5+ Best Italian Cooking Shows That Boosted My Italian

How did Italian cooking shows change my language skills in just two months?

Trying to learn Italian but feel like you're constantly butchering the pronunciation? Trust me, I've been there - tripping over those rolling r's and getting tongue-tied with all the double consonants. It can make even the most motivated language learner want to throw in the towel!

But wait, what if I told you there's a secret weapon for absorbing that beautiful, romantic lilt of Italian?

Two words: cooking shows!

Yup, believe it or not, some of the best ways to immerse yourself in the rhythms and expressions of la bella lingua are the very shows celebrating Italy's greatest gift to the world - its incredible cuisine.

Food is life in Italian culture, so what better way to dive in than by watching the masters at work? These shows don't just teach you to whip up classic dishes like Nonna's famous ragù - they fully immerse you in the language and culture surrounding that mouthwatering cuisine.

As the hosts chop, sauté, and delicately plate each creation, you'll be picking up proper pronunciations, new cooking vocab, idiomatic expressions you'd never learn in a textbook, and maybe even some local dialectical phrases to really spice things up.

Intrigued? Let's take a look at some of the most entertaining, mouthwatering, and instructional Italian cooking shows to get you learning the language like a natural!

Why I Watched Italian Cooking Shows To Improve My Italian?

Let's be real - every language learner is different. Some of you book nerds can plow through grammar textbooks and vocab lists like it's nothing. Others prefer the modern approach of language learning apps gamifying the process.

Me? I'll admit, I dutifully signed up for an Italian course hoping the structure would whip my lousy linguistic skills into shape. But you know what they say - old habits die hard!

I quickly realized that no matter how many rules I crammed, the only way this cuisine-obsessed ragazza was really going to immerse herself in Italian was through the best form of entertainment I know: TV!

Now, I know what you're thinking - "Sofia, you lazy beast, plopping yourself in front of the TV is not learning!"

Ah, but hear me out.

See, I'm one of those who is absolutely obsessed with cooking shows. Don't judge me, it's a vice! So while all you other language nerds were slogging through verb conjugations, I got the bright idea to kill two birds with one stone.

As I was watching my favorite Italian chefs working their magic, I decided to be hyper-aware of the language they were using. Before I knew it, I was picking up on so many authentic Italian terms, phrases, and expressions that I'd never learn in a classroom!

Of course, it helped that the hosts were describing mouth-watering dishes that had me drooling all over my Semantica Italiana textbook. I mean, could you think of a better way to absorb vocabulary than by watching someone lovingly describe the aromas of sizzling aglio and zesty peperoncino?

What Are the Best Italian Cooking Shows to Learn Italian?

So you're sold on this delicious method of language learning through la cucina italiana, eh? Brava!

In this part, I selected the most engaging, instructional, and mouth-wateringly authentic Italian cooking shows that truly helped me improve and start learning Italian more deeply than any other language resource out there.

BBQ and Grill: Braciami Ancora

Buckle up, carnivores - this smoky, sizzling show is about to take you on one hell of a meaty adventure. Braciami Ancora is a deep dive into Italy's obsession with grilling, barbecuing, and worshipping all things carne.

You'll become an expert on every cut of meat, learning to discern the subtle flavors of grass-fed versus grain-fed, massaged versus aged. As parilla after parilla is fired up, you'll tour legendary eateries, pick up some salty trattoria lingo (maybe a few choicer curses too), and go behind the scenes with pitmasters obsessed with the perfect char.

Fatto da mamma e da papà (Made By Mom and Dad)

As celebrity guests join the lively host Flora Canto and their own parents, you'll be immersed in the kinds of authentic, generation-spanning conversations that can only happen over ricette di famiglia.

With multiple dialects and speaking styles on display, you'll pick up a wide range of vocabulary for describing ingredients, kitchen tools, cooking techniques, and more. Listen closely as mammas insist on using the proper terms for spices, cuts of meat, sauces, and more rather than the generic Italianized versions.

You'll also learn regionally-specific lingo for things like shaping gnocchi, rolling pasta, achieving that perfect sugo consistency, and more. By the time the familial trio digs into their nostalgic feast, you'll have expanded your Italian food vocabulary dieci-fold.

