10 Best Italian Cookbooks Ever Written
Who doesn’t love pizza or pasta? How about lasagna or some delicious gelato? Italian cuisine is one of the world’s top favorite cuisines, and rightfully so.
But due to its huge popularity, Italian food has become adapted to many local cuisines, so much so that it sometimes barely resembles the original version.
Think of pizza – Italian immigrants brought pizza to the States and it has become hugely popular. But over the years, pizza has morphed into something unique and American pizza has gotten its own American identity (sorry, Italy, but American pizza has become a national staple dish).
Italian foods have evolved internationally, but also locally. Modern Italian cuisine is not what it was 100 years ago. And not everyone is liking it. But progress is part of humanity and modern Italian food is as amazing as the traditional, and definitely worth experiencing.
Massimo Bottura, the now famous Italian chef, has struggled for years, beginning his career in his home town of Modena.
Massimo wanted to cook nothing other than traditional Italian foods and he is a creative genius. But for locals, his food was just unacceptable, anti-Italian even.
But Massimo persevered. You cannot tame geniuses and his restaurant and creations are now world-famous. His restaurant has three Michelin stars, the highest culinary distinction in the world.
So my goal with this list of the best 10 Italian cookbooks is to include a wide diversity of cooking techniques, recipes, and styles to help you guide through both classic, modern, and international Italian dishes.
While some dishes are more complex and elaborate, I’ve also listed books that feature quick recipes for modern home cooks who are short of time but still want the benefits of a warm home-cooked meal.
Whether you’re new to Italian foods or a seasoned cook, you’ll learn new tips, tricks, and tools to make every dish better than the last.
Let’s get cooking! Or as Italians would say, “Andiamo a cucinare!”.
1. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Marcella Hazan is the brilliant woman who mastered the art of Italian cooking and was the first to introduce American home cooks to Italian cuisine. Marcella still lives in Venice and is considered the godmother of everything that is Italian cuisine.
As the title suggests, this book is an essential guide for Italian cuisine enthusiasts and a go-to reference book to look up renowned dishes. This book goes beyond pizza, spaghetti, and meatballs. Hazan’s famous recipes include risotto, sautéed swiss chard with olive oil and garlic, polenta, squid braised with tomatoes and white wine, and more.
This book is meant for all levels of expertise, from beginners to professionals. Hazan shares a multitude of techniques, ingredients, and recipes for anyone passionate about Italian food. What better way to expand your Italian repertoire than using Marcella’s creative techniques!
2. Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes by Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis is the host of Food Network’s Everyday Italian and attended the Le Cordon Blue in Paris. She also worked as a chef at the Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant in Los Angeles.
Giada is known for her swift delicious cooking, and in her book, Everyday Italian, she shares 125 recipes of pure Italian recipes. This book is a great choice for anyone who’s looking to cook Italian foods that are quick and easy to make.
Giana’s style is all about fresh, quick, and accessible recipes for busy home cooks or students who need to wrap things up quickly while still gorging on delicious food. Best of all, when you follow Giana’s recipes, you might be surprised to learn that you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Her recipes reflect real-life considerations and use extremely accessible ingredients.
The book has different sections, depending on what you’re craving at the moment. Whether you’re craving a hot and filling stew or a quick pasta bake, each food category will help you to satisfy your appetite.
All in all, Giana’s indispensable book on how to cook clean and quick meals is a must-have.
3. Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook: A Cookbook
Lidia is an award-winning television host, a best-selling cookbook author, and a passionate teacher at heart. She is also the owner of four renowned restaurants: Felidia, Del Posto, Becco, and Esca.
Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine, co-authored with her daughter Tanya covers everything from how-to techniques to ingredients and the necessary tools to cook consecrated Italian recipes. The book contains 400 mouth-watering recipes and is a must-have reference book for anyone passionate about Italian cuisine.
In her book, Lidia presents a diverse range of common ingredients such as meat and fish, fruit and vegetables, condiments, and spices, including information on how to store, cook, buy, and clean them properly. Some of the famous recipes such as Risotto ala Milanese, Swordfish in Sweet and Sour Sauce, Tagliatelle with Mushroom Sauce, Prune Gnocchi, and Beet Ravioli in Poppy Seed Sauce all sound incredibly gourmet and delicious.
This book covers almost everything about Italian food and more. It’s an excellent must-read!
4. The Silver Spoon New Edition by the Silver Spoon
While this best-selling masterpiece needs no introduction, I will do my best to do it justice. The Silver Spoon is easily one of the most powerful and influential Italian cookbooks written in the last 50 years. This book could easily be considered the bible of authentic Italian home cooking that provides over 2,000, revised recipes and full-color, glossy photographs all bound into one beautiful masterpiece.
