Our Best Classic Italian Dishes to Bring Home the Flavors of Italy

Chicken-Sausage Meatballs with Zucchini
Photo: Brie Passano

Calling all spaghetti-lovers and pizza purists! You're going to fall for our delicious classic Italian dishes. These traditional dishes are our favorite authentic Italian food ideas—ones you'll want to share, hand down, and save in your recipe box. Sure, we have classic Italian pasta dishes like fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti carbonara, and lasagna, and we also have hearty meat-based entrées like chicken Parmesan and authentic Italian meatballs. Start with minestrone and end with a classic Italian dessert (tiramisu, anyone?) for the ultimate Mediterranean meal.

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Fresh Tomato Pizza with Oregano and Mozzarella

Fresh Tomato Pizza with Oregano and Mozzarella
Andy Lyons

Craving a slice? For the most classic Italian pizza recipe, stick with our traditional margherita-style topped with tomatoes, oregano, garlic, mozzarella, and olive oil. If you're in the mood for a modern update, garnish with peppery baby arugula leaves and salty prosciutto.

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Chicken-Sausage Meatballs with Zucchini

Chicken-Sausage Meatballs with Zucchini
Brie Passano

This classic Italian meatball recipe hides a little secret: shredded squash. It lends a tender and moist texture. (It also sneaks in some bonus vitamins—handy if you have some picky eaters at your table.) Pair with your favorite pasta and your go-to sauce or even jarred marinara, and you'll have the ultimate Italian meal.

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Homemade Pasta

Homemade Pasta
Andy Lyons

Now is the time to officially retire boxed noodles from your dinner routine. Our DIY pasta base takes only three ingredients. Once you master the method to create this classic Italian dish from scratch, mix things up by incorporating herbs, spinach, or roasted red peppers into the dough.

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Roasted Tomato Garlic Pizza Sauce

Roasted Tomato Garlic Sauce
Andy Lyons

Step 1: Roast fresh tomatoes and garlic. Step 2: Combine that aromatic mix with red wine, basil, and oregano. Step 3: Savor this homemade marinara layered into classic Italian dishes like lasagna, atop pizza crust, in soups, or with pasta.

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Fettuccine alla Carbonara

Fettuccine alla Carbonara
Kritsada Panichgul

Part carbonara and part Alfredo, this quick classic Italian pasta dish is a true crowd-pleaser. Start the cream sauce with both prosciutto and bacon. (Hey, two types of pork are better than one.) Finish with plenty of Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, then toss with fettuccine noodles for a family-friendly feast.

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Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Jason Donnelly

If you're seeking a vegetarian twist on chicken Parmesan, we have a solution here. Use a jar of homemade sauce (or purchased, we won't tell) to top the panko-breaded eggplant slices that star in this sheet-pan supper. Then serve the marinara- and cheese-topped eggplant Parmesan on a mound of spaghetti for authentic Italian comfort food.

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Striped Bass in Tomato Broth

Striped Bass in Tomato Broth
Blaine Moats

Take five! An extra 5 minutes that is; this classic Italian recipe delivers a fish dinner in a quicker-than-30-minute-meal package. White wine, tomatoes, shallots, and thyme make a light and coastal-flavored broth to poach bass, mahi mahi, or cod. Serve with a basket of warm bread on the side for a restaurant-quality dinner that's ready to devour in a mere 25 minutes.

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Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo
Andy Lyons

No need to go out. With this recipe you can make restaurant-quality fettuccine Alfredo at home. Serve this classic Italian pasta dish meatless or with chicken or shrimp—we've got the recipe for every variation.

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Chicken with Marsala Risotto

Chicken with Marsala Risotto
Kritsada Panichgul

After just one bit, chances are, you'll be convinced to add this authentic Italian food idea to your chicken dinner recipe repertoire. The silky risotto is made with Marsala wine, cremini mushrooms, and fresh spinach. That creamy Italian recipe for next-level rice forms the perfect base for chicken breast seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and garlic.

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Affogato Trifles

Instead of enjoying coffee with dessert, try it on dessert! Affogato—ice cream or gelato topped with espresso—is a classic and cool way to end any Italian feast. Our variation on this classic Italian dessert gets a crispy upgrade with crushed biscotti.

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Steaks with Roasted Garlic

steaks roasted garlic
Blaine Moats

Heat up the grill to roast the garlic and sear the steaks while keeping your kitchen cool. Rosemary, garlic, and basil make this meat meal taste distinctly Mediterranean. Serve the hearty authentic Italian dish with a fresh caprese salad and warm loaf of bread (plus olive oil and balsamic for dipping, of course).

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Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana
Andy Lyons

Crispy on the outside and savory and cheesy … this is one of our most-requested Italian comfort food recipes. And to push the classic Italian dish into must-make territory, the breaded chicken, cheese, and tomato dish comes together in less than an hour. Serve the chicken Parmesan over spaghetti for a delicious and easy pasta dinner.

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Bresaola-Gorgonzola Panini

Bresaola-Gorgonzola Panini
Andy Lyons

The 60-second Red Onion Relish topping in this authentic Italian recipe elevates the cheesy panini from "yum" to "wait, is Giada De Laurentiis your sous chef?!" Bresaola, similar to a beefy take on prosciutto, lends an extra salty and savory kick to these pressed sandwiches. Because this recipe takes about 30 minutes, it's ideal for weeknight family dinners.

