Want to embrace the art of cooking Italian like an Italian? You’ll need to know what ingredients Italians use and how to use them first.

Italian dishes comprise of few primary ingredients as they believe in the quality of ingredients, not quantity. The main purpose is to pair the foods together instead of throwing everything into the pot to call it a meal. The traditional Italian cuisine follows the Mediterranean pattern that focuses on simple and natural ingredients, making it one of the world’s healthiest diets.
Eating and cooking like an Italian means stocking your pantry with essential ingredients to whip up a simple yet flavourful meal packed with healthy goodness. Let’s look at what you need.

Olive oil

A staple of Italian cooking, they use it in almost every other dish, from cooking, frying, baking or even sauces. Olive oil adds flavour and a luscious feel to food. Extra-virgin olive oil is delicious and best for salads and marinades. You can even pour it directly over pastas or as a dip for focaccia bread.


Along with bread and grapes, olive is an important ingredient in Italian cuisine, appearing in anything from antipasto to pasta to main dishes.


Pasta is a mix of flour, eggs, olive oil, water and salt and comes in different varieties of shapes, depending on the region. Variations like spaghetti, ravioli, penne and farfalle are some of the common variations found.

Pasta sauces

Italians love their pasta sauces and there are thousands of variations. From the basic marinara to pomodoro (consisting of tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil and basil), to meaty sauces like Bolognese, ragu and pesto (made from basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts), they are all freshly made at home with the freshest ingredients.


One of the most popular ingredients, garlic is often sauteed in olive oil to create a flavourful cooking base. It is also used as a base for tomato sauce.


Delicious eaten raw or cooked, tomatoes pair beautifully with many varieties of food and flavours from meats, cheese, peppers and herbs. In Italian cuisine, you can find them in almost any dish like pizzas, pastas, salsas, salads, sauces and stews.


From the Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzarella to ricotta, cheese is an important ingredient in Italian cuisine. Parmigiano-Reggiano has a rich complex flavour that comes from aging and goes perfect grated over pasta dishes, stirred into soups and risottos or eaten on its own. Mozzarella is a mild white cheese that’s used as topping for pizza, lasagna and other classic Italian dishes. Ricotta is a moist fresh cheese that’s rich and smooth and mainly used for classic Italian dishes like lasagna.


One of the commonly used herbs in Italian cuisine, it is delicious chopped and sprinkled over chicken, lamb, fish or eaten fresh in salad. Basil imparts a sweet, minty aroma to the food. It is also made into pesto which can be used for pasta or spread on roasted chicken sandwiches.



Mushrooms lends a hearty flavour and an earthy texture to any dish. A great source of protein, it can be tossed in pasta or added on top of pizzas to change the flavour of the dish.

Now you know what you need, it’s time to start cooking some delicious Italian food to impress your family and friends. Happy cooking!