Best Italian Cookbooks

The 10 Best Italian Cookbook : Crostini, Conchiglie, Cannoli and More

Whether you are on Italian Cooking 101, already spend most of your time in the kitchen, or even want to find some of those family recipes that may have been lost, then a good Italian cookbook is always the best place to start. An Italian cookbook is also great for gifting to anyone who has a love of Italian food and culture.

In this article we take a look at a selection of the best Italian cookbooks, some of which are ideal for those who are newer to cooking, as well as the more experienced home cooks. We also take a look at the benefits of using an Italian cookbook and why online recipes can never offer the same experience to the home cook that the cookbook can.

​Best Pick

Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook

Our Best Pick: Is the Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook from the award-winning chef, host and restaurateur Lidia Matticchio Bastianich which covers the basics as well as providing over 400 recipes.

​Budget Pick

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Our Budget Pick: Is the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, as an amalgamation and full update of two earlier bestselling cookbooks, this includes an overview of ingredients and techniques as well as numerous recipes.


1. ​Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook  

Highlighted Features

  • Designed to be a definitive guide to Italian cooking, this includes ingredients tools and techniques
  • Over 400 Italian recipes
  • Also includes an Italian glossary for cooking as well as dining and traveling in Italy
  • Award-winning author, restaurateur and artisan cooking ingredients
  • 480 page hardcover or digital edition

Designed as a definitive guide to Italian cooking, Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook includes over 400 recipes. This book, authored by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali also includes information on ingredients, tools and techniques to allow you to buy and cook with the wide range of ingredients needed for Italian dishes.

The book also includes an Italian glossary to make it easier for you to cook Italian dishes, as well as coming in useful for when you travel and dine in Italy. As well as being the award-winning host of Lidia’s Kitchen, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich has authored twelve other books and owns/co-owns a number of acclaimed restaurants and has her own line or artisanal sauces and pastas.

This cookbook is available as hardcover or Kindle edition and has 480 pages with a red and gold design cover. Some buyers have been disappointed by the lack of images in this book as it can make it more difficult to know if the recipe is being followed correctly and there can be some recipe overlap if you already have some of Lidia’s other cookbooks. A small number also consider that the book binding could be heavier duty.

​Pros

  • Italian cookbook
  • Award-winning chef and author
  • 400+ recipes
  • Tools and techniques
  • Italian glossary
  • Hardcover or digital

​Cons

  • The book binding may not be as robust as you would expect
  • Some recipes have also been published in other books by the lead author
  • Not as many images as you may like

2. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking 

Highlighted Features

  • This 704 page cookbook is available as hardcover, paperback or Kindle edition
  • Can be used by entry level cooks and those who are more advanced
  • Includes ingredient and technique information as well as recipes
  • Updated amalgamation of The Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking with 50 new recipes

The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan is available as a 704 page hardcover, paperback or Kindle edition. This book is an amalgamation of The Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking which has been updated and includes 50 new recipes.

Suitable for entry level to more advanced cooks, this cookbook includes information on ingredients and techniques as well as recipes; although some less experienced cooks can find it more difficult to follow some of the recipes. The odd buyer has commented that they do not consider some of the recipes to be as ‘authentic’ as they would like, although as with any recipes, there can be much regional variation. Some cooks would also have liked to have seen more images of the finished dishes.

​Pros

  • Classic Italian cookbook
  • Combines two earlier books
  • Updated and includes 50 new recipes
  • Suitable for beginners to advanced cooks
  • Hardcover, paperback or Kindle edition

​Cons

  • Although designed for all levels of expertise, those who are less experienced may struggle with some recipes
  • Some buyers consider some recipes to lack ‘authenticity’
  • May not contain as many images as you would like

3. The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home

Highlighted Features

  • A comprehensive cookbook on pizzas
  • Includes recipes for more than 12 doughs, including gluten free dough
  • Provides information on shaping pizzas, selecting cheeses and toppings
  • Also includes pizza facts, history and stories
  • Comes as a 256 page hardcover or Kindle edition

Authored by the award-winning author, Ken Forkish, The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home is a comprehensive pizza cookbook, starting from choosing the dough, shaping the pie and selecting toppings and cheeses.

This includes over a dozen dough recipes, including one for gluten free dough as well as numerous recipes and also includes stories, history and other pizza-related facts. This is available as a 256 page hardcover or Kindle edition. The odd buyer has commented that this book lacks directions for cooking in a pizza oven rather than a kitchen oven and some cooks would have liked to have seen more pictures in the book as well as more pie recipes.

​Pros

  • Pizza cookbook
  • Includes 12+ dough recipes
  • Toppings and cheeses
  • Gluten free dough
  • Also includes pie-related facts

​Cons

  • ​The recipes are designed for cooking in a standard oven rather than a pizza oven
  • ​Some buyers would have liked to have seen more pizza recipes in this cookbook
  • ​Not as many images as some cooks would like

4. Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto 

Highlighted Features

  • A 272 page cookbook on making pasta, gnocchi and risotto
  • Contains over 100 recipes
  • Includes detailed instructions and techniques as well as stories and food discoveries
  • Available as a hardcover or Kindle edition
  • Authored by an award-winning chef and restaurateur along with a Fine Cooking columnist

Available as a 272 page hardcover or digital edition, the Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto is authored by the award-winning chef and restaurateur, Marc Vetri with David Joachim; who has been involved with over forty cookbooks and is a columnist for Fine Cooking.

