A homemade tortellini pasta recipe with meat filling— an Italian Christmas dinner tradition! This tortellini filling recipe features ingredients traditional in Italian tortellini including: pork, beef, prosciutto, mortadella, butter, Parmigiano Reggiano and eggs. This recipe makes 350-400 tortellini.
Watch the Video Recipe!
There are many types of Meat Tortellini recipes in Italy. To learn how to make the most traditional, watch this video recipe of us making the famous tortellini of Bologna Italy!
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How to Make Homemade Tortellini Pasta
There are three steps to making homemade tortellini pasta:
- Make the pasta dough
- Prepare the filling
- Shape the tortellini!
Making Tortellini Pasta Dough
Almost all egg pasta dough is made basically the same way: Add a pile of flour to a work surface. Then, make a well in the center of the pile of flour and add whole eggs to the well. Beat the eggs into the flour, pulling flour in from the sides a little at a time until the dough is able to form a ball. Knead the ball until it is smooth and elastic. Presto: pasta dough!
Tortellini pasta dough is made exactly the same way since the base is egg pasta dough. The difference is in the stretching of the pasta dough and creating that special tortellini shape!
If you are a beginner at making fresh pasta dough, you might have some additional questions like:
- How much flour do I mix in?
- How do I keep the eggs from running off the table?
- Can I use a stand mixer to mix and knead?
- How can I fix dough that is too dry… or too wet?
All these concerns can prevent you from getting down to the business of making pasta! Check out our fresh pasta dough recipe for a detailed guide on making fresh pasta by hand, in a bowl and with a stand mixer….
Learn More About Making Fresh Pasta Dough
Check out our other article for a detailed guide to making fresh pasta dough!
Start with 3/4 the flour. Add more if needed.
The biggest mistake you can make with fresh pasta is adding too much flour. It’s best to start with 3/4 of the flour recommended and add more as needed to achieve a smooth, elastic dough ball.
Making Meat Filling for Tortellini
Making meat filling for tortellini is very simple: blend all of the ingredients to a smooth paste!
However, due to food safety concerns, it’s best not to use raw meat filling in your tortellini. If you do use raw meat filling, you’ll need to be sure both the pasta and the filling inside is cooked before serving. Why? Undercooked meat is often the cause of nasty foodborne illness.
We believe in food safety first, so in this homemade tortellini pasta recipe, we recommend that you pre-cook your meat filling over a double-boiler. Once you do this, the meat will be ‘meaty’ rather than the smooth and delicious filling expected in Italian tortellini.
Luckily, there’s an easy fix: After the meat is pre-cooked, blend it smooth before using it to fill your tortellini! By following our method, you’ll have both the peace of mind that your tortellini filling is cooked and the delicious, smooth taste you love in meat tortellini.
Making Tortellini Shapes
Once you’ve got the pasta and the tortellini meat filling, it’s time to fill and shape the tortellini pasta!
- Stretch pasta sheets to less than 1 mm in thickness
- Cut pasta sheets into 3 cm or 4 cm squares (1-1.5 inches)
- Add a bit of filling to the center of each square (leaving enough of a border to securely seal the tortellini in the next steps)
To shape the tortellini, do the following with each square:
- Wet the edges of the pasta with a bit of water using your finger
- Fold the rectangle into a triangle and press to seal the edges
- Wrap the left and right sides of the triangle around your finger like a ring and press to seal!
Here are some images to explain the process. In this case, we used a butternut squash filling and are making bigger tortellini. However, the process is the same!
Tortellini in Brodo?
In Italy, a common way to enjoy meat filled tortellini like these are ‘in brodo’ (in broth). This is an especially popular way to eat tortellini during the Christmas holidays.
The broth that is traditionally served with tortellini in Italy is a white bone broth—a chicken and beef stock with vegetables and some aromatics.
Check out our Tortellini Chicken Soup recipe to learn how to turn your homemade tortellini into a soup!
