Italian cooking words surround us everyday, especially in the kitchen!

You may not think you know any Italian cooking words, but you'd be surprised how many you actually already use in everyday conversation, especially those conversations revolving around food!

The following are some commonly used Italian words in the English language.

(Hear my pronunciation by clicking on the bold words!)

Some of them are occasionally misused, so get the skinny here straight from an Italian expert.

Familiar Italian Words and Foods

Ricotta - ree-COH-tah; a type of (usually) soft, Italian cheese

Care to make a sweet ricotta dessert? Here's a yummy recipe for Ricotta cheesecake.

Biscotti - bee-SKOHt-tee; actually meaning "cookies", contrary to popular belief that it is a specific KIND of cookie that you can only get at a trendy coffee shop. Biscotto is the singular form of the word.

Italian spaghetti tin

Panini - Pah-NEE-nee; this word is one that has gotten to me lately... although many companies "claim" their product is an authentic Italian "panini" what they are really saying is that it is the word for "sandwiches" in Italian.


All sandwiches. And not just one, which would be called "un panino".

Although the now popular "panini press" on the market, is a valid and *almost* authentic idea, as many Italian restaurants and cafes DO grill or press your sandwich to order.

Check out my panini recipes.

Prego - PrEH-goh; Here in the USA Prego may just sound like a brand of Spaghetti sauce, but actually in Italian it is the word for "You're welcome", and also is used in many other situations to mean "may I help you?" or "next" (at the deli) or "what would you care for?" (at a restaurant when ordering), or as an offering of some kind.

For example, if your host sets down a plate of cookies, she may point to them and say "prego!" (take some!)...really it is one of those words that just keeps on giving ...meanings that is!

Presto - PREH-stoh; You may think Abracadabra! at this point, but in Italian the word Presto is also a multi-meaning gem. Although it usually means "hurry" or "fast".

The phrase "a presto" is used to say "see you soon".

Farfalle - Fahr-FAHL-leh; what we refer to as "bow-tie" pasta, in Italian, the word means "butterflies" doesn't that just kind of make you smile?

Mangia - MAHN-jah; you may have heard this word in an Italian movie or two, or maybe your family is Italian and you've heard it at every single meal you've ever eaten at their kitchen table, but this one is pretty easy - it means "EAT!"

The verb Mangiare means "to eat", and what we always hear in the US is simply the command form of that verb.

Cannoli - Cah-NOHL-EE; if you know cannoli, you know that it's no wonder they've become so popular in our American pastry shops. But what you may not know is that although this is the correct authentic name for this delicious dessert, it is always presented in the incorrect PLURAL form.

It is incorrect to say you are eating "a cannoli" as that would be like saying I am eating "a breads" or "a cakes". The singular form is "cannolo" and THAT doesn't change how good it tastes!

Now try your hand at some Sicilian Cannoli - find the recipe here!

Ciabatta - CHah-BAHT-tah; recently made very popular, this is the name for a kind of flat-ish round roll you might find in a bakery or making up your delicious sandwich.

This bread is actually named after the Italian word that means "slipper"... sometimes called the ciabatta di nonna... Grandma's slipper! (don't worry, although crusty, this yummy bread tastes nothing like shoes!)

Can you think of any more Italian words?

Look around you, listen closely, and most importantly stop back here often to learn more!

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