Our Favorite 20 Cheesy Italian Recipes

Cheese – it’s creamy, it’s dreamy, and it’s undeniably delicious. Italy is home to some of the world’s most exquisite cheeses, and they take center stage in countless traditional recipes. Let’s dive into the world of Cheesy Italian Recipes, featuring dishes that will make your mouth water and your heart sing.

A classic treat from Puglia with Mozzarella!

Mozzarella Masterpieces

Fresh Italian mozzarella cheese is to die for!

The star of the show in Italian cheese cuisine often is Mozzarella, a cheese known for its smooth, milky taste and pull-apart quality. In Italy, there are primarily two types of Mozzarella cheese, which are both highly prized: Mozzarella di Bufala (Buffalo Mozzarella) and Fior di Latte.

  1. Mozzarella di Bufala: This is made from the milk of domestic water buffalo. It’s a product traditionally produced in Campania, Lazio, Apulia, and Molise. This cheese is creamy, soft, and moist with a slightly tangy flavor. Buffalo mozzarella is often used in dishes like Caprese salad or eaten fresh on its own with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. It’s also great on pizza, where its high moisture content creates a beautifully melty and rich topping.
  2. Fior di Latte: This type of Mozzarella is made from fresh cow’s milk. It’s a bit firmer and has a delicate, milky flavor. Fior di Latte is often used in pasta dishes, on pizza, in calzones, or in Italian baked dishes like lasagna or parmigiana dishes, where it provides a delicious, stringy cheese pull.

Then there’s Burrata, a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, giving it an incredibly soft, creamy texture. Burrata is typically served fresh with salads, prosciutto and crusty bread, or over pasta.

Mozzarella can transform a simple dish into something special. One of these special treats is the classic Insalata Caprese, a refreshing salad where ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella come together in perfect harmony. Here’s a look at some of our favorite Italian recipes with mozzarella cheese:

Mozzarella in Carrozza Recipe | Italy’s Beloved Sandwich
Delve into the delicious world of 'Mozzarella in Carrozza,' a beloved comfort food hailing from Italy's Campania region. This golden-fried, cheese-filled treat is Italy's answer to the French Croque Monsieur!
Authentic Italian Caprese Salad Recipe
The charm of Insalata Caprese lies in its simplicity. The authentic Caprese Salad recipe calls for just a few key ingredients: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt!
Check out this recipe
Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella and Basil
Fast and fresh tomato sauce for pasta—the Italian way! Fresh tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano and extra-virgin olive oil make this dish both delicious and nutritious. Fast, easy and perfect for a hot day.
Check out this recipe
Puff Pastry Pizza Recipe (Rustici of Southern Italy)
A traditional Puff Pastry Pizza recipe from Puglia known as 'Rustici Leccasi' in Italian. This Italian street food is perfect as an appetizer or snack!
Check out this recipe
Famous fried Italian Mozzarella in Carrozza (mozzarella in carriage)

Pecorino Perfection

Cacio e Pepe with fine Pecorino Romano cheese.

Pecorino, a hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk, is an Italian staple, particularly famous in Rome. With its robust flavor, Pecorino is often used to enrich pasta dishes. For a true Roman culinary experience, try Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, a minimalist masterpiece that pairs Pecorino with black pepper to create a creamy, tangy, and wonderfully simple pasta dish. Here are some Italian recipes with pecorino cheese that you need to try:

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe Recipe
One of the most distinctive recipes that you will find in any Rome restaurant. The traditional Cacio e Pepe has just three ingredients: pecorino cheese and black pepper ("cacio" and “pepe") and pasta. The trick to achieving its unmatched flavor? Quality ingredients and few simple cooking tricks.
Check out this recipe
Authentic Pesto Genovese Recipe with Mortar and Pestle!
This is the authentic Pesto Genovese recipe traditional in the city of Genoa, "Cinque Terre" and in the region of Liguria! The ingredients? Fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, parmigiano and pecorino cheeses and extra virgin olive oil!
Check out this recipe
Authentic Pasta alla Gricia Recipe
This Pasta Gricia recipe is one of the pillars of Roman pasta, along with: Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe and Amatriciana! With a creamy pecorino cheese sauce and fine Italian guanciale, you'll love this dish!
Check out this recipe
Authentic Pasta Amatriciana Recipe
Learn how to make Pasta Amatriciana like an Italian. This is the traditional Pasta Amatriciana recipe (published by the Amatrice Chamber of Commerce) with spaghetti, guanciale, white wine, olive oil, red pepper, tomato and pecorino cheese. You won't believe how easy this spaghetti recipe is!
Italian Tripe Recipe – Trippa alla Romana
The traditional tripe dish of Rome! The tomato sauce—with tomato, mint, white wine and pecorino cheese—is divine.
Check out this recipe
Italian Tripe Recipe
Authentic Italian Pasta Primavera (‘Pasta Vignarola Romana’)
Based on the traditional Vignarola Romana mixed vegetables, this recipe combines those spring vegetables with a pasta and a creamy pecorino cheese sauce for an unforgettable dish!

Parmigiano Reggiano Royalty

Last but not least, we cannot forget about the “King of Cheeses,” Parmigiano Reggiano. This hard, granular cheese is a key player in many Italian dishes, including Fettuccine Burro e Parmigiano (“Fettuccine Alfredo“). This decadent pasta dish shines with its luxurious, velvety sauce made from butter and freshly grated Parmigiano.

