How to Make Tortellini.
The filling, the shaping, the swearing.

Yes, making tortellini is hard. Deal with it. It’s no harder than living in a stomach and shooting out through a birth canal and you all got through that, so put your tortellini mitts on and meet me in the second paragraph.

Good. I’m glad you took a leap of faith and decided to meet me here. You’re strong, resilient, and adventurous. YOU are going to make T O R T E L L I N I. Which makes you better than anyone else. It makes you WONDERFUL.

Making tortellini is like bungee jumping. You only need to do it once to say you did it. Then, if you like it … you can do it again. If you don’t like it, you at least have bragging rights. I think you’ll be surprised at how many times you can bring up the subject of making your own tortellini at dinner parties, soccer practices or even during a breast exam (prostate exam for the fellas).

Now that I’ve shown you how to make pasta dough, and how to roll it out all you need now is the traditional meat filling for the tortellini and a lesson on how to shape them.

You can use this same filling for making ravioli. But then you wouldn’t have the honour of tortellini maker bestowed upon you. Your choice.

The Cuisinart (food processor) is important in this filling. You cannot just use the ground meat. It needs to be like a soft paste. If you don’t have a food processor you can try doing small batches with a stick blender if you have one but I’m honestly not sure how that would work.

Kay. Now the fun part. We’re going to make tortellini! Roll up your sleeves and pick out your swear words.

Lay out your rolled pasta dough (for tortellini I use setting #7) and cut the ends square.

Tortellini 1

 

Using a pizza cutter cut your dough into widths of 1½ – 2″ in length, then again crosswise so you have squares of pasta.    Put the scraps into a plastic baggie or under plastic wrap to roll out again later.

Tortellini 2

 

Take your filling out of the refrigerator and get a tiny spoon.  A ¼ teaspoon works well.

Tortellini 11

 

Using your teaspoon shape the filling into small balls and place them in the centre of the squares.

Tortellini 3

 

 

Tortellini Balls

 

Fold the dough in half to form a triangle over the filling.  Gently press all the air out.  This step is very important.  If you don’t do it  your tortellini will break when you boil them.

Tortellini 4

 

Take a triangle of tortellini and squish the filling upwards with your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon.  Just a little bit.

Tortellini 5

 

It will look kind of like the Flying Nun’s hat.  I say that with all the confidence of someone who has never seen the show.  But I’m sure you know what I mean.

Tortellini 6

 

Stick the end of a wooden spoon into the tortellini and push the two ends around the spoon.

Tortellini 7

 

Press together with your thumb to seal.

Tortellini 8

 

Slip the tortellini off of the handle.

Tortellini 9

 

You have now formed a classic tortellini.

Tortellini 10

 

You now have a few more to go.

Tortellini 12

 

A couple of tips:

 

* Only roll out a small amount of dough at a time.  It dries out quickly.

* As soon as you cut your dough into squares cover it all in plastic wrap.  Keep the dough covered unless you’re actually forming your tortellini.

* If your dough does dry out you can rub a little beaten egg around the edges of the dough to seal it.

* If you get discouraged and things are slowing down, put on some good music. Good music helps everything.  You’re making TORTELLINI!  What a wonderful, wonderful world.

 

Still confused?  Watch my video …

 


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55 Comments

  1. Amie Mason says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I can hear old Italian ladies and gents weeping with joy!

  2. Marti says:

    Wake the kids and pop some corn: IT’S A PASTA-MAKING SET-2-MUSIC VIDEO!

    Now if only we could learn how to make ravioli, then nobody would have to lose their mind, while making enough tiny little pasta bits for dinner, hmmm, Karen?

    • Karen says:

      Well, um … it’s exactly the same thing. Only don’t squirrel it into a knot/hat shape. There. Yet another brilliant blog post completed. ~ karen

      • Marti says:

        HA! A “two-fer!” Hurray YOU!

        (Seriously, no other tips?)

      • Ruth says:

        Hmmm… looks cute, but if it’s exactly the same ingredients as ravioli, I don’t think the shape is going to matter to my stomach.

        Speaking of stomach… maybe I should point out that residing in a stomach would require exit through the ‘back chute’? The way Mom told it, I slid down the ‘front chute’ with ease…I don’t remember any of this but I’ll take her word for it. 😉

  3. Donna says:

    Okay. So I put the video on expecting the music to be a classic italian song. “That’s Amore” or Sinatra or something. Yep, It is a Beautiful World! If I made tortellini it would be a beautiful world. Well done.
    And be sure that I would bring it into every conversation for the next ten years!!!

  4. karol says:

    I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, this would not be on it. 🙂 Life’s way too short for wasting my good curse words on dough and “meat paste”.

  5. Langela says:

    Ummm, yeah. I will probably never have those bragging rights. But thanks for showing me that I don’t want them and why. 🙂

  6. You are awesome! Those look really fantastic, but I will never make tortellini. I love it, but I haven’t the patience for much more than buying it already made. I guess my only bragging rights will be that I boil them myself…I suppose that doesn’t count though… 🙂

  7. Jodi T. says:

    Great post! My favorite line is “Now roll up your sleeves, and pick out your swear words”. LMAO — You are so awesome, and if I actually had a pasta maker, I would SO make some tortellini.

