My Spiedini alla Siciliana is a delicious recipe that is perfect for entertaining and impressing your guests with flavor!
You’ll love that these beef spiedini can be easily prepared in advance, baked when needed and served with my simple Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad or my Green Beans and Potatoes. Hassle-free entertaining is only a recipe away!
I adapted this recipe from an authentic Sicilian cookbook purchased during a visit to Sicily. This recipe for beef spiedini is packed with Southern Italian flavors – from the fragrant bay leaves to sweet red onions and the cheesy breadcrumb stuffing. Plus, I’ve included helpful tips for slicing the beef very thinly so the spiedini are incredibly tender and juicy.
Traditionally, spiedini are grilled or even shallow fried in olive oil. However, my spiedini recipe is so much more convenient because they are drizzled in olive oil and baked in a hot oven. The smell of these spiedini baking in the oven will have the whole neighborhood asking what is for dinner!
Why you love this Spiedini recipe:
- This Italian beef dish is ideal for entertaining and celebrations because it is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
- Beef spiedini are popular with both adults and children alike. It’s the perfect family recipe to suit all tastebuds.
- These are ideal when prepared in advance and popped in the oven when you’re ready. No frying fiddly Italian skewers!
- My Spiedini alla Siciliana packs incredible flavors with basic, everyday ingredients.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
- Beef – Spiedini alla Siciliana is all about the succulent beef. I used a whole eye of round but you could also use rump or fillet. It needs to be sliced very thinly so if you’re not confident ask your butcher. I popped the piece of beef in the freezer to chill and took it out right before it froze completely – this made slicing it so much easier. Once you have thinly sliced steaks, you’ll need to pound them with a mallet to make them even thinner.
- Black pepper – Freshly ground pepper is best. Avoid old pepper that has been sitting in the pantry for too long as it can taste dusty.
- Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil is my preference here. It has a strong peppery taste and goes perfectly with the other flavors in these spiedini. If you just have regular olive oil, don’t worry, it will still do the job.
- Onion – A small regular brown onion will do here.
- Water – Just a little tap water is required to help soften the onion whilst frying.
- Tomato paste – A little tomato paste adds a lot of flavor to this spiedini recipe. I also love that it adds color and richness to the spiedini bread crumb mixture.
- Breadcrumbs – I always make my own breadcrumbs with stale or leftover bread and store them in an airtight container in the freezer for occasions like these. But you can definitely use regular store-bought bread crumbs if that’s all you have.
- Parsley – Flat leaf Italian parsley is my preference for making spiedini alla Siciliana but you could use the curly variety if that’s all you can find.
- Pecorino Romano cheese – also known as Romano. It is very similar in appearance and taste to Parmigiano Reggiano but I prefer using Pecorino Romano in Southern Italian dishes because of the big and bold flavors. I find Pecorino Romano is more pungent, salty and savory than Parmigiano and works so well in the spiedini. But Parmigiano is a fantastic substitute.
- Red onion – The red onion is skewered in between the stuffed beef for additional flavor. The sweetness in the red onion is the perfect combination with the savory flavors in this spiedini recipe.
- Bay leaves - Fresh bay leaves are my preference here. If you don’t think bay leaves have much flavor, then you haven’t used fresh! I have a small tree in my garden and would be lost without it. A fresh bay leaf is skewered in between the stuffed beef and adds such an incredible flavor to the spiedini. If you can’t find fresh, dry will do.
First prepare the bread crumb mixture for the filling.
- Fry a small onion in olive oil and then add water to soften. Mix in the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add breadcrumbs.
- Fry, stirring constantly until bread crumbs are toasted.
- Once cooled, add parsley, finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese and salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC and have ready two large baking sheets.
Peel and quarter the red onion. Separate the red onion layers.
- Slice beef into steaks thinly. Then pound the beef steaks so that they become even thinner and cut into small pieces. Sprinkle each salt and pepper.
- Take one of the slices of beef and place about a tablespoon of the breadcrumb mixture on the short end, roll up quite tightly and fold in the sides to seal in the filling. Repeat with the remaining beef slices and breadcrumb mixture.
- Thread four rolls onto a wooden skewer. Placing a bay leaf and piece of onion between each roll. Pour the extra olive oil on a flat plate. Do the same with the breadcrumbs on a separate plate. Dip all the skewered spiedini in olive oil then in the breadcrumbs.
- Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle any leftover oil over the spiedini.
Place in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden on the surface. Turn them halfway through cooking to have an even browning of the breading.
- Instead of using tomato paste, you could use fresh tomatoes, puree or even tomato passata.
