53+ Healthy Italian Recipes for Weight Loss
We think it's safe to say that Italian fare is on everyone's list of favorite foods. But unfortunately, much of the ooey-gooey grub we know and love isn't always the healthiest, as the dishes you'll find in popular Italian-American restaurants have strayed away from the authentic ingredients you would encounter if you ordered these dishes in Italy. But have no fear—you can still chow down on classic healthy Italian recipes that won't damage your waistline.
We rounded up some of the best healthy Italian recipes that not only taste good, but are all low-calorie, made with fresh ingredients, and are easy enough for you to whip up right at home. We're talking everything from the tastiest pasta dishes to a wholesome pizza to plenty of satisfyingly cheesy delights. Yes, there are such things as healthy Italian recipes.
We think it's safe to say that Italian fare is on everyone's list of favorite foods. But unfortunately, much of the ooey-gooey grub we know and love isn't always the healthiest, as the dishes you'll find in popular Italian-American restaurants have strayed away from the authentic ingredients you would encounter if you ordered these dishes in Italy. But have no fear—you can still chow down on classic Italian meals that won't damage your waistline.
We rounded up some of the best Italian recipes that not only taste good, but are all low-calorie, made with fresh ingredients, and are easy enough for you to whip up right at home. We're talking everything from the tastiest pasta dishes to a wholesome pizza to plenty of satisfyingly cheesy delights. Yes, there are such things as healthy Italian recipes.
Homemade 3-Cheese Ravioli With Cherry Tomatoes
Yes, you can easily make ravioli! And here, you get to dive into ravioli made with three different types of cheese: ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Did we mention this pasta dish is just a little more than 500 calories? A total win for a restaurant-level meal.
Get our recipe for Homemade 3-Cheese Ravioli With Cherry Tomatoes.
Baked ziti is a simple dish—just noodles covered in red sauce, topped with cheese, and maybe some meat mixed in. Instead of ordering this while dining out, make this healthier version at home that tastes just as delicious and won't cost you nearly as many calories and fat as a restaurant version would.
Get our recipe for Baked Ziti.
Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs will forever be one of the best combinations of all time. Plus, it's no secret that turkey is a much leaner, lower-calorie choice when it comes to crafting up traditional meatballs.
Get our recipe for Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs.
Italian Meatball Soup
Paired with noodles and a handful of vegetables, this soup makes for a bowl of goodness that's low in calories, yet still packs a ton of flavor. Think of it as a next-level chicken noodle soup alternative.
Get our recipe for an Italian Meatball Soup.
Is there a more beloved Italian-American staple than this dish? Here, we shallow-fry chicken and then use fresh mozzarella to top it off. Pair this with some sautéed spinach for some classic comfort food.
Get our recipe for a Chicken Parmesan.
Fettuccine Alfredo is hands-down the creamiest pasta dish of all. To avoid all the heavy cream and excess butter, our recipe turns to a béchamel instead, which still results in a thick, creamy sauce, just without all those extra calories.
Get our recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
You might think ordering any seafood dish is always your best bet when dining out, but that isn't always the case. Seafood-based pasta dishes are usually the ones to avoid because they end up drowning in a heavy sauce. We did the opposite of that here, letting the shrimp be the star of the pasta dish that is made with crushed tomatoes, white wine, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Get our recipe for Shrimp Fra Diavolo.
Bruschetta has simple ingredients, so it's easy to see why it makes for a great appetizer. Chain Italian restaurants such as Carrabba's tend to get a bit carried away with their versions, but trust us when we say our recipe is low-calorie and won't have you blowing all the calories allotted to your dinner just on the first course.
Get our recipe for the Best Bruschetta.
Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, and Prosciutto Pizza
This pie is based on a prosciutto arugula pizza, inspired by the flavors of Positano, along Italy's Amalfi Coast. Essentially, if you close your eyes and take a bite, the cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, and arugula all come together for a pie that tastes like you're on vacation.
Get our recipe for an Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, and Prosciutto Pizza.
Turkey Bolognese With Fettuccine
The classic bolognese sauce gets a makeover as we turn to turkey, which allows for a healthier pasta dish. Go ahead and get seconds!
Get our recipe for Turkey Bolognese With Fettuccine.
Caprese Tomato Tower Salad
Get our recipe for a Caprese Tomato Tower Salad.
