12 of the Best Italian Cookbooks to Travel to Italy With Your Tastebuds

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Italian cuisine, a favorite worldwide, is flavorsome, unpretentious and delicious food many want to master.

As we traveled through Italy, we were struck by the depth of flavors and regional delicacies.

From chefs, food experts and restaurateurs, we share our best italian cookbooks to bring the flavors of Italy to your home kitchen.

These cookbooks provide cultural context, cooking guides and straightforward instructions to help you master Italian cooking.

Whether you are looking to dive into Italian regional cuisine, the intricacies of homemade pasta or easy recipes, there’s a book for you.

These hand selected 12 best Italian cookbooks are for cooks of every level. Beginner home cooks to expert amateur chefs will take their italian cooking knowledge to new heights.

See our favorite Italian cookbooks and travel to Italy with your taste buds. Mangia bene!

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2. La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy 

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3. Homemade Pasta Made Simple: A Pasta Cookbook with Easy Recipes

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12 Favorites Italian Cookbooks

1. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking – Best Italian Cookbook Of All Time

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This cookbook is considered the “go to cookbook for Italian cooking.” Chefs across the board consider Marcella Hazan as one of those exceptional authors who changed home cooking.

She is credited with introducing classic Italian flavors to home cooks and aspiring professionals alike.

Updated for the 30th anniversary, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking reveals the fundamentals and definitive flavors of Italian cuisine. 

At more than 700 pages, this hefty cookbook has descriptive illustrations and detailed notes on ingredients on all the classic recipes.

Covering soups, pasta, vegetables, meats, desserts and more, you’ll learn to master the secrets of Italian authentic dishes.

Following easy to follow step by step instructions, you’ll be easily making lasagne, pesto, homemade pasta, or shockingly simple spaghetti sauce.

Despite the lack of photographs of the dishes, the recipes are simple to follow using ingredients that are easy to find.

Even experienced cooks who own dozens of Italian cookbooks swear by Mazan’s recipes, simply because they work every time. 

This is one of the best Italian cookbooks that allows you to easily taste Italy like you are there.

+ Who is It For?  Cooks of all levels who want a comprehensive Italian cookbook with classic recipes and modern flavors. 

– Not For? Not for someone looking for a glossy Italian cookbook full of vibrant food photographs. 

2. Pasta Grannies: The Official Cookbook: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks

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All Italians know their grandmothers are the best cooks, and this Pasta Grannies book, shares all the secrets of nonna’s cooking.

Author, Vicky Bennison, has brought together the stories and techniques of grandmothers all across Italy with a focus on pasta and sauces. 

All are authentic Italian recipes and the best home made pasta dishes made from scratch. It’s no wonder Pasta Grannies won a James Beard Award.

There are over 80 recipes that are delicious and easy to make. All are family recipes, handed down over generations, thereby preserving family legacies. 

It is also a celebration of women and Italian classic dishes.

In addition to a variety of pasta dishes, several recipes for sauces are also included. From hand-roiled spaghetti to Pici, Lumachelle and various gnocchi and potato authentic recipes.

This cookbook goes hand in hand with the hugely popular Pasta Grannies YouTube channel. Here, you can watch the grandmothers in action, rolling and shaping fresh pasta.

The cookbook is not all recipes. It also offers refreshing stories into the lives of the women. Each of whom are wonderful home cooks who have spent a lifetime of cooking for love.

For pasta lovers, you cannot get any more detailed than this. With authentic recipes, this is the best classic Italian cook book dedicated to pasta and sauces.

+ Who is It For?  For anyone who loves good, homemade pasta dishes, especially from different regions of Italy. 

– Not For? Someone who is an expert or experienced Italian home cook. This book is aimed at pasta lovers and beginner cooks.

3. Silver Spoon – Traditional Italian Home Cooking Recipes

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Considered the bible of authentic home cooking, Silver Spoon features a a whopping 2000+ recipes.

Originally published in 1950 as Il Cucchiaio d’Argento, by a famous Italian magazine, it became an instant success. 

The Silver Spoon cookbook has been has been updated and republished multiple times without losing its core identity or popularity. 

This classic Italian cookbook is written in a very accessible manner for home cooks of all levels. Recipes range from well known classics like pasta bolognese to stuffed zucchini flowers, braised boar with apples and more.