Italian Food Recipes

This isn't just another boring cooking tutorial - it's a full-on linguistic immersion into the sights, smells, and unmistakable lingo of an authentic Italian kitchen. As the hosts lovingly recreate iconic comforts from every region, you'll become fluent in the language of true Italian cuisine.

More than memorizing recipes, you'll master the proper nouns for every ingredient from cult pasta shapes to variations on the soffritto. You'll learn to describe exact culinary methods, garnishing techniques, and essential Italian hand gestures. By the time they're twirling those final carbs, you'll sound just like a gesticulating zia from Napoli in the kitchen!

Una macara ai fornelli (A Cook In The Kitchen)

In each episode, you'll expand your Italian food terminology as Daniela walks you through preparing 3 authentic regional dishes, from ingresso to dolce.

But the real highlight? It is when she takes you beyond the kitchen to meet local purveyors, farmers, and artisans. Listening to these generational experts share their closely guarded secrets and cooking lingo is a masterclass in the thick Puglian dialect and regionally specific culinary terms.

Chef Viviana Varese

Want to sound like a true Italian foodie? Let this rising star of the culinary scene be your guide. As one of the emerging talents making waves with her innovative yet essentially Italian cuisine, Michelin-starred Chef Viviana Varese brings an unmistakable authenticity to her show.

Each episode offers a masterclass in proper culinary vocabulary and pronunciation as Viviana breaks down her creations from ingredients to plating. You'll learn to describe dishes with the same flair and specificity as any Italian chef, nailing terms for cooking techniques, temperatures, textures, and more.

But beyond technical execution, Viviana also dishes on culinary philosophy and tradition - giving you insight into how Italians truly talk about and perceive their iconic food culture. After watching, you'll sound like a savant whether studying a menu or discussing nonna's timeless recipes.

Le ricette del convento (The Recipes of the Convent)

This unique show will transport you inside the hallowed walls of a stunning Sicilian abbey, where Benedictine monks prepare historic recipes using local convent-grown ingredients. You'll expand your Italian vocabulary by learning unique words for ancient cooking techniques, tools, and rare ingredients that are seldom used outside of convent kitchens.

Cooking with Davide Zambelli

Ready to improve your culinary skills? If you think learning Italian through cooking shows has to be a serious, studious affair, let this young food blogger prove you deliziosamente wrong. Hailing from Trentino, the entertaining and passionate Davide Zambelli is here to spice up your language-learning experience.

True to his motto "I've never cooked in silence," Davide never stops chattering away as he whips up impressive but accessible recipes. His endless stream of commentary is a laugh-out-loud immersion in casual, youthful Italian vocabulary for every tool, ingredient, and cooking method imaginable. No stuffy terminology allowed!

Pizza Hero—la sfida dei forni (The Challenge of the Ovens)

Ready to enjoy your wine while watching? Well, this show features authentic Italian recipes for our much-beloved dish: Pizza!

Pizza Hero—la sfida dei forni (The Challenge of the Ovens)" follows renowned pizzaiolo Gabriele Bonci as he mentors local pizzerias across Italy. Bonci visits different cities, sampling signature pies and unique pizza styles, allowing you to pick up regional terms for toppings, cooking methods, and more.

The language learning kicks into high gear when the two most impressive pizzerias face-off - crafting surprise pizzas judged by Bonci and local experts. As they meticulously describe their creations using technical lingo and idiomatic expressions, you'll rapidly expand your pizza vocabulary from crust to char.

Chef Max Mariola

From the moment Max starts prepping ingredients, the dude is an endless stream of vivid descriptions, poetic analogies, and colorful commentary. You'll quickly pick up a massive range of vocabulary - not just nouns for tools and ingredients, but crucially all those lush adjectives and adverbs that make Italian sound so delizioso.

Max's vast culinary expertise means he also laces in tons of technical terms and idiomatic expressions. By the final plating, you'll have absorbed an entire language immersion's worth of vocab, from appetizer adjectives all the way to verbs for dessert. It's like getting your PhD in talking food...except way more fun than that sounds!

