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

Yes, making tortellini is hard. Deal with it. It’s no harder than living for 9 months 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.

Wood counter scattered with homemade tortellini.
Jump to Recipe

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.

Flat sheets of pasta laid on a wood pizza peel.


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.

Flat sheets of pasta cut into slices, on a wood pizza peel.

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

White bowl with tortellini filling, homemade pasta in background.

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

Strips of homemade pasta cut into squares with a 1/4 tsp of tortellini filling on top.

Don’t be tempted to use too much filling.

Close up shot of tortellini filling on squares of homemade pasta.


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.

Shaping tortellini into triangles on wood board.

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

Close up shot of hand forming homemade tortellini.


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 Flying Nun, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

Partly formed tortellini resting on fingertip.

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

Forming tortellini around the end of a wood spoon.


Press together with your thumb to seal.

Tortellini formed and pinched around the end of a wood spoon.


Slip the tortellini off of the handle.

Perfectly formed homemade tortellini held between a thumb and index finger.



You have now formed a classic tortellini.

Close up shot of single tortellini on wood board.


You have a few more to go.

Homemade tortellini scattered on wood board.


Homemade Tortellini

Homemade Tortellini, perfect for dousing in a rich tomato sauce or floating in a beef broth for tortellini en brodo. Serve with crusty, CRUSTY, bread. 
4 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 2144kcal
Author: Karen


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces ground turkey can substitute chicken
  • 4 ounces ground beef
  • 4 ounces ground pork
  • 4 ounces prosciutto finely diced
  • 2 ounces mortadella finely diced*
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cups Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  • Heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large pan until the butter foams. Add all of the ground meat (turkey, beef and pork). Brown and cook until almost done.
  • Add the prosciutto and mortadella and cook for a few minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Run the mixture through a food processor until it's like a paste.
  • Add the beaten egg and parmesan cheese. Mix.
  • Add salt and pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Mix.
  • Refrigerate until you're ready to start making your tortellini.


*I find the mortadella can overpower the filling, so I only use 2 ounces. Traditionally you'd use 4 ounces.


Calories: 2144kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 130g | Fat: 175g | Saturated Fat: 72g | Cholesterol: 623mg | Sodium: 3519mg | Potassium: 1435mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1720IU | Calcium: 1255mg | Iron: 6.9mg


  • 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 the video on how to make tortellini …

How to Make Tortellini

How to shape perfect tortellini with a wooden spoon handle.


  1. ElishaEats says:

    Looking forward to trying this Karen. I lived in Italy and meat filled tortellini is hard to come by and I haven’t found a good tortellini en brodo since I left the continent (no pressure) :-)

  2. What a great post! I took a pasta – making class with my dad. We love making pasta for our whole family together. Can’t wait to try your recipe.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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. ;)

  7. 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…

  8. 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.)

  9. stephbo93 says:

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

  10. 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.

  11. Renee A says:

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

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. Corry says:

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating

The Art of Doing Stuff