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10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed – Are They Better?

10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are they Better

Italian cuisine has always held a special place in the hearts of food lovers worldwide. The authentic flavors and time-honored traditions make it one of the most cherished cuisines. Italian recipes were often adapted to suit local tastes and ingredient availability when they reached America.

These changes have led to unique and delicious variations that still echo their Italian roots. Some dishes have become staples in American households, creating a fusion of cultures on the dinner table.

1) Spaghetti Meatballs Recipe

Spaghetti meatballs 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Spaghetti meatballs are a popular dish in America. It’s a mix of Italian pasta and American flavors.


  • 1 pound of spaghetti
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil


First, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

For the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, minced garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix well using your hands.

Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a golf ball.


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until they are browned on all sides. This should take about 8 minutes.

Once the meatballs are browned, add the marinara sauce to the skillet. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

Serve the meatballs over the cooked spaghetti. Top with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

This dish combines the hearty flavor of meatballs with the simplicity of spaghetti.

2) Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Chicken Alfredo 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Chicken Alfredo is a popular dish in American households. Unlike the Italian version that uses fettuccine, Americans often use different pasta types. The creamy sauce, rich with butter and heavy cream, is also an American adaptation.

The main ingredients for Chicken Alfredo are chicken breasts, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, butter, garlic, and pasta.

To begin, cook the chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper, and cook in a skillet until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt butter and add minced garlic. Sauté for about a minute.

Next, pour in the heavy cream. Let it simmer until it thickens. Then, add grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth.

Boil the pasta according to the package instructions. Fettuccine is traditional, but penne or spaghetti can work too. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the sauce.

Slice the cooked chicken and add it to the skillet. Toss everything together until the pasta and chicken are well-coated in the creamy sauce.

Serve the Chicken Alfredo hot. Some like to garnish with chopped parsley or extra Parmesan cheese. It’s a hearty and comforting meal that many enjoy.

Chicken Alfredo is a great example of how Americans have put their own spin on classic Italian recipes.

3) Pepperoni Pizza Recipe

Pepperoni Pizza 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Pepperoni pizza is a popular American twist on the classic Italian dish. In Italy, pizza toppings are often simple and fresh, like tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Americans love adding pepperoni, a type of spicy salami, to their pizzas, which gives it a unique and savory flavor.


  • Pizza dough
  • Tomato sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Pepperoni slices
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)


Start by preheating the oven to 475°F (245°C). Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface until it reaches your desired thickness. Place the dough on a baking sheet or pizza stone.

Recipe Details

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce evenly over the dough. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese generously on top. Arrange pepperoni slices over the cheese, making sure to cover the pizza evenly. If desired, drizzle a bit of olive oil on top for extra flavor.

Bake the pizza in the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly. Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.

If you like, add fresh basil leaves before slicing and serving. Pepperoni pizza is best enjoyed hot, straight out of the oven.

4) Garlic Knots Recipe

garlic Knots 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Garlic knots, a popular appetizer in the United States, have an interesting twist compared to their Italian counterparts. Originally, they were created as a way to use leftover pizza dough, making them simple yet delicious.

To make garlic knots, you will need pizza dough, garlic cloves, olive oil, butter, parsley, and Parmesan cheese. Start by preheating the oven to 400°F (200°C). Roll out your pizza dough on a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick.

Cut the dough into thin strips about 5 inches long. Take each strip and tie it into a loose knot, placing them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the knots for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

While the knots bake, prepare the garlic mixture. Mince the garlic cloves and mix them with melted butter and olive oil. Once the knots are done, take them out of the oven and immediately brush them with the garlic butter mixture.

Sprinkle chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese on top of the knots while they are still hot. This adds extra flavor and a nice texture. Serve them warm as a tasty appetizer or side dish.

5) Calzone with Ham Recipe

Calzone with ham 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

A calzone with ham is a popular twist on the traditional Italian dish. In America, this calzone often includes rich ingredients and lots of cheese.

To make this calzone, you’ll need the following ingredients: pizza dough, ham, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, and a little olive oil.

Start by preheating your oven to 450°F (230°C). Roll out the pizza dough into a circle. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on one half of the dough.

Add a layer of mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Then, place slices of ham on top of the cheese. Spread a few spoonfuls of ricotta cheese over the ham.

Fold the other half of the dough over the filling. Press the edges together to seal the calzone. You can press down with a fork to make sure it’s sealed.

Brush olive oil over the top of the calzone. This will help it get a nice golden color. Using a knife, cut a few small slits on top to let steam escape while it bakes.