Recipes from all regions of Italy are covered in this extensive collection of Italian food. Learn to make the flavors of Veneto, Calabria, Tuscany,  Sardinia, Piedmont,  Sicily and more.

The cookbook is color coded and the recipe chapters are based on particular ingredients or meals. You’ll find titles like marinades, fish, soups, flavored butter, sauces, meat, pasta, pizzas, and more. 

An exquisite and beautiful book this is one of the best go-to classic Italian cookbooks. It makes for a wonderful gift or addition to any home cook’s kitchen. 

 + Who is It For? Home cooks who want to master Italian cooking and recipes from all across Italy.

– Not For? Someone easily intimidated by the sheer volume of recipes found in this masterpiece.

RELATED: 10 of The Best Cookbook Holders To Equip Your Kitchen – Review

4. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen

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The author who inspired the famous movie Under the Tuscan Sun brings a cookbook that captures the food landscapes of Tuscany. 

Frances Mayes in collaboration with her husband Edward brings the Tuscan’s rustic cuisine to your kitchen table. 

Featuring over 150 delicious recipes, these are carefully selected traditional recipes from all over Tuscany.  

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook takes you on a culinary journey to Tuscany’s rolling landscapes enticing you to create dishes made with simple ingredients. 

Throughout the pages, you’ll discover the author’s love for Tuscany culture and its regional flavors.

You’ll feel like you are at the dinner table with the Frances and Edward. Try the Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Artichokes & Chickpeas. Or, the roasted Tomoto Tarts or perhaps the Foccacia bread.

Whichever of the Italian recipes you choose to make, gorgeous photography will transport you to Tuscany. 

In addition to the recipes which start with antipasti all the way to dolci, you’ll also enjoy tips to pair wines with your recipes. 

A versatile Tuscany coobook, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook is one of the best authentic Italian cookbooks. 

+ Who is It For? Someone who loves regional foods, particularly recipes from Tuscany. 

– Not For? For someone seeking an all-encompassing book on Italian gastronomy with recipes of regional specialties.

RELATED: 9 of The Best Cooking Vacations in Tuscany You Should Consider

5. The Tucci Cookbook – Best For Stanley Fans

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Featuring 200+ recipes, this cookbook by Stanley Tucci can be described as a love letter to his parents, to his Italian roots and to Italian-Americans.

A familiar name, Stanley Tucci is an actor and host of the CNN Show, Searching for Italy.

A self-taught home cook, Stanley has co-authored a couple of cookbooks with family and friends showcasing traditional Italian meals.

His books usually contain simple dishes written in an easy-reading style. 

The Tucci Cookbook by Stanley Tucci and chef Gianni Scappin is not focused on a cooking style, ingredient, or region, but is rather a collection of traditional and modern Italian cuisine.

From the Venetian appetizer salted cod pate to a simplified fish stew-soup from Marche, you’ll find a variety of delicious recipes.

In each of the sections for main courses, side dishes, appetizers, and desserts are personal anecdotes from Tucci.

Wine pairings for the recipes, serving and topping variations as well as substitutions are covered.

The beautiful food images and detailed instructions from this popular TV host makes for an elegant gift for Tucci fans. 

+ Who is It For?  For any fan of Stanley Tucci who wants a personalized cookbook with family recipes. 

– Not For? Home cooks looking for cookbooks written by other experts or Italian chefs.

6. Let’s Eat Italy! Everything You Want to Know About Your Favorite Cuisine 

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A cultural book into Italian food, this visual feast of Italy has been hailed as a success by readers, critics, and chefs alike.

After the success of Let’s Eat France!, the Let’s Eat Italy! takes you on an equally sumptuous journey through Italy.

In over 400 pages, this book covers the stories, legacy and food history of Italian food culture. 

You’ll find recipes for regional classics and lesser-known specialties. Bolognese, Risi e Bisi, frittata and other recipes for various dishes are provided with amazing photos and doable step by step instructions.

What we enjoy about this cookbook are the amusing odes to classic Italian foods. There is a fascinating story dedicated to Panettone, another to the magic of basil, the rituals around Italian coffee drinking and much more.

Let’s Eat Italy! is more than a cookbook. It’s an entertaining way to dive into Italian culinary history, both past and present. 