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Chocolate Cannoli

Chocolate Cannoli
Andy Lyons

Chocolate-lovers, rejoice! In one hour, you can whip up a batch of these creamy and crunchy cocoa cannolis. These classic Italian cookies are sure to satisfy any chocolate craving.

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Potato Gnocchi

Potato Gnocchi
Matthew Clark

Round up the family for a fun kitchen adventure: buttery Parmesan gnocchi. There's always a store-bought option, but it's tough to top freshly classic Italian recipes. A pillowy potato swap for fettuccine Alfredo? Don't mind if we do. (Or try our Cauliflower Gnocchi if you're counting carbs.)

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Panzanella

panzanella served in a wooden bowl
Blaine Moats

Breathe new life into day-old bread with this low-fuss salad. Use bread cubes (whole wheat for a fiber boost), red onion, and fresh tomatoes to make this toss-together dish equal parts filling and good for you. The vibrant panzanella will be a welcome addition to any classic Italian recipe lineup.

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Vanilla Panna Cotta

Vanilla Panna Cotta
Kritsada Panichgul

This Vanilla Panna Cotta, similar to a thick and rich pudding, is the perfect blank dessert canvas for fresh berries, cinnamon-sugar apples, or grilled peaches. Garnish the luscious classic Italian dessert with whatever fruit is in season.

Test Kitchen Tip: For a twist on cake and ice cream or cookies and cream, serve this with slices of pound cake or pizzelle cookies on the side.

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Simple Stromboli

Simple Stromboli
Andy Lyons

If you like pizza by the slice, then you'll love it by the spiral. This authentic Italian stromboli recipe starts with pizza dough (feel free to DIY or start with dough from your local parlor or the supermarket refrigerator section). Stack on your favorite meat, veggie, and cheese toppings, tuck and roll, and brush with a beaten egg to score a showy sheen on top as the stromboli bakes through.

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Grilled Polenta with Mushrooms

Grilled Polenta with Mushrooms
Scott Little

This gluten-free entrée is smokin'. Grilled polenta is the base for a savory sauce of cremini mushrooms, roma tomatoes, and red wine. Serve the authentic Italian recipe as an appetizer or as a rich side dish with grilled seafood or chicken.

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Ravioli Lasagna with Baby Kale and Italian Sausage

Ravioli Lasagna with Baby Kale and Italian Sausage
Andy Lyons

This semi-homemade casserole is the best lasagna recipe for when you're crunched for time (or not in the mood to stress about stacking layers). Store-bought refrigerated ravioli combines the cheese and the noodles into one ready-to-sauce classic Italian pasta dish. Add our easy homemade marinara, a package of kale, cooked chicken sausage, and some extra cheese, if you please.

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Peppery Italian Beef Sandwiches

Peppery Italian Beef Sandwiches
Andy Lyons

Take 30 minutes to get this slow cooker recipe started in the morning, then let your appliance do the rest of the work to create the succulent sandwich filling as you go about your day. The secret ingredient? Italian salad dressing mix to infuse each ounce of the beef roast with big flavor. Shred that meat for the classic Italian recipe, then stack it in hoagie buns alongside plenty of that giardiniera mix.

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Stuffed Manicotti

Stuffed Manicotti and Stuffed Shells in white baking dishes
Andy Lyons

Allow your creativity to shine in this baked pasta casserole. Choose a cheesy ricotta or spinach-pancetta filling, then coat the stuffed tubes (or shells) with meat sauce or creamy Parmesan sauce. Cover with plenty of shredded mozzarella and bake the authentic Italian manicotti recipe until bubbly and golden brown.

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No-Knead Skillet Focaccia

No-Knead Skillet Focaccia
Jacob Fox

Here's a DIY version of focaccia that will convince you that yes, you can make homemade bread! Serve the classic Italian carb alongside grilled steaks, homemade Italian lasagna, or any of your favorite entrées. Save any extra slices to dunk into shakshuka or poached eggs for breakfast the next day.

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Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto
Jacob Fox

Any concept that transforms an affordable pantry staple into a showy dinner is a winner in our book. That's one of the many reasons why risotto is one of our favorite classic Italian dishes. (Also see: The creamy texture, the fact that it tastes incredible fried as an appetizer … we could go on and on.) This version with two types of mushrooms and plenty of garlic trumps them all.

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Triple-Chocolate Tiramisu

Triple-Chocolate Tiramisu
Blaine Moats

We love tiramisu! With three times the chocolate, our recipe makes this classic Italian dessert better than ever.

Test Kitchen Tip: For an alcohol-free substitute for the chocolate liqueur, simply add an equal amount (⅓ cup) of extra espresso or coffee.

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Basil Pesto

bowl of basil pesto with olive oil
Andy Lyons

It's time to get saucy. Make this peppy basil pesto to toss with pasta or spread on slices of crusty bread. You can even trade this simple classic Italian recipe for classic tomato sauce on any of your favorite pizzas.

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