Baked Lasagna Rolls
Lasagna is a dish that isn't necessarily the easiest to make, but it is a crowd-pleaser. We decided to simplify the process a bit with the lasagna roll. It's a tight pasta bundle that is filled with everything you get in a lasagna, but without having to construct all the layers. Not only is it less messy, but this way, you save on calories, too.
Get our recipe for a Baked Lasagna Rolls.
Italian Hash With Eggs
For this breakfast, we took inspiration from an Italian sandwich. There are peppers and onions, but we added in chicken sausage, kale, and eggs to the mix for a healthier alternative to a greasy, carb-heavy sandwich at a deli. A healthy Italian hash? Count us in!
Get our recipe for an Italian Hash With Eggs.
Chicken cacciatore is one of those Italian-American dishes that is known for being a bit on the lighter side, as it's basically a stew of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and wine—not a dish that features loads of cheese or anything fried. Our recipe comes in under 450 calories and is super flavorful.
Get our recipe for Chicken Cacciatore.
Italian Sausage Soup
This is basically chicken soup with an Italian twist! There are plenty of vegetables that pair perfectly with the noodles and Italian-style turkey sausage. It's a hearty soup you're going to want to turn you every time the temperature drops.
Get our recipe for an Italian Sausage Soup.
The name of this classic Italian staple, piccata, translates to "cooked in a lemon and butter sauce." And the dish is just that—thin pieces of chicken breast made in a zesty lemon-butter sauce that is topped with capers for an extra burst of flavor. With this recipe, you'll have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.
Get our recipe for Chicken Piccata.
Spaghetti With Spicy Tomato Sauce and Bacon
A bowl of spaghetti might just be the ultimate comfort food. Here, we add in some bacon, which infuses the pasta with just the right amount of meaty flavor for more of a spicy take on the classic.
Get our recipe for Spaghetti With Spicy Tomato Sauce and Bacon.
Panini With Provolone, Peppers, and Arugula
Our take on one of our healthy Italian recipes features the same classic flavors of the Italian sandwich but turns it into a crispy, melted panini. We promise you won't miss the bulky bread, the mound of meat, or the excess 600 calories.
Get our recipe for Easy Panini With Provolone, Peppers, and Arugula.
This sandwich is one of our easiest healthy Italian recipes and requires absolutely no effort, save for about 2 minutes of slicing and 2 minutes of toasting. Plus, it morphs easily into other dishes. Not in the mood for a sandwich? Ditch the bread and eat this as a salad for dinner. Need a quick appetizer for a crowd? Slice the baguette into rounds; toast; and layer slices of tomato and mozz and a basil leaf on top of each.
Get our recipe for the Caprese Sandwich.
Grilled Mahi-Mahi With Salsa Verde
Salsa verde certainly doesn't sound like it would be on one of our healthy Italian recipes. Confusingly enough, both Mexicans and Italians have their own salsa verde, and both are ridiculously good condiments that can be used in a staggering number of dishes. This, the Italian version, is based on parsley, anchovies, capers, and lemon juice, a bright herbal punch that pairs especially well with the smoke and char of a grill.
Get our recipe for Grilled Mahi-Mahi With Salsa Verde.
Italian Tuna Melt
Ahh, the tuna melt: Has any sandwich squandered more potential more consistently than this fishy fiasco? The memories are smelly and visceral, aren't they? Well, they don't have to be. Let's make this quick and easy meal tasty again!
Get our recipe for Italian Tuna Melts.
Another Italian classic lost in translation. Too many cooks interpret this dish—traditionally chicken or pork, lightly floured and cooked with sage and prosciutto—as a huge helping of meat, breaded and fried, and covered in a murky, sodium-strewn gravy. Our lighter, more authentic version wraps chicken and sage in a layer of prosciutto, which then becomes a crispy skin that keeps the chicken moist while it sautés. It will certainly be one of your favorite healthy Italian recipes to make at home.
Get our recipe for Chicken Scaloppine.
Grilled Caesar Salad
This recipe transforms the high-calorie dressing into a lighter vinaigrette and adds substance, flavor, and nutrition in the form of sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Think of this as the Caesar salad, reimagined.
Get our recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad.
Can dessert really be counted in a list of healthy Italian recipes? Of course! This healthier version bucks that trend, ditching the high-calorie constituents—egg yolks and mascarpone—in favor of a lighter treatment of beaten egg whites and whipped cream cheese for an approach that yields an ethereal, but still rich and satisfying treat.
Get our recipe for Tiramisu.