Alongside his personal stories of his travels and food discoveries, Vetri has also included detailed instructions and techniques on how to make over 100 recipes, as well as discussing some of the science of flour and texture, for those who are interested in learning more.

Some cooks have been disappointed as some recipes require access to specialized ingredients which are difficult to buy, and other cooks have found it to be too technical for home cooking.

​Pros

  • Pasta, gnocchi and risotto cookbook
  • Award-winning chef and author
  • 100+ recipes
  • Includes food science
  • ​Hardcover or Kindle edition

​Cons

  • Some recipes include specialized ingredients which can be difficult to find
  • You may find this book to be more on the technical side of home cooking

5. Mediterranean Instant Pot Cookbook: 550 Quick & Healthy Instant Pot Recipes That Will Make Your Life Easier 

Highlighted Features

  • 550 Mediterranean recipes
  • All are suitable for Instant Pot cooking
  • Designed to be easy and healthy recipes, this cookbook is written by a dietician-nutritionist
  • This 292 page book is available as a paperback or Kindle edition

Written by the dietician-nutritionist, Alexia Burns, the Mediterranean Instant Pot Cookbook: 550 Quick & Healthy Instant Pot Recipes That Will Make Your Life Easier includes easy and healthier recipes for making in your Instant Pot.

Available as a paperback or Kindle edition, this 292 page cookbook includes limited images, which you may be keen on and the odd buyer has found that some recipes may not have enough liquid in them to prevent the IP from giving a ‘burn’ warning and there can be a risk of occasional overcooking.

​Pros

  • Instant Pot cookbook
  • 550 recipes
  • Mediterranean dishes
  • Healthy and easy recipes
  • Paperback or Kindle

​Cons

  • Some cooks have found odd recipes lack the quantity of liquid needed for IP cooking
  • Not as many images as you may like in this cookbook

6. The Silver Spoon 

Highlighted Features

  • An updated version of one of the leading Italian cookbooks of the last 50 years
  • Fully revised with 400 new and full-color photographs
  • Now includes a section of menus from a variety of celebrity chefs
  • This 1504 page book is available as hardcover or paperback
  • The chapters are color-coded into separate courses for easy reference

Often described as one of the leading Italian cookbooks of the last 50 years, The Silver Spoon has been fully updated and revised. The original version of the book was a collection of hundreds of traditional home cooking recipes that were collated and updated by a group of cooking experts.

As well as including over 2,000 recipes and 400 new and full-color photographs, this updated version also includes a section on celebrity chef menus from Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Rich Torrisi and others. This 1504 page book by Phaidon Press is available as paperback or hardcover and is set out in color-coded chapters corresponding to courses, including marinades, antipasti, pizza, meats, desserts and more.

As this is a larger cookbook it can be more difficult to use in the kitchen and will take up more storage room.

​Pros

  • Leading Italian cookbook
  • Fully revised
  • 2,000+ recipes
  • Includes celebrity chef menus
  • Hardcover or paperback

​Cons

  • This is a larger cookbook that can be more difficult to use in the kitchen
  • Will also take up more storage space as this has 1504 pages!

7. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes From Our Italian Kitchen

Highlighted Features

  • A Tuscany hardcover cookbook containing over 150 recipes
  • Focuses on recipes prepared in a traditional kitchen using robust ingredients
  • Includes recipes from starters to desserts
  • Also includes tips on choosing olive oils, pairing wines and more

Authored by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes From Our Italian Kitchen focuses on recipes prepared in a traditional kitchen using robust ingredients. This 224 page hardcover cookbook has over 150 recipes from starters to desserts as well as tips on stocking the pantry, choosing olive oils and pairing wine with dishes.

Some cooks would have preferred more photos in the book and the odd buyer has commented that some of the ingredients can be difficult to source in the US.

​Pros

  • Tuscan cookbook
  • Traditional cuisine
  • 150+ recipes
  • Includes tips
  • Hardcover

​Cons

  • This may not have as many photos as you would like
  • Not all of the ingredients will be easy to source in the US

8. Pasta Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks 

Highlighted Features

  • A cookbook of recipes acquired from grandmothers located across Italy
  • This 256 page book complements the popular YouTube channel of the same name
  • Includes 80+ easy and accessible recipes
  • Available as hardcover or Kindle edition

Authored by Vicky Bennison, Pasta Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks is inspired by the YouTube channel of the same name. This book includes over 80 accessible and easy recipes from grandmothers situated across Italy as well as stories and full-color photos.

This 256 page book is available as hardcover or Kindle edition. Some buyers have been disappointed with the number of recipes in the book compared to what it available on the YouTube channel and although the book does contain images, some would have preferred a few more photos on the actual pasta making techniques.

