Soffritto Recipe, the Italian way

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This simple soffritto recipe is a must for most sauces, soups, stews in any Italian kitchen.
It’s not a dish in itself, but rather an essential flavor base quick and easy to make.

And this mixture of fresh diced vegetables and olive oil is the first step for any number of dishes. You’ve already seen this staple in many of my recipes, from this pasta e fagioli and pasta with lentils to this green lentil soup or white bean soup.

Top view of a wooden chopping board with the ingredients for the soffritto recipe: chopped carrots, onion, celery and olive oil.

The key ingredients of soffritto – onion, carrots, celery – are often called holy trinity, though this definition is not common at all for Italians.
We just call it battuto, that’s before it’s cooked, or soffritto. This is the correct spelling, no sofrito :).

But let’s see exactly what I’m talking about.

What does soffritto mean?

Soffritto is an aromatic mix of diced onions, carrots, and celery gently cooked in olive oil or butter. In fact, the Italian word soffritto means “slightly-fried”, and describes the process of cooking these vegetables slowly until they release their flavor.
For this reason, soffritto is used to build up a depth of flavor and fragrance, and sometimes it includes other ingredients such as garlic, aromatic herbs, or wine.

What ingredients you need

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, or butter
  • Garlic, white or red wine, herbs, spices (optional)
Close-up of a chopping board with the ingredients to make the Italian soffritto: onion, carrots, celery and olive oil.

How to make soffritto

I’ve been making this soffritto recipe for ages, and let me tell you the truth: there’s no precision or perfect rules. I know, showing how to peel and cube your vegetables to perfection would sound more professional, but that’s not real life when we need to whip up a weeknight meal.

Honestly, most of the time some Italians don’t even use a chopping board or a chef knife, but they lazily chop the veggies over the pot while the oil starts shimmering. But that’s terrible advice if you’re not confident with all that chopping!

So please, when it comes to soffritto, make sure you use a chopping board, you handle a sharp knife carefully, and keep in mind a few simple rules:

1. Quantities

The general rule requires onion, carrot, and celery with a ratio of 2-1-1 (it means 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery). But those rules are absolutely flexible, and I often use an equal portion of each, it works just fine.

2. How to cut the vegetables

Mince, chop, dice, finely dice, do whatever helps you to cut the vegetables into small pieces. Try to keep the same size, more or less, it will help to cook them evenly.
It’s hard to be a purist when you’re in a hurry!

Traditionally, the finely minced texture is achieved by using a “mezzaluna”, a double-handled curved knife that rocks back and forth (it doesn’t sound so handy, right?).
More realistically, I prefer to use a chef knife or even a sharp paring knife, and the whole thing takes seconds. Also, a manual chopper works just fine (and keeps your fingers safe!) or the pulse function of a food processor, but make sure you don’t turn the vegetables into a watery pulp: you don’t want any other liquid rather than the olive oil.
Just a quick note for busy cooks: it’s good to peel the carrots – I do that most of the time – but it’s also fine to skip this step.

3. Which fat to use

Use ONLY olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, or butter. In my opinion, not only is olive oil – or extra virgin olive – healthier than butter, but it’s also brilliant in terms of flavor.

4. How to cook it

A heavy bottom skillet, or a pot or pan with a non-stick bottom, are brilliant to saute’ the mixture over medium-low heat.
Cook the vegetables gently from a minimum of 5 minutes to a maximum of 20-25 minutes, take your time if you’re not in a hurry. You want to saute them until the onion is translucent and the vegetables soft or caramelized. But don’t fry them, let alone burn them.

A chef knife dicing carrots and celery on a chopping board.

Soffritto recipe variations

The classic soffritto recipe might vary throughout Italy, there are regional and personal variations which can incorporate additional ingredients:

  • Garlic: its lovely aroma is brilliant with vegetables, fish, and legumes (except with peas). However, garlic is very delicate and burns easily, especially if it’s sliced or minced. Add it to the rest of the ingredients when the soffritto is nearly done.
  • Aromatic herbs: fresh or dried rosemary, bay leaves, sage, or thyme are very popular in soffritto when you cook legumes or meat such as pork, beef, or chicken. Soffritto might include fresh chopped parsley sometimes, but never basil or mint.
  • Meat: diced cube meat such as pancetta, guanciale, or bacon might be another flavorsome variation, very popular in some regions. Add them to the pot at the beginning, and reduce the overall amount of oil or butter.
  • Wine: a dash of white wine or red wine delivers so much flavor and work so well with meat and legumes.
  • Spices: fresh red chili or chili flakes are pretty popular, you can add them to soffritto at the beginning of the cooking process. Other spices such as paprika, cumin, or turmeric are not typical ingredients.
A wooden spoon stirring this soffritto recipe in a cast iron skillet.

