Are you trying to decide what to serve for your next special occasion or just an Italian craving on a Tuesday? We’ve rounded up 27 of our best traditionally favorite Italian recipes you can make for your friends and family!
Serving classic Italian dishes to your family is a great way to educate children on international cuisine and offer a dinner filled with love and comfort.
Italian dinner recipes range from delicious layers of Tiramisu to easy Italian recipes like Spaghetti alla Carbonara or the savory taste of #22.
Discovering which Italian dishes fit your taste buds and lifestyle is an exciting cooking challenge.
When looking for Italian dinner ideas, check out this list of the 27 best Italian recipes.
Mangia! (Eat up!)
Chicken parmesan is a thinly cut or pounded chicken breast with a crispy breadcrumb and parmesan coating and covered with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
First, season the chicken breasts, submerge them in whisked eggs, and cover them in a mixture of breadcrumbs.
Then, bake the coated chicken until golden and add the tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top to melt in the oven.
Lasagna is a layered pasta dish including sheet noodles, tomato sauce, ground meat or Italian sausage, and ricotta cheese.
Many variations of lasagna exist, but the main idea is layers!
First, prepare the lasagna pasta by briefly boiling, then layers sauce, pasta, and ricotta in an oblong baking dish.
Lasagna is one of the most versatile Italian classics!
Tiramisu is a layered Italian dessert that uses ladyfinger cookies, espresso, and mascarpone cheese.
First, dip the cookies in brewed espresso and form a layer at the bottom of a pan, then add a whipped mascarpone cheese mixture on top and repeat.
Tiramisu is topped with powdered chocolate and sometimes served with a garnish like mint or raspberry.
With three simple ingredients, this classic Italian dish comes together quickly and offers delicious flavors.
To make Cacio e Pepe, prepare spaghetti al dente, and reserve some pasta water.
Then, melt butter in a skillet, add the pasta water for a sauce, mix the cooked spaghetti, then add grated parmesan and fresh black pepper.
A Caprese Salad combines fresh basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella layered on a dish.
The salad represents the colors of the Italian flag.
After placing the ingredients on a plate, drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top and complete with a bit of freshly cracked black pepper.
The dish is refreshing.
Using bacon, pancetta, or guanciale, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a simple yet flavorful dish.
Prepare spaghetti and reserve some pasta water.
The dish traditionally uses no cream or cheese; instead, the chef would combine pasta water with an egg yolk to make a satisfying sauce.
The bacon is the start of the carbonara.
Focaccia is a yeasted bread made with lots of olive oil.
Mix the honey, yeast, water, flour, salt, and olive oil, then let the bread rise for six hours, ideally overnight.
Then, after transferring the bread to a sheet tray, poke holes in the top with your fingertips, like playing the piano.
The dimples are the signature feature of Focaccia.
Panzanella is from the Tuscany region of Italy. It is a salad of soaked bread, onions, and tomatoes.
It is a popular summer dish since it requires no oven.
Panzanella sometimes incorporates cucumbers or basil but is nearly always dressed with both olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The salad is widespread in central Italy.
Gelato is a frozen dessert that is very popular across Italy.
It uses egg yolks, sugar, heavy cream, and a flavoring agent like lemon zest or vanilla bean extract.
Home chefs can use an ice cream maker to help the freezing process.
It is essential to make sure all ingredients are very cold before churning the gelato.
10. Pizza Napoletana
Pizza is one of the most famous Italian dishes, and particularly the wood-fired Naples-style pizza.
The Margherita pizza is a classic with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil–although home cooks can add any toppings to the pizza!
A yeasted dough and an extremely hot oven are the primary characteristics of a Pizza Napoletana.
11. Cheese Ravioli
Ravioli is a type of filled pasta.
Usually, the pasta dough is relatively thin, and the most common filling is a cheese combination using ricotta and mozzarella.
Ravioli is often served in broth or covered with sauce.
The most common ravioli shape is square.
Ravioli is a conventional staple in Italian cuisine.
The pasta-making process is intricate, but the finished result is well worth the time!
A soft potato-based dumpling, gnocchi is uniquely Italian.
Gnocchi is most often made with semolina or wheat flour, egg, potato, breadcrumbs, or cornmeal.
Some chefs use herbs in the dough, while others use alternative vegetables, like sweet potatoes.
Gnocchi is a comfort food favorite and can be used in numerous dishes!
A traditional Italian appetizer, Fried Zucchini Flowers are exciting and delicious.
Fried zucchini blossoms are made from flowers that bloom on zucchini plants.
The flowers are cleaned, dipped in batter, and pan-fried. In some parts of Italy, the flowers are stuffed with mozzarella before being fried.
One of the most popular Italian recipes out there, Spaghetti and Meatballs, is an absolute classic across Italy and dinner tables throughout the country.
The dish consists of meatballs served on a bed of spaghetti covered in tomato sauce.
Most commonly, meatballs are a combination of beef and pork with the addition of breadcrumbs for consistency.
Many like to top with parmesan or pecorino cheese.
15. Whipped Ricotta
Home chefs can serve Whipped Ricotta as a dip, spread, or crostini topping.
Add whole milk ricotta to a mixing bowl, then using a stand mixer, whip the ricotta for about two minutes until it is smooth and somewhat fluffy.
