If you know anything about Italian food, then you will learn how much pride and love they put into their dishes, and let’s face it, what is a trip to Italy without tasting some of the most traditional Italian snacks and treats they have to offer?
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Authentic Italian Snacks To Eat In Italy
I will be looking into foods that use organic ingredients, are locally grown, and are made using traditional Italian methods.
I will also tell you where you can find some of these excellent snacks in Italy, and even find out how some are made. After 20+ years of traveling to Italy, we’ve eaten some tasty Italian snacks. There’s more to Italy than pasta and pizza.
Best Italian Snacks To Eat In Italy – Mangia!
I love long dinners in Italy, with all the courses. The antipasti, the pasta, a meat course, and a nice decadent Italian dessert. But, Italy is also known for some amazing traditional Italian snacks.
These include a variety of different types of bread to all things friend and sometimes dipped in tomato sauce.
There are loads of Italian food options that are snacks or even street food. These can be found in food stalls, at local markets, or even at a grocery store to enjoy during a trip to Italy.
One of the most common Italian snacks and the perfect pairing with a cocktail before dinner in Italy.
One of the best things about living along the Mediterranean is the easy access to incredible, local olives. They come in so many varieties, flavors, and seasonings. It’s common to receive a small bowl with a few olives for free when enjoying an aperitivo throughout the country.
There’s also a good reason why Italian olive oil is so amazing – it all starts with the olives.
Now for something slightly healthier than the deep-friend, battered creamy snacks we’ve looked at. The Lupini beans.
These are found all year round in Italy and are often served as a healthy appetizer, cheese, or pickled as a snack.
They are a legume grown in Australia and eaten across the Mediterranean and Latin America. It’s a popular Italian bar snack in a lot of places.
As well as being a satisfying little snack, they also have a lot of health benefits, such as being a good source of protein and packed with fiber.
One thing you should be aware of in case you want to try making these at home is that before the soaking process, they are highly toxic, so be sure to research a recipe before you have a go.
This popular savory snack is similar to what you might know as a turnover or even a calzone. But instead, it is made with a pizza-like dough and filled with any of your favorite pizza toppings, such as tomato sauce, anchovies, pepperoni, olives, and cheese. There is a similar version in other regions of Italy, including fried pizza in Naples.
Once they have been packed with all the delicious fillings, they are then deep-fried, and what you are left with is a pocket of hot cheesy goodness; just be sure to let them cool down first.
The idea for these little pizza pockets of joy came from Puglia. The food in Puglia is entirely unique to foods from Northern Italy.
Panzerotti was served as an Italian street food dish but can now be found in cafes and restaurants all over the country; they are also pretty easy to make yourself at home if you have an interest in baking.
Latte Dolce Fritto
This deep-fried sweet Italian finger food originates from Northwest Italy. Latte dolce fritto translates to sweet fried milk, which already sounds good, right?
It consists of milk made into a custard, then mixed with flour, eggs, and cornstarch. The mix is then left to go hard, sliced into bite-size pieces, dipped in breadcrumbs, and fried.
The result is small, crispy bites that, when broken into, ooze with creamy custardy goodness.
These snacks are found in cafes all over Italy, can be enjoyed warm or cold, and are usually dusted in powdered sugar. Sometimes you will also find them on the side of a dish called Fritto Misto, a meal made up of fried meat, fish, or vegetables.
This fried doughy snack originates from Calabria and has become a popular finger food in Italy. It uses yeast, flour, water, potatoes, salt, and often fresh parsley.
Some people like to add other ingredients to their recipes, such as olives, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies, chili, nduja, or cheese.
Once they have been formed into the desired shape, they are deep-fried and served with marinara sauce and are a great side dish or savory snack to share around a dinner table.
Also known as scaldatelle or scallatill, this product originates from the Apulian province of Foggia. It is a kind of cracker, similar to a pretzel, but they’re a bit bigger and instead made with extra virgin olive oil, flour, salt, fennel seeds, and wine.