What’s the difference between soffritto and mirepoix?

They both require the same key ingredients and look similar at first sight, however, there’re a few differences.

The mirepoix is made by cooking diced onions, celery, and carrots slowly in butter or oil without browning or caramelizing them. The cut can be smaller or chunkier, it depends on the recipes, and the vegetables are often removed from the final dish before the end of the cooking process.

Soffritto requires the same ingredients, but the vegetables are finely minced or diced in small pieces, never in chunks. Then they’re cooked slowly until golden or caramelized and are part of the final dish.

Can you freeze soffritto mix?

Freshly made soffritto mix is always best, and so easy to make. However, you can certainly make a big batch of battuto (raw minced vegetables to use for soffritto) and freeze the rest in a freezer bag, definitely ideal for busy cooks. I do the same with my parsley pesto, another flavorsome kitchen staple that comes in handy.

Where to use soffritto?

Have a look at these hearty flavor-packed recipes, they make delicious and convenient vegan family meals that even non-vegans will love:

If you make this soffritto recipe or if you have any questions about its variations, let me know! Leave a comment, send me a message, or rate it.
I would love to hear from you!

Top view of a chopping board with the soffritto ingredients: diced onion, carrots and celery.
Print Recipe
4.86 from 7 votes

Soffritto recipe, the Italian way.

This simple soffritto recipe is a must for most sauces, soups, stews in any Italian kitchen. It's not a dish in itself, but rather an essential flavor base quick and easy to make!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian, vegan
Keyword: Soffritto recipe
Author: Katia


  • 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium-sized carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1-2 Tbsps olive oil, extra virgin olive oil or butter


  • Wash the vegetables, peel onion, carrot, and trimmed the celery rib, and remove the leaves.
  • With a sharp knife, mince or finely dice the onion, carrots, and celery. Try to keep the same size and make sure you use a chopping board and handle your knife carefully.
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet or in a pot over low to medium heat. 1 maximum 2 Tbsps of olive oil (or the same amount of butter) is enough. When the oil starts shimmering add the diced vegetables, and cook, stirring often.
  • Adjust to low heat as needed, and continue to sauté until golden, it will take from a minimum of 5-7 minutes to 20 minutes, take your time.
  • When the soffritto is nearly done you can add minced garlic, aromatic herbs, spices, or wine. Give a good stir, keep cooking for 1 or 2 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients according to the recipe you want to make.


Freezable: you can freeze your diced (uncooked) vegetables in a freezer bag and use them any time you need a quick soffritto for your dishes.
Onion: white, brown onions, or shallots are common, but even red onion will work just fine. You can also substitute the onion with a leek.


  1. Michael S says:

    I use the same ingredients as you list. In my case I like having it on hand for different uses. One of those is for pizza sauce. I use a Vitamix to blend down big jars of sun-dried tomatoes in oil. Then I keep both of those in freezer bags and break off a 2-3 tablespoon chunk of each and microwave them and stir them together. We love the fresh flavors.

    My cooking method is to cook in an Instantpot starting on saute for 3-4 minutes and then pressure cook for 2 minutes on low. I use about 1/2 cup of water for a combined 6 cups of veggies. The veggies are reduced almost to a sauce consistency and then work great in lots of recipes like you state.

    I agree with you fresh is best, but having it on hand in the freezer means I will use it more often. And, when you look at what store-bought soffritto costs making your own is a no-brainer. Thanks for posting your recipe.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback and method to make soffritto, Michael.
      That’s appreciated. : )

  2. Looks like mirepoix not sofrito

    1. Yes indeed, they look very similar.

  3. Kristina Thonas says:

    5 stars
    Hi Katie… I watched Sydney Tucci’s programme where he made Soffritto with his mum. I’ve just made it and it’s a definite keeper. I followed your basic recipe and added a pinch of chilli flakes and a glass of red wine. I stored rigatoni pasta into the sauce as well as some ricotta cheese. Absolutely delicious xx

    1. I love to hear that, and I like Stanley Tucci too! : )
      Thanks so much for taking the time to share you lovely feedback, Kristina.
      Cheers x

  4. 5 stars
    I am reading a book that mentions soffritto (The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – an excellent book!) and didn’t know what it was so had to do an internet search, which led me to your page. I love the simple instructions and have decided to use them to make the “Fettuccine Mio Amore” described in the book

    I haven’t given 5 stars for the clear instructions even though I haven’t made the soffritto yet,

    1. Oh I’m so pleased to hear that, Natty… hope the fettuccine Mio Amore will taste delicious! : )
      Thanks so much for sharing this lovely comment. x

    2. Eric Feit says:

      5 stars
      So I’m reading the same book (&you are correct, it is excellent!) and I looked up soffritto and ended up here as you did! How’s that for coincidence!!

