Traditional Meat Tortellini Recipe from Bologna

Italy’s most traditional meat tortellini recipe is undoubtably Tortellini Bolognesi!

This is the official recipe from Bologna, Italy. Most every region in Italy has adopted the tradition of making tortellini for the Christmas season, with recipes varying by region and even family. However, the Bolognese Tortellini remain the most  canonical in Italy.

The final tortellini should be so small that you can fit six of them in a soup spoon!

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How to Make Traditional Meat Tortellini

Traditional Meat Tortellini Filling: Ingredients

All of the meat ingredients in the Bolognese tortellini filling are cooked or cured so there is no need to worry about uncooked filling! Here are our ingredients:

Pork Loin

Browning the pork loin on all sides before putting it in the oven!

Pork loin is the only ingredient we need to cook ourselves for the Bolognese Tortellini filling. Brown all sides of the pork loin in butter, then finish cooking it in the oven.

Finish the pork loin in a pre-heated oven at 375° F (190°C) until the internal temperature of the pork has reached 140°F (60°C).

Then, we grind it with the other meats to make the filling base.

Mortadella and Prosciutto

Mortadella (left) and Prosciutto (right)

Italian Mortadella is a cooked pork deli meat traditional to Bologna. It is made of finely chopped cooked pork combined with pieces of pork fat (usually from the neck). In Italy is it often flavored with pieces of black pepper or pistachio!

Is it the same as bologna (baloney)? No. Bologna is based on the Italian mortadella. However in the US and other countries, the meat can also include turkey, beef, venison, soy and other ingredients. Unlike mortadella, it does not have visible pieces of fat.

This traditional tortellini also calls for a sweet prosciutto. We prefer Prosciutto di Parma.

In this tortellini recipe, mortadella and prosciutto are ground with cooked pork loin to create a ground meat filling.

We use a stand mixer attachment (affiliate link) for our Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (affiliate link) to grind tortellini filling. We pass the meat through three times, reducing the size of the grind with each pass. At the end, our ground meat looks like this:

Using a food grinder attachment for a stand mixer to grind the meats for tortellini filling.

Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is another regional cheese featured in this traditional tortellini. For this recipe, it should be ground to a fine powder. It is sold like that in most supermarkets, however Parmigiano is always tastiest when freshly ground!

NOTE: Do not use so-called Parmesan for this recipe. Parmesan outside Italy (especially in the US) can be used to refer to any number of aged cheeses that pale in comparison to the real Parmigiano Reggiano. Instead, purchase the real deal. You won’t believe the difference in taste!

We grind our Parmigiano with a food processor grating attachment (the finest one), then pass the cheese through a fine sieve as well to make it super powdery!

Add the Parmigiano to the ground meat:

Adding finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to the ground meats.


This recipe calls for a WHOLE nutmeg (freshly ground or finely grated, preferably). However, it’s the perfect quantity of nutmeg for this quantity of meat—so add it all!

Beaten Eggs

This helps our tortellini filling to better bind together!

Making Traditional Tortellini Pasta Dough

The traditional tortellini recipe calls for a simple egg pasta dough. Technically, the recipe calls for just 300 g of flour and 3 eggs. However, we are quite good at pasta making and see no way to use all of the filling with this amount of pasta dough.

For this reason, we recommend you double the dose and make:

  • 600 g of pasta flour
  • 6 whole eggs (large)

Beginner at making Pasta Dough? Please see our guide on how to make fresh egg pasta dough to learn how to make and knead egg pasta dough for Italian pasta recipes.

Pasta Flour is best. Pasta flour really is better for making pasta. These products are made from a variety of wheat that produce a more elastic pasta dough. We recommend an Italian brand called Caputo and this product (affiliate link) specifically —which we absolutely love for pasta making!

Stretch the Dough for Tortellini

Traditional tortellini should be stretched to a thickness of 6/10 mm—so well under 1 mm.

  • pasta thickness for tortellini: 6/10 mm

The result will be paper thin pasta. If you hold your hand behind the pasta in front of the light you should be able to see your hands move.

A pasta roller is the best tool for doing this job. Using our Imperia hand crank pasta roller this is the last (thinnest) setting on the pasta roller.

Using a pasta roller for our KitchenAid stand mixer (affiliate link), this was the second to thinnest pasta roller setting.

Just stretch one portion of pasta dough at a time (about 100 g). Leave the rest of the dough covered in plastic while working to prevent it from drying out. Dry pasta won’t stretch!

Reducing the setting (wideness of the roller) on a pasta roller. Reduce one notch with each pass until the pasta is paper thin!
Paper thin pasta!

