Pile of freshly-made orecchiette pasta on a marble surface.
Home » Italian Food » Orecchiette Pronunciation – Italian Pronunciation + Audio 

Orecchiette Pronunciation – Italian Pronunciation + Audio 

Last updated on June 22nd, 2024

Are you heading to Puglia soon?

Looking to impress your Italian mother-in-law with your new cooking skills?

Do you want to perfect your Italian pasta pronunciations?

It sounds like you need to know the correct pronunciation for orecchiette!

I have been studying Italian for over 20 years now and am lucky to be living here for the last twelve of them. Needless to say, I am pretty confident in how to pronounce orecchiette, how to serve it, and where to eat it in Italy. 

In this article, I will go over:

  • what orecchiette are
  • how to pronounce orecchiette
  • the best way to serve homemade orecchiette

Even if you can only manage to get your hands on the dried variety, if you pair it with the right sauce, you will have an amazing dinner in no-time! But of course, like any Italian dish, its name is important and holds a lot of weight so let’s not butcher it!

What Are Orecchiette?

Hand holding pile of freshly-made orecchiette pasta.

Orecchiette is a small round pasta from Puglia in Southern Italy traditionally made fresh by hand from semolina flour and water. 

Today, orecchiette is enjoyed throughout all of Italy and can be purchased both fresh and dried.

Orecchiette is historically a very “poor” pasta, referring to the tradition of making it from just two ingredients: locally milled semolina flour and water. This is also where the tradition of serving vegetable-based sauces with orecchiette comes from. 

For centuries Italians from Puglia would pair orecchiette with what they could grow easily such as broccoli, turnip greens or other vegetables. The sauce was enriched with garlic and lots of locally produced olive oil, providing flavor and extra calories to the pasta. 

How Are Orecchiette Made?

orange and white bags of semola flour on grocery store shelf zoomed in.

Orecchiette are traditionally made by hand and shaped into a small indented circle on a wooden board with the help of a small knife or the pad of your thumb. 

The orecchiette dough is cut into small thin pieces and then pressed against a hard surface with the help of a knife, special wooden tool or traditionally with just your thumb and “rolled” quickly to create its shape. 

Orecchiette pasta being formed over a thumb. Below on table you see finished orecchiette pasta and some dough.

The orecchiette are then turned inside out, giving them a grainy texture and indented center, both of which help the sauce stick to the actual pasta. 

What Does Orecchiette Mean In Italian?

Orecchiette means “little ears” in English, referring to the resemblance between this pasta shape and a small ear, round and indented. 

How To Pronounce Orecchiette In Italian

Orecchiette in Italian is pronounced ohr-ehk-kee-eht-tee in Italian. 

Listen to the pronunciation of orecchiette here:

Learn More: Learn even more about Italian food pronunciation in 36 Most Commonly Mispronounced Italian Foods – Speak like an Italian 101.

Phrases With Orecchiette In Italian

Part of wooden cutting board on left and white marble surface on right. Both places scattered with fresh orecchiette pasta.

Although orecchiette is a regional Italian pasta shape from Puglia, it’s enjoyed throughout Italy and readily available at all supermarkets. Here are some examples of how you might hear orecchiette being used in Italian: 

Le orecchiette sono fatte in casa?
“Is the orecchiette pasta made by hand?”

Le orecchiette sono una specialità della casa?
“Is the orecchiette pasta a house specialty?”

How Not To Pronounce Orecchiette 

Pile of homemade orecchiette on a marble surface.

There are several ways that people mistakenly pronounce orecchiette, including

  • or-ehh-kee-tee
  • or-eh-chee-tee
  • or-eehch-eht

Listen to the mispronunciation of orecchiette here:

Italian Recipes Using Orecchiette 

Plate of orecchiette pasta with a broccoli pesto.

Orecchiette is a pasta that pairs well with just about any sauce but most traditionally, it’s served with vegetarian sauces and/or chunky sauces.

These are some of Italy’s most beloved sauces to pair with orecchiette: 

  • Orecchiette con le cime di rapa (with turnip greens)
  • Orecchiette con broccoli (with broccoli)
  • Orecchiette con broccoli e salsiccia (with broccoli and sausage)
  • Orecchiette con carciofi (with artichokes)
  • Orecchiette con le zucchine (with zucchini)

Try It: Make your own orecchiette using my Orecchiette Recipe.

Where To Eat Orecchiette In Italy

street view of polignano al mare with white stones for street, white building on either side with white umbrellas lining the streets with tables and people walking in middle.
Polignano al mare in Southern Italy is an ideal location to eat orecchiette

The best region to eat orecchiette in is Puglia, from where this pasta originates. You will still find old women hand shaping orecchiette pasta outside their front doors on the streets throughout Puglia. 

The best restaurants to eat orecchiette in are going to be small family-run trattoria-like places. You will see orecchiette on the menu at almost every restaurant throughout the region but the absolute best homemade varieties will come from little nonne in the back hand shaping them upon request. 

top view of wooden board with homemade pasta scattered with a sack of flour and rolling pin.

You won’t really find orecchiette in restaurants outside of Puglia, especially if you are in Central or Northern Italy. Orecchiette remains a very regional pasta that is still handmade primarily in Puglia but not outside its borders. 

This being said, you can find dried varieties in stores throughout Italy. I think this pasta shape actually makes one of the best souvenirs or food gifts that you can bring back with you because the varieties you find commercially overseas are smooth, without any texture and made with other varieties of flour. 

Italian store-bought orecchiette are still made with 100% semolina flour and have a very textured exterior, making them one of the better store-bought dried pastas to bring home with you. 

Orecchiette Pronunciation FAQ

Do you need special equipment to make orecchiette?

No, you do not. I find the easiest way to shape the orecchiette is with the back of a knife, a wooden board and your hands. Unlike other handmade pastas, you do not need a pasta machine or other pasta cutting tools to shape orecchiette pasta.