Italian cooking is simple, unfussy, and damn delicious. That being said, home cooks will need a few specialty kitchen tools to truly master the art of Italian cooking. Whether you’re shopping for your favorite foodie or looking to invest in a special cooking gift for yourself—we’re here to help! From ravioli cutters and pasta drying racks to the perfect cast iron pan. Here are 16 Italian kitchen tools every home chef should have.
1. Moka Pot
Italians love their espresso! At home, coffee is almost exclusively made using a Moka Pot. These small yet mighty contraptions make rich, delicious shots of coffee that rival any bar in Rome or your local coffeehouse at home. Most Moka Pots are the size of a standard drinking glass. This makes it possible to have fresh espresso in even the smallest of kitchen spaces.
It’s an incredible Italian kitchen item you’ll love to use and display on your stovetop. Bialetti is Italy’s most famous Moka brand and the 3-cup version is our go-to. Pro-tip: you should never wash your moka pot with soap or put it in the dishwasher—just rinse with water!
2. Pasta Roller
A fantastic pasta roller is a classic kitchen appliance and a necessity for all Italophile cooks! Homemade pasta like tagliatelle, ravioli, and lasagne require perfectly thin rolled sheets of dough. So it’s important to invest in a quality roller.
There are many varieties of pasta rollers available, from traditional hand-cranked models to modernized Kitchenaid attachments. No matter which option you choose, both make excellent, fresh pasta dough every home cook will prize! The Marcato brand has small pasta machines that come in a range of colors. It also comes with attachments to make 12 different pasta shapes!
3. Pasta Drying Rack
A pasta drying rack is a necessity when making batches of pasta. It allows air to circulate through freshly made cuts of pasta dough. It also allows each strand of noodles to remain separate from the others. No more pasta sticking together while waiting to be boiled!
4. Pastry Board
Many Italians have generational pasta boards that are passed down through their family for years. If you haven’t inherited one of your own, investing in a pastry board is handy for rolling out long, wide pastry dough—and keeping your workspace clean and tidy. Plus, they’re great for showcasing a great appetizer or charcuterie spread! Pastry boards can come in all sorts of materials. While these include wood and ceramic, we find that marble boards are the easiest to clean and maintain.
5. Rolling Pin
Every Italian home cook needs a great rolling pin. These also come in lots of materials and designs, from wheeled to straight-cut. There are hundreds of rolling pin variations you can choose from. Just make sure to choose one that feels comfortable in your own hands.
6. Cheese Grater
Freshly grated cheese is a ubiquitous ingredient in Italian cooking. All types of Italian cheeses—from nutty Pecorino Romano to salty Parmigiano Reggiano—add layers of zippy flavors to any dish. After all, cheese is always more flavorful when it’s freshly grated. A cheese grater with multiple shredding sizes and a nonslip base is a game changer in the kitchen. It allows you to create ribbons of cheese for baked dishes, or delicate dustings to serve atop pasta.
7. Garlic Press
Like cheese, garlic is another staple found in hundreds of Italian recipes. Although there is something nostalgically old-world about chopping and mincing garlic, home cooks may not always want to do all the hard work for every meal. Garlic presses are easy to clean and incredibly efficient. Investing in one can save lots of time and effort!
8. Passaverdura Food Mill
A passaverdura is a great appliance that ensures you get the most out of fresh vegetables! In Italy, this food mill has many functions. However, it is most commonly used to make tomato passata (freshly crushed tomato pulp)—the foundation for many tomato-based sauces. In the hot months, Italian home cooks will love using their passaverdura to crush their mountains of summer tomatoes to make sauces that last them all year!
9. Mezzaluna Knife
If you haven’t heard of this contraption, a mezzaluna is an ergonomic kitchen tool designed to chop and mince onions and herbs. Shaped like a half-moon (or mezzaluna in Italian), this sharp knife is used in a rocking motion. It makes recipe prep a breeze. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love having it in your pantry. Opt for a larger size to make chopped salads, slice pizzas, and more.
10. Girariso Spoon
Unlike the common spoon, the girariso (“rice rotator”) has a hole in its center. Made specifically for Italians to make hearty risotto dishes, the hole allows the rice to pass through and be pushed in multiple directions. This doubles the effectiveness of stirring with a regular spoon. This set of six olivewood spoons by Ruffoni includes a girariso to cover all your cooking needs.
11. Mortar & Pestle
When making pesto or preparing any kind of crushed ingredient, the old-world mortar and pestle is the only thing that will do the trick! Unlike a knife, mortar and pestles gently crush aromatic spices, nuts, and herbs, allowing their flavors to bloom. Shopping for a mortar and pestle is an ancient tradition. But today you’ll find this kitchen tool in a variety of heavy materials, including marble, granite, and even metal.
12. Ravioli Cutter or Mold
Filled pasta need to be the same size and shape to cook effectively, so ravioli presses and cutters are here to help! Trust us, the satisfaction of seeing perfectly symmetrically-filled pasta is something worth getting excited about. There are many stunning ravioli-cutter shapes out there, so have fun hunting down a unique shape that will bring some fun to your pasta.
You can even opt for a ravioli mold to make a dozen, evenly-spaced ravioli in one go. This accessory is shaped like an ice-cube tray so you’ll know exactly how much filling to use every time.
13. Gnocchi Board
Another pasta must-have! Gnocchi boards have a grooved surface to make perfect potato or ricotta gnocchi. Just press your thumb lightly on the pasta and roll down the surface of the board. It takes a little practice, but it’s oh so worth it! because the added texture creates little ridges that collect savory sauces, creams, and cheeses! You can also use a gnocchi board to make Garganelli pasta shapes.
14. Chitarra Pasta Maker
This unique wooden implement makes perfectly cut Abruzzo-style spaghetti. Chitarra pasta makers look similar to small harps or lap guitars, with strings that slice pasta dough into long, square-shaped noodles that cling to sauces like cacio e pepe or ragù. Chewy and decadent, spaghetti alla chitarra is one of our favorite pasta shapes!
15. Spider Strainer
This is an Italian kitchen tool that we swear by each time we prepare pasta. A spider strainer allows for some of the noodles to carry pasta cooking water (considered to be “liquid gold” by many chefs), over to the sauce pot. This hot, starchy water is used to create creamy sauces that cling to each noodle, thanks to its emulsifying properties.
Although most Italians save a cup of cooking water halfway through, using a spider strainer will guarantee decadent pasta dishes in a flash. It will also save you from washing out your colander each time you drain a pot.
16. Copper Pans
A set of beautiful copper pans will create exquisite dishes each time—while enhancing the aesthetic of your kitchen. Thanks to their heat conductivity, copper cookware retains and distributes heat well. This makes them versatile in the kitchen and useful for cooking everything from fragrant pasta sauces and egg frittatas, to hearty stews.
Would you consider yourself to be an Italian food expert? What are some of your most beloved, Italian kitchen essentials?