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Tortellini vs. Tortelloni: 3 Key Differences, Including Fillings and Cooking Times

Tortellini - dumplings typical dish from Italian cuisine

Tortellini vs. Tortelloni: 3 Key Differences, Including Fillings and Cooking Times

Tortellini vs. Tortelloni: are they different? Or are they the same pasta? Although people often use the two pastas interchangeably, tortellini and tortelloni are actually two distinct types of filled pasta. So, how can you tell the difference between the two?

Tortellini has a small ring shape and typically contains meat or cheese. Cooks typically serve this pasta in broths or sauces. In contrast, tortelloni is larger than tortellini and filled with vegetables or cheese. While there are many ways to serve this pasta, cooks usually serve it in a cream-based sauce.

We will provide a detailed comparison of these two types of pasta, outlining three main differences. Learn about the differences in size, shape, cooking time, and fillings for each pasta. Additionally, we will offer recipe ideas and best side parings for these pasta dishes.

What Is Tortellini?

Tortellini is a type of small ring-shaped pasta that is believed to have originated in either Modena or Bologna, Italy. These Italian cities are part of the Emilia-Romagna culinary tradition, an area also famous for its balsamic vinegar and Bolognese ragù sauce. Legend has it that the shape of the pasta represents the navel of the Roman goddess of love, Venus. Although it originated in the Emilia-Romagna region, other Italian regions have developed their versions of tortellini.

Tortellini is a versatile pasta that has gained popularity worldwide. It is made by filling delicate pasta dough with various meats and cheeses. Tortellini cooks quickly and is easy to prepare. Today, pork is the most commonly used meat to fill tortellini, and it is typically served in Bolognese or tomato sauce. Additionally, it is delicious in broth or soup.

What Is Tortelloni?

Tortelloni is a type of pasta that originated from the northern regions of Italy, specifically Emilia and Lombardy. Tortellini usually has cheese and meat inside, while tortelloni typically contains ricotta cheese and vegetables such as spinach and porcini. In addition, this type of pasta is frequently accompanied by walnuts.

Tortelloni is a larger type of pasta than tortellini and has a slightly different preparation time, taking a bit longer to prepare. However, like tortellini, it is easy to cook and extremely versatile. People sometimes stir-fry it with butter and sage or pair it with creamy sauces. In Northern Italy, they traditionally serve tortelloni on Christmas Eve.

spoon takes tortelloni with ricotta and spinach in chicken broth. italian pasta on a white plate. ready to eat food. mediterranean cuisine. sunny day. angle view.
Tortollini, made with ricotta and spinach and served in chicken broth, is a popular pasta dish.

©Kalashnikov Dmitrii/Shutterstock.com

Tortellini vs. Tortelloni: 3 Key Differences

While these two kinds of pasta are similar, three key differences separate them, including size and shape, fillings, and cooking times. Moreover, tortellini has a hole in the middle, while tortelloni has a solid center.

Size and ShapeSmaller and ring-shaped, tortellini averages about 1-1.2 inches in size.Tortelloni are larger and have a more rounded shape, averaging 1.6-2 inches in size.
FillingsTraditional fillings are a mixture of meat, such as pork, or a combination of pork and veal. Cheese-filled tortellini, particularly with ricotta and Parmesan, is also common. Some variations may include spinach or herbs.While meat-filled tortelloni is available, they are usually filled with cheese or vegetable-based fillings. Ricotta and spinach are popular choices.
Cooking InstructionsThis smaller pasta requires less cooking time than tortelloni. It typically cooks in boiling water for about 2-4 minutes or until the pasta floats to the surface.Due to their larger size, tortelloni typically require a longer cooking time of 5-7 minutes until they are tender and float to the surface of boiling water.
Table comparing the three key differences between tortellini vs. tortelloni

Tortellini vs. Tortelloni: Cooking Time

Tortellini is a crescent-shaped pasta that measures around one inch. To cook it al dente, you should boil it for two to four minutes. On the other hand, tortelloni is a larger, rounder filled pasta that measures about two inches in size. To cook tortelloni al dente, you need to boil it for a longer time of five to seven minutes. Once you cook them, both pastas become extremely versatile and you can serve them in a variety of ways.

Tortelloni with bolognese sauce, ricotta cheese and spinach. Selective focus
Tortelloni requires a slightly longer boil time because it is larger than tortellini.

©Claudio Caridi/Shutterstock.com

Tortellini vs. Tortelloni: How to Serve

For tortellini, the best sauces to complement this pasta are creamy alfredo sauce, tomato-based sauces, pesto sauce, and lemon butter sauce. However, many cooks prefer the simpler and lighter option of tossing it in virgin olive oil and adding a few pepper flakes. It is also an excellent option for soups.

Consider preparing tortelloni the easy and classic way – simply melt butter and add sage leaves. Additionally, brown butter and nut sauces enhance the flavors of tortelloni. When cooking with tortelloni, try pairing it with creamy tomato-based sauces or pesto to enhance its flavor.

Here are a few simple recipes that you can try for your next pasta dinner night. If you prefer vegetable fillings or larger pasta, you can make these recipes using tortelloni rather than tortellini. This ten-minute homemade tomato cream sauce pairs especially well with tortelloni.

Finally, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and salad all pair well with both of these pastas.

tortellini with pesto in ceramic bowl rustic table
Pesto pairs well with both of these pastas.


In Summary

While both are stuffed pasta and may look similar, tortellini and tortelloni are not the same. Tortellini is small and usually filled with meat or cheese, perfect for soups or flavorful sauces. On the other hand, tortelloni is larger, stuffed with veggies or cheese, and often paired with creamy sauces.

However, cooks often interchange them in recipes because both kinds of pasta are so versatile. Additionally, they are easy to make and sure to please the entire family, making them a popular choice for busy parents. Whichever filled pasta you choose, have fun exploring the versatility of tortellini and tortelloni.


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Tortellini and Broccoli Alfredo

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com


Units Scale
  • 1 (9 ounce) package fresh three-cheese tortellini
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 (1.6 ounce) envelope Alfredo sauce mix
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; add broccoli during the last 3 minutes of cook time. Drain well.
  2. Prepare sauce mix according to package directions, using milk, butter, and nutmeg.
  3. Combine sauce, pasta, and broccoli; toss well to coat.
  4. Top each serving evenly with cheese.
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