Also known as Il Cucchiano d’Argento, this book was initially published in 1950 by Domus, a famous Italian architectural magazine. The book immediately gained popularity and soon became a classic reference for Italian cuisine.
The book is color-coded and contains different recipe chapters, including Marinades and Flavored Butters, Eggs, Soups, Fish, and more. It also includes delicious recipes for Tuscan Minestrone, Penne Rigate with Artichokes, Bresaola with Corn Salad, Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi, Pizza Napoletana, and more.
Overall, The Silver Spoon is nothing short of a classic symbol for traditional Italian cuisine.
5. Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages by Mario Batali
Mario Batali is the host of the popular cooking show Molto Mario, and he currently lives in New York City with his family. What sets Batali apart from other Italian chefs is his healthy ‘obsession’ with pristine ingredients combined and cooked to perfection.
In his book, Batali takes us on a cultural journey and reveals his inspiration for his signature dishes from the two villages that influenced his cuisine: Borgo Capanne and New York’s Greenwich Village.
Batali’s artful touch and love for food birthed this insightful cookbook that’s meant for beginners and professionals alike. Batali’s philosophy is simplicity at its finest. For anyone looking for authentic Italian recipes, look no further than Mario Batali.
His book covers a wide range of recipes, including classic pasta and risotto, meat and poultry, lasagna, cheese and sweets, and signature dishes such as Penne with Spicy Goat’s Cheese, Sweet Potatoes, Hazelnut Pesto, and many more.
Simple, home-cooked Italian food is Batali’s specialty and the perfect reference for those who love traditional Italian food.
6. The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco
Artie Bucco (played by John Ventimiglia) is a master chef of the show’s restaurant Vesuvio’s and has a special treat for every Italian lover out there: a feast wrapped up in a timeless cookbook. From Zabaglione and Arancini to Baccala Bucco, this book offers 100 recipes, tools, and preparation techniques for timeless Italian recipes.
While this is not your average classic cookbook, it offers an exciting non-fiction twist along with real, traditional Italian recipes.
7. Massimo Bottura: Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef
Massimo Bottura is a legendary figure with over 25 years’ experience as a chef and is the owner of three Michelin star restaurant, Osteria Francescana. His reputation precedes him, and, in some circles, he’s known as the ‘Jimmy Hendrix of Italian Chefs.’
The unapologetic and hilarious book title speaks volumes about Bottura’s professional and personal character. This book is a tribute to chef Bottura’s 25-year career and is a joy for Italian foodies who want to learn tips and tricks from the best in the cooking industry.
The book has 4 chapters and 50 recipes with text explaining the inspiration behind each one, its ingredients, tools, and techniques.
Never Trust a Skinny Chef may be considered a promising go-to book and a modern Italian gastronomy repertoire.
8. Italian Food (Penguin Classics) by Elizabeth David
Elizabeth David was a 20th century passionate cookery writer who greatly influenced and revitalized the idea of home cooking with descriptive articles and books on British and European cuisines.
This book was one of the first to reveal the diversity of Italy’s regional cooking. David took things further and expanded her research from the common ravioli and minestrone to other complex dishes from different parts of Italy, such as Sicily, Umbria, Tuscany, and Lombardy.
David’s passion for luscious, authentic food is transparent in this book. It may serve as a great inspiration for other Italian lovers to try bold and flavorful dishes from great Italy.
9. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen by Frances Mayes
Frances Maye’s is a well-known author, essayist, and poet. Currently, she keeps herself busy by traveling, restoring a historic garden, and writing. She co-authored this book with Edward Hames and photographer Steve Rothfeld.
Maye’s book is more than just a cookbook, it transports and entices the reader to learn more about Tuscan cuisine and its many fine dishes. In a nutshell, Tuscan food is simple, cooked in traditional kitchens using natural ingredients for true Tuscan taste.
The Tuscan Sun Cookbook boasts more than 150 recipes from Fried Zucchini Flowers and Cannellini Bean Soup with Pancetta to Strawberry Semifreddo to a decadent Steamed Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce.
Aside from these sublime recipes, the authors also share tips on how to choose the perfect wine for various dishes, how to stock your pantry, how to choose the best olive oil, and other valuable tips.
10. Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library) by Pellegrino Artusi
Pellegrino Artusi was a well-known businessman and writer. This book was one of his best literary accomplishments during his lifetime.
Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well was published in 1891 and is currently known as one of the best Italian cookbooks of our time. This book was not intended for professional chefs but rather for middle-class cooks. The tone of the book is cheerful and humous – the perfect combination of witty anecdotes and savory recipes. You’ll feel as though you’re cooking with a friend rather than cooking alone with a book.
Artusi’s book is more than meets the eye; dare I compare it to an Italian landmark? Those who are genuinely passionate about Italian cuisine will find this book enlightening and delightful.
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