​Pros

  • Italian cookbook
  • Recipes from Italian grandmothers
  • 80+ recipes
  • Complements Pasta Grannies YouTube channel
  • Hardcover or Kindle edition

​Cons

  • Some buyers would have liked to have seen more recipes on the pasta making techniques
  • The odd buyer has commented that they would have preferred more recipes

9. Felidia: Recipes from My Flagship Restaurant 

Highlighted Features

  • A selection of 115 recipes from past and current menus at Felidia in New York City
  • Includes a range of recipes for starters, pastas, breads and more
  • The recipes have been adapted for the home kitchen
  • This 288 page cookbook is full-color and available in hardcover or Kindle editions

Authored by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Felidia: Recipes from My Flagship Restaurant includes 115 of past and current recipes which have been on the menu at Felidia (New York City) since its opening in 1981.

Recipes include antipasti, sides, soups, pastas, breads and more which have been adapted for the home kitchen. This is 288 page full color cookbook available as hardcover or Kindle edition. The odd buyer considers some recipes to be out of date and some of the recipes may also be too complicated for less experienced home cooks.

​Pros

  • Felidia restaurant recipes
  • 115 recipes
  • Past and present dishes
  • Adapted for home cooking
  • Full-color

​Cons

  • The odd buyer has commented that some recipes are dated
  • Less experienced home cooks may find some of the recipes more difficult

​10. La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy 

Highlighted Features

  • A cookbook of recipes collated by members of The Italian Academy of Cuisine
  • Contains over 2,000 recipes from across Italy, some of which had never been written down
  • Available as a 928 page hardcover
  • Recipes are divided into chapters and regions

Containing over 2,000 recipes, La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy is divided into chapters and the recipes are also set out with their region or origin, although the odd buyer has not been impressed with the layout of the recipes. The original concept evolved from when The Italian Academy of Cuisine was formed in 1953 to preserve Italy’s gastronomical heritage.

The Academy members then sourced recipes – many of which had never been written won – from villages across Italy and these were then published. This is a 928 page hardcover book. Some buyers have also been disappointed with recipes which need more unusual cuts of meat and this cookbook may better suit home cooks who are more experienced in Italian cuisine.

​Pros

  • Regional Italian recipes
  • 2,000+ recipes
  • Recipes grouped in chapters and regions
  • Hardcover

​Cons

  • The layout of the book may not be as straightforward as you would expect
  • As this does contain older recipes, some cooks may not be as keen (or able to buy) some of the meat cuts used in some of the recipes
  • May be more suitable for cooks who are more experienced

Things-to-Consider-Before-Buying-The-Best-Italian-Cookbooks

Things to Consider Before Buying an Italian Cookbook

Although the source for our recipes has changed in the last decade or so, as recipes from the internet have become the easy ‘go to’ for quick dinner solutions, the importance of the cookbook should not be forgotten.

An Italian cookbook is always a popular cookbook choice; probably the most popular after an American cookbook and not only is an Italian cookbook ideal for gifting; it also looks great in the gap on our own kitchen shelf.

Unlike online blogs and recipe sources, a published Italian cookbook – whether hardcopy or digital, not only contains tried and tested recipes, but these recipes are refined by highly experienced, passionate and often award-winning chefs. Cookbooks also contain key information such as what to look for when sourcing raw ingredients for the dishes and of course, a range of techniques and practical hints to get the most from the recipe.

The cookbook also contributes to our understanding of how to organize menus and what flavors can be served together; important for those formal dinners. Using a cookbook can also improve our knowledge and understanding when dining out in Italian restaurants – not least how to pronounce some of those unfamiliar names.

Many Italian cookbooks also contain generations of culinary and cultural heritage as well as stories of the author’s gastronomical journeys, and these, along with glossy photos, are what can make a good hardcover Italian cookbook a quintessential coffee table book.

A hardcopy of a cookbook is also ideal for adding your own notes and recipe adaptations and of course, as has happened for many of us, it means it can also be passed down to future generations for them to enjoy and add their own notes to.

Sometimes, the quantity of images in an Italian cookbook can be a deal breaker. There are those of us who like plenty of photos so we know that we are following the recipe correctly, while others of us are happy to just cook from the written word or may even dislike too many images as it is only on rare occasions that our finished effort will resemble the picture in the cookbook! If you are choosing an Italian cookbook to gift to someone rather than yourself, then choose one in line with their picture preferences rather than your own.

If you do want to gift an Italian cookbook, then to add something to the gift, why not pair it with a new garlic press, pasta maker or any other kitchen tool that will be invaluable when the recipient comes to try out some recipes from their new cookbook!

Conclusion

In this article we have considered why an Italian cookbook offers so much more than online recipes ever can. Not only does the cookbook provide the recipes, it also offers a glimpse into the culinary journey of the author and chef, often alongside their physical travels and cultural experiences. The cookbook also offers many hints and tips on how to get the most from the recipes – including in some cases what wines to pair with a dish!

We hope you have enjoyed our reviews of some of the best Italian cookbooks and if you are looking for one to add to your own bookshelf or to gift to someone then we hope that the cookbooks we have reviewed have been helpful to you in your choice.

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