Italian food is loved throughout the world. And for good reasons: For its heritage of recipes for big flavors with minimal combinations, homey comfort, and sheer simplicity. A culinary heritage deeply rooted in past regional traditions. But also for Italian’s utmost respect for and affinity to use only natural and humble, yet high-quality local ingredients with an absolute integrity for freshness.
So let’s give our friends and family a gift that they will thoroughly enjoy for years to come!
Cookbooks are Great Gifts!
Cookbooks are not only useful, but they’re also meaningful when you know what someone loves to or wants to learn more about their favorite cuisine! And with a simple additional cooking item, you can have a very thoughtful and unique gift. This list of Italian cookbooks includes options that are perfect for both trained chefs and home cooks.
I wanted to share this my favorite Italian cookbook gift guide with you before the shopping craze begins so that you can take advantage of any sales that take place in the upcoming weeks. You can find my previous, timeless gift guides here:
A GREAT WAY TO GIVE COOKBOOKS
Add a unique kitchen tool or ingredient that works well with each cookbook that you give. This just adds such a nice personal touch! I’ve added some great ideas for that!
Experiencing food and dining in Italy is like no other on earth. All over Italy life is centered around food, the table, and the family gathered around. The aromatic aromas and rich taste of her highest quality fresh ingredients herbs and spices, her cheeses, pasta, pizza, and specialty meat bring harmony to our tastebuds are like no other cuisine.
But with any of these top-rated Italian cookbooks, you don’t need to rush out to an Italian restaurant or travel to Italy to taste extraordinary Italian food . . . . because you can experience Italy by making your own homemade Italian feast. And make lots of people happy doing so! Plus it’s the next best way to feel close to the ‘old country’.
Trust me, a kitchen can’t be complete without having a reliable Italian cookbook within easy reach! And believe me, I should know which cookbooks are the best since I truly have close to 75 Italian cookbooks that I began buying a simple paperback HP book back in 1978!
So, here are some of the best-selling and highly recommended Italian cookbooks for a perfect gift!
Nearly all of the cookbooks in this guide are recently published, but I’ve also included old classics that I use religiously and that are a must on any cookbook shelf. There are also a few that will be published soon (I have mine pre-ordered which you can too!), but I’ve also thrown in a handful of current and old favorites that I’ve been turning to time and time again!
Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef by Massimo Bottura
I don’t even know where to begin to describe this brilliant cookbook, “Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef”. It’s no secret that author and chef, Massimo Bottura’s small ristorante, Osteria Francescana, located in my family’s hometown of Modena, Italy has been ranked the #1 Italian restaurant in the WORLD with 3 Michelin stars!
Massimo Bottura is considered to be the most avant-garde Italian chef in the world. Along with the 3-star ranking awarded to his restaurant, he was also chosen as the best chef in the world by his colleagues in 2011. Reservations must be made 3 months in advance and disappear in less than 10 seconds online (there are only about 15 tables) with anxious people from around the world on the waiting list.
Although this is a cookbook, it’s like no other Italian cookbook. Rather, this is an exceptional culinary work that one has to read to believe. It’s one of the most visually beautiful Italian cookbooks that showcases some of the most extraordinary photographs ever. The photos not only depict his artistic finished dishes but also delve into life inside the ristorante itself as well as areas of Massimo’s life that provide glimpses from which he draws his inspiration.
Reading it alone, without any cooking, is an exceptional experience in itself! This is clearly a cookbook that is wildly unique. In his cookbook, Massimo takes Italian cooking beyond its beloved traditions to the present and future.
This is a cookbook about Bottura’s unique and modern culinary philosophy, inspiration and creative techniques!
This book will inspire you. Massimo generously shares how he creates his amazing recipes. But what is inspiring about the book are the stories behind each dish. Through understanding this impressive chef’s philosophy, you realize that food takes on new, expressive meaning. So if you’re looking for a truly inspiring cookbook, don’t look any further . . . this is it!