Shape the Tortellini

Once a portion of pasta dough is stretched to under 1 mm, cut the sheet of pasta into 1″ squares (3 cm).

  • Square size? 1.25″-1.5″ (3 cm)

There is a pretty handy pasta cutting tool (below) for doing this job. This one is a bit lightweight (sometimes you’ll have to go over a score twice to cut the pasta). However, what it lacks in weight, it makes up for in ease of changing the width of the cuts. The wheels you see below pop in and out to create different widths.

Pasta Cutter (adjustable sizes) used here to cut squares for tortelloni (big tortellini) 🙂

Once the sheet/s of pasta are cut into squares, add a small amount of tortellini filling to the center of each one.

Add all of the filling before shaping any tortellini! The filling helps to keep the pasta squares moist. Add a ball of filling about the size of a hazelnut to the center of each square.

Add filling to the center of all pasta squares you have prepared before starting to fold. This helps the squares to stay moist!

To fold the tortellini:

  • Fold the square into a triangle. Press to seal the edges.
  • Fold the bottom of the triangle. Just a tiny bit of the top of the triangle should stick out.
  • Make a ring. Fold the left and right corners of the tortellini around the tip of a small finger. Overlap the corners and press to seal.
Close-up look at a finished tortellini.
Step #1 of folding tortellini: Make a triangle! Here we are making big tortellini with butternut squash filling 🙂
‘Making a ring’ step of tortellini making!

Shaping Tortellini: Tips

Lightly Flour the Work Surface

  • Lightly flour the work surface—very lightly! Unlike ravioli, the bottom of the square of pasta need to be moist enough to seal when the final tortellini is folded. If there is too much flour under the pasta squares, it will be difficult to get the folded tortellini to seal properly.

Stretch One Portion of Pasta at a Time

  • Stretch one portion of pasta at a time. Fill and fold those tortellini before stretching the next batch of pasta dough

Fill All Squares Before Folding Any

  • Filling before Folding! Add filling to all prepared squares before starting to fold that batch of tortellini—This helps the squares to stay moist enough to seal when folded

Pasta Squares Too Dry to Seal?

  • Pasta squares too dry to seal? If the pasta squares are too dry to hold together when you fold the tortelli, give them a light spray with water before folding them.

Drying and Storing Homemade Meat Tortellini

Once all of the homemade tortellini are prepared, let them dry (no overlaps) on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets or a lightly floured work surface. Better yet, use a stackable pasta drying rack!

Let the tortellini dry for 1-2 hours.

Then, you can freeze them if you like. Place them in the freezer to freeze with no overlaps. You can literally transfer them on the cookie sheet or drying rack to the freezer.

Once the tortellini are completely froze, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container with no worries about overlapping them.

Do not thaw frozen tortellini before cooking them.

Simply toss them in the boiling water frozen.

Remember: the tortellini filling is already cooked! So unlike some kinds of meat-filled pastas, we do not need to worry about cooking the pasta until the filling is done inside. We simply need to cook the tortellini until the pasta itself is al dente!

Cooking and Serving Meat Tortellini

Traditional tortellini are typically cooked in white bone broth (chicken and beef stock) or salted water. Cooking tortellini in broth is by far the most common way to cook them.

They are then served with the broth as a tortellini soup. Buon appetito!

Tortellini in Brodo (Tortellini Soup)

Tortellini with Butternut Squash Filling?

Check out our recipe for Butternut Squash Ravioli! Use the filling from this recipe to make tortellini instead of ravioli!

Tortellini with Butternut Squash Ravioli filling 🙂

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Traditional Meat Tortellini Recipe from Bologna

The most traditional meat tortellini filling in Italy! This is the authentic tortellini recipe of Bologna Italy. With regional ingredients like Parmigiano and prosciutto, this tortellini is unforgettable!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Pasta Rest Time 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Servings 20 people


  • 1 pasta roller or, use a large rolling pin if you are really good!
  • 1 food grinder meat grinder or food processor for grinding the meat ingredients
  • 1 pasta cutter for ravioli (optional) to cut the pasta sheets quickly into squares


Tortellini Filling

  • 11 oz pork loin
  • 11 oz mortadella a deli meat similar to bologna
  • 11 oz prosciutto Prosciutto di Parma or similar
  • 16 oz Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese finely grated
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 whole nutmeg yes- one whole! Freshly ground
  • 3 tbsp clarified butter for browning the pork loin; clarified butter is best!
  • fine salt to taste; you probably won't need this as the other ingredients are quite salty!

