These Italian dinner recipes are tasty ideas that everyone will love! Cozy up to casseroles, bakes, soups and more.
Craving something Italian tonight? This cuisine is full of bakes, casseroles, pastas and soups that are perfect for pleasing everyone around the table. Here are our top Italian dinner recipes and ideas that work for any night of the week! Try everything from cozy classic eggplant Parmesan, to quick and simple cacio e pepe pasta, to spicy shrimp fra diavolo and more! (And if you’re looking for side dishes to pair, keep reading.)
Here's one of the most popular Italian dinner recipes of all time: Eggplant Parmesan! It’s got bubbly cheese, garlicky tomato sauce, and savory, meaty breaded eggplant. This vegetarian Italian classic is hearty, filling, and pleases just about everyone. Here’s our best spin on the recipe: faster and easier to make at home than most recipes and full of incredible flavor.
Here’s an Italian dinner that’s simple, hearty and pleases a crowd: this easy Stuffed Shells recipe! Stuff pasta shells with ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and spinach, then bake them up in a bath of garlicky tomato sauce. It makes your kitchen smell heavenly, and the first bite into one of those jumbo shells confirms it’s just as tasty as the smell.
Here's an extraordinarily easy Italian dinner: Cacio e pepe! This Roman pasta dish translates to "cheese and pepper", with a simple sauce made of butter, Pecorino Romano cheese and pepper. It makes an irresistibly creamy warm pasta that bursts forth with flavor. Italian cuisine at its finest!
Want an Italian dinner to impress…with a little kick? Try Shrimp Fra Diavolo! This Italian-style dish stars tender shrimp that swim in a garlicky, spicy tomato sauce. “Fra diavolo” translates to “brother devil” in Italian, alluding to the intense heat of this dish. But make it homemade and you can customize the spiciness to your taste!
Hollow out zucchini into shells, then stuff it with sausage, tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Top with some crispy breadcrumbs, bake until golden brown, and wow! These are packed with intensely savory flavor. This recipe makes a zucchini lover out of anyone!
Here’s an Italian staple recipe that every home cook should know: Pasta Pomodoro! This classic Italian sauce is pure in its simplicity: simmering tomatoes and a few aromatic vegetables make a straightforward yet nuanced flavor. It takes a little time to simmer, but it’s well worth it for the ease of this recipe: and the bold flavor!
What's a more classic Italian dinner than lasagna? In this recipe, the tomato sauce has just the right zing and garlic nuance, and the spinach ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. It’s scented with fresh thyme and a little lemon zest, which takes it to over the top status.
Looking for a fun Italian dinner idea? Try this Shrimp Risotto recipe! This Italian-style dish is full of bold flavor: juicy, succulent shrimp sit over a bed of creamy, Parmesan and lemon-scented rice. It’s great for impressing guests as a main dish, but it’s simple enough to work as a weeknight meal, too.
Here’s a dish that will be a winner any day of the week: Baked Ziti! This Italian American dinner casserole is packed with savory flavor and cozy nostalgia. Its surface is filled with pockets of seasoned ricotta, lakes of garlicky tomato sauce, and punctuated by strands of gooey mozzarella. Side benefit: the wafting aroma makes your kitchen smell like a dream!
Here’s a quick and simple Italian dinner recipe that’s the perfect shortcut for weeknights: Lemon Ricotta Pasta! Mixing ricotta cheese with olive oil, Parmesan and a little pasta water makes a makeshift white sauce that’s ideal for coating on long noodles (who knew!). This quick weeknight trick has become a staple over here.
Did you know stuffed peppers is a traditional Italian way to use up leftover odds and ends in your kitchen? We can’t take credit for this genius move, but here’s our spin on it. Try our favorite stuffed peppers recipe! The filling is seasoned irresistibly with Italian spices, pizza sauce and melty cheese.
Here's another of the most classic of all Italian dinner recipes: Margherita pizza! This is the best margherita pizza recipe out there, based on our visits to Italy and years of research! It features our ultimate 5-minute pizza sauce, gooey mozzarella, fresh basil, and of course--a perfectly chewy pizza crust.
