When it comes to creating colorful and delicious recipes, Italians know how to do it. We love cooking Italian. The smells of fresh herbs, ripe tomatoes, and baking bread always give us an appetite. This is a good thing, as Italian food is always really filling. We’ve pulled out our recipe books and decided to assemble a list of the 27 best Italian recipes to work your way through. See if you can find your favorite?
Easy Italian Food Recipes
1. Chicken Parmesan
We first tried an authentic chicken parmesan on a visit to Naples. We wished we’d tried it before! Chicken parmesan is part pizza, part chicken bake, and utterly delicious. First, the chicken is fried in a golden crumb to make it all crisp and juicy. It is then topped with lavish layers of melted cheese and finished in a tomato and basil sauce. We normally use a store-bought version for the sauce, but this dish is improved if you have the time to make your own (hint, tinned tomatoes are the best… It’s what the Italians use too!)
2. Italian Hot Chocolate
This isn’t your usual fare with marshmallows and whipped cream. Oh no, when Italians make a hot chocolate, they do it classy. Think of someone sitting on a square, impeccably dressed with a large pair of sunglasses on sipping one of these… As opposed to someone wrapped up in a wooly hat and a parka. The beauty of this recipe is that it uses real chocolate. We add a little cornstarch as a secret ingredient to make the drink really thick and creamy.
3. Caprese Chicken
This is a little similar to chicken parmesan, except the chicken isn’t fried in breadcrumbs. It includes a balsamic reduction. This is really strong in flavors but works so well with the sweetness of the tomatoes. While this dish looks really impressive, it is one of the easiest on our list. You fry the chicken, give it a topping of tomatoes and cheese and then fire it into the oven to finish cooking. How simple is that?
4. Tuscan Chicken
After a long day at work, the last thing you need to be doing is messing around in the kitchen for hours at a time. This recipe is the answer. It’s a one-pot meal that can be prepped in around 5 minutes. Is that quick enough for you? We fry a chicken breast or two in a large pan and then add a jar of alfredo sauce, some tomatoes, a little cheese, and some Italian seasoning. From there, the entire thing goes in the oven for around 30 minutes. AS the tomatoes bake, they break down and sweeten. You’ll have a hoard of hungry mouths making their way to the kitchen when they smell this.
5. Neapolitan Pizza
If there is a more Italian dish on the planet, we haven’t managed to find it! Pizza is authentic Italian street food. It is thought to have been invented in Naples. The original was just cheese and tomato. This recipe is designed to emulate it (while also looking a little more classy). If you want a cheats version, buy store-bought pizza bases, but making your own dough is easy. The trick to getting puffy dough is to get your oven as hot as possible. We use a pizza stone, too, for that authentic, bubbly bottom.
6. Sausage Arugula Pizza
Let’s stay on the subject of pizzas for a while. If you found Neapolitan a little too ‘mainstream, then this could be the one for you. You might be thinking that by ‘sausage’, we mean thin slices like pepperoni. Oh no, this is so much more than that. We squeeze the insides out of link sausages and fry the meat with herbs and spices until it resembles coarse ground beef. We then use this to sprinkle it all over the top of our pizza. As the sausage continues to cook, all of those delicious juices seep down into the pizza dough. This is one of the tastiest pizzas out there and is super easy to make.
7. Pasta al Forno
There are quite a few ingredients in this dish, but trust us, the end result is well worth it. It is one of the rare dishes that actually takes longer to prepare than it does to cook! It is full of delicious ingredients. Like what? Try cannellini beans, Italian herbs, Italian sausage, penne pasta, tomatoes, cheese, and fresh parsley. The good news is that once you have assembled the dish, all you have to do is whizz it into the oven to bake and bubble away. Time for a glass of wine, we think?
Speaking of wine, live the dolce vita and give one of these fizzy cocktails a try. You’ll often be offered a champagne, Bellini… The correct tipple to use is prosecco (exactly the same drink, just the grapes are from a different country). This is an easy drink to make. It is literally just prosecco mixed with a little spoon of peach puree. Here’s a top tip. If you want to keep a bottle of prosecco fizzy, leave a metal spoon in the neck of the bottle! Try it. Seriously, it works!
We aren’t normally a fan of raw meat. But in this case, we’ll make an exception. The secret is to source your steak from a good butcher. If you ask nicely, they might even slice it thinly for you. Then all you need to do is accompany it with some peppery rocket leaves and perhaps a simple blue cheese dressing on the side?
10. Stuffed Shells
You will need large pasta shells for this recipe. Consider it a sort of open-sided ravioli. The shells are stuffed with tasty Italian ingredients like parmesan, tomato, ground beef, and ricotta cheese. We pour extra meat sauce over the top for good measure too! As with a lot of our recipes, this is pretty low maintenance. Just assemble and bake, super simple!
11. Alfredo Sauce
This creamy sauce is used in countless Italian recipes! The best bit is that if you put the effort in and make a lot, then you can freeze individual portions to make an Italian meal any night of the week. It goes well with any and all pasta, and you can also use it to make a delicious lasagna with a twist!
