It’s easy to find Italian Food recipes on websites and in cookbooks around the world. Second only to pizza, there’s probably nothing more popular than Italian pasta dishes! However, finding authentic Italian pasta recipes can be a bit of a challenge.
Many Italian pasta recipes have historically evolved as Italian immigrants relocated to other countries and adapted traditional Italian pasta recipes to local ingredients or invented new pasta dishes entirely. So, if you are looking for authentic Italian pasta recipes —recipes recognized as traditional by Italians living in Italy— you’ve arrived!
Browse our collection of authentic pasta recipes below! Or, keep reading to discover delicious, less-known pasta recipes beloved in Italy. Learn how popular authentic Italian pasta recipes differ from those served abroad.
Popular Italian Pasta Dishes: Authentic?
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe is indeed considered authentic by Italians in Italy. This is a classic Roman pasta dish with pecorino cheese, freshly ground black pepper and spaghetti.
However, almost every Italian knows that this dish should never include butter or heavy cream—ingredients often added in restaurants or included in Italian pasta recipes for the dish that are not authentic.
How is the authentic Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe recipe so creamy without cream? In the traditional Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe recipe, starchy pasta water is combined with finely grated pecorino cheese to make a paste that creates a creamy sauce when added to hot pasta.
Learn how to made the authentic Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe recipe on our site!
Authentic? Kind of…
Ragù Bolognese is a sauce traditional to the area of Bologna in Italy. It’s indeed considered an authentic traditional recipe in Italy. Are the recipes found abroad usually ‘authentic’? Here, the devil is in the details.
In Italy, Italians really take pride in recipes that are traditional to their region. In this case, the city of Bologna has published the most authentic Ragù Bolognese sauce recipe and indeed that is the one we present on this site!
Many are surprised to learn that the traditional recipe includes whole milk. The milk has an important job: It counteracts any acidity coming from the tomato and wine, giving the ragù a fantastic mouth feel!
In Italy, Ragù Bolognese sauce is used as a condiment in many dishes for many types of pasta— including Bolognese Lasagna! While spaghetti is sometimes served with Ragù Bolognese, the pasta considered most traditional is tagliatelle pasta!
Learn how to make the Authentic Ragù Bolognese Sauce recipe!
Authentic? If you use the traditional ingredients 🙂
The traditional Spaghetti Carbonara as it is recognized in Italy today has the following ingredients: guanciale, egg, pecorino cheese, black pepper and pasta. It does not have heavy cream, peas, bacon or any other ingredients that sometimes pop up in recipes abroad. In a pinch, pancetta is considered acceptable, but guanciale is more traditional. Want to make it at home? Check out our recipe:
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Authentic? Believe or Not—No!
Even most Italian immigrants think Spaghetti and Meatballs is a classic ‘Italian’ pasta dish. The truth? Meatballs —and polpette—or little balls in general— are indeed considered traditional in Italy.
However, they are never served on top of or in spaghetti with one exception we know of. There is one little region in Italy in which teeny tiny meatballs are served with spaghetti. Everywhere else, it’s even uncommon to serve meatballs with sauce, although sometimes it’s done.
Learn how to make Authentic Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce!
Authentic Pasta Recipes You’ve Never Hear Of!
Pappardelle Pasta with Wild Boar Ragu
Wild boar— or cinghiale as they are called in Italian—are common in Italy. While the animals are arguably a nuisance, the meat makes a delicious pasta sauce! The Italian pasta dish Pappardelle al Ragù di Cinghiale is popular at community tastings, church fundraisers and yes, even very nice Italian restaurants!
Learn how to make this authentic Italian Wild Boar Pork Ragu Recipe!
Pesto Pasta with Green Beans and Potatoes
Everyone has heard of pesto pasta… but it probably didn’t look like the dish pictured above! Pesto Genovese is a traditional sauce in Italy. The quintessential use of Pesto Genovese among the locals in the city of Genoa, “Cinque Terre” and in the region of Liguria is with a pasta called trofie. The traditional recipe includes blanched green beans and boiled potatoes, making it a bit like a pasta and potato salad in one!
Learn how to make this authentic Italian Basil Pesto Pasta recipe
Believe it or not, the dish above is called gnocchi! The ultimate comfort food, Gnocchi alla Romana bears almost no resemblance to the more well-known potato gnocchi. However, some historians believe that these baked semolina flour dumplings actually pre-date the potato variety.
Anyone who likes polenta, porridge or grits will love this authentic semolina gnocchi recipe! They can be topped simply with butter and sage, Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese or even gorgonzola cheese. Irresistible!
Learn how to make this authentic Semolina Gnocchi recipe