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Italian Soffritto: A Flavorful Culinary Staple

In traditional Italian cooking, one essential ingredient forms the flavorful foundation of many traditional dishes: soffritto. 

This aromatic mixture of finely diced vegetables and fat is used as a base in countless Italian recipes, adding depth, richness, and complexity to dishes.

Italian Soffritto Recipe

What Is Italian Soffritto?

Soffritto, derived from the Italian word “soffriggere,” meaning “to lightly fry,” is a combination of finely chopped vegetables cooked in fat.

The most common vegetables used in soffritto are onions, carrots, and celery, known as the holy trinity of Italian cuisine.

This aromatic mixture forms the backbone of many Italian dishes, lending a savory and aromatic base to soups, stews, sauces, and risottos.

Ingredients for Soffritto

The classic ingredients for Italian soffritto include:

Onion: The element that gives flavor to the soffritto, most recommended, is the yellow onion, but red onions can also work well.

Begin by peeling the onion, cutting it in half, slicing it, and finally cubing it.

onion chopped for italian soffritto

Carrot: Carrots give sweetness to the soffritto, so it is necessary to peel them.

After peeling, remove the top and the end, cut them into lengthwise strips, and dice them into small cubes.

carrots chopped for italian soffritto

Celery: Celery, on the other hand, gives freshness.

To prepare it, remove an inch of the initial part and the filaments from the celery stalk, and then slice it lengthwise into strips. Finally, dice the strips into small pieces by slicing them widthwise.

celery chopped for soffritto

Extra-virgin olive oil

Soffritto is prepared with extra virgin olive oil for its unmistakable flavor and because it is genuine. 

Use just a little oil; vegetables should not float in oil.

QUANTITIEs of Ingredients

The general rule says that celery and carrots are equal parts, plus onions with weight equal to the sum of the other two.

So, two parts onion, 1 part celery, and 1 part carrot. For the oil, the ideal dose would be one tablespoon of oil for each person at the table.

Italian Soffritto recipe


The key to a successful soffritto lies in the proper cutting of the vegetables.

For a traditional soffritto, finely dice the onion, carrots, and celery into small, uniform pieces.

Aim for a dice size of around 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) to ensure even cooking and a harmonious blend of flavors.


When it comes to choosing the fat for your soffritto, there are several options available.

Olive oil is the most commonly used fat due to its rich flavor and health benefits.

However, you can also use butter or lard to add a different dimension of taste and richness to your soffritto.


Step 1

The ingredients should be finely chopped so that the soffritto is imperceptible to the palate but unmistakable in taste.

A sharp knife is the best tool for chopping onions, celery, and carrots. 

The rule is to chop them by hand into tiny cubes of the same size.

The choice of the pot where you will cook soffritto is crucial. In general, I recommend that you use a nonstick one to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom.

Step 2

Add the oil to the saucepan over medium-low heat; the oil should never be preheated.

Then add the vegetables and let them cook, moving them with a wooden spoon.

The cooking process is slowly over a low flame: the vegetables should be cooked until golden brown and soft.

The perfect cooking time would be 10-15 minutes.

TIPS For good soffritto

  • Experiment with different ratios of onions, carrots, and celery to find the flavor balance that suits your taste.
  • Consider adding garlic, parsley, or other fresh herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your soffritto.
  • Use a heavy-bottomed pan for even heat distribution and to prevent the vegetables from burning.
  • Simmer the soffritto over low to medium heat, allowing the flavors to develop and the vegetables to caramelize gently.
  • Stir the soffritto occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the pan and to ensure even cooking.
  • Be patient and give the soffritto enough time to develop its rich flavors. The longer you cook it, the deeper the flavors will become.


The Italian soffrito cannot be missed in many Italian food recipes; classic bolognese sauce or pasta e fagioli  are not the same without this base.

 It is also used in cooking as a base for tomato sauce and fish sauces.

Soffritto is an essential base for many pasta or risotto dishes, side dishes, main dishes, and Italian soup recipes.