Spicy Grilled Calamari Salad
Why waste your calories on a plate of fried calamari when you can have an appetizer—that's equally satisfying—for half the calories? This salad has all the trappings of the much-adored appetizer—crunch from the peanuts, tomatoes, a bit of spice—but so much more. We don't want to promise that you'll never go back to the fried stuff after this, but it's a distinct possibility.
Get our recipe for Spicy Grilled Calamari Salad.
Personal pies are the bane of the pizza experience. Many pizza joints load individual pizzas with more than a day's worth of fat and sodium. English muffins, though, come with built-in portion control, so no matter how lavishly you adorn them, you won't break the 400-calorie barrier.
Get our recipes for Three Low-Calorie Mini Pizzas.
Veggie and Chicken Loaded Calzone
While calzones may not seem like an item that would make our list of healthy Italian recipes, this version of a loaded calzone recipe offers something for everyone: sautéed greens and roasted peppers for the produce proponents, and chunks of chicken sausage for the calorie-conscious carnivores.
Get our recipe for Veggie and Chicken Loaded Calzones.
This Bolognese follows the same technique used for an authentic, velvety sauce, but subs in turkey for veal and lean sirloin for fattier beef. You can serve this over dried spaghetti or fettuccine, but fresh pasta really is best.
Get our recipe for Bolognese Sauce.
Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo
Think alfredo can't make a list of healthy Italian recipes? Think again! This version of the fettuccine Alfredo recipe starts with a béchamel sauce, then blends that with roasted red peppers to make for a lighter, brighter, better Alfredo—for a quarter of the calories.
Get our recipe for Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo.
Meatballs with Polenta
This healthy recipe lightens up the meatball (using sirloin and turkey instead of veal and pork), but, more importantly, it ditches the spaghetti in favor of polenta, an Italian staple of stone-ground corn with a fraction of the calories, but just as hearty, creamy, and completely delicious.
Get our recipe for Meatballs with Polenta.
Chicken Sausage Lasagna
This version of the chicken lasagna recipe represents the best of both worlds, blending the cheesy, tomatoey comfort of the American version with the meatiness and relative healthfulness of the Italian take. Perfect for large dinner parties and for freezing.
Get our recipe for Chicken Sausage Lasagna.
Minestrone With Pesto Soup
This healthy minestrone soup recipe is a hodgepodge of veggies that will go a long way in making sure your diet is not lacking in its necessary greenery.
Get our recipe for Minestrone With Pesto Soup.
Classic Linguine With Clams
More healthy Italian pasta recipes? Yes, please! Our bowl of linguine with clams recipe is more clam than pasta, which also gives it a tastier and healthier ratio.
Get our recipe for Classic Linguine With Clams.
Loaded Alfredo Pasta With Chicken and Vegetables
Here's how restaurants make Alfredo: cream, butter, and cheese. We ditched the cream and made a basic béchamel sauce with flour, milk, butter, and Parmesan in our version of an Alfredo pasta recipe.
Get our recipe for Loaded Alfredo Pasta With Chicken and Vegetables.
Vegetarian Butternut Squash Ravioli With Sage Brown Butter
It's a sad state of affairs when a meat-free pasta can swallow up 95 percent of your day's saturated fat, but we've come to expect that from chain restaurants. This butternut squash ravioli is everything a vegetarian dish should be: healthy, exciting, and super tasty.
Get our recipe for Vegetarian Butternut Squash Ravioli With Sage Brown Butter.
Olive Oil Ice Cream
This dish (inspired by Iron Chef Mario Batali and his New York restaurant Babbo) taps into that principle, contrasting the smooth sweetness of vanilla ice cream with the flaky crunch of sea salt and the rich, spicy notes of extra-virgin olive oil. If you compare this recipe to two scoops of Ben and Jerry's Vanilla Ice Cream, you'll save 140 calories.
Get our recipe for Olive Oil Ice Cream.
Chicken Parm With Spinach
Having chicken parm on a list of healthy Italian recipes may seem too good to be true. But when you try our version—mad with Japanese-style bread crumbs and baked until golden brown—this move saves you the hassle (and the unwanted fat) of frying at home.
Get our recipe for Chicken Parm With Spinach.
In this healthy Italian recipe, we do things a little differently: here we take two traditional caps to a meal—ice cream and espresso or coffee—and combine them into one happy glass of gustatory joy.
Get our recipe for Affogato.
Chicken Panini With Pesto and Peppers
A light, healthy spread like pesto, a low-calorie cheese like fresh mozzarella, and a layer of lean white meat chicken deliver all the same flavor and a tasty crunch for a fraction of the calories.