These are super popular Italian snack food and can be found in most stores across the country. You often see them in flavors like cracked black pepper, olive, or chili.
They are made by creating the shape out of the dough, then boiling it before baking in the oven. When they’re finished, they should be crispy and golden.
They are great to eat on their own, and some people serve them in restaurants as part of grazing boards with cured meats, cheese, and fruit.
Another dish that originated in Puglia is a perfect little snack that will pair perfectly with a cocktail. They are light, crunchy, and savory.
You will find them all over Italy, and they come in all shapes and sizes; similar to the Scaldatelli, they are often flavored with wine, olive oil, salt, flour, and fennel seeds. (a popular ingredient in Italian cuisine) They are also boiled and then baked.
You can have a go at making these yourself at home; if you do, they can be kept in jars and kept for a good few weeks.
This is probably one of my ultimate favorites. Who wouldn’t love the idea of deep-fried rice balls stuffed with cheese?
These rice balls are usually packed with a mozzarella filling which oozes out when you bite into them; they are dipped in egg yolk and coated with breadcrumbs before being deep fried until they are a rich golden brown color with a crispy coating.
Some people make these in various flavors, such as vegetables or meat. It can be filled with ground beef, for example.
The dish originated in Sicily, but now they can be found all over Italy, so if you’re visiting almost any restaurant or cafe, you will likely see these on the menu. The best part is that they are always pretty reasonable in price, so you can enjoy them on a budget.
One of our all-time favorite Italian food items. Crostini, which means “little Italian,” are small pieces of crusty bread brushed with olive oil, then toasted or grilled. When bitten into, they should crumble and crunch.
They are often served as a side dish alongside dips or soups and appear with charcuterie boards and cheese platters. They also make a great appetizer if you pair them with your favorite spread and a bit of chutney.
These are a good snack to make at home, especially if you haven’t gotten around to eating that crust baguette you bought from the store last week. They’re quick and easy to make and can be put with most items you have sitting around in your fridge.
So many popular Italian snacks eating in Italy are not commonly found on Italian restaurant menus around the world. Frittelle is a perfect example.
I could eat Fratelli Pugliese all day. Deep-fried bits of pastry dough, served warm with dipping sauces. It’s like a Puglia version of chips and salsa.
Here, the sauces included sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper, and an apple sauce. Fritelle is most commonly found in the Italian region of Puglia.
Crescentina And Gnocco Frito
A crescentina is a deep-fried puffed bread snack made using lard, flour, milk, and salt. After being fried, it is served hot. Crescentina are served on the side of grazing boards with soft cheese, cured meats, fruity jams, or spreads.
Look for this snack when eating in Bologna, but it can now be found in many places across Italy and has become a popular favorite among locals. In nearby Modena, the same bread is known as gnocco frito. Bologna and Modena are two of the best food cities in Italy and these fried breads are reason enough to visit.
Another one what I call meat-breads from Emilia Romagna, tigelle is a round bread almost like the cousin of an English muffin. It is made by rolling dough into a round ball and then pressing it on a heavy cast iron, or aluminum style pan called a tigelliera. The tigelliera presses an almost rose-shaped design in each one.
When a basket of tigelle arrives at a table, they are always warm. Tigelle is normally served with cured meats and soft cheeses. It’s a typical Italian snack found only in Bologna and its immediate vicinity.
If I can compare these to anything, it would be to the tempura-type snacks you often find in Asian cuisine. These little Italian food fritters are made using sage leaves, then fried in a light crispy batter.
When eaten, these gorgeous little bites should melt in your mouth and pair beautifully with Italian wine, beer, and cocktails.
They are also straightforward to make at home if you can get some lovely fresh sage leaves.
Foccaccia And Cappucino
Italian coffee is notorious and people all over the world know focaccia, but when you put them to gether, something special happens. The warm saltiness of the bread mixes so well with the bitterness of the coffee and the creamy milk of a cafe latte or cappuccino.
You don’t need to travel to Italy, though, to enjoy this pairing. Learn to make traditional Ligurian focaccia at home.
