52 Classic Italian Dinner Recipes That Go Beyond Pasta
Eat, pray, love, but emphasis on the eating part.
Okay, we know you love pizza and pasta. But we've got more Italian-inspired dinner ideas that'll have you feeling like you have your own Italian nonna on-call to teach you how to make a transcendent pappardelle with Bolognese. These classic Italian dinner recipes will help you venture outside the Olive Garden (although we do love the OG) and highlight some of the many diverse flavors in Italian cuisine. Our traditional recipes for skillet chicken cacciatore, pasta e fagioli, and skillet eggplant Parm will have you feeling like you're running your own Roman trattoria in no time.
Think outside the pasta box with our favorite homemade Italian classics that will make any weeknight feel like a special occasion. Our dream Italian feast? We love pairing a hearty stew like osso buco with creamy risotto. Add a side of sheet-pan panzanella on the side, and you'll be sure to get more than few chef's kisses. Okay, maybe add a glass of vino or Negroni for good measure too.
There's no coincidence that the "eat" portion of Eat, Pray, Love took place in Rome, and we've got plenty of Italian pasta recipes to prove it. And we're not just talking about spaghetti & meatballs either. There are actually four classic Roman pasta dishes: pasta alla gricia, bucatini all'amatriciana, spaghetti carbonara, and cacio e pepe. No surprise: They're all wildly good. But don't stop there! Try our recipe for homemade pasta dough, homemade cavatelli, and ricotta gnudi for the most authentic pasta night ever.
Cooking Italian food for dinner is one of the better decisions to be made all week long. The absolute best idea? Pair a fun Italian dessert to go with this feast—but hey, it's your party! Mangia!
If you can't get enough of Rome's famous spaghetti carbonara, then we have a sneaking suspicion you'll love this extra-cheesy pizza version. Keep it simple with a side of peppery arugula dressed with olive oil and lemon juice to cut the richness of the pie!
Get the Carbonara Pizza recipe.
There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of chicken Parm recipes in the world, but this one is our favorite. Crispy, well-seasoned chicken, a flavorful tomato sauce with a kiss of sweetness, and, of course, tons of melty cheese. It's easy, simple, and classic.
Get the Easy Chicken Parm recipe.
If Julia Child taught America how to roast chicken, Marcella Hazan taught us how to make good pasta sauce. Her version is a little unconventional; the onion isn't sautéed, the sauce simmers for less than an hour, and there's a lot of butter. It's the easiest and, most likely, best red sauce you'll ever make at home.
Get the Homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe.
We love slow cookers because they do all of the work for us, meaning we can do literally anything else while the chicken cooks. Need dinner faster? Make our classic chicken cacciatore instead.
Get the Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore recipe.
Cacio e pepe literally translates to “cheese and pepper." These two ingredients are usually thought of as small components to a dish, but in this pasta recipe, they take center stage. The fruity bite of freshly ground pepper adds complexity and is earthy, sweet, and spicy all at once.
Get the Cacio e Pepe recipe.
Breakfast meets dinner in this marinara- and mozzarella-topped dish. Fittingly, the Italian word "affogato" means drowned, which explains the marinara topping. It lends this dish a vibe somewhere between a breakfast frittata and pizza, meaning it’s enjoyable for pretty much any meal of the day.
Get the Italian Sausage & Pepper Frittata Affogato recipe.
Pasta pomodoro is a step above from spaghetti and meatballs and highlights the freshness of tomatoes. You're cooking down the tomatoes just enough to form a light sauce but keeping most of them intact. It's the freshest pasta and is best enjoyed outside with a mound of grated Parmesan.
Get the Pasta Pomodoro recipe.
Panzanella—an Italian salad made with dried bread cubes—is one of the most delicious versions of salad. That's because it stars bread as the main ingredient rather than lettuce. Perhaps this is why we love making panzanella as often as possible—with asparagus in spring, with tomatoes and zucchini in summer, and even with peaches and burrata too.
Get the Sheet-Pan Panzanella recipe.
Meet your new favorite comforting, no-frills bowl of spaghetti and meatballs that you can take in any direction. We love this simple Marcella Hazan-inspired spaghetti sauce, and we especially love changing up our classic Italian meatball recipe with all kinds of fun flavor combinations, like cheesy Tex-Mex meatballs and spicy harissa meatballs.
Get the Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe.
Making gnudi, or Italian ricotta dumplings, only sounds fancy. They're actually an easy pasta dinner anyone can pull off. If you love gnocchi as much as we do, you'll likely love these too. The only real difference? Gnocchi is made with potato and gnudi is made with ricotta, which makes them even more tender, light, and plump.
Get the Ricotta Gnudi recipe.
There is no limit to what you can add to a frittata. It's a versatile dish that can handle most things you throw at it, and our recipe has all the tips and tricks to getting a fluffy-centered, crispy-edged frittata every time.
Get the Easy Frittata recipe.
For this summery dish, you'll start by crisping up chicken cutlets that are wrapped in prosciutto (this technique comes from the Italian "saltimbocca" dish made with veal, wine, and sage rather than chicken, balsamic, and basil). Next, you'll finish them off in a tangy vinegar sauce, then top the whole thing with mozzarella and tomatoes for a fresh and fast crowd-pleaser.
Get the Caprese Chicken Saltimbocca recipe.
This pasta dish with Roman origins is a sure win, calling for just 5 ingredients and done in 20 minutes. It’s basically a pantry dive—spaghetti, bacon, garlic, eggs, and Parmesan are all ingredients that are easy to have on hand and make this the ultimate comfort food.
