Stewed Onions and Tomatoes)

Stewed onions and tomato in a bowl

Thinly sliced onions are stewed long and slow with tomatoes.

Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 5 hours


  • 3 pounds (1.5kg) white onion, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lard, olive oil or butter
  • 14 ounces (400 grams) whole, peeled tomatoes (canned or fresh)


  1. Cut the onions in half, then slice very thinly. You can use a good, sharp knife or a mandoline. Add the onions to a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar and salt over them. Stir well to combine and leave for 2 hours to soften and release all the liquid goodness.
  2. After 2 hours, to a large saucepan, add the lard, oil or butter over low heat. Once melted, add the onions and liquid.
  3. Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the tomatoes, stir well, cover partially and cook for another 1 hour. Remember that you want it thick and without much liquid. If you still have liquid in the pan, cook further until evaporated with the lid off.
  5. Serve on crusty bread.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 115Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 3mgSodium 272mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 3gSugar 10gProtein 3g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.