Most of the recipes are nearly impossible to make at home, but this cookbook is still interesting because it reveals the story and the incredible depth that goes into even what seem like simple dishes.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in discovering how great artists go about the creative process. If you are interested in creativity, this book is a must-read. It’ is essential reading for chefs or aspiring cooks but even home cooks will be awakened to new culinary creations on the horizon.
For a perfect paired gift item, choose a high-quality Tuscan olive oil:
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
All of the late Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks will forever hold a most precious place in my heart. You see, not only did my mother and my Nonna teach me to cook by their sides, but Marcella’s cookbooks was the ONLY completely approved Italian cookbook by my mother . . . who was the pickiest and best Italian home cook to ever grace the Midwest where I was raised.
Marcella Hazan is credited for introducing American home chefs to authentic, classic and traditional Italian recipes and methods.
Gone were the days of opening horrible jars of ‘spaghetti sauce’ and canned, soggy past in some sort of sauce. Americans wanted to learn how to correctly prepare fantastic Italian food and she was our pioneer!
To this day after her first cookbook released back in the 70’s, I still turn to her cookbooks to learn and use her solid foundations for creating easy-to-follow, never-fail, full-of-flavor, scrumptiously delicious Italian recipes.
If you’re seeking the most authentic guides to Italian cuisine, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking just may be the one Italian cookbook ever needed to rely on as I do. Full of incredibly easy and uncomplicated recipes that help capture the essence of Italian cooking. Most traditional Italian recipes are included such as polenta, risotto, Bolognese sauce, and other classics.
With Marcella’s wisdom at your fingertips, it’s easy to master the art of Italian cooking. This amazing, classic cookbook helps you gain confidence in the cucina and you don’t even have to be a professional chef. Marcella Hazan took extreme care to ensure that the traditional Italian food preparations were preserved. Part of her culinary fame was in part from Marcella providing recipes and instructions for all levels of expertise.
If you’re wanting to make Italian food made in its most authentic way, well this is your “must-have”, “go-to” cookbook to get your hands on. No other Italian cookbook will teach you exactly how to cook in the most Italian way possible.
What I like about this cookbook is that unlike “Never Trust a Skinny Italian Cook” with all of its contemporary creativity, Marcella’s cookbook is “old-school” for teaching the basic fundamentals, helpful demonstrative illustrations, and complete explanations for the definitive Italian nuance of cooking. It’s like having a Nonna by your side! You can’t get more Italian in a cookbook than this!
Impress anyone on your gift list with a beautiful, long Italian olive wood cooking/stir spoon to stir all of the wonderful sauces to prepare from Marcella’s cookbook!
The Silver Spoon
The Silver Spoon was first written for Italians (1950) and in Italian only. It is one of the top international selling Italian cookbooks of all time. It is a must for any food enthusiast.
This HUGE book is literally a ‘tome’ containing an exhaustive collection of over 2,000 time-honored authentic recipes and fabulous photography. If there ever was a ‘bible’ for serious Italian chefs around the world to turn to, this is cookbook is the one! With that many recipes, one will never be at a loss for endless inspiration to an Italian meal.
If someone or you wish to learn how to make authentic sauces, pasta from scratch, homemade pizzas, or more elegant Italian recipes, you’ll find them in The Silver Spoon.
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy by The Italian Academy of Cuisine
Here’s another Italian cooking ‘bible’ that is a must for the Italophile food enthusiast. This incredibly comprehensive collection of traditional Italian recipes documents, highlights, and preserves over 2,000 excellent regional recipes from home cooks in Italy that were recorded in writing since 1953. La Cucina “La Cucina” is a must cookbook for any inquisitive chefs seeking to gain a solid understanding of Italian cuisine.
To add to your gift an unexpected delight, add these simple, beautiful white pasta bowls for a lovely presentation of the most basic Italian recipes from this cookbook!