Get the Easy Carbonara recipe.
If you asked us to name our favorite comfort foods, pasta, soup, and meatballs would all be at the top of the list. So it’s no surprise that Italian wedding soup is one of our favorite meals when the weather turns chilly. Loaded with mini chicken meatballs, little pasta nuggets, and plenty of veg, it’s like an upgraded version of chicken noodle soup, and we can’t get enough of it!
Get the Italian Wedding Soup recipe.
In Italian, saltimbocca means "jumps in the mouth"—this delightful and sinfully simple recipe does just that. Saltimbocca also refers to the Roman style of preparing cutlets of meat, where the cutlet is pounded thin and wrapped in prosciutto and hearty, herbaceous sage. Though it can be served straight-up, we added a delicious and easy white wine sauce that pairs beautifully with the chicken.
Get the Chicken Saltimbocca recipe.
Pasta alla Norma is an easy Sicilian pasta dish with eggplant that is essentially pan-fried, plus lots of ricotta salata. Go slow with the eggplant. You want to gently cook it in plenty of oil so that they turn deeply golden and slightly crispy all over. Just try not to eat all of them before they make it into the pasta!
Get the Pasta alla Norma recipe.
Chicken marsala is a classic Italian American dish that's creamy, quick, and irresistible. The creamy sauce made of mushrooms, marsala wine, and heavy cream is straight-up drinkable, and we love serving it over a big pile of spaghetti or angel hair. It's the perfect weeknight dinner, and we don't even feel guilty making it three nights in a row.
Get the Creamy Chicken Marsala recipe.
Pasta night deserves a special pasta. Making your own dough takes a bit of time, but the process itself isn't complicated. The dough is made from 3 basic ingredients and comes together in minutes.
Get the Fresh Pasta Dough recipe.
Literally translated to “off the bone,” osso buco is a traditional northern Italian stew that celebrates the impossible tenderness of crosscut veal shank. It’s true, this recipe does take a bit of time, but we promise it’s worth it. Lucky for you, this is the epitome of a make-ahead dish—it tastes even better the next day!
Get the Osso Buco recipe.
This easy rice dish is as comforting as it comes, and while it may seem intimidating, it really is simple. All you need is an hour, some arborio rice, good-quality chicken broth, a little butter and cheese and wine, along with your favorite aromatics like onion, garlic, and basil.
Get the How To Make Risotto recipe.
Craving something hearty, healthy and warm? Pasta e fagiole (AKA pasta and beans) is the answer. Perfect for those dreary winter evenings when you want something fast and delicious, this soup comes together in no time, and it's super-adaptable. (As in, chop up whatever you've got in your crisper and throw it in the pot!)
Get the Pasta e Fagioli recipe.
This is easy to make and even easier to indulge in. The real Italian way uses guancial—cured pork jowl—which has a slightly sweet, delicate flavor. If you can't find it, use pancetta or thick-cut bacon instead!
Get the Pasta Alla Gricia recipe.
Making great homemade pizza can be hard, or so we thought. Turns out, we just hadn't tried making it in an air fryer yet! This super-simple recipe yields some of the best pizza to ever come out of our kitchen. The air fryer excels in cooking crust—ours was airy in the center and crunchy on the outside, just like in a true pizza oven.
Get the Air Fryer Pizza recipe.
Cacciatore translates to “hunter” in Italian, and it’s thought that this dish arose in popularity during the Renaissance. As the story goes, the dish emerged as a means to feed hunters who’d been away tracking for long periods of time, using the meat, mushrooms, and herbs they’d collected along the way. We love this served on its own with crusty bread for dipping (or garlic bread?), but if you want a fuller meal, try it alongside rustic mashed potatoes or polenta.
Get the Skillet Chicken Cacciatore recipe.
The super-fragrant sauce is made with a lot of garlic and anchovies that will have you begging for seconds. It's definitely a break from the classic spaghetti and meatballs, especially with the capers and olives adding a briny saltiness to this classic dish. Serve it with the best garlic bread ever and call it a day.
Get the Pasta Puttanesca recipe.
Thinly sliced chicken scallopini can be cooked in a variety of sauces and flavors. We departed from the lemony-caper piccata herd and went instead for tender mushrooms and a hint of wine, lemon, and broth, capped off with a dash of rich cream: scaloppine ai funghi. Cheers to a perfectly light yet hearty weeknight dinner.
Get the Chicken Scallopini recipe.
A good Bolognese takes time. The longer you let this meat sauce simmer, the better and richer it becomes. Another key aspect, though it may be surprising, is milk. It helps to thicken the sauce and make a more cohesive sauce that clings really beautifully to pasta.
Get the Pappardelle Bolognese recipe.
This creamy, rich ricotta is a revelation when eaten warm, fresh from the pot. While store-bought is great in a pinch, this stuff certainly has it beat.
Get the Homemade Ricotta recipe.
Think of burrata salad as Caprese salad's fancy cousin. Peak-summer tomatoes are topped with this luscious cheese (think: a shell of mozzarella filled with a soft, creamy filling) and garnished with a shower of peppery basil leaves and savory chives. 😍
Get the Burrata Salad recipe.
Thanks to cashews, you can make an ultra-creamy, velvety smooth Alfredo sauce sans dairy! To get that super-cheesy flavor, we added vegan Parm and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a vegan ingredient that's filled with umami and often used instead of Parmesan, and it will make people really wonder how you made this without any cheese.
Get the Vegan Alfredo Sauce recipe.