Best Italian Cookbooks: Top 5 Recipe Collections Most Recommended By Experts

Being one of the most popular foods in America, most people can find something they enjoy in Italian cuisine. From spaghetti and meatballs to gelato, to even seafood, Italian food holds a special place in the pickiest eater’s heart. Italian cookbooks don’t disappoint as they present a variety of foods for Italian and non-Italian cooks alike. Can’t afford a trip to Italy? Bring some of their world-renowned cooking right to your kitchen with one of the best Italian cookbooks listed below.

When a person develops an interest in a new cuisine, the natural thing to do is buy a cookbook. It’s important to know that when deciding which cookbook to buy, there’s more to consider than just a list of recipes. A good cookbook will not only have recipes, but it will also give cooking tips, serving sizes and suggestions, an index, a glossary, nutrition information, where to find ingredients, and recipe history. It will also be easy to read with easy-to-follow directions and stunning images. 

When you think of Italy, pasta soon follows, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. In fact, a recent study reveals that pasta is among the top three foods that people mess up when cooking. A third of respondents struggle to make simple dishes like eggs (36%), pasta (35%), mashed potatoes (30%), or sweet potatoes (30%). Do away with any kitchen confusion and try following a cookbook.

So maybe you are Italian and would like to carry on the cooking tradition or maybe you just want to conquer your favorite Italian dish at home. Either way, StudyFinds visited ten expert websites and collected the five most recommended Italian cookbooks across these sites so you can bring the flavors of Italy into your home. So, get your extra virgin olive oil ready, and if you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments below! 

yellow pasta and cherry tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes and homemade pasta (Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash)

The List: Best Italian Cookbooks, According to Experts


1. “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” 

From our research, the “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” should be a staple in everyone’s home, as it tops most Italian cookbook lists. Serious Eats says, “If you could credit one person with introducing classic Italian food to the American public, it would have to be Marcella Hazan. She has often been referred to as the Julia Child of Italian cuisine.” 

"Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan
“Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan

Marcella has been teaching Italian food lovers how to cook since 1973 with her two-volume cookbook “The Classic Italian Cookbook: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating.” It wasn’t until 1992 that they were combined into this single expansive volume. The Spruce Eats shared that, “Marcella offers an expert overview of classic dishes and techniques from across Italy. The recipes are clearly written, simple (her famous tomato sauce recipe calls for only three ingredients: tomatoes, butter, and an onion), and accessible to cooks of all levels.” This is refreshing to know for those who desire simplicity.

Read This Twice describes this read as, “a must-have cookbook with clear and concise instructions, even beginners can master the art of Italian cuisine.” There’s comfort in knowing that if you have zero cooking skills, this book can teach you how to generate classic Italian recipes and techniques.

2. “La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy”

“La Cucina” considers how regional the food culture is in Italy. Recipes vary among Italy’s 20 regions. An American in Rome points out, “As you can gather from many of the books on this list, location matters. La Cucina is the result of the work of experts at the Italian Academy of Cuisine who sought over 1,000 recipes from across the country. Not only does the cookbook cover an astounding array of local foods, but it also documents how the recipes and techniques for making them differ from place to place.” 

"La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy"
“La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy” by The Italian Academy of Cuisine

The recipes are straight from the source. Delish said, “These recipes come from home cooks, farmers, and grandmothers who had never been published before. Each recipe walks you through the ingredients you need, and the technique to learn for that specific region.” 

“La Cucina” is a product of The Italian Academy of Cuisine’s effort to preserve and document traditional Italian cooking. Forbes describes it as, “a must for inquisitive chefs seeking a solid understanding of Italy’s cuisine.” 

3. The Silver Spoon

This cookbook was on many lists as it is, “an oldie, but a goodie, this classic was first published back in the 1950s, in Italian. With 2,000 recipes inside (and the latest edition adding another 400 dishes), it’s recognized as the bible of Italian cooking,” said Delish.

"The Silver Spoon" by The Silver Spoon Kitchen
“The Silver Spoon” by The Silver Spoon Kitchen

“Alberto Capatti’s recipes read just as fresh today as they did the day they were written,” said Mob. This easy reading is bound to come in handy with its over 2000 recipes. Don’t worry, these recipes are conveniently categorized into sauces, pastas, veal dishes, etc.

Hitting both ends of the spectrum Serious Eats shares, “Being comprehensive in nature, The Silver Spoon of course includes recipes for the heavy-hitters of Italian cookery like Bistecca alla Fiorentina (the massive T-bone steak of Tuscany), but for the most part, dishes are relatively straightforward, combining a few ingredients to make simple dishes with rustic appeal. The benefit of these recipes’ simplicity is that many can be combined or tweaked at will.”

4. “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine”

Lidia’s backstory? She, “immigrated to the U.S. with her family as a child, started in the family’s New York Italian-American restaurant business, and eventually became a well-known cooking show hostess on public television and a partner in the U.S. branches of Eataly,” shared The Spruce Eats. Lidia is an award-winning TV show host and Junior MasterChef Italy judge who, “takes you through more than 400 different recipes to allow you to gain a comprehensive understanding of Italian cooking. It’s deeper than the dishes too, with instructions on how to buy, store, clean, and cook the best ingredients,” said Delish.

"Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine" by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
“Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine” by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali

Lidia isn’t the sole author of “Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine”. According to Forbes, “Lidia Matticchio Bastianich collaborated with her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, on this highly informative go-to Italian cookbook.” She has another Italian cookbook that makes the list. The Spruce Eats boasts about “Lidia’s a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl” which “features more than 100 Italian-American, one-pot recipes, including chicken and eggplant parmigiana, apple cranberry crumble, skillet lasagna, and scrambled eggs with asparagus and scallions.” 

5. “The Italian Baker”

We have a solid list of Italian cookbooks, but we can’t forget about the beautiful and decadent Italian pastries and bread that some dream of. If you want to skip the bakery and attempt to make them at home, “The Italian Baker” topped the lists for the best Italian baking cookbook. 

"The Italian Baker" by Carol Field
“The Italian Baker” by Carol Field

Saveur described it as, “the ultimate collection of Italian baked goods, from bread to cookies to celebratory cakes. Originally published in 1985, Carol Field took an incredibly heroic approach with this book. She spent two years searching all of Italy, from Como to Palermo, for artisan bakers, learning from them, studying with them, and documenting the recipes from all over the peninsula at a time when more and more baked goods were becoming industrially produced, and artisans were a dying breed.”

The Italian Baker has been named an indispensable baking book by James Beard and the International Association of Culinary Professionals,” according to Read This Twice. 

The Spruce Eats adds that the book includes, “a history of Italian baking, recipes for some of the many Italian savory dishes and desserts designed to make use of hardened, leftover bread, and even a list of some of the many Italian proverbs and idiomatic expressions involving bread, attesting to its importance in Italian culture.”

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