Learn what herbs and spices are essential for Italian cooking
and try some of our irresistible Italian recipes.
authentic Italian meal is a true culinary experience, an enrichment.
Italians enjoy leisurely meals of many courses, with a great melding
of flavors, aromas, colors and textures. And virtually every dish
— seafood, pasta, breads, soups, stews, grains — is wonderfully seasoned
with aromatic spices.
Try our classic Italian recipes here.
Essential Herbs & Spices for Italian Cooking
While Italy's twenty distinct regions boast no less than twenty distinct culinary approaches, certain spices are central to most Italian fare. Here's a look at some of the Italian cook's most important spices:
Perhaps the most important spice in the Italian kitchen, basil distinctively
flavors Italian minestrone, pasta sauces, salads and dressings, breads
and marinades. You'll often find it alongside oregano, and it's the traditional
basis for pesto.
Although a strong spice, oregano partners well with other spices
— especially basil — in Italian cuisine. You'll find it works in
virtually every tomato-based dish and in a variety of sauces, soups,
meat, fish, and egg dishes, pizza, and vegetable dishes (especially
With its fresh color and flavor, parsley is used as a garnish but
also as a subtle seasoning in soup stock, meat marinades, salads
and dressings, and pasta sauces. One traditional Italian pasta sauce
relies upon parsley, anchovies and garlic.
Garlic is found in most cuisines, but it's indispensable in Mediterranean
dishes. Use it in sauces, stews, soups, salad dressings, pasta sauces,
casseroles, breads, grains, and croutons. For convenience, it's available
in flakes, granules, and powder.
Blends: For the ease of prepared blends, try Frontier
Italian Seasoning, Herbs
of Italy, and Spaghetti
Seasoning. Toss any with hot pasta for a quick dinner or cold
pasta for a tasty side. Sprinkle on bread before grilling or making
croutons, or add to soups, casseroles, or any dish you'd like to
make the pièce de résistance.
more essential spices for Italian cooking...
We've got all the gadgets you'll need to start your Italian cooking extravaganza, from garlic gadgets, to a bread keeper, salad spinner, oil bottles and more.
A staple in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is used for cooking, dipping crusty breads, drizzling on salads, and tossing with pasta. Touted for its health benefits, olive oils are identified according to regions in which they're produced, much like wines.
Tomatoes are the basis for innumerable Italian dishes. Dried tomato flakes are a convenient way to keep tomatoes on hand for soups, sauces, and casseroles. They have a rich taste, a bit deeper than fresh tomatoes. In fact, many recipes specify dried tomatoes for this distinct taste.