Variations of Italian soffritto recipe

The main ingredients of traditional Italian soffritto are onion, celery, and carrot. Also considered as such are soffrittos that replace the onion with leeks, spring onions, or shallots.

A garlic clove (chopped, sliced, or crushed) is sometimes added to enrich the basic soffritto.

Aromatic herbs such as Italian parsley or fresh basil leaves are often added. 

A specific variation to the Italian-style soffritto is that with pancettaguanciale, or other pork fat.

In this case, dice the pancetta and wilt it in a pan with some oil. 

How to store soffritto

Once you have prepared your soffritto, you may have some leftovers you’d like to store for future use. To keep soffritto properly, follow these steps:

Fridge: Allow the soffritto to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or zip-lock bag.

Place the container in the refrigerator and use it within 3-4 days for optimal freshness and flavor.

Freezer: If you have a large batch of soffritto for later use and want to store it longer, you can freeze it.

Portion the soffritto into smaller containers, freezer bag, and ice cube tray ( to make monodose), ensuring they are airtight to prevent freezer burn.

Label the containers with the date and contents for easy identification.

Frozen soffritto can be stored for up to 3 months. When you need to use it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or add it directly to your recipe while frozen.

Italian Soffritto Recipe (How to Make)


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Italian Soffritto Recipe

Italian Soffritto Recipe

These are the instructions for making the classic Italian soffritto

A few steps that must be followed carefully for the perfect soffritto end result!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 1 Cup onions
  • 1 Carrot (½ cup)
  • 1 Large celery stick (½ cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Peel and chop the onions and carrots, clean the celery by removing the strings and cut it into small pieces.
  2. Place the chopped vegetables in a saucepan with the oil and cook for a minimum of 15 minutes over very low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, To not let it stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3.  When the onion is transparent, golden brown and soft, then the soffritto is ready.


Pro Tips For a Good Soffritto

  • Do not use food processor to save time chopping vegetables. The heat of the blender may alter the taste of the vegetables.
  • Don't raise the flame too high - you'll end up burning the stir-fry.
  • While cooking, stir with a wooden spoon.
  • The oil should not be too hot, as you risk burning the vegetables
  • Add lukewarm water occasionally or if the soffritto dries out.
  • Soffritto doesn't need salt. It is the dish that will use the soffritto that gets salty.
  • Cover the pan or saucepan with a lid so that there is always useful moisture to keep the soffritto from sticking.
  • Use always fresh vegetables.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 182Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 43mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 2g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

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How Important is Soffritto in Italian Cuisine? 

Soffritto is a fundamental ingredient in Italian cuisine, often considered the building block of flavor.

It adds depth, aroma, and a harmonious balance of flavors to numerous dishes. The slow cooking process helps release the natural sugars and flavors of the vegetables.

Can I use frozen soffritto directly in my recipes?

Yes, you can use frozen soffritto directly in your recipes. Add it to your dish while frozen, and allow it to thaw and cook with the other ingredients.

What is the difference between mirepoix and soffritto?

The French mirepoix is an ideal cutting technique for preparing a vegetable chopped with a knife.

The difference between mirepoix and soffritto is that the mirepoix can be either sautéed or served raw; very often, butter is used instead of olive oil, while soffritto must necessarily be just cooked.

They have the vegetables they use in common – celery, carrot, and onion.

Soffritto versus Sofrito

It’s important to note that soffritto should not be confused with sofrito, a similar aromatic base used in Spanish, Latin American, and Caribbean cuisines.

While soffritto and sofrito serve as flavor bases, their ingredients and preparation methods are different.

Sofrito typically includes additional ingredients like tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs, while soffritto focuses on onions, carrots, and celery.

Each base brings its distinct flavors to its dishes, reflecting the culinary traditions of its respective regions.

Fun Fact

In southern Italy, there is a dish called “soffritto napoletano”.

It is not the usual soffritto, it is a typical dish compose of pork offal consisting of liver, heart, lung, spleen and trachea, cooked in tomato paste and peppers flavored with hot peppers, bay leaf and rosemary.

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