20 Best Italian Recipes for Beginner Cooks
Here are 20 of our favorite Italian recipes for beginner cooks. These popular Italian and Italian-American recipes are what Americans want for dinner. From lasagna to meatballs, cacciatore to piccata, there are so many classics here. These recipes are simplified for beginner cooks; great for learning simple, essential techniques that you can apply to all types of recipes. Take a look.
Tomato Vodka Sauce
You'll be amazed at what a little vodka does to draw out flavors in this simple tomato cream sauce! "I had a similar dish in a nice restaurant and wanted to try to make it at home," says bglowacz. "This was very very close, and delicious. I used chicken, shallots instead of onion, and asparagus."
Chef John's Italian Meatballs
"Homemade meatballs are very easy to make, and since we skip the very messy step of pan-frying these before they hit the sauce, it becomes downright simple," says Chef John. "Here I use a standard half-beef/half-pork mixture. You can substitute water or beef broth for the milk." Or if you prefer, try Chef John's meatless meatballs made with mushrooms!
Italian Baked Chicken Thighs
"These chicken thighs with added veggies and dry Italian salad dressing served with crusty bread make a complete meal," says Yoly. "Serve over pasta, rice, egg noodles, or potatoes."
Make-Ahead Freezer Chicken Parmesan
"My family loves chicken Parm but making it from scratch on a busy school night is next to impossible," says Cari Sultanik. "The good news is the chicken can be made ahead and frozen along with the right portion of sauce and cheese for a quick weeknight meal. Serve with pasta and Caesar salad."
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Not only delicious, this classic recipe is also ridiculously quick and easy to make. And it requires just a handful of common pantry ingredients: garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley, and Parmesan cheese. "No two spaghetti aglio e olio recipes are alike, but this one is pretty true to the classic method," says Chef John. "The key is slowly toasting the garlic slices to a perfect golden-brown in the olive oil. If it's too light, you don't get the full flavor, and if it's too dark it gets bitter." Watch the video to see how Chef John gets it done just right.
Baked Italian Chicken Thighs
"These juicy chicken thighs are topped with a flavorful blend of three cheeses and your favorite marinara sauce," says France C. "Serve over pasta or rice or alongside roasted potatoes for a tasty weeknight meal. I like to shred my own cheese, as I find it melts better, but feel free to use pre-shredded to save time."
Simply Traditional Lasagna
Here's a ground beef and sausage lasagna with jarred marinara sauce and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. "A traditional lasagna, with about half the time and effort!" says Kris Swiggum, who submitted the recipe. "I always cook extra to have leftovers, but the more I cook, the more they eat! Serve with garlic toast and salad."
Roast Chicken with Rosemary
Here's a great choice for Sunday dinner, Italian style. You'll stuff a whole roasting chicken with onion and fresh rosemary for a simple baked chicken, just like the ones in Italian markets. "When I was in Vicenza, Italy at an open market downtown, I smelled this scrumptious smell of roast chicken at this stand," says LILQUIZ. "So I bought one of their chickens and looked what they stuffed in the cavity to make it taste so good! I also do my turkeys like this too!"
Easy Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Here's a classic spicy seafood pasta with a few simple techniques. Brian Genest calls it "a spicy, delicious seafood pasta that is easy to make but will still impress your guests. Serve over linguini, garnish with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese."
Pesto Pasta with Chicken
This recipe is a great example of how just a few simple ingredients can deliver big flavors. "Easy and delicious pasta with chicken," says Kristin. "Serve with crusty bread and salad for a quick dinner. Use as much or as little pesto sauce as you like. Using homemade pesto will taste even better, but it adds to prep time. Enjoy!
Prune and Olive Chicken
Before baking, chicken pieces marinade with garlic, prunes, olives, capers, olive oil, vinegar, bay leaves, and oregano. "This is a classic Chicken Mirabella recipe," says Teresa. "A taste of the Mediterranean in one delicious baked chicken dish."
Lasagna Alfredo Roll Ups
Cooked lasagna noodles are rolled up with a simple spinach and ricotta cheese filling and baked on a blanket of creamy Alfredo sauce. "A delicious lasagna recipe with a twist," says MARBALET.
Quick Chicken Piccata
Balsamic Roasted Pork Loin
Just four ingredients are all you need to make a very special pork dinner! "A zesty, yet simple meal with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar marinade," says Melissa S. "A crowd pleaser!"
This is a terrific option for busy weekdays. Easy and light, this red sauce combines plum tomatoes with lots of garlic, chicken broth, red pepper flakes, basil, and a little balsamic vinegar to elevate the flavors. You can also add cooked chicken or shrimp to the sauce if you like. To make it completely vegetarian, just substitute vegetable stock for the chicken broth.
Another classic Italian chicken dish that's elegant but also easy, with simple cooking techniques. Lightly coated chicken breasts are braised with Marsala wine and mushrooms. Anonymous calls it an "ideal for both a quick weeknight entree AND serving to company."
Lasagna without the layering--or baking! "This no-bake skillet lasagna is made right on your stovetop and is a fast and easy alternative to store-bought hamburger mixes!" says Brittany.
Modenese Pork Chops
"Surprisingly simple and quick. Garlic, rosemary, and white wine flavor the pork," says Stephanie Knewasser, the recipe submitter. "The aroma is wonderful. Try steaming fresh broccoli, then frying it in the pan juices for a perfect side dish."
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Here's a super-easy chicken cacciatore for busy folks and beginner cooks alike. You'll simply add boneless chicken breasts to a slow cooker and top with spaghetti sauce, green bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Rosie explains the story of cacciatore: "It's Italian for 'hunter,' and refers to food prepared 'hunter style,' with mushrooms and onions. Avanti!" If you prefer a baked version, here's a top-rated Chicken Cacciatore recipe for the oven.
Chicken Breast Cutlets with Artichokes and Capers
Here's a straightforward, delicious chicken dish with an Italian accent. Chicken cutlets are sauteed to golden brown and served with a lemony artichoke and caper sauce. The recipe submitter, Pina, has a tip: "The sauce is not supposed to be thick, but if you like it that way, you can add a little cornstarch mixed with cold water, or make a roux (flour and butter)."