L’ingrediente perfetto (The Perfect Ingredient)

Hosted by Maria Grazia Cucinotta, each episode spotlights one "perfect" product, tracing its origins and traditional harvesting methods straight from the source. The true linguistic feast unfolds as Cucinotta welcomes guest chefs to prepare a multi-course menu starring the featured ingredient. You'll rapidly expand your food vocabulary by absorbing the chefs' detailed descriptions, culinary lingo, and Cucinotta's own warm, conversational anecdotes and tips.

Jennifer's Recipes

Start your day on a delicious and healthy note with Jennifer Pignatelli's bright, elegant recipes. But even better - use her show as a total Italian language immersion into the world of clean eating vocabulary.

From the moment Jennifer starts prepping her gorgeous, Instagram-worthy dishes, she's a bottomless well of proper culinary terminology. You'll learn the Italian words for every ingredient, measurement, texture, and cooking method under the sun. Jennifer covers it all with perfect pronunciation and casual domesticity.

Plus, her focus on nutritious ingredients will expose you to tons of fresh produce terms you may not pick up elsewhere. By the time you're digging into one of her veggie-forward creations, you'll feel instantly confident describing flavors, plating techniques, and more with precise, fluent vocabulary. It's healthy, modern Italian - both on your plate and your tongue!

MasterChef Italia

MasterChef Italia is a total immersive vocabulary boot camp, serving up an intense competition alongside a mouthwatering array of iconic Italian dishes. As contestants scramble to impress the discerning judges with their culinary chops, you'll absorb a massive download of proper techniques, ingredients, and cooking lingo - all delivered with deliriously high stakes.

What Can You Learn from Watching Italian Food Shows?

I'll admit, when I first started watching Italian cooking shows in an effort to improve my language skills, I was skeptical. How much could I really learn from a bunch of chefs chopping vegetables and plating pasta?

Boy, was I wrong! After just a couple weeks of binging shows like MasterChef Italia, my ears started picking up on subtle nuances and expressions I'd never heard in textbooks.

Suddenly, I could understand the rapid-fire instructions shouted across a bustling kitchen. I learned cheeky idioms for when the dish didn't go quite as planned ("Me l'aspettavo più buona!"). Heck, I even picked up some colorful curses that would make a Napoletano blush!

But it went beyond just new vocabulary. By watching hosts explore different regions and unite over iconic family recipes, I started to absorb the true soul of Italian food culture. I could break down the nuances between Roman and Milanese risotto styles. I understood the reverence for local, seasonal ingredients.

After two months, Italian had transformed from arcane grammar rules into a vivid, emotional language. When I urgently asked for "un piccolo spuntino" at a bar (without stumbling!), the bartender actually laughed with surprise at my authenticity.

Basic Italian Food Words

Immersing yourself in Italian food shows is the perfect way to start building your culinary vocabulary. As you watch chefs effortlessly toss around terms for ingredients, techniques, and dishes, you'll want to have these basic words down pat.

Refer to this English-Italian glossary whenever a new term has you stumped. Soon, you'll be speaking like a true Italian chef!

Olive OilOlio d'oliva
To chopTritare
To sliceAffettare
To sautéSoffriggere
To simmerSobbollire
To boilBollire
To bakeCuocere al forno
To fryFriggere
To grillGrigliare

So, Where Do You Start?

If you don't know where to begin, these shows will introduce you to regional dishes but are also fun and easy to watch. A good balance of recipes, cooking techniques, and conversation awaits.

What are you waiting for? Watch cooking shows and learn Italian!

If you want to become fluent in Italian, you can…

  • Watch your favorite shows with Italian subtitles.
  • Rank and organize shows by difficulty.
  • Rewind, rewatch and repeat dialogue lines.
  • Make flashcards.
  • Take lessons and ask teachers what you don’t understand.
  • Use Italian words and phrases in your everyday life.
  • Speak. Have fun and build confidence.
  • Read this great article on how to learn Italian.

Lingopie is a language learning platform with a wide selection of TV shows and movies ranked for your comfort. It has a range of interactive tools covering what’s listed above and more.

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