Italian cooking isn’t hard. It’s actually rather fresh and simple. But if you don’t speak fluent Italian, it can be rather hard to read some of the best recipes. Occasionally you will be asked for an ingredient that you may know under a different name.
So in this post, we listed the most common Italian cooking ingredients with their English translations. We also add descriptions of the ingredient. In some cases, we even list where the ingredients are from.
- Acciuga, Acciuughe or also Alice: Anchovies. These are also generally purchased under either oil or salt.
- Aceto: Vinegar.
- Aceto Balsamico: Balsamic vinegar. This is vinegar aged for many years (at least 10). These are also made in a similar way to a solero sherry. First, they start off in one barrel. Then they end up, after 6 changes, in a rather small barrel once evaporation has taken place.
- Aglio: Garlic.
- Alloro, also known as Lauro: Laurel or Bay leaf.
- Amaretti: Small almond flavoured biscuits.
- Anise: This is aniseed.
- Baccala: Salted Cod. This is sometimes also known as stoccafisso (stockfish).
- Bigné: Choux pastry puffs. These are also often called profiteroles.
- Bocconcini: Bocconcini. This word means ‘small mouthful’. It is also used as the name for small balls of mozzarella.
- Bottarga: Dried Mullet roe.
- Brodo: Stock. These can be made of meat, fish or even vegetables, for example.
- Cacciatori: A small salami. They can be normal or spicy, for example.
- Cappasanta: Scallops.
- Capretto: Small goat.
- Carciofo: Artichokes.
- Castagna: Chestnuts.
- Cavalo: Cabbage.
- Ceci: Chickpeas.
- Cime di Rapa: Turnip Tops.
- Cinghiale: Wild Boar.
- Concentrato di Pomodoro: Tomato paste.
- Coniglio: Rabbit. This is a popular dish in Italy. It is normally roasted or used in a stew, for example.
- Cotecchino: A large pork sausage that is boiled.
- Crema: Custard and even types of crème patissiere.
- Crespelle: Thin pancakes.
- Croccante: Crunchy.
- Crostata: Tart. This also often comes with a lattice top. These are also made with a jam filling.
- Dolce: Dessert. This word also means “sweet”.
- Dolcelatte: A mild type of Gorgonzola.
- Erbe: Herbs.
- Fagioli: Beans. These are also a staple of many Italian meals.
- Farina: Flour. In Italian recipes, ‘00’ flour is normally used.
- Farro: Spelt. This is also an ancient grain.
- Fava: Broad beans.
- Fegato: Liver.
- Finocchio: Fennel.
- Fior di Latte: Cow’s Milk Mozzarella.
- Fiore di Zucca: Zucchini Flowers.
- Foccacia: A type of flat bread. This can be sweet or even savoury.
- Fontina: Cheese.
- Formaggio: The word used for cheese.
- Fragola: Strawberry.
- Frico: Wafer-thin cheese fritters from Friuli.
- Frittole or frittelle: Also means fritters.
- Frittata: Italian omelette.
- Fritto Misto: A mixed selection of fried morsels of food.
- Frutti di Mare: Seafood.
- Funghi: Mushrooms. This can refer to the wild or also the cultivated varieties.
- Funghi Secchi: Dried wild mushrooms.
- Gambero: Prawn.
- Gelatina: Gelatine.
- Gelato: Ice cream or sorbet.
- Gianduia: A rich chocolate or chocolate cake.
- Gnocchi: Dumplings. These can be made from potato or pumpkin and flour, for example.
- Gorgonzola: A creamy blue vein cheese. It can be sharp or also sweet.
- Grana Padano: A type of cheese. It is also similar to Parmigiano Reggiano but from another area of Italy.
- Grasso: Fat.
- Grissini: Bread sticks.
- Guanciale: Pigs cheeks. This is a gelatinous meat.
- Insalata: Salad.
- Integrale: Whole wheat. This can refer to either bread or pasta, for example.
- Involtini: Small parcels of meat or fish.
- Lampone: Raspberries.
- Lardo: Pork fat.
- Latte: Milk.
- Lattuga: Lettuce.
- Legumi: Pulses and beans.
- Lenticchia: Lentils.
- Lepre: Hare. This meat has a strong gamey flavour.
- Lievito: Yeast.
- Limone: Lemon.
- Lumaca: Snails.
- Macedonia: Fruit salad. It can be made of either fresh or dried fruits, for example.
- Maiale: Pork.
- Manzo: A name used for young beef.
- Marmelatta: Marmalade. This is a type of fruit preserve.
- Mascarpone: A creamy cheese. It is usually used in desserts.
- Mela: Apple.
- Melanzana: Eggplant, also known as aubergine.
- Melone: The collective word for melons.
- Miele: The collective word for honey.
- Minestra: Soup. This normally consists of a broth.
- Minestrone: Vegetable soup.
- Mollica: Breadcrumbs.
- Montasio: A type of cheese from Friuli.
- Mortadella: A type of sausage (cold meat).
- Mostarda: Preserves served with savoury food such as boiled meats.
- Mozzarella: This is a creamy white cheese made from Buffalo milk.
- Nero di Seppia: The ink from a cuttlefish.