- You can substitute seasoned breadcrumbs for extra flavor like my Italian breadcrumbs.
- If you can’t find Pecorino Romano, replace it with Caciocavallo cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Try adding some texture to the bread crumb mixture like pine nuts, pistachios, olive pieces or raisins.
- For a zesty flavor, add some lemon or orange zest to the breadcrumbs.
- You could add salami or ham to the filling.
- Instead of using beef, you could try a chicken spiedini version with thinly sliced chicken breast.
These beef spiedini are ideal prepared in advance, up until the breading stage and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days. When you are ready to bake them, remove from the refrigerator, arrange on the baking sheet and drizzle them with a little olive oil.
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and are best reheated before serving.
Tips and FAQs
It is very important that the beef is thinly sliced and pounded. I find it is easiest to slice the steaks thinly when the beef is very cold. It’s for this reason that I leave the piece of beef in the freezer until it is just about to freeze before I begin slicing it. However, if you don’t feel confident, ask your butcher to slice the steaks as thinly as possible.
Spiedini can be made smaller and served as finger food or an appetizer.
In Italian, spiedini literally translates to skewers.
Spiedini alla Siciliana originates from the island of Sicily in the South of Italy, however, it has become very popular among American Italians. These Italian skewers resemble a kebab and are served during warmer months when it is comfortable to cook outside on the grill. This recipe is for beef spiedini that are stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs and skewered with sweet red onion pieces and bay leaves. However, you can find other traditional spiedini recipes with chicken or fish throughout Italy.
Spiedini and braciole are similar in that they are both forms of stuffed rolled beef, however the two Sicilian dishes are actually quite different. Spiedini are skewered together to form a ‘kebab’ of sorts and cooked without any sauce. Traditionally spiedini are cooked on a grill or fry pan with olive oil, but I find it easiest to bake them in the oven. Whereas braciole are cooked long and slow in a rich tomato sauce. The sauce is served with pasta for the first course and tender braciole are served on their own for the second course.
Made this recipe?
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- 2 pounds eye of round beef rump or fillet steak (1 kilogram)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 onion finely chopped
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups bread crumbs
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 ounces finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese 60 grams
- 1 red onion
- bay leaves- fresh or dried as needed
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil extra (more if needed)
- 1 cup bread crumbs extra
- I buy a whole piece of beef whether it be eye of round, rump or fillet steak. Chill the piece in the freezer until starting to freeze and then using a sharp knife, slice no thicker than ¼ inch. If you don’t feel confident, ask your butcher. Be sure to specify that the beef needs to be thin!
- Round beef steaks pounded thin (to about ⅛ inch) and cut into small pieces approx 2 inches x 4 inches. Sprinkle each with a little bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper then refrigerate until ready to roll spiedini.
- Fry small onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent for 3 or 4 minutes. Add water and cook until softened 3-4 minutes. Add tomato paste. Fry a little.
- Then add breadcrumbs. Stir to combine and toast over medium heat.
- Remove from the heat. Cool then add parsley, finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese and salt to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC and have ready to large baking sheets. Peel and quarter the red onion. Separate the red onion layers. Set aside until needed.
- Take one of the pounded slices of beef and lay on a work surface. Place about a tablespoon of the breadcrumb mixture on a short end of the slice of beef, roll up quite tightly, folding in the sides and sealing the filling in as you roll. Repeat with the remaining beef slices and breadcrumb mixture.
- Thread four rolls onto a wooden skewer. Placing a bay leaf and piece of onion between each roll.
- Pour the extra olive oil on a flat plate. Do the same with the breadcrumbs on a separate plate. Dip all the skewered spiedini in olive oil then in the breadcrumbs.
- Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle any leftover oil over the spiedini.
- Place in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden on the surface. Turn them halfway through cooking so as to have an even browning of the breading.
- Alternatively, spiedini can be shallow fried in olive oil in a large skillet until cooked through.
- Serve with lemon wedges.
- It is very important that the beef is thinly sliced and pounded. The best way is to place the whole piece of beef in the freeze until just beginning to freeze then slice with a very sharp knife.
- If you don’t feel confident to slice the beef, ask your butcher to slice the steaks as thinly as possible.
- Spiedini can be made smaller and served as finger food or an appetizer.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
Nutritional Information Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.
I use pork and followed your recipe for beef. Was very good. May try chicken the next time. Great recipe. Thank you
Tony, that sounds really good! I've got a chicken spiedini recipe coming up very soon. Different to this one but seriously good!
thank you Marcellina, you have given me ideas. Have a wonderful Christmas.
You're welcome, Miranda!