Get our recipe for Chicken Panini With Pesto and Peppers.
Seared Chicken Pizzaioli
To lighten things up without losing flavor, we ditch the breading of a normal chicken parmesan (which gets soggy underneath the sauce anyway) and sear the chicken rather than fry it. A ladle of red sauce and a thin layer of bubbling mozzarella rounds the dish out—without rounding you out.
Get our recipe for Seared Chicken Pizzaioli.
Vegetarian Pesto Gnocchi With Green Beans and Tomatoes
Mess with the simplicity of pesto by adding things like cream, and you can kiss your chances of healthy eating goodbye. When you make this pesto gnocchi, figure 2 tablespoons per plate—and throw in some healthy extras like tomatoes and green beans to bring substance and balance to the bowl.
Get our recipe for Vegetarian Pesto Gnocchi With Green Beans and Tomatoes.
Vegetarian Mozzarella Spiedini
In this vegetarian-friendly version, we replace the meat with fresh mozzarella cheese, the bread crumbs with baguette crust, and the rest of the filling with cherry tomatoes and the skewers (or spiedini) with rosemary branches. Great for a party where you don't want to have to wash a single set of silverware after!
Get our recipe for Vegetarian Mozzarella Spiedini.
Classic Italian Meatballs
Looking for a classic Italian meatball secret recipe? Learn from one Italian grandmother how to make the best meatballs your taste buds have ever experienced.
Get our recipe for Classic Italian Meatballs.
Zucchini Carbonara With Bacon
Get our recipe for Zucchini Carbonara With Bacon.
With this healthy Italian recipe, you'll save almost 600 calories and almost 10 bucks if you were dining on Olive Garden's Chicken Scampi.
Get our recipe for Chicken Cacciatore.
Pesto-Topped Grilled Swordfish Steak
This recipe takes the latter tack, slathering meaty swordfish steaks in pesto before grilling, then topping them with quick-sautéed tomatoes. The burst of sweetness from the tomatoes joins forces with the garlicky punch of the pesto, making for a swordfish steak recipe that tastes every bit the creation of a restaurant chef.
Get our recipe for Pesto-Topped Grilled Swordfish Steak.
Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe
This classic combines slightly bitter, peppery broccoli rabe (or, if you can't find rabe, regular broccoli) and lean crumbled sausage with orecchiette, little ear-shaped pasta shells that cup the sauce beautifully.
Get our recipe for Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe.
Prime Rib With Italian Herb Sauce
With the herb-based sauce replacing horseradish cream, this roast outsizzles any prime rib you'd find at a buffet carving table.
Get our recipe for Prime Rib With Italian Herb Sauce.
Roast Pork Loin, Porchetta-Style With Lemony White Beans
Pork's role in American chain restaurants is limited to pork chops, ribs, and bacon. The Italian take on the pig is the opposite: They embrace and use the whole animal in a variety of ingenious and economizing ways. We've ditched the whole pig but applied the same flavor-packed treatment to our favorite cut: the lean, meaty loin.
Get our recipe for Roast Pork Loin, Porchetta-Style With Lemony White Beans.
This classic tomato sauce recipe is vegan-friendly and versatile, and you simply won't find a simpler recipe in all our files. This basic, but bright, sweet, and lightly acidic tomato sauce is perfect for pizzas, spaghetti and topping dishes like chicken parm, or keeping it vegetarian and pouring it over polenta or grits and roasted vegetables.
Get our recipe for Tomato Sauce.
Grilled Pizza Burger
You've had pizza, and you've had burgers. But what about…a pizza burger? Yep, it's a real thing, and it's the best of both worlds. And it's by far one of our favorite healthy Italian recipes to date.
Get our recipe for Grilled Pizza Burger.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Pesto
This recipe is fairly easy to make and only requires 35 minutes of your time before you can chow down on this delicious pasta dish. If you serve this to some friends, we can almost guarantee they will ask you to make it again (or at least to share this recipe).
Get our recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli with Pesto.
Crock-Pot Beef Ragu
Sick of the usual meat sauce and meatballs on a weeknight? Take your Italian cooking up a notch with this delectable beef ragu recipe. Not only is it easy to make, but this dump-and-go Crock-Pot recipe is perfect to prep and freeze for later!
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Beef Ragu.
Crock-Pot Italian Meatballs
Don't feel like making meatballs from scratch? This crock-pot Italian meatball recipe is exactly what you need!
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Italian Meatballs.