Place the calzone on a baking sheet. Bake it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the outside is golden brown and crispy.

Let the calzone cool for a couple of minutes before slicing it. This calzone with ham is a warm, cheesy, and delicious meal that many people enjoy. It’s a perfect example of how Americans have adapted Italian recipes.

6) Mozzarella Sticks Recipe

Mozarella Sticks with Ketchup 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Mozzarella sticks are a popular snack that many Americans love. They are made from mozzarella cheese, coated in breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown on the outside.

To make mozzarella sticks, gather these ingredients: mozzarella cheese sticks, flour, eggs, Italian breadcrumbs, and oil for frying.

First, cut mozzarella cheese into sticks if not using pre-cut ones. Then, set up a breading station with three bowls: one for flour, one for beaten eggs, and one for breadcrumbs.

Dip each cheese stick into the flour, shaking off the excess. Next, dip it into the beaten eggs, and finally, coat it with breadcrumbs, pressing lightly to help the crumbs stick.

For extra crispy sticks, repeat the egg and breadcrumb steps. Once all sticks are coated, place them on a tray and freeze for about an hour. This helps keep the cheese from melting too quickly when frying.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350°F (175°C). Fry the sticks in batches, careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per batch.

Remove the mozzarella sticks and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with marinara sauce for dipping.

7) Italian Sausage Sandwich Recipe

Italian Sausage Sandwich 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Italian sausage sandwiches are popular in many parts of America. Sausage, usually pork, is cooked with peppers and onions. This differs from the original Italian recipe, which often uses fresh, simple ingredients without as many spices.

To make an Italian sausage sandwich, you need a few key ingredients. You’ll need Italian sausage links, bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, marinara sauce, and sandwich rolls. Some people also add cheese, like provolone or mozzarella.

Start by heating olive oil in a skillet. Add the sausage links and cook until browned. Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside. In the same skillet, add sliced bell peppers, onions, and minced garlic. Cook until the vegetables are tender.

Slice the sausages and return them to the skillet. Pour in the marinara sauce and let everything cook together for a few minutes. The sauce should be hot and the sausages fully cooked.

To assemble the sandwich, take a sandwich roll and place a few slices of sausage inside. Add the cooked peppers and onions. Spoon some extra sauce over the top. If you want, add a slice of cheese.

Place the sandwich under a broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melts. Serve hot. This modified version of the Italian sausage sandwich is a flavorful and satisfying meal. It’s easy to make and enjoyed by many.


  • 4 Italian sausage links
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 4 sandwich rolls
  • Provolone or mozzarella cheese (optional)

8) Minestrone Soup Recipe

Minestrone Soup 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Minestrone Soup is a hearty, vegetable-packed dish. Americans have added their twist to this classic Italian recipe, sometimes using different vegetables or meats.

Traditionally, minestrone includes a variety of fresh vegetables. Common choices are beans, onions, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. Some versions also feature pasta or rice.

In the American version, you might find ingredients like zucchini, spinach, or even ground beef. The base is usually a tomato broth, seasoned with garlic, basil, and parsley.

To prepare, start by sautéing onions, garlic, celery, and carrots in olive oil. Once the vegetables are soft, add diced tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil.

Next, add beans, pasta, or rice, and let it simmer until everything is tender. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs.

For added flavor, some might include Parmesan cheese or a splash of red wine. Minestrone Soup is often enjoyed with crusty bread on the side.

9) Caesar Salad Recipe

caesar Salad recipe 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Caesar salad is often thought of as Italian, but it was actually made by Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini in Tijuana, Mexico.

The traditional recipe includes romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and a special dressing.

To make the dressing, mix garlic, anchovies, egg yolks, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly whisk in olive oil.

Add freshly ground black pepper.

For the salad, chop the romaine lettuce and toss it with croutons and grated Parmesan cheese.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently toss to coat everything evenly.

Some American versions add grilled chicken, bacon, or use mayonnaise in the dressing for a creamier texture.

These changes make the salad heartier and more filling.

Despite the tweaks, Caesar salad remains a favorite both in the U.S. and abroad.

10) Ravioli with Marinara Sauce Recipe

Ravioli with marinara 10 Italian Recipes That Americans Changed Are They Better

Ravioli with marinara sauce is a beloved dish in America. Traditional Italian ravioli often features fillings like ricotta cheese, spinach, or meat. In the U.S., ravioli fillings can vary widely, including ingredients like lobster or butternut squash.

