Ten Italian cooking terms you should know

Ten Italian cooking terms you should knowIt’s widely known that Italy and food are strongly interrelated. There isn’t one single Italian woman that isn’t able to cook a delicious meal, even the ones who say that are terrible cooks.

So, it seems pretty logical that Italians have created an entire special vocabulary dedicated to cooking.

Knowing Italian cooking terms is essential if you want to follow a recipe written in Italian.

So, today, I’m going to provide you with a list of some Italian cooking terms that can be useful for you.


One of the most common Italian cooking terms you can find is surely the Italian verb rosolare.

Rosolare means to cook something, especially meat, over a slow flame until a browned crust appears.

Ex: Fate rosolare la carne
Brown the meat


Sbollentare and scottare are two Italian verbs that mean to boil for a few seconds the food to partially cook it.

Ex: Sbollentate/scottate gli spinaci in acqua salati per qualche minuto
Parboil the spinach in salty water for a couple of minutes


The meaning of the Italian verb gratinare is pretty easy to guess if you focus on the first part of the word – gratin.

Gratinare means to cook food au gratin, so it means forming a light browned crust on dishes topped with breadcrumbs or cheese.

Ex: Gratinate le cozze per 10-15 minuti
Cook the mussels au gratin for 10-15 minutes


Cartoccio is an Italian noun that, in recipes, is usually found in the following expression: cuocere al cartoccio.

Cuocere al cartoccio means to cook food in a paper wrapper or in aluminium foil.

Ex: Cuocete l’orata al cartoccio per 40 minuti in forno
Cook the sea bream en papillote for 40 minutes


Bagnomaria is a technique used to cook food. When food is cooked a bagnomaria, it’s placed in a cooking container. The cooking container is then placed in a pan of hot water and left there to cook over a slow flame.

Ex: Cuocete il crème caramel a bagno maria in forno per 45 minuti
Bake the crème caramel in a bain-marie for 45 minutes


The Italian verb marinare, is very similar to its English equivalent and means to soak food in a marinade, usually a mixture of oil and spices, or of oil, wine and spices.

Ex: Marinate la carne in aceto e vino per un giorno
Marinate the meat in vinegar and wine for a day


The Italian verb mantecare means to stir greasy substances like butter, cheese, and so on, until you get a creamy consistency.

Ex: Aggiungete il burro e il parmigiano, mantecate il risotto e servite
Add the butter and the parmisan, stir the risotto until creamy and serve


The Italian verb rinvenire means to soak dry food in some liquid to soften it.

Ex: Fate rinvenire l’uvetta in un po’ d’acqua e rum per 30 minuti
Soak the raisins in some water and rum for 30 minutes


In cooking, the Italian verb foderare means to line a tin, or a pan.

Ex: Foderate uno stampo con della carta da forno
Line the cake tin with baking paper

I’ll add other Italian cooking terms in a future post. So, keep reading!

Did you already know these 10 Italian cooking terms? Can you make some sentences with them?

Do you want to cook real Italian food? Have a look at my book Sos Italian Cooking.


Original image by Sponchia

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