This is one of the Italian snacks I didn’t know existed until we traveled to Italy! It’s a local treat found in Genoa and the surrounding area.
Farinata is almost like a giant pancake made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and salt. It is pressed into a big copper pan and baked. It is best when baked in a wood fire oven, although gas is becoming increasingly more common. The consistency is a little dense, with a bit of crispness on the top, and a light flavor of nuts.
Crema Fritta, also known as Cremini, originally comes from Marche. It is often served as part of a traditional fritti platter, along with Salvia Fritter, Olive Ascolane, fried meat, and vegetables, which may come as a surprise because it is made from the deep-fried custard.
It might seem strange to pair a custard snack with a savory grazing board, but it goes perfectly. However, if you don’t like the sounds of it, many places do serve it alone as a dessert too. It also pairs well with a sweet glass of Italian wine.
These are one of the most popular snacks in Italy. They are often found being served with Zuppa D’orza, a comforting Italian soup. But, they can be enjoyed as an appetizer too.
They can be eaten hot or cold and are very easy to make using small pieces of dough mixed with potatoes, flour, rye, water, salt, and onions. The dough is then flattened, covered with a filling, and topped with more dough; they are then deep-fried.
Popular fillings for these tasty Italian treats include ricotta cheese, spinach, herbs, potato, or sauerkraut.
Cuoppo – Cone of Fried Treats
Naples street food can be described in one word – fried. Whereas much of Italian dining in Italy focuses on long drawn-out meals over multiple courses and wine, people in Italy take to the streets and eat all things fried.
There are all sorts of friggitorie, the name of the shop that sells a variety of fried foods. Order a cuoppo, a cone of mixed fried foods. Some shops will offer combos “di terra” (from the land) or “di mare” (from the sea).
This delicious little Italian snack is similar to ice cream. Gelato is made using cream, sugar, milk, and sometimes egg yolk to stabilize the mixture. When created, the churning process is done much slower than ice cream, resulting in a super smooth, creamy, and dense texture.
Of course, gelato is one of the most popular Italian desserts, but for us it’s often a snack in Italy. We often stop for a gelato late morning or early afternoon between meals.
You will often see gelato in various flavors all over Italy, some of which include vanilla pistachio, stracciatella, hazelnut, chocolate, and some fruit-flavored ones, which seem to have become more popular recently.
Gelato was first invented during the 17th century by an Italian chef named Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli, who introduced it in his cafe in Paris. Still, it wasn’t long before it became a popular dessert all over Europe.
Traditional Italian Snacks
So hopefully, now you’ve got a good idea of which Italian snacks to keep your eye out for during your travels around Italy. Whether you want something deep-fried and naughty, cream-filled and luxurious, or a healthy and light aperitivo snack, I hope this guide has helped show you a bit of everything. Learn more about Italian pastry names and other sweets to enjoy as a snack.
Just remember when putting together your Italy packing list to add some comfortable pants!
FAQs – Traditional Italian Snacks
There’s no set Italian afternoon snack. That said, many Italians enjoy a sweet treat such as cake or of course gelato. An afternoon snack could also be as simple as some Italian bread and Italian olive oil. One of the great things about Italian food is that the options are endless.
Italian food is famous for the numerous cheese produced in Italy. Two of the most famous Italian ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese of often enjoyed as a snack. Both can be eaten on their own or with a dash of high quality balsamic vinegar.
Culinary Travel To Italy
Our Italy Travel Experience
Our first trip to Italy was in 2000, and since then, we’ve taken dozens of trips to Italy to almost every region. Our most recent trip was in 2022.
This is easier for us as we live in Europe. We’ve taken food tours, cooking classes, visited wineries, and dined at some of the best restaurants in Italy. We are experts at Italy travel and, more importantly, eating in Italy.
Check out Amber’s book, the Food Traveler’s Guide To Emilia Romagna, which is available on Amazon. In addition to being a culinary travel guide to the region, it walks through how many of the typical Italian food products are made, like mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmigiano Reggiano.