Piatti: Plates and Platters for Sharing, Inspired by Italy by Stacy Adimando
I’ve loved SAVEUR magazine for decades. In “Piatti” Editor-in-Chief, Stacy Adimando combines her Italian heritage and the Italian tradition of serving huge spreads of food. Grazing is the new normal for eating and dining. In that vein, she shares 75 recipes for generous platters of small bites and finger food meant for grazing. This visually stunning cookbook speaks to my heart with its seasonal presentation. It’s chockful of advice on how to plate and pair dishes for any occasion. Adimando’s recipes and wisdom impart the intuitive nature of Italian cooks who just seem to be born ‘knowing’ the secrets to pulling off an impressive feast, without fuss or formality, but rather with love and simplicity.
American Sfoglino: A Master Class in Handmade Pasta by Evan Funke & Katie Parla
This a beautiful, newly released book on mastering the art of making handmade pasta. If the foodie on your list needs a ‘how-to’ text on pasta-making, you can’t go wrong with this large volume on the subject.
The perfect kitchen tool to gift with a pasta cookbook is a traditional wooden rolling pin without any handles, the way pasta dough is traditionally rolled out.
Friuli Food and Wine: Fresca Cooking from Northern Italy’s Mountains, Vineyards, and Seaside (pre-order)
Northern Italian cuisine is the famous home for stuffed pastas: lasagna, tortellini, and ravioli. Put the release date on your calendar and pre-order it today so that someone or yourself can learn more on preparing this delicious regional cuisine!
The perfect side gift for this cookbook is a pasta dough rolling machine, especially by Atlas, the only brand that anyone in my family owns!
Milan & Lombardy Favourite Recipes: (pre-order)
Along that same vein, here is another newbie on the cookbook market. Once again focused on northern Italian cuisine, in particular, Milan, the home of Osso Bucco and saffron risotto! And it is risotto that hales from the north, especially Venice. Northern Italian cuisine highlights risotto and the numerous ways to prepare it.
So along with this cookbook from the northern region of Italy, the perfect paired cooking item is a highly recommended, awesome pan that makes preparing risotto a breeze!
Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey by America’s Test Kitchen, Eugenia Bone & Julia Della Croce
America’s Test Kitchen recipes can’t go wrong. In this cookbook, we are not only taught great recipes and techniques, but we also are invited to go along on a journey with A.T.K. chefs. Packed with beautiful photos too, you’ll feel as if you were in Italy while reading this book
If you’re like me and you love to travel to Italy and other locations, you might be driving a good bit between some of your scheduled sites. Being on the road is a perfect time to both pack your own delicious Italian meal or to use to bring home leftovers from a tremendous Italian eatery! Pair this culinary journey cookbook with an amazing food container that even heats up in the car!
Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way by Rolando Beramendi
There are a lot of Italian recipes ‘out there’ that make me wince or frown when I read them. So many that are absolutely not authentic Italian. So if you’re like me and searching for a recently published, recognized cookbook for achieving true Italian food, here it is. Did you notice it was endorsed by Ina Garten too?
When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do” refers to living authentically in Italy. A day without espresso or coffee in an Italian’s life is like a day without sunshine! To your cookbook gift, add a bag of this premium coffee from Lavazzo!
Pasta Grannies: The Official Cookbook: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks by Vicky Bennison
Finally, most Italians cherish their family’s recipes, especially since they are all so regional and diverse. And if it weren’t for our nonnas (grandmothers) we’d be left without a lot of recipes since many of their recipes were never written down on paper. This little book is a nice effort to put together many of those cherished recipes from granny!
Any nonna can be caught in the kitchen wearing a time-worn apron. This pretty retro print and pattern apron would go perfectly with this cookbook.
Italian Recipes: A Blank Recipe Book To Write In
Finally, this isn’t a pre-written cookbook at all. Rather, it is a blank book for the person on your gift list to write down their favorite Italian recipes. The cover has a colorful contemporary print and the price is right.
This medium point, black ink writing pen with ergonomic shape is super economical and great for writing down recipes inside this blank recipe journal.
For more great holiday gift guides, click below for previous guides.
Now either go online or join the crowds in the stores during this hustle and bustle time of the year. With this list of amazing Italian cookbooks in hand or on your smartphone, you’ll be ready to give the kind of gifts that truly show that you put a lot of thought into each!
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