  8. katie maher says:

    any good recipes- do they need a sauce on top or just boil and eat?? Thanks!!!

    • Karen says:

      Katie – I have a recipe coming up in a couple of days. But you can just serve them with butter and paremesan cheese, or with a good red tomato sauce. ~ karen!

  9. Ruth says:

    You scared the living daylights out of me!!!! I kept turning up the volume on the video (with my headset on) and wondering why I wasn’t hearing anything……

    You already know what happened next. O_O You won’t catch me again though. That was your one shot. Smh.

  10. Julie says:

    I have helped my husband’s Nonna make tortellini, ravioli, gnocchi, and spaghetti in the past and my best tip is that the process is much more fun if you have someone to work with. One reason why I still have yet to buy a pasta roller.

    Oh and when Nonna makes the tortellini, she just wraps the two ends of the ‘Nun’s hat’ around her pinky. Whatever works best for you though.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, it’s a bit of a pain with only one person. Still fun though. I know the pinkie method, but for me the spoon is faster and easier. I guess I have fat pinkies. ~ karen

  11. Nicola says:

    I don’t know when but I will make these for sure! Great video! We’re just finishing eating our second batch of apple hand pies!!!

  12. Barbie says:

    Those are even more labor intensive than gnocchi!! Which I only make once a year! I have always wanted to make tortellini…you made it look so easy! Just time consuming….but foodies don’t mind that! 😉

    PS: Love your song choice! My favorite!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Barbie! Yeah, they are definitely time consuming, but they’re delicious. I know they’re the same ingredients as ravioli, but the shape of them in your mouth is different. Better. ~ karen!

  13. Maryanne says:

    What time is dinner? I am hungry now! Could you tell us how you make your red sauce?

  14. rev59@shaw.ca says:

    I stand in awe at any of you who do this. I will gladly listen to you brag.

  15. Jeannie B says:

    Karen, I’m still looking for my pasta macihine. I know that it’s in a closet somewhere in the house. When I do find it, I’ll try making some pasta. But, in the meantime, I’ll just open a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli, and heat it up. I’ve got the inspiration but not the aspiration to make pasta from scratch this week or next, or next. Does that make sense? Love the video and yes, it really is a wonderful world.

  16. Patti says:

    Can you freeze these, Karen? Or does that defeat the purpose. I could see myself doing this, after purchasing a pasta maker, and a food processor, but I’m thinking it would be a Sunday afternoon in front of the TV escapade, and I would make 2 million of them and freeze them for later so it’s more worth it. Is this the silliest thought I have ever had?

    • Karen says:

      Patti – I freeze them all the time. A purist would tell you that defeats the purpose of fresh tortellini, but frozen homemade tortellini taste exactly the same as fresh homemade tortellini. Just put them on a baking sheet (not touching), freeze them and then quickly (so they don’t have a chance to build up any thawed moisture which will make them stick) put the frozen tortellini into freezer bags. ~ karen!

  17. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    This looks great..Now how about a cheese filling??

  18. Beck says:

    Yes, Patti! Yes I do!

    Oh, and hi Karen! Huge fan, read you all the time. I think this is the first time I have commented, though. Patti is the one who shared your blog with me, but I actually totally remember you from your little segments that would air between shows back in the 90’s. I used to love watching them — my favourite is when you’d be reporting on some weird thing happening somehwere in the world and you wouldn’t even be able to stop yourself from laughing. Amazing! So glad you are sharing your wealth of knowledge and sense of humour here!

  19. mothership says:

    OMG… got thru the birth canal… or whatever u said…
    My 9th grade world history teacher started 1st day of class telling us that we each were
    “one in a million…..sperm”
    apparently that’s how many (later I think I heard it’s closer to 400,000… but really no clue) sperm vie for the “egg” with each…… ummmm “shot”… but apparently only one gets “in” so we’re each one in a “million”….
    imagine that speech in a room full of 14 yr olds….
    (& this was 1979…. was that legal?? did we know what sperm were? did we even have sex ed back then???… oh wait… I grew up in Californica… yes… we knew) (sorry!… but you started it…)

  20. kelliblue says:

    Um. Thanks, but no thanks (said the girl with the patience of a gnat).

    They’re beautiful! They’re yummy looking!

    Just….no. I’ll stick to store bought!

  21. Corry says:

    These are adorable! I must try them sometime. I love cheese tortellini!