- Nocciola: Hazelnut. These are used in gianduia. They are also used in Nocciola, which is an alcoholic beverage.
- Noce: Walnut.
- Noce moscato: Nutmeg.
- Olio d’oliva: Olive oil.
- Orzo: Barley. This is used in baking. It is also used as a type of imitation coffee.
- Ossobuco: A dish of veal shanks. These come complete with bone marrow.
- Ostrica: Oysters.
- Oliva: Olive.
- Pancetta: Cured pork.
- Pandoro: A cakey bread. It is also a traditional Christmas treat.
- Pane: Bread.
- Panettone: A traditional Christmas cake. It is also originally from Milan.
- Panna: Cream.
- Panna Cotta: A sweet dessert. It is made from cooked cream and gelatin.
- Panzanella: A rustic bread salad.
- Panzarotti: This is a small half-moon shaped savoury pastry.
- Parmigiano Reggiano: This is probably Italy’s most famous cheese.
- Passata: Puréed tomatoes.
- Pasta: This word means dough. It is best known as a collective noun for products made from flour and egg or water. For example, spaghetti, fettucini, etc.
- Pecorino: Sheep’s cheese from central and southern Italy. The word pecora means sheep.
- Pepperoncino: Chilli.
- Pesto: A sauce made from basil leaves, pine nuts and parmigiano.
- Piadina: This is a delicious bread made from pork fat. It is also round like pizza.
- Pinoli: Pine nuts.
- Piselli: Peas.
- Pissaladiera: A thick pizza. It also originates from the north of Italy.
- Pizza: A bread-like circle, usually topped with tomato and cheese.
- Pizzaiola: A topping for meat using various pizza ingredients. These can include tomatoes and vegetables.
- Pizzocheri: A long thick pasta. It uses buckwheat as a main ingredient.
- Polenta: Cornmeal.
- Pollo: Chicken.
- Polpette: Meatballs.
- Polpo: Octopus.
- Pomodoro: Tomato.
- Porchetta: This is a small, stuffed and roasted pig.
- Porro: Leek.
- Prezzemolo: Parsley.
- Prosciutto Cotto: Ham.
- Provolone: A type of cheese.
- Puntarelle: A variety of chicory.
- Quaglia: Quail.
- Radichio: This is a red variety of chicory.
- Ragu: A rich sauce used for pasta.
- Rana: Frog.
- Rapa: Turnips.
- Ricotta: A soft fresh cheese.
- Riso: Rice.
- Risotto: A dish of creamy boiled rice.
- Rosmarino: Rosemary.
- Rucola (arugula): Rocket.
- Salumi: This is salami.
- Sale: This is salt.
- Salsa: This refers to sauce.
- Salsa Verde: This is a green sauce. It is usually made from herbs.
- Salsiccia: These are sausages.
- Saltimbocca: This is a veal dish. It is usually made with prosciutto and sage.
- Salvia: This refers to sage.
- Sarda: These are sardines.
- Scallopina: This is a thin slice of meat. This is usually veal, pork or turkey, for example.
- Scamorza: This is like a smoked version of mozzarella.
- Sedano: This is celery.
- Semifreddo: This is a soft ice cream.
- Seppia: This is cuttlefish.
- Sformato: This is a savoury pudding or mold.
- Sopressa and Soppressata: These are types of salami, also from Central Italy.
- Spiedini: These are skewers of food.
- Spinaci: This is spinach.
- Stoccafisso: This refers to dried cod.
- Sugo: This is a fruit juice.
- Suppli: These are rice croquettes from Rome.
- Tacchino: This is turkey.
- Tagliata: This refers to sliced beef.
- Taleggio: This is a soft white rind cheese.
- Taralli: These are savoury biscuits.
- Tartufo: These are truffles.
- Tiella: This is a baked dish containing onions, potatoes, garlic and olive oil. Other ingredients are then added to this dish, such as fish, pork, zucchini, for example.
- Timballo: This is a baked mold. It uses pasta or rice.
- Timo: This is Thyme.
- Tiramisu: This is a coffee-flavoured dessert. Its ingredients consist of cake, coffee and mascarpone.
- Tonno: This is tuna.
- Torrone: This is nougat.
- Torta: This refers to a cake or pie.
- Trippa: This is tripe.
- Tuorlo d’Uovo: This refers to the egg yolk.
- Uova: This means egg.
- Uva: This means grape.
- Verdura: These are vegetables.
- Vincotto: This is a cooked wine.
- Vitello: This is veal.
- Vitello Tonnato: This is veal, but with a tuna sauce.
- Vongole: These are clams.
- Zabaglione: A dessert or sauce. Its ingredients are Marsala wine and eggs, cooked over a bain marie.
- Zafferano: This is the word for saffron.
- Zampone: Stuffed pigs’ trotter.
- Zeppole: These are fritters.
- Zucca: This is pumpkin.
- Zuppa: A thick and rich soup.
- Zuppa Inglese: An Italian version of an English Trifle.
Now you finally know the English translations for some of the most common Italian cooking ingredients. So you can make those authentic Italian recipes with ease! Finally, you can say buon apetito!