The Italian Word for “Pie” – Five possible translations

Ah, pie! Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned pie? Pumpkin pie, apple pie, blueberry pie … there are so many kinds, it’s hard to choose a favourite!

In English, we can broadly define a “pie” as a dish consisting of a filling such as fruit, meat, or vegetables baked in a biscuit or pastry shell, but in Italian, there isn’t one word that directly corresponds to this definition. In fact, there are five different terms that could potentially translate as “pie” depending on the consistency, shape and appearance of the baked good. Let’s take a look at them now!

italian word for pie

Torta is actually much closer in meaning to the English word “cake” in that it normally refers to sweet (and usually round) dishes with a consistent filling made of blended ingredients such as flour, eggs, sugar and butter.

However, it is frequently used to describe traditional American fruit pies, provided the overall consistency is cake-like:

  • torta di mela = apple pie
  • torta di zucca = pumpkin pie
  • torta di fragole = strawberry pie
  • torta di limetta = key lime pie
  • torta di mirtilli = blueberry pie

It may also describe some savoury pies such as:

  • torta di patate = potato pie
  • torta di rognone = kidney pie
  • torta di spinaci = spinach pie

A crostata differs from a torta in that the filling isn’t blended and smooth but chunky and inconsistent. What’s more, a crostata features a decoration of shortcrust pastry with a lattice finish. For this reason, it is often translated as “tart” in English.

  • crostata di mele = apple pie
  • crostata di Nutella = Nutella pie

Pasticcio, a word which can be traced back to the Latin pasta (literally meaning “pie”), refers to a baked savoury pie, usually based on meat, fish, or pasta. First referred to in the 16th century as “any manner of pastie or pye”, it has also developed the figurative meanings of “a mess”. It is from this word we get the French pastiche. Although it looks a lot like lasagna, tubular pasta such as bucatini or penne is used instead of lasagna noodles.

  • pasticcio di salsiccia = sausage pie
  • pasticcio di carne = cottage pie
  • pasticcio di pesce = fish pie

A sformato, which literally means “deformed” or “distorted“, can be thought of as a cross between a flan and a soufflé. However, in some cases, it can be referred to as a pie if the shape and texture is pie-like. Unlike a torta or a crostata, a sformato is always savoury.

  • sformato di patate = potato pie
  • sformato del pastore = Shepherd’s pie
  • sformato di verdure = vegetable pie

Finally we come to the word tortino, which is the diminutive form of torta. As the name suggests, it is a small pie consisting of cheese or vegetables cooked in the oven or frying pan. It is sometimes called a cake or a quiche in English.

  • tortino di patate = potato pie
  • tortino di melanzane = eggplant pie

Are you familiar with all these terms? Let us know in the comment section below!

Concept of cooking apple pie on dark background

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