  22. Tracie says:

    Wow! My favorite is tortellini, and I am so going to make it if I ever get a pasta maker. And a food processor….the list is growing Karen! It does look labour intensive, but well worth it I’m sure. I’ve been making pot stickers lately and the’re not exactly quick either, but mmmm! By the way, I’ve taken your advice about running! Well, walking really fast at any rate. As soon as the rain stops. Ok, I’ve put my runners in the car and I’m ready to go at a moments’ notice…..I’m thinking lunch breaks would work well. I’d eat less too. I’ll let you know how it goes… 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Tracie. Stop it. Just stop it right now. Once you go out for your first run/jog/walk/sloth trot you’ll see how much better you feel for the WHOLE day afterwards. It’s quite amazing. Now go. Right now. I don’t care what time it is or if you ARE in your pajamas. Go. Sloth trot like the wind! ~ karen

  23. Tracie says:

    p.s. Sorry but I have to comment. Karol….homemade dough and “meat paste” put together and cooked up with an alfredo sauce is about as heavenly as you can get. Add some homemade peach icecream and who even needs a bucket list anymore? Just sayin’

    • karol says:

      Oh Tracie, I agree, it is one of my favorites TO EAT! I just don’t have the desire or patience to make them. 🙂 We have a fabulous local Italian restaurant right up the street from us who make the best food, and I gladly pay big bucks to enjoy it. No cussing involved.

  24. Natika33 says:

    Given that I live in a land with no tortellini anywhere, I may just have to do this sometimes. I’ve already made ravioli a bunch of times, but tortellini was always my favourite.

    They also don’t carry my favourite brand of tomato sauce here, so I’ve had to make my own. I’m sure I’m missing something though, so I’m looking forward to your recipe. Knowing you, it will be perfect!

    • Karen says:

      I don’t really use a recipe for red sauce. I just saute some onions and garlic, chuck some of my home pressed tomato “juice” into a pan with a few diced up tomatoes, oregano, basil and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Maybe a bay leaf. Then simmer an hour or so depending on the surface area of the pan. … ~ karen!

      • eleanor says:

        I cook a few fresh pork neck bones in my sauce and when done, I remove bones, and put meat back into the sauce. Great flavor!

  25. Renee A says:

    I HAVE made tortellini before… but, “around a wooden spoon handle” was the missing step! Thanks, as always!

  26. Kristin says:

    I remember making these with a long-ago boyfriend. We were making tortelloni, which are a bit bigger, so we used our fingers instead of the wooden spoon. The key, as we discovered halfway through, was to wrap the “wings” of the triangle sort of down, rather than around, the finger. I mean, you achieve the same thing with your pushing up of the filling, but I discovered that said boyfriend was simply bringing the triangle ends around to form a ring with the triangle standing up around his finger, but I was putting the base of the triangle against my finger with the triangle sticking out sideways from my finger so that when I wrapped the ends together, they creased the top point down and created the proper shape.

  27. stephbo93 says:

    Thanks so much for this! I’ve made my own ravioli before, but this looks like a whole new level of fun!

  28. Stephanie says:

    Geeze, if I wanted to go to that much trouble in the kitchen, I’d bake a fancy dessert. (Your tortellini do look yummy, though. I’d be happy to eat them.)

  29. korrine says:

    I usually use won ton wrappers, but I think I need to try making the pasta myself. I am heading to amazon to put the pasta maker attachment on my wish list…

  30. Vanessa says:

    I just found this, and it nearly made me cry! I used to make these with my Nonne. One of my greatest accomplishments was graduating from a stuffer (the kids put the filling onto the dough) to a folder. I have since learned how to make the filling just like Nonne, but for the life of me I can not get the damn dough like she did. I admit when folding all those little tortellini I resort to the won ton wrappers too. 😉

  31. Lulu says:

    This is a great tutorial! The best I have seen and thank you so much!!! Now I think I am going to make some tortellini for dinner and surprise my family.

  32. Pingback: Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage - from "Flour + Water: Pasta"

  33. Michelle says:

    I grew up eating “tu-tays” that my Italian great-grandmother made, and when I was much older, found out they were just tortellini! We have an old family recipe that my uncle still uses for family meals, but he makes ravioli shapes instead. My great-grandma always said “tu-tay” meant “chicken butt,” and they really do have that shape.

    Sure, these are a pain in the tail to make, and very time-consuming, but it is just another lost art going by the wayside. My girls and I have made a poor attempt at these, but we all agreed we wanted to learn so we could carry on the tradition. Sometimes it is about the time you spend together doing things like this, keeping family traditions, and I think that has way more value. Thanks for sharing!

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome Michelle! They are indeed time consuming, lol. But sooooo good and worth it. 🙂 ~ karen!

  34. Diana says:

    Do you know how many tortellini roughly this recipe makes?
    Thank you

    • Karen says:

      I wish I could tell you Diana, unfortunately the answer is simply “not enough”, lol. I only make it once a year because it’s quite a big job and the only thing I remember is thinking that was a LOT of work for that amount of tortellini. It makes several zip loc baggies full. But since you only use 20 or so tortellini for a bowl of Tortellini en Brodo it’s enough for a year’s worth for a family of 2. ~ karen!

      • Diana says:

        Ok thanks! I’m mentally planning on making a bunch and freezing, and giving some to some neighbors who help with my furbabies. I just dont want to undershoot the amount I make. Looking forward to trying them out!

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