Try this amazing Eggplant Meatballs recipe! Garlic, herbs, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese make one insanely juicy and savory meatball. Roasted eggplant makes them moist and textured, vs dry or mushy. Combine it with marinara sauce and it’s out of this world delicious.
Here’s an Italian dinner recipe that might result in a few marriage proposals: this creamy tortellini soup! You can make it in under 30 minutes, and the flavor that results is simply killer. Tomatoes, basil, Parmesan and cream make a lusciously flavored broth that floats with doughy orbs of tortellini.
This Burrata Pasta recipe is a beautiful example of Italian-style culinary simplicity. The majestic balls of fresh mozzarella sit atop a pasta twirls entwined with a rustic tomato basil sauce. Breaking into the cheese releases its creamy, rich interior into each bite.
Minestrone soup is a thick Italian soup that's full of chunky vegetables and a hearty broth. Often minestrone includes pasta or rice. It was originally intended as a way to use up whatever veggies you have on hand. This one is full of colorful veggies, a hearty broth and pasta spirals. It’s so satisfying: great as an easy dinner with crusty bread.
Here’s a deliciously creamy, cozy recipe that’s ideal in any season: Mushroom Risotto! This one is full of robust earthy flavor and the best canvas for any type of mushroom you have on hand. Throw them together with Parmesan cheese, white wine and a homemade mushroom broth. You won’t believe the silky, irresistible flavors!
This Italian stew is full of big Italian flavors: intense vibrant tomato, leafy Tuscan kale, and a creamy broth made with Parmesan rind. Swimming in it all are the chickpeas and pasta of the soup’s title, making it hearty and filling. It’s a stunner!
Here’s an Italian dinner idea that marries basic Italian flavors into a mess of garlicky, gooey goodness: Baked Rigatoni! It’s a pasta bake that’s got all the comfort of tomato sauce and cheese, but has intrigue and uniqueness in the flavors. The tomato sauce is full of garlic and a little fennel for meatiness, and it’s got lots of fresh peppery basil for a herbaceous kick.
This truffle pizza is all about channeling the love of a great Italian ingredient: truffles! This pizza features savory mushrooms, gooey cheese, and finished off with a truffle oil that infuses the entire pie.
This vodka sauce will shoot you to Italian grandmother status in no time! Flavored with garlic and basil, the creamy sauce is served over rigatoni with lots of Parmesan. Simmering with butter and half an onion infuses a richness, and the vodka is cooked off leaving a fruity undertone. Serve with Fennel Orange Salad for a dynamic pairing.
More Italian recipe ideas
Want some salads, sides and appetizers to pair with your dinner? Here are a few more recipe ideas starring this classy cuisine:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut off the ends of the eggplant and cut it into 1/2-inch slices (to make approximately 18 slices). Sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt divided between the slices, and allow them to sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the breading ingredients. (Don’t wipe off any salt or extra moisture.)
Place the flour on a plate. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl and set it aside. In another shallow bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons oregano, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and set it aside.
Dip both sides of each eggplant slice into the flour, then the eggs, then the Parmesan cheese mixture. Place each slice onto the prepared baking sheets. (Note: This gets messy; you may need to wash or wipe your fingers off after every few slices.)
Place the trays in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then flip and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until tender and golden brown.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a medium bowl, mix the fire roasted tomatoes, grated garlic, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, chopped fresh basil, and olive oil. Mix well until all the olive oil is incorporated.
Remove the eggplant from the oven. Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13″ pan. Add half the baked eggplant in a layer (about 9 slices), then top with 1 cup tomato sauce and 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Add the second layer of eggplant (we like to add them right on top of the first layer to make 9 stacks). Top with another 1 cup tomato sauce and 1 cup shredded mozzarella on each stack. Top with the remaining 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then top with additional chopped basil and serve. Store leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days (or frozen for 3 months); reheat in the oven until warm.
*You’ll have about ⅓ cup flour left over and about 1 egg, but it’s easier for the breading. There also may be some panko left over. These items are not included in the nutritional info.
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