Tips for Making Tortellini
Glove up to mix by hand!
There is no better tool than your hands for thoroughly mixing tortellini meat filling! Feel free to use powder-free gloves to do this if you don’t like to touch raw meat.
Pre-Cook the Meat Filling
Relying on boiling the tortellini pasta to cook the meat inside is a touch risky. Your Italian Grandma might do it, but we recommend cooking the meat filling using a double boiler (known as a bagnomaria in Italian). This recipe will show you how. The result will be delicious tortellini that you can be sure won’t give your family or guests any nasty foodborne illnesses!
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Homemade Tortellini Pasta Recipe
- Rolling Pin or Pasta Machine
Fresh Tortellini Pasta Dough
- 400 g all-purpose flour or '00'
- 4 egg whole
- 1 pinch fine salt
- 2 tsp olive oil extra-virgin
Tortellini Meat Filling
- ½ lb ground pork
- ½ lb ground beef or veal
- ½ lb prosciutto
- ¼ lb ground turkey
- 2 oz mortadella or bologna
- ¼ lb butter
- ¼ lb Parmigiano Reggiano
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- ¼ tsp black pepper freshly ground
- ¼ tsp nutmeg freshly grated
- 1 tbsp lemon zest use organic lemons
- 1 tsp fresh ginger optional
Make the Pasta
- Add the flour in a pile to a work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add two whole eggs to the center of the flour. Add the salt and olive oil. Begin to beat the flour into the eggs with a fork, pulling the flour in from the sides a little at a time.
- Using a stand mixer? Start with 3/4 of the flour recommended and add more flour as needed. It’s better to start with too little flour than too much.
- When the dough begins to look shaggy, compress the dough into a loose ball and begin to knead. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. When you push in on the dough, it should spring back.
- When the fresh pasta dough is ready, cover and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.
Make the Tortellini Filling
- Blend all meats to a smooth paste: pork, beef or veal, prosciutto, mortadella, turkey. A food processor works best to do this. Alternatively, use an immersion or high-powered blender.
Stretch the Pasta
- Work with ¼ of the dough at a time. Keep those pieces you aren't working on covered or wrapped in plastic. This will prevent the pasta from drying out.
- Place ¼ of the dough on a well-floured surface. Flour both sides of the dough. Roll or press the dough into a ¼ inch (½ cm) thick rectangle.
- Pass the floured rectangle through a pasta roller, starting at the widest setting. Feed dough into machine short-side first. Then, place the dough lengthwise on the floured work surface. Fold the dough as you would a letter, starting with one side. Roll out the dough again till it is ¼ in (½ cm) thick.
- The short side of folded dough rectangle should be a little smaller than the width of your pasta roller. Then, pass the pasta through the roller again.
- Reduce the width of the pasta roller one setting. Pass the pasta through the roller again. Always feed the pasta in short-side first
- Pass the pasta through the roller, each time reducing the roller width one setting until the resulting pasta is translucent—thin enough to see your hand through it! This is usually the smallest width the pasta roller allows.
Fill and Shape the Tortellini Pasta
- Cut the long strip of translucent pasta into squares (4 cm x 4 cm). Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
- Add a pinch of filling to the center of each pasta square. Leave plenty of pasta showing around the edges.
- Pick up one square w/ filling in center. Fold upwards into a triangle. Fold point of the triangle up. Wrap the left and right sides of the triangle around your finger, pinching to seal.
- Transfer finished tortellini to a well-floured surface. Arrange in rows so that the tortellini don't stick together. Store in refrigerator overnight, covered with parchment paper. Or, freeze.
- Repeat these steps until you have filled and formed all tortellini. We want to form the dough right after we stretch it to avoid the thin pasta drying out.
Cook the Tortellini
- Boil the tortellini for about 5 minutes. When cooked, the tortellini will float to the top of the water. Drain. Serve with the sauce or broth of your choice.