Pasta Dough for Tortellini

  • 21 oz pasta flour
  • 6 whole eggs large


Cook the Pork Loin

  • Brown all sides of the pork loin in a pan or skillet with a few tablespoons of butter. It's best to use clarified butter, due to its high smoke point.
    11 oz pork loin, 3 tbsp clarified butter
  • Finish cooking the pork loin in a pre-heated (static) oven. Cook at 375° F (190°C) until the internal temperature of the pork has reached 140°F (60°C).
  • Cut the cooked pork loin to large pieces to prepare it for grinding.

Prepare the Tortellini Filling Ingredients

  • If needed, grate the Parmigiano cheese into a fine powder-like consistency.
    16 oz Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • Grate/grind one whole nutmeg.
    1 whole nutmeg

Make the Tortellini Filling

  • Using a food grinder, grind the following into a smooth paste: cooked pork loin, prosciutto, and mortadella.
    11 oz prosciutto, 11 oz mortadella
  • To the ground meat, add: finely grated Parmigiano cheese and the nutmeg. Mix thoroughly.
  • Taste for salt. Add a pinch if needed. Then add the eggs (beaten). Mix to combine. The tortellini filling should be a compact and dry. Set aside.
    fine salt, 3 whole eggs

Make the Pasta Dough

  • Add the pasta flour to a large bowl or work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the whole eggs.
    21 oz pasta flour, 6 whole eggs
  • Use a fork to beat the eggs into the flour, pulling in flour from the sides as you do this. Continue mixing the eggs with the flour until you've produced a shaggy dough.
  • Press the shaggy dough into a loose ball and transfer to a work surface (if you mixed in a bowl). Add flour as needed to create a dough that is not sticky. You may not need all of the flour that the recipe calls for. You may need a bit more.
  • Knead the pasta for about 10 minutes—until the dough ball is smooth and elastic. When you push gently in with your finger, the finished dough should spring back.
  • Cover and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes before stretching it.

Stretch the Pasta Dough

  • Work with one portion of pasta dough at a time (about 100 g). Keep the rest of the pasta dough covered when you are not working with it, to prevent it from drying out.
  • For each portion of pasta: Press the piece of pasta into a rough rectangle. Pass the pasta through a pasta roller at the widest setting. Fold the pasta into a letter—about 3/4 the width of the pasta roller. Then, pass the pasta through the roller at the widest setting one more time.
  • Continue passing the pasta through the pasta roller, reducing the roller width by one setting with each pass. Stretch the pasta in this way until the pasta is less than 1 mm in thickness—paper thin! The recipe precisely calls for the pasta to be 6/10 mm thick.

Shape the Tortellini

  • Transfer the thin sheets of pasta to a very lightly floured work surface.
  • Cut the sheets of pasta into 3 cm squares (1 ¼- 1½ inches).
  • Add a small amount of tortellini filling to the center of each square—about the size of a hazelnut. Add filling to all of the cut squares before starting to fold the tortellini. This will give the cut squares some moisture and prevent them from drying out as quickly.
  • For each square: Fold into a triangle, pressing the edges to seal.
    Fold the bottom half of the triangle (with the filling) up. A small amount of the triangle should still be visible at the top.
    Fold the right and left corners of the triangle around the tip of a small finger (like a ring). Press the corners together to seal the ring.
  • When all of the tortellini are folded and finished, stretch another portion of pasta and continue—until all of the filling has been used!
  • Transfer the finished tortellini to a lightly floured work surface, parchment paper or pasta drying rack.
  • After 1-2 hours of drying (outside of the refrigerator), you can freeze the tortellini. Freeze the tortellini without overlapping them. Once frozen, you can transfer the frozen tortellini to a freezer-safe bag or container with no worries about overlapping them—frozen tortellini won't stick together.

Cook the Tortellini

  • Cook the fresh or frozen tortellini for 4-5 minutes in gently boiling broth or salted water. Cook until the pasta dough is al dente.
  • Traditionally, these tortellini are also served in the same broth —creating tortellini soup!



This recipe makes about 1000 tortellini! 
Preventing Pasta from Drying Too Quickly
Pasta for tortellini is stretched very thin—paper thin! This means it can dry out quickly if you don’t work quickly enough. Dry tortellini can’t be folded or seal properly. Here are some tips to prevent that from happening:
  • stretch just one portion of pasta at a time (about 100 g)
  • add filling to all of the cut squares before starting to fold the tortellini. The moisture from the filling will prevent the pasta from drying out as quickly.
  • spray with water —Use a spray bottle with water if needed to rehydrate the square of pasta and to get a better seal!
Keyword fresh pasta, pasta
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