Chapters are dedicated to food artisans and vendors, meal spreads from movies, and Italian roots of modern food trends like orange wine.

Food lovers who travel will enjoy this culinary journey done the Italian way.

+ Who is It For? Best for those who enjoy cookbooks filled with food culture and culinary history. 

– Not For? Someone who will is looking for a traditional cookbook solely focused on recipes.

RELATED: Top 7 Italian Snacks Box To Taste La Dolce Vita – A Full Review

7. La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy

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This is a large and monumental encyclopedia of Italian cooking that can be considered a reference book or Italian cooking bible.

Researchers at the Italian Academy of Cuisine documented more than 2000 recipes across the length and breadth of the country.

This particular edition, published in 2009 is an English translation of the original cookbook, La Cucina – The Regional Cooking of Italy.

It goes in depth into the regions showcasing classic and less well known recipes, preserving Italian culinary heritage.

This tribute to Italy and its foods is one of the best Italian cookbooks for home cooks seeking authentic regional specialties. 

A classic work and reference book of Italian recipes, your knowledge and Italian cooking techniques will be transformed.

The only downside to the book is that some recipes do not have precise measurements. Some familiarity with basic Italian cooking will be helpful to improvise.

+ Who is It For? Those who love comprehensive books on more classic Italian cooking with a regional emphasis.

– Not For? Home cooks just getting started with traditional Italian cuisine. This weighty and recipe heavy cookbook may be intimidating.

8. Homemade Pasta Made Simple – Best Pasta Cookbook

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If you are obsessed with learning to make homemade pasta from scratch, this cookbook, Homemade Pasta Made Simple is for you.

This beginner guide to homemade pasta is written with clear step by step instructions building your confidence each step of the way.

Whether you’re making hand shaped pasta, ribbon shaped or stuffed pasta, you’ll be doing so with the confidence and ease of an italian grandmother.

Featuring more than 65 tasty and delectable pasta dishes, you’ll easily make farfalle, tagliatelle, busiati, ravioli, gnocchi and more.

Homemade Pasta Made Simple also features about 30 delicious homemade sauces to go with your pasta. 

You’ll find the equipment and ingredients needed along with tips and suggestions for the best pasta and sauce pairings.

Making fresh pasta at home no longer needs to seem unattainable. Homemade Pasta Made Simple will transform you from a pasta novice to pro in no time.

This well written cookbook with easy recipes is fundamental for learning the basics of Italian cuisine and food. 

+ Who is It For?  Home cooks who love pasta and want to confidently learn to make different kinds of pasta and sauces.  

– Not For? Those who want a more varied breadth of italian food and cooking techniques.

9. Sicilia – A Love Letter To The Food of Sicily – Best Sicilian Cookbook

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 You can call this a tribute to one of the oldest and most culturally diverse food regions of Italy. 

Author, culinary director, TV chef, and restaurateur, London-based, Ben Tish, provides an immersive view into this rich and complex cuisine. 

While Sicilian recipes are inherently frugal and simple, the cuisine is also quite extravagant. 

Through the pages of this Sicilia – The Food of Sicily cookbook, you’ll travel with Ben as he unravels the Italian food secrets, techniques and cultural influences. 

Starting with the Italian baker and bread, you finish with dessert recipes for Italian dolci. This beautiful collection of 70 recipes is informative and full of gorgeous photography of the flavors of Italy’s largest island.

You will learn to combine spices and indigenous ingredients with bread, meat, and vegetables to create unbelievably simple dishes. 

Try your hand at delightful recipes like roasted pork belly with fennel, smoky artichokes, Limoncello semifreddo, and bitter chocolate torte.

Offal features among the meat dishes as they are traditiona in Sicily. Some of the authentic recipes require time to make making them suitable for weekend cooking rather than everyday meals. 

As Ben is London-based, the measurements are in metrics making it inconvenient for American readers.

Regardless, this is one of the best Sicilian cookbooks that combines culture, historical context and recipes for amazing regional dishes.

 + Who is It For?  Experienced home cooks who want to try new regional Italian flavors from Sicily.  

– Not For? Beginners to italian food and cooking. Measurements in metrics may be off putting to cooks looking for convenience.

