Italian Vocabulary For Cooking

stefano lodola italian teacher
Italian language tutor, course author. MEng, MBA. Member of the International Association of Hyperpolyglots (HYPIA). After learning 12 languages, I can tell you that we all master languages by listening and mimicking. I couldn’t find an app to recommend to my students, so I made my own one. With my method, you’ll be speaking Italian from Lesson 1.
Language learning is an artificial exercise that occupies time, money, and effort that could be better spent doing language acquisition. Learn to communicate!
Activities to improve communication skills in a foreign language shift the focus of teaching from the language itself to actually doing things in that language.
What makes a good method of learning a language? To me, a study method is good if it delivers results. Typically, people want to learn Italian to communicate. Thus, progress...
What is active recall? In the last years, there has been so much hype around active recall as it is believed to improve your study results and get you better...
Italian for beginners can be a pain to learn. Not with this polyglot's video guide with 8 solutions to get started! The best way to survive and avoid pitfalls.
How to practice speaking alone? For best results, turn virtually any study time (reading, listening, writing) into speaking practice for language immersion!
How long does it take to learn Italian? Is it hard? How fast you improve depends on your study method. Learn why in this honest guide by an Italian polyglot!
Struggling with listening? An Italian polyglot has valuable advice about comprehensible input. A quick guide to master any language fast. From pain to joy!
Struggling with new words? An Italian polyglot has valuable advice about spaced repetition. A quick guide to memorize vocabulary fast, from pain to joy!


Dive into the heart of Italian cuisine with this guide! Learn the lingo from ‘al dente’ to ‘zabaglione’ and cook up dishes that’ll transport you straight to Italy. Impress with your pasta, sauce, and cheese knowledge. 🍝🧀🍷

  • Al Dente: Nail the perfect pasta texture every time by cooking it ‘al dente’ – firm to the bite, not mushy. It’s a game-changer! 🍝
  • Pasta Shapes: Match your sauces with the right pasta! Thin ‘spaghetti’ or wide ‘fettuccine’, each shape is a canvas for your sauce masterpiece. 🎨
  • Saucy Business: From a simple ‘marinara’ to a decadent ‘alfredo’, mastering Italian sauces will level up your kitchen cred. 🍅🧀
  • Bread Winners: ‘Focaccia’, ‘ciabatta’, ‘grissini’ – get these breads right, and you’re halfway to hosting the ultimate Italian feast! 🥖
  • Sweet Endings: Conquer Italian desserts by perfecting a creamy ‘tiramisu’ or a crunchy ‘cannoli’. Your sweet tooth will thank you. 🍰
  • Cheese, Please: Whether it’s stringy ‘mozzarella’ or sharp ‘pecorino’, Italian cheeses add that oomph to any dish. 🧀
  • Vino Vocabulary: Talk the talk with Italian wines. Know your ‘Chianti’ from your ‘Barolo’ and sip like a pro. 🍷
  • Tools of the Trade: Get familiar with tools like the ‘mortar and pestle’ and ‘pasta machine’ to authentically craft Italian cuisine. 🛠️
  • Recipe Realness: Follow recipes to the T. ‘Penne rigate’ isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the blueprint to pasta perfection. 👩‍🍳

Learn essential Italian culinary terms with our comprehensive guide to Italian vocabulary for cooking. Impress your dinner guests and cook like a pro!

essential italian culinary terms used in cooking

Common Italian Cooking Terms

Before diving into the specific vocabulary, it’s essential to understand some of the most commonly used terms in Italian cooking. The first term you should know is “al dente.”

This phrase is used to describe pasta that is cooked to a firm, yet tender texture. It’s essential to cook pasta al dente to ensure it’s not too soft or mushy. Another common term is “bella figura,” which translates to “good figure” and refers to the importance of creating an attractive presentation of food.

“Brodo” is another essential term, which means broth. The broth is a fundamental ingredient in many Italian dishes, providing a base for soups, sauces, and stews. “Affettare” means to slice, while “tritare” means to chop.

These terms are commonly used when preparing vegetables, meats, and other ingredients.

Pasta Shapes and Their Names

Pasta is a staple in Italian cuisine, and there are countless shapes and sizes to choose from. Each type of pasta has a unique name, and it’s essential to know the differences between them when cooking Italian dishes.

“Spaghetti” is a long, thin pasta, while “penne” is a tube-shaped pasta with ridges on the outside. “Rigatoni” is similar to penne but is wider and has deeper ridges. “Fettuccine” is a flat, ribbon-shaped pasta that’s typically served with rich, creamy sauces.

“Farfalle,” or bowtie pasta, is a popular choice for salads and light pasta dishes. “Linguine” is similar to spaghetti but is flatter and wider. “Tortellini” is a small, ring-shaped pasta that’s typically filled with cheese or meat.

“Ravioli” is similar to tortellini but is typically square-shaped and filled with a variety of ingredients.

Sauces and Their Names

Sauces are a crucial component of many Italian dishes, and there are countless varieties to choose from. “Marinara” is a classic tomato sauce that’s typically used on pasta dishes.

“Bolognese” is a hearty meat sauce that’s made with ground beef, tomato sauce, and vegetables. “Alfredo” is a rich, creamy sauce made with butter, cream, and Parmesan cheese.

“Pesto” is a popular sauce made with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. “Carbonara” is a rich, creamy sauce made with bacon or pancetta, eggs, and Parmesan cheese.

“Arrabbiata” is a spicy tomato sauce that’s flavored with chili peppers. “Puttanesca” is a pungent sauce made with tomatoes, olives, capers, and anchovies.

