Shush! Did you hear that?
No, not outside. It’s coming from in here. It sounds like… growling?
Oh, wait—it’s just your stomach.
I think it’s time for you to put your grammar exercises down and grab something to eat.
While you’re chowing down, brush up on some useful Italian with one language-learning tool that can literally make learning a piece of cake.
I’m talking, of course, about YouTube’s endless treasure trove of videos.
You might have already used YouTube to learn new languages, but it’s also a great place to pick up other skills. From changing a tire to pinning down the perfect French braid, you can find a tutorial for anything.
And now I’m about to let you in on a little secret of mine:
You can learn Italian while improving your cooking skills!
Join me for a culinary ride through YouTube’s reserves and find out how watching Italian cooking tutorials will improve your language-learning experience.
Why YouTube Tutorials Are a Great Way to Learn
There are plenty of helpful YouTube Italian learning playlists and authentic Italian channels out there for learners, but learning Italian while you’re simmering away in the kitchen comes with a set of unique benefits.
- You’ll see what you hear. Each vegetable, kitchen utensil and cooking method will be shown to you as it’s being used. Before you even have the time to think “What does mescolare (blend) mean?” you’ll see it acted out right in front of your eyes.
Seeing and hearing what each word means and how to correctly pronounce it is extremely beneficial for building your vocabulary.
- You can follow along with each step. Choose a tutorial you like, go out and find the ingredients and get cracking!
Cooking along to a YouTube video lets you interact with the language in a new way. You can easily press pause, chop up your produce and repeat to yourself while you prep for the next step.
- You’ll engage in an important part of the culture. Few things are more important to Italians than la cucina italiana (the Italian cuisine). Italians love to share their food culture with foreigners, so it’s a great entry point for making new acquaintances or chatting up a swanky Italian.
Learning about their culinary traditions is an invaluable step to understanding and appreciating the Italian lifestyle and all the goodness it has to offer.
- It suits every learning style. Some people learn by watching, others by listening and there are even those of us who learn best with a hands-on approach. Cooking along to a YouTube video combines all these styles, making it the ideal tool for all learners.
- You’ll gain a new skill while you learn. What’s better than learning one thing? Why, learning two, of course! With these YouTube tutorials, you won’t just improve your Italian, you’ll improve your cooking as well.
Spice It Up: Learn Italian with YouTube’s Sizzling Culinary Channels and Videos
Get Started: Learn Cooking Vocabulary with YouTube
Before you start cooking, it’s essential to get all those basic culinary terms down. Check out these channels and videos for a breezy entry into the world of Italian food.
Boost Your Kitchen Know-how with ItalianPod101
This convenient online resource provides learners with hours of Italian audio and video lessons.
On their YouTube channel, you can find a playlist called “Italian Weekly Words with Ilaria,” where the titular Ilaria goes through different useful words and uses them in a sentence.
Ilaria has several videos about cooking, tableware, food and drinks, which are all great building blocks for beginners looking to expand their vocabulary.
Study Food Vocab with Learn Italian Language
This YouTube channel has a collection of straightforward animated language learning videos. Many of their videos focus on specific word groups, like “vegetables,” “meat,” “fish” and so on.
The videos are designed to work with your preferred choice of subtitles, meaning you won’t have to worry about knowing the words in English—a translation will appear on your screen in whatever language suits you best.
Pronounce Italian Foods with Sara
If you’re struggling to pronounce some of the most famous types of Italian food, let Sara show you how it’s done.
In this three-minute video, she goes through a few Italian classics that are often found abroad, so you can already start practicing on your next night out in an Italian restaurant.
Learn Authentic Italian with FluentU
While not technically a YouTube channel, FluentU does utilize videos for learning purposes, but with a special twist.
FluentU’s enhanced video player comes with interactive captions: Click any word for an instant definition and native pronunciation. Each video also comes with flashcards and exercises to help you remember the words even after you’ve finished watching.
It’s an entertaining way to immerse yourself in Italian the way native speakers really use it, while actively building your vocabulary.
Become a Pro: Cook Along with Italian YouTube Videos
Finding Italian-language recipes on YouTube is incredibly easy—all you have to do is type in ricetta (recipe) followed by the name of the dish you want to cook and several different tutorials will pop up. Just don’t go looking for any recipes for chicken alfredo or pasta carbonara with mushrooms!
To show you how it’s done, here are a few tasty recipes made especially for language learners.
Recipes by Lucrezia
Some of you might already be familiar with Lucrezia’s delightful YouTube channel for language learners, but what you might not know is that she has an entire playlist dedicated to Italian food.
Home-made pesto sauce and tiramisù are just a couple of the mouth-watering recipes this list has to offer.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Serena
Serena is a charming Italian professor living in France who has her own YouTube channel.
In this video, she teaches viewers how to make a traditional spaghetti alla carbonara (carbonara spaghetti)—free of peas and cream.
Gnocchi with Roberta Sabattini
In this curious one-off, Roberta Sabattini teaches language learners how to make gnocchi from scratch.
This recipe is perfect for Italian beginners as Roberta goes through each step in English and focuses the language-learning aspect of the recipe on a few key elements.
Cooking with Subtitles
In this hour-long video posted by The Italian Cultural Institute of Sofia, several different chefs walk viewers through classic Italian recipes like pizza napoletana (neapolitan pizza), caponata (Sicilian eggplant dish) and panzanella (bread salad).
It’s easy to cook along with and gives great insight into Italian food culture.
All the ingredients are listed at the end of each recipe, so if you’re planning to cook along, it might be a good idea to start there and then click your way back to the beginning.
Cooking Without Training Wheels
If you’re ready to embark on culinary adventures without subtitles or translations, your options are endless, but CookAroundTV is a great place to start.
Here you’ll find all the Italian classics like parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmesan), along with lots of contemporary dishes.
If All Else Fails: Learning How to Eat Out in Italian
We can’t all be top chefs and some of us are better at eating out or ordering in than sweating away in the kitchen—but that doesn’t mean that food can’t still be a delicious source for learning the Italian language.
You can, for example, learn how to read an Italian menu or learn how to order in an Italian restaurant. (Before you head out, stock up on some key Italian restaurant vocabulary terms.)
If you’d like to know more about Italian etiquette, you can also get help figuring out what to do when you’re invited over for dinner by Italian friends or what NOT to do when eating in Italy.
All these videos are a great resources for planning your next trip to il bel paese (the beautiful country), for heading to your local Italian eatery or just for indulging in a culinary daydream.
There might not be such thing as a free lunch—but on YouTube there certainly is such a thing as a free Italian lesson.
Now that you know how to find great Italian recipes online, it’s time to pull out the pots and pans, start clacking away at the keyboard and get those taste buds ready for a proper Italian meal.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.