Once transferred into a serving dish, you can add lemon zest, fresh herbs, olive oil, or honey to complete the dish and add succulent flavors.
16. Chicken Marsala
Chicken Marsala is an Italian-American meal made with chicken and mushrooms served in a reduced Marsala wine sauce.
The dish is a modification of the traditional Italian dish, scaloppina.
Chicken Marsala is usually a one-pan meal where chicken is cooked, then a sauce of mushrooms, marsala wine, and heavy cream thickens around the thinly cut chicken pieces.
Pasta e Fagioli is a hearty dish and translates directly to “pasta and beans.”
It is a traditional Italian pasta dish but varies between regions.
Pasta e Fagioli is made by combining cannellini beans and a small pasta, like macaroni or ditalini.
The dish is rather stew-like and is most often prepared in a base of celery, carrots, onion, and stewed tomatoes.
The addition of meat is optional, but when included is often bacon or pancetta.
Ragu is a meat-based sauce commonly accompanied by pasta.
The American version of ragù is aligned with the northern Italian preparation using ground meat, sauteed vegetables, and some tomatoes.
The use of meat sauce on pasta dates back to the 1830s.
Lamb ragu is a delicious meal to serve for those with a developed palate.
Limoncello is an Italian-style lemon spirit popularized in Southern Italy.
Several villages along the Amalfi coast claim to have originated the beverage.
To make at home, buy vodka, lemons, and sugar.
Add the lemon peel to a large container and cover with vodka, add sugar and allow the concoction to sit in a cool, dark place for about a month–then viola, limoncello!
20. Antipasto Salad
An Antipasto Salad is filled with olives, red onion, provolone, salami, pepperoni, tomatoes, and pepperoncinis.
Antipasto is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal, so this salad is an excellent play on the tradition of multi-course dining.
Tortellini is a ring-shaped stuffed pasta originating near Bologna, Italy.
Tuscan Tortellini Soup uses this pasta as a key ingredient and is a warm, comforting, easy Italian dish.
First, cook onions, garlic, and link sausage in a large pot or Dutch oven, then add beans, tortellini, stewed tomatoes, and broth to complete the soup.
22. Chicken Piccata
Chicken Piccata is a recipe that uses thinly sliced chicken, lemon juice, butter, and capers.
First, coat the chicken in flour and pan sear until golden brown.
Then make the sauce by browning butter, adding lemon juice, and incorporating capers.
Serve to guests separately so that the sauce is poured on just before eating so that the chicken remains crispy.
Roasted Red Pepper Pasta is an Italian-inspired dish that is easy to make for a family on a weeknight.
First, prepare the pasta–it can be rigatoni, ziti, or rotini.
Then add a jar of red peppers to a blender or food processor along with heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and spices to create your pasta sauce.
Add red pepper flakes for an additional kick!
Bolognese sauce is a meat sauce named after the Italian city of Bologna.
Bolognese is made by sweating, sautéing, and braising various ingredients like onion, celery, carrot, and ground beef.
Other add-ins include options like wine, cream, or tomato paste.
A flavorful bolognese requires hours to simmer and is most often served over a sturdy pasta.
25. Baked Ziti
Baked Ziti is a casserole made with ziti pasta, tomato sauce, and topped with cheese.
It is a signature dish of Italian-American fusion cuisine.
First, momentarily boil the pasta in water.
Then, combine pasta sauce and the ziti; cooks can add cooked ground beef, sausage, mushrooms, or other items to the mixture.
If you prefer alfredo sauce, this Place in a casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake!
Pasta al Pomodoro is typically prepared with pasta, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, and basil.
A fairly light dish, the sauce is not fortified with wine or cream.
With just a handful of ingredients, home cooks can create this traditional dish easily for any meal.
Pasta al Pomodoro is one of my go-to orders at Italian restaurants.
The Bellini originated in Venice, Italy.
It is a cocktail made with Prosecco and peach purée.
Other variations of a bellini with different fruit purée have grown in popularity with the brunch culture of the last decade.
A bellini with a weekend breakfast is always delicious.
Served in a champagne flute, it is a classy addition to any celebratory Italian meal.
The bottom line
From Italian classics like Cacio e Pepe to Italian-American traditions like spaghetti and meatballs, you and your family will discover a new favorite meal or enjoy an old standby by selecting one of the many Italian recipes from this comprehensive list.
Enjoy the entire collection of appetizers, beverages, soups, kinds of pasta, and pizzas found here, and if you are looking for more Italian favorites, check out the best thirty-five Italian appetizers.
- Chicken Parmesan
- Cacio e Pepe
- Caprese Salad
- Spaghetti alla Carbonara
- Pizza Napoletana
- Cheese Ravioli
- Fried Zucchini Flowers
- Spaghetti & Meatballs
- Whipped Ricotta
- Chicken Marsala
- Pasta e Fagioli
- Lamb Ragu
- Antipasto Salad
- Tuscan Tortellini Soup
- Chicken Piccata
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
- Baked Ziti
- Pasta al Pomodoro
- Choose one or more meals from our list of Italian recipes here!
- Create your new favorite dish.
- Pat yourself on the back for making food at home!
- Share and comment! Did you make any tweaks so it’s all your own?