RELATED: The Best Sicilian Food: 25 Authentic Dishes in Sicily You Must Eat

10. Italian Food – Best For Regional Cooking

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When Julia Child provides a foreword, to a book, you know it has to be special. Italian food, by Elizabeth David, transformed the English public perception of Italian food in post war Europe.

She was one of the first Italian cookbook authors to document and write about Italian regional cuisine. 

“This is the food Italians eat”, she is quoted to have said. “There is Florentine cooking, Venetian cooking, dishes of Genoa, Rome, Naples, Sardinia and Sicily and others.”  

Elizabeth David’s Italian food, demonstrates the diversity of Italian food, which she said is “real food, grown, cooked and eaten by real people.”

This cookbook was first printed in 1954, and it continues to be an invaluable resource for traditional Italian cuisine.

The Italian regional recipes are a delectable mix of classic and unfamiliar regional delicacies.

Recipes can be short and simple like her ricotta sauce or intricate like her rice and wine dishes. 

One of the things that makes Elizabeth David stand out is her evocative and witty writing voice. 

Historical and cultural context for each recipe is also provided adding more depth and insights into Italian regional cooking.

While Elizabeth David’s prose entices and helps readers savor the flavors just by reading, she takes a lot of liberty in the recipe creation.

Her recipes are not very detailed, which can be frustrating to many home cooks. 

Elizabeth David was one of the first to introduce the English speaking world to Italian regional cooking. Her cookbook, Italian Food, is one of the best Italian cookbooks for regional dishes.  

+ Who is It For?  Someone looking for a great classic Italian cookbook focused on regional specialties. 

– Not For? Those that like cooking with precise measurements and instructions may find Italian Food, challenging.

11. Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita – Best Travelogue Cookbook

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This cookbook from the popular Food Network host and American chef, is one of the most accessible cookbooks.

This award-winning master chef, Giada De Laurentiis draws on her experience and creativity to provide readers with simple and easy recipes.   

Her recipes help busy people save time while eating delicious Italian dishes that don’t take forever to cook.

The recipes in Giada’s Italy, remain true to her cooking style with fresh and easily found ingredients, minimal cooking steps, and not much food prepping. 

These are the kind of everyday recipes you can bookmark to make on rotation. 

The cookbook is divided into convenient sections. You’ll find starters, lunch, weeknight meals, sides, sweets and more.

You’ll easily make grilled chicken involtini, avocado white bean dip, candied prosciutto, zabaglione dessert and more.

Beyond the delicious recipes, this cookbook is laden with stunning photography, family stories that read like travel tales and entertaining tips.

A beautiful cookbook to read and luscious recipes to make, this is one of the best Italian cookbooks for fresh and simple dishes.

+ Who is It For? Those looking for an Italian cookbook with uncomplicated and versatile every day recipes. 

– Not For? Someone who wants a detailed cookbook on Italian gastronomy.

RELATED: 7 Tastiest Italian Gift Baskets: Best Food Gifts From Italy 

12. Lidia’s a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl – Best Italian Cookbooks For Beginners

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Using just one pot, pan and bowl, makes this cookbook from Lidia Bastianich, a favorite for simplicity.

The owner of several restaurants and partner of Eataly, Lidia, an award winning TV Show host loves sharing her love for Italian food. 

What we like about Lidia’s a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl Cookbook is the non-fuss recipes and simple to prepare recipes. 

You’ll use fewer ingredients, require fewer steps and fewer dirty pots and pans, all without sacrificing flavor.

The 100+ recipes are comforting, time tested and can be described as modern Italian cuisine. 

Whether you are making eggplant parmigiana, chicken cacciatore, skillet lasagna, or apple cranberry crumble, her recipes are filling and provide large yields.

You’ll discover how-to techniques and tips, ingredients and substitutions to make delicious homemade Italian food easily.

In addition to beautiful food images, you’ll also find an informative guide on buying, cleaning, storing, and cooking with ingredients. 

This is the best Italian cookbook for anyone seeking appetizing, homey recipes using fewer ingredients, utensils, and cooking steps.

+ Who is It For?  Homecooks and beginners who want simple yet delicious recipes using one or two pots and pans.

– Not For? Someone who looking for a comprehensive and detailed Italian cookbook.

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Do you love Italian food? Which one of these Italian cookbooks do you think is best? Please let us know in the comments below!

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