However, Parmigiano is a star ingredient in countless cheesy Italian dishes—from Pasta alla Papalina (a Carbonara-esque Roman dish with Parmigiano instead of Pecorino) to Bolognese Lasagna!

Papalina Pasta Recipe
A dish that was allegedly invented to feed Pope Pius XII's request for a 'lighter' and more refined version of the traditional Carbonara! Fettuccine alla Papalina has prosciutto, butter, onion and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Check out this recipe
Traditional Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe
Learn how to make Fettuccine Alfredo without cream using just 3 ingredients: pasta, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and butter.
Check out this recipe
Bolognese Lasagna Recipe
The traditional Italian Bolognese Lasagna recipe— from the traditional Ragu Bolognese sauce, to the creamy béchamel and the classic spinach pasta. This is the original Italian recipe promoted in the Italian city of Bologna.
Check out this recipe
Semolina Gnocchi Recipe
The ultimate comfort food, Gnocchi alla Romana bears almost no resemblance to the more well-known potato gnocchi. However, Gnocchi Alla Romana is a traditional Italian recipe that is incredibly satisfying as a lunch, dinner or even as an appetizer. If you like grits, polenta or porridge, you’ll love this dish!
Check out this recipe
Semolina Gnocchi Recipe

Power of Provolone and Caciocavallo!

Spaghetti alla Nerano with provolone del Monaco!

Provolone and Caciocavallo, with their distinct flavors and versatility, hold a special place in Italy’s pantheon of cheeses. Hailing from Southern Italy, provolone is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk, which can vary significantly in taste depending on its aging. Provolone is beloved in a myriad of Italian dishes—for instance, in this Spaghetti alla Nerano recipe. Its remarkable flavor profile truly enhances the culinary experience.

Caciocavallo, like provolone, is an Italian cheese made from cow’s milk and boasts a similar taste profile. Its name, interestingly, translates to “cheese on horseback,” referring to the traditional method of tying the cheese in a rope and hanging it over a wooden board to age, much like a saddle over a horse.

Caciocavallo and provolone share many similarities, including their Southern Italian origins and the pasta filata (stretched-curd) method used in their production. The differences between the two lie primarily in their shape and aging process. Caciocavallo usually has a gourd or teardrop shape, whereas provolone is typically cylindrical or round. It’s a cheese traditional in the Sicilian Eggplant Parmigiana recipe (there are many regional variations on Eggplant Parmigiana throughout Italy).

Spaghetti Alla Nerano Recipe: Pasta with Zucchini and Provolone
This authentic Spaghetti alla Nerano recipe is from Nerano near Naples! This famous Italian pasta recipe features provolone cheese and a secret ingredient: fried zucchini! It's a cheesy pasta with an unforgettable umami flavor.

Rich and Creamy Ricotta Cheese

Mixing creamy ricotta into Pasta alla Norcia

Ricotta, a quintessential Italian cheese, is a luscious, creamy cheese made uniquely from the whey leftover from making other cheeses, not from whole milk.

The name “ricotta” itself means “recooked” in Italian, a nod to its distinctive production process. Depending on its aging, the texture of ricotta can range from a creamy and spreadable fresh cheese to a more crumbly and firm version. Ricotta plays a starring role in many iconic Italian dishes, particularly those originating from Southern Italy. Its mild, slightly sweet flavor comes to life in the crispy tubes of Cannoli, filled to the brim with sweetened ricotta, or in the heart-warming Norcia pasta, where it is often combined with black truffle for an indulgent, creamy sauce. Ricotta, with its high levels of protein and calcium, is not only delicious but also a healthy cheese option.

Pasta alla Norcina Recipe (Truffle Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta)
A traditional truffle pasta recipe from Norcia in Italy! 'Pasta alla Norcina' has truffle, sausage, onions and a creamy ricotta cheese sauce.
Check out this recipe

Four-Cheese Fantasy

Italian ‘Four Cheese’ sauce

Of course, why settle for one type of cheese when you can have four? The Pasta 4 Formaggi is a cheese lover’s dream. Sweet gorgonzola ‘dolce’, aromatic taleggio, smooth fontina, and nutty gruyere come together in a creamy sauce that coats the pasta in a blanket of pure indulgence.

Four Cheese Pasta Sauce Recipe
Rich and decadent! Four cheese pasta sauce can be made with a variety of cheeses, but this combination is particularly satisfying: creamy gorgonzola 'dolce' (sweet gorgonzola), taleggio cheese, pecorino cheese and gruyere cheese. In Italy, rigatoni or penne are popular pasta choices for this cheesy sauce because it allows the sauce to cling to the pasta both inside and out. 
Check out this recipe
Four Cheese Gnocchi Recipe
Cheesy, decadent and delicious! Four cheese gnocchi is so popular in Italy that baked and unbaked versions are considered entirely different dishes—an acknowledgement of the way finishing a dish ‘al forno’ (baked) changes the flavor of a dish. This four cheese gnocchi recipe includes sweet italian gorgonzola, taleggio cheese, fontina cheese and gruyére cheese. 
Check out this recipe

So, cheese lovers, prepare your tastebuds for an incredible journey through these cheesy Italian delights. Whether you’re a mozzarella fan, a Pecorino person, or a Parmigiano enthusiast, there’s something here for everyone. Buon appetito!

About the author

Classic recipes from Italy and beyond. Traditional Italian Cooking and Mediterranean Diet recipes!

PIATTO™ Recipes bring traditional Italian food recipes to your table with our tested, step-by-step recipes and videos. You'll find the best Italian recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Always tested, always delicious.

Leave a Comment