To prepare this dish, gather the following ingredients:

  • 1 package of store-bought or homemade ravioli
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil for garnish

Start by heating olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes, dried basil, and oregano to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. While the sauce is simmering, cook the ravioli according to the package instructions in a large pot of boiling salted water.

Once the ravioli is cooked, drain it well. Place the drained ravioli on a serving plate. Pour the marinara sauce over the ravioli, ensuring that each piece is well-coated. Garnish the dish with fresh basil leaves.

This version of ravioli with marinara sauce is easy to make and highlights the fusion of Italian tradition with a touch of American creativity. The marinara sauce is simple but delicious, enhancing the flavors of the ravioli without overwhelming them.

Historical Background of Italian-American Cuisine

Italian-American cuisine developed from the experiences of Italian immigrants, who brought their culinary heritage to the United States and blended it with American ingredients and tastes.

The Waves of Italian Immigration

Italian immigrants began arriving in the United States in large numbers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They primarily came from southern Italy and Sicily due to economic struggles and political unrest in their home regions.

These immigrants settled in cities like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. They opened small grocery stores and restaurants, introducing their traditional dishes. Over time, these dishes evolved as Italians adapted to new ingredients that were more readily available in America.

For example, pizza, which originated in Naples, was made with local meats and cheeses. Instead of the thin, simple Neapolitan pizza, the American version became heavier with more toppings. Spaghetti and meatballs also became popular, a combination not typically found in Italy.

Blending Italian and American Tastes

Italian immigrants learned to use American ingredients in their recipes. This blending of two cuisines led to the creation of dishes often considered Italian-American classics today.

One of the key examples is the use of tomato sauce. Tomatoes were not as common in Italian cooking until they came to the U.S., where they were plentiful. Dishes like chicken parmesan and baked ziti became staples in Italian-American homes.

Cheese also played a big role. Mozzarella, parmesan, and provolone became popular in a variety of dishes, sometimes in ways different from how they were used in Italy.

This melding of flavors allowed Italian-American cuisine to grow into something unique, embracing elements from both cultures while creating new traditions in American kitchens.

Key Differences from Traditional Italian Recipes

Americans have changed Italian recipes in many ways, such as using different ingredients and altering portion sizes.

Ingredient Substitutions

One of the biggest changes is the ingredients. Traditional Italian cuisine uses fresh and local products like olive oil, tomatoes, and herbs. In the U.S., some ingredients are swapped for more convenient options.

For instance, instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, many use Parmesan from a can. This cheese has a different flavor and texture. Another common change is using canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones, changing the taste profile.

Basil is replaced frequently with dried oregano, which alters the flavor quite a bit. Americans also often add more garlic than traditional Italian recipes call for. While garlic is used in Italy, it’s not as heavily used as it is in American versions.

Portion Sizes and Presentation

The portion sizes in American-Italian dishes tend to be much larger. In Italy, the servings are smaller and meant to be part of a multi-course meal. Americans, on the other hand, often eat large plates as a single meal.

In terms of presentation, American dishes are usually piled high with pasta and heavy sauces, making them appear much richer. Italians prefer a simpler presentation, with each component standing out on its own.

Pasta is often served as a first course in Italy, not the main dish. In the U.S., pasta dishes are usually oversized and heavily sauced, focusing more on quantity. This changes the dining experience significantly.

Popular Italian-American Dishes

Italian-American cuisine offers unique dishes that differ from their Italian roots. Two of the most beloved are Spaghetti and Meatballs and Chicken Parmigiana. These meals blend Italian traditions with American tastes.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs is a favorite in many households. This dish combines pasta and large, savory meatballs in marinara sauce.


  • Ground beef and pork
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley
  • Spaghetti pasta
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Olive oil

Preparation: The meatballs are made by mixing ground meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, and cheese together. They are shaped into balls and baked or fried.

Recipe Details:

  1. Cook the spaghetti until al dente.
  2. Prepare a simple marinara sauce with canned tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
  3. Simmer the cooked meatballs in the sauce.
  4. Serve the meatballs over the spaghetti, topped with extra Parmesan.

Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana takes a breaded chicken cutlet and tops it with marinara sauce and melted cheese, usually served over pasta or with a side of vegetables.


  • Chicken breasts
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Marinara sauce
  • Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil

Preparation: Coat the chicken breasts in flour, dip in beaten eggs, then cover with breadcrumbs. Fry in olive oil until golden.

Recipe Details:

  1. Lay the fried chicken in a baking dish.
  2. Spoon marinara sauce over each piece.
  3. Sprinkle generously with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  5. Serve alone or over pasta, garnished with fresh basil.
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