Types of Italian Bread

types of italian bread

Bread is a fundamental component of Italian cuisine, and there are many varieties to choose from. “Focaccia” is a flatbread that’s typically topped with olive oil, herbs, and sea salt.

“Ciabatta” is a long, flat bread with a chewy texture that’s perfect for sandwiches. “Pane Toscano” is a rustic, crusty bread that’s traditionally made in Tuscany.

“Grissini” are thin, crispy breadsticks that are perfect for dipping in sauces or enjoying as a snack. “Panettone” is a sweet, cake-like bread that’s traditionally eaten during the Christmas season.

“Torta Pasqualina” is a savory bread made with spinach, ricotta cheese, and eggs.

Italian Desserts and Pastries

Italian desserts and pastries are beloved worldwide for their rich flavors and decadent textures. “Tiramisu” is a classic Italian dessert made with layers of ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, and espresso.

“Cannoli” is a tube-shaped pastry filled with sweet ricotta cream. “Panna Cotta” is a creamy dessert made with cream, sugar, and gelatin.

“Gelato” is a rich, creamy ice cream that’s typically made with fresh, natural ingredients. “Zabaglione” is a light, frothy dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, and sweet wine.

Italian Cheeses

Italian cuisine is known for its variety of cheeses, each with its unique flavor and texture. “Parmigiano-Reggiano” is a hard, nutty cheese that’s typically grated over pasta dishes.

“Mozzarella” is a soft, stretchy cheese that’s used in many Italian dishes, including pizza. “Gorgonzola” is a tangy blue cheese that’s perfect for adding flavor to salads and pasta dishes.

“Ricotta” is a soft, creamy cheese that’s often used in desserts and pasta dishes. “Pecorino Romano” is a salty, hard cheese that’s typically grated over pasta dishes.

Italian Wines and Their Terms

Wine is an integral part of Italian culture, and there are countless varieties to choose from. “Chianti” is a red wine that’s typically produced in Tuscany and is known for its fruity flavor and high acidity.

“Barolo” is a full-bodied red wine that’s made from the Nebbiolo grape and is known for its complex flavors and aromas.

“Prosecco” is a light, sparkling wine that’s perfect for celebrations and special occasions. “Pinot Grigio” is a crisp, refreshing white wine that’s perfect for pairing with seafood and lighter dishes.

“Amarone” is a full-bodied red wine that’s made from dried grapes and is known for its intense, complex flavors.

Italian Cooking Tools and Equipment

In addition to the vocabulary related to ingredients and dishes, there are also many Italian cooking tools and equipment that you should be familiar with. “Mortar and pestle” is a traditional tool used for grinding herbs and spices.

Free Guide
How to Learn Languages Fast

“Pasta machine” is a device used to roll out and cut pasta dough. “Casseruola” is an Italian-style casserole dish that’s perfect for baking pasta dishes.

“Spatula” is a flat, flexible tool used for flipping and transferring food. “Colander” is a perforated bowl used for draining pasta and vegetables.

How to Use Italian Cooking Vocabulary in Recipes

Now that you’re familiar with the most common Italian cooking vocabulary, it’s time to put it into practice. When following Italian recipes, pay close attention to the specific terms used for ingredients and cooking techniques.

For example, if a recipe calls for “penne rigate,” make sure to use the correct pasta shape. When preparing sauces, make sure to use the correct terms for the ingredients and cooking techniques.

For example, if a recipe calls for “pomodoro” sauce, make sure to use fresh tomatoes and simmer them with garlic and olive oil. Additionally, pay attention to the specific tools and equipment called for in the recipe, such as a pasta machine or a casseruola.

Learn More About Italian

conclusion of learning italian vocabulary for cooking

In conclusion, mastering the language of Italian cooking is essential for any cook looking to create authentic Italian dishes. From pasta shapes and sauces to desserts and wines, there are countless terms and phrases to learn.

By familiarizing yourself with the most commonly used Italian cooking vocabulary, you’ll be able to navigate any Italian kitchen with confidence and create delicious, authentic Italian dishes that will impress your family and friends.

So grab your apron, head to the kitchen, and start cooking like an Italian chef!

Learn in the car with Think in Italian
Play Video about Learn in the car with Think in Italian
Italian word of the day
Vorrei proprio sapere chi ha parcheggiato qui!
I’d really like to know who parked here!
Follow me to fluency​

Receive my free resources once a week together with my best offers! 

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.

One Response

Leave a Reply


Take a free lesson today!

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lessons and other resources.

I’ll also deliver my free resources my best offers to your mailbox (opt out at any time).

Read more about Italian vocabulary
Discover the language of love with “A Beginner’s Guide to Italian Vocabulary for Dating.” Dive into Italian phrases and ignite your passion! Basic Italian Phrases for Dating When it comes...
Discover essential Italian kitchen vocabulary with our helpful guide. Impress your guests and cook authentic Italian cuisine with confidence! Italian Vocabulary Understanding Italian vocabulary in the kitchen is essential for...
Italian is a melodic language with fascinating intricacies. Among them are homophones, where similar-sounding words hold distinct meanings. Explore the captivating world of Italian homophones as we unveil their treasures...
How to say hello in Italian? Choose from 19 formal and informal Italian greetings for every occasion. There's more than just "ciao"!
Try my courses for free​

Log in

Reset password or get in touch.

Not a member yet? Join today!

How long to fluency?

Find out how long it will take you to master Italian!
Get on the right track in 3 minutes.

dolce vita logo

We're already friends!

Coming from Luca and Marina?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
all language resources

We're already friends!

Coming from All Language Resources?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
50% OFF

To receive free resources once a week together with my best offers, just tell me where to send everything. Opt out at any time.

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.