12. Pasta Alla Norma
The star player in this dish is the humble eggplant. It features heavily in many Italian recipes. We like to roast the eggplant before incorporating it into the dish. When roasted, it softens and takes on a really sweet yet savory taste. Aside from eggplant, you’ll also find succulent tomatoes, basil oregano, and parmesan. It’s a great one for vegetarians.
13. Italian Bruschetta
Once regarded as simple peasant food, this one is easy to make. Toast bread in a pan, rub with a clove of garlic and add chopped tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, and some basil leaves. Finish with a large glug of olive oil. Enjoy in the garden.
14. Florentine Steak
This one is perfect to accompany a nice (large) glass of Italian red wine. There’s nothing fancy about this steak. We like to use porterhouse because of its high-fat content. This is a real treat for steak lovers who like their meat juicy and rare. Cook to your preference, remove the steak from the bone and cut into thin strips to show off the blushing interior. Simple food and one of our favorites.
We love to imagine ourselves whizzing around Rome on a moped, with a linen shirt and a pair of chinos on, before pulling up to a café for a quick cappuccino. Italian coffee is some of the finest in the world. This drink is s shot (or two) of espresso combined with foamed milk and topped with a dusting of powdered chocolate. If you don’t have a milk steamer, a foamer will do the job nicely.
Time for a classic? Lasagna is our go-to choice if we feed a crowd but want to spend time with our guests instead of chained to the stove. The best thing about this recipe (aside from the taste) is that it can be made in advance. Layers of tomato and beef, pasta sheets, and alfredo sauce. It’s that simple. Plus if you wan to know what to serve with lasagna we’ve covered plenty of options.
Caponata is the Italian version of ratatouille. It’s a good way to get your five a day, in a single meal! Each family makes theirs slightly differently. We use eggplants, onions, celery, olives, and a handful of salty capers in our version!
18. Italian Salad
Let’s face it, Italian can be a little carb-heavy from time to time, so to make up for ti a nice green leafy salad wouldn’t go amiss. Here is our version. What makes this special is the dressing. Ours is a mixture of basil, oregano, parsley, garlic, and honey. Tasting is believing.
If you’ve ever been to Italy, you’ll know it gets a bit busy. This sandwich is perfect if you are on the go. It combines a homemade olive salad with a muffuletta-style bun packed with cured, cold Italian meat. Feel free to mix and match the ingredients to suit your individual taste. For us, the thicker, the better.
20. Florentine Pasta
This dish is the taste of heaven. It is light (as pasta goes), fresh, and filled with flavor. Florentine pasta is penne paired with a cheesy parmesan sauce, green spinach leaves, and a large helping of chopped bell peppers. It’s delicious hot but tastes even better when served cold the next day.
21. Italian Tomato Sauce
No list of the best Italian recipes would be complete without a nod to tomato sauce. This recipe can be used in everything, from pasta dishes to homemade pizza topping. The secret ingredient is a spoonful of sugar, which really brings out the taste of the tomatoes. Although optional, a few drops of balsamic will make it taste superb!
22. Strawberry Nutella Pizza
Ok, so this one might be a bit too alternative (and is a far cry from the Napoli original). Nevertheless, the kids seem to love it, as well they might. This one is a part pancake and part pizza. Topped with a thick layer of chocolate sauce which works oh so well with fresh strawberries. We challenge you to eat a whole one!
23. Tuscan Seafood Stew
Frutti di mare, that’s the traditional name for a seafood salad. It literally means ‘fruits of the sea’. For seafood lovers, this is the one to try. We love the variety in this dish, and you can use whatever seafood that you have available. Our choice tends to be a mix of squid, mussels, shrimp, and clams… We also use scallops if we can get our hands on them. Be sure to serve with a loaf of crusty bread, which is perfect for mopping up the sauce after you’ve finished the seafood.
24. Mushroom Risotto
Mushroom risotto can be a little time-consuming to make, but it is well worth the effort. The trick to making risotto the perfect consistency is twofold. First, make sure that your cooking liquid (in our case, beef stock) is bubbling hot. Second, when you come to add the cooking liquid, do it half a cupful at a time. Stir your risotto often to prevent it from sticking and release all of those gooey starches, giving you a rich and creamy sauce.
Part pizza, part hand pie. Calzone is the name given to a pizza that is folded in half. The filling is entirely your choice. We like to fill ours with a mixture of mozzarella, tomato sauce, and some spicy Italian sausage. Some people like to crack a raw egg in the center before cooking. Be careful not to burn your mouth!
26. Italian Meatballs
You’ll see Italian meatball recipes using only ground beef. Trust us, this is not the way. We use three different kinds of meat, beef, pork, and Italian sausage. We also infuse it with a panada, a loose blend of milk, and breadcrumbs to keep our meatballs deliciously moist. Make sure you sear the meatballs before roasting, as this is what creates a really meaty flavor.
These are great to serve at buffet-style parties or as part of a larger meal. Just be prepared to fight for the last one. Pizzette literally translates as ‘little pizza’. We top our with the usual cheese and tomato sauce and include slices of prosciutto ham, served after baking.
When cooking Italian, you have the option of serving one huge dish or several smaller ones. It’s the perfect food for a dinner party and tastes great. Did we miss any off our list of the 27 best Italian recipes? Let us know in the comments