    3. That’s a lovely coincidence! Hope you guys enjoy that book and the soffritto as well. : )
      Have a great weekend. x

    4. 5 stars
      Isn’t it wonderful how things just collide? I have been reading The Lincoln Highway, too, and it reminded me how much I loved making soffritto ! My introduction to Amor Towles was A Gentleman in Moscow, and then I read Rules of Civility which blew me away. But back to the delights of soffritto . . .
      My favourite stew in times of stress is a three-bean stew (usually a mix of cannellini, broad beans and borlotti or kidney beans with tomato, stewed with a whole Italian sausage which can be removed at the end and sliced as a side. But what I always add to Katia’s basic recipe (and I hope this isn’t sacrilege!) is lemon zest. Garlic and red wine are essentials, too, for me. I have so enjoyed this link. Buon appetito!

    5. What a wonderful comment, Janice! it makes me want to read all your books and eating your three-bean stew. : )
      Sometimes I love a touch of wine and garlic too, but I have to admit I’ve never tried lemon zest here, I’m curious to give it a go.
      Buon appetito a te! xx

    6. 5 stars
      I’ve ended up here after looking for a lemon barley salad recipe and then clocking about this site! I’m now blessed with three recipes, additional knowledge about cooking, and a book recommendation! Thanks everyone <3

    7. What a lovely feedback, thanks so much Sarah, you’ve made my day! : )

  5. 4 stars
    Yes, a decent combination. I’m reminded of how in Thai buddies they have a similar flavor base called ‘the three buddies’ which includes white peppercorns, cilantro, and garlic. Different strokes in different places.

    1. Can you freeze the raw veg for soffritto without blanching?

    2. Hi Mary! Yes you can, but the veggies usually release moisture when you saute’ them with olive oil and I find that affects the flavor (that’s why I don’t freeze soffritto mix but I make it fresh every time).
      But it’s ok if you need to whip up a quick soup, and it comes in handy when you’re short on time. x

  6. Patrrick Sumner says:

    5 stars
    Katia: I’ve just seen the Stanley Tucci series on Italy. The portion with his Mom & Dad included the addition of a tomato salsa with the soffritto. It showed cans of Moffti (?) tomatoes. Can chicken be added to a simple soffritto & how would it be added & how would it be cooked?

    1. How fun! Stanley used the soffritto as a base for a tomato sauce, that’s a must. I guess he used a brand called MUTTI, very good, especially the canned cherry tomatoes.
      You can add chicken to a soffritto (for example thin chicken cutlets that cook fast). Season the chicken with salt and pepper (and your favorite dried herbs), and add them to the pan when the onion is already soft and translucent, because you want to make sure the vegetables are nearly done.
      Cook the chicken fillets over medium heat, partially covered, for about for 3-4 minutes or until they turn white, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes. However, while cooking, you might need extra moisture in the pan, it depends on the thickness of the cutlets. A handful of cherry tomatoes or a splash of white wine work beautifully.
      Cheers x

  7. Simon Jenks says:

    ‘You’ve already seen this staple in many of my recipes, from this pasta e fagioli and pasta with lentils’ No we haven’t? The ‘pasta with lentils’ recipe doesn’t mention soffrito, carrots or celery.

    1. Thanks for spotting that, Simon. You’re right, my pasta with lentil recipe on the site doesn’t mention soffritto (I kept the method very simple), but most of the times I actually use soffritto for that recipe too, that’s why I spontaneously included it. I’m going to amend it. Cheers.

  8. 5 stars
    Thanks for this posting. I saw a sofrito being used in a Mario Batali video and was hooked to try it.I have found your info the most enjoyable and thorough.Many thanks for sharing

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Dustin! I tried to describe a classic soffritto recipe and its variations, what it’s like for an everyday cook: essential, but flexible. 😊 Thank you for your comment! x

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