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Tortellini vs Ravioli: The 4 Differences You Need To Know

When it comes to pasta, there are hundreds of different options to choose from. You will be able to find egg pasta, dried, short (like penne, or fusilli), long (like spaghetti or linguine), fresh pasta, and stuffed pasta.

Sometimes these types of pasta might differ on many levels, but it is possible to begin to wonder what are the differences between two specific types of pasta, like tortellini and ravioli, for example. 

What exactly is the difference between tortellini and ravioli? It can be their shape, their fillings, or even their origins. Make sure to follow this list we have made to help you understand more about it.

What is tortellini?

Tortellini is a ring-shaped stuffed pasta that originated in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna. Its typical fillings include different kinds of meat, like pork, ham, mortadella (also known as bologna).

Other than meat, it can contain eggs, various types of cheese, like ricotta, or Parmesan cheese, and sprinkles of nutmeg.

More recently, tortellini brands around the world have been experimenting with different flavors and fillings, adding vegetables like eggplants, artichokes, and mushrooms, or even pasta sauces stuffed inside the tortellini itself.

A traditional way to cook this type of stuffed pasta is to boil them for a few minutes in beef broth, but chicken broth and vegetable broth can also be used.

As well as broth, it is okay to serve tortellini with pasta sauce, like meat sauce, tomato sauce, basil pesto, or an easy butter and sage.

What is ravioli?

Ravioli is typically square-shaped, but it can also be found in a half-moon shape or in the form of a small ball.

It is also a stuffed pasta that has its origins in Italy, although, unlike tortellini, it is impossible to pinpoint a native region.

Typically, ravioli are stuffed with a bigger ratio of vegetables than meat. It usually contains three or more types of vegetables, two types of meat, and other ingredients like eggs, Parmesan cheese, and a tiny bit of milk.

In modern times, ravioli have been stuffed with other sorts of ingredients like ricotta cheese and spinach, meat sauce, ham, and cheese, or even eggplants.

Recipes vary according to where you are in the world, but ravioli is typically served with fresh tomato sauce and basil, or butter, sage, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Unlike tortellini, ravioli also have a sweet variation, often used as a dessert. It sees ravioli being stuffed with Nutella or any other chocolate spread, and deep-fried in boiling oil.

Sometimes, they are sprinkled with a little sugar before serving or accompanied by a sweet dip, like chocolate cream, or some sort of jam or fruit sauce. 

What is the difference between ravioli and tortellini? 

Tortellini vs ravioli — the pasta feud we did not know we needed. Their original concept is very similar: they are both made by a layer of pasta stuffed with a filling of choice.

These two extremely popular types of stuffed pasta can make a wholesome meal that could be ready in a matter of minutes. So obviously it became astonishingly popular in almost every corner of the world. 

It is incredibly easy to find pre-packed ravioli or tortellini in any supermarket or corner shop around the world. It is even possible to find fresh ravioli and tortellini in Italian restaurants located in different countries around the globe.

They are also both amazingly easy to make at home, so it does not take a degree in rocket science to make a wholesome Italian meal at home. Maybe by adding your personal, special twist.

People around the world often confuse these two different types of stuffed pasta, and it is totally understandable. They frequently come in similar fillings, have almost the exact same cooking methods, and more often than not, are served in similar ways. 

The filling is often made of cheese, meat or vegetables, sometimes even fish, depending on your personal taste and the recipe you are about to make. Their shape is a little different though.

Ravioli resembles a square stuffed pasta, and it is regularly of medium-sized or even large dimensions. Tortellini is definitely smaller than ravioli, and it has the shape of a ring.

The two layers of pasta in ravioli are often closed with the help of a fork, while tortellini is all done by hand.

1. Origin

Ravioli and tortellini go back to a similar date and place in history, around the beginning of the 12th century in Italy.

Tortellini is a smaller version of Tortelli. According to historians, tortellini were mentioned in ancient papers all the way back to around 1100 AD, towards the end of the Middle Ages in Italy.

They originated from an Italian region called Emilia Romagna, which proudly claims their birth. Year after year, they became more and more popular, especially around wealthy people of the time, and took over the national soil.

To this day, tortellini is a traditional Christmas dish in their native home country, and they are usually served with beef broth.

Ravioli is also an Italian traditional pasta dish, but unlike tortellini, its origins are uncertain. They were also mentioned in ancient papers all the way back to 1100, but it takes different names depending on the Italian region where they are made.

Several Italian regions claim ravioli’s origins, and they all give their regional twist to this delicious stuffed pasta

2. Appearance

The main, visible difference between ravioli and tortellini is definitely their shape. Obviously, tortellini are smaller than ravioli, and they have a ring shape. They are joined by two little folds that stop the filling from getting out. 

Ravioli are known worldwide for their square shape, but they can take other forms too. They can be round, half-moon, or even be small pasta balls. 

More often than not, ravioli look like dumplings. It is not a coincidence, in fact, that this Asian dish is named after ravioli in the Italian language.

3. Flavor

Fillings play a huge part in both ravioli and tortellini. Until a few years back, there was also a huge difference between the two ways to stuff both types of pasta, that kind of got lost today.

Traditionally, Ravioli was born to be stuffed with around three different types of vegetables, two or more types of meat, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and a splash of milk. All in one ravioli.

It was also incredibly important that the vegetable ratio was superior to the meat, giving it its signature flavor and delicious smell. As this type of stuffed pasta started being appreciated all over the world, things changed a little. 

Ravioli are now stuffed with spinach and ricotta, sometimes with a little addition of nutmeg and a sprinkle of black pepper.

There can also be ravioli with ham and cheese, or ravioli stuffed with meat sauce. A particularly delicious type of ravioli is the one stuffed with truffle cream, and they’re usually eaten without adding any sauce.

It is even possible to find dessert ravioli, stuffed with Nutella, or sweetened ricotta cheese and cinnamon. They are often served deep-fried, sometimes accompanied by a chocolate dip. 

Tortellini were conceived a little differently. Originally, it was normal to find pork, ham, mortadella, eggs, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese mixed with nutmeg inside tortellini.

This delicious stuffed pasta moved away from their traditions, making it a little more difficult to know the differences between ravioli or tortellini

It is more and more common to find various types of tortellini fillings to accommodate different palates. Tomato and mozzarella tortellini are now available, as well as mushroom stuffed tortellini or even ricotta cheese and spinach, making it incredibly similar to ravioli

Tortellini brands unleashed their imagination creating countless distinctive new stuffings, like artichoke, eggplant, or even pesto stuffed tortellini. 

If you decide to make ravioli or tortellini at home, do not shy away from the endless recipes and possibilities you have to stuff your homemade pasta!

4. Recipes

Both ravioli and tortellini are boiled in hot liquid for a couple of minutes before being served. But the pasta sauces they come with might be different depending on what filling you are about to eat.

Ravioli are especially delicious if they are served with tomato sauce and some basil. But this is not the only method worth mentioning. Another incredible way of serving them is to add a little butter, sage, and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Stirring these ingredients in when the ravioli are still piping hot will make a delightful and astonishingly easy meal to cook.

Another method, a little more complicated but perfect for those who love a challenge in the kitchen, is to serve your ravioli with meat sauce, mixing some red wine to a garlic clove and finely chopped onion.

The final touch is added by rosemary. It gives your ravioli dish an astounding essence that makes your recipe special. One last way to serve them is with no sauce at all.

Yes, you can serve ravioli without a pasta sauce to go with them. Simply drain your ravioli, et voilà, your meal is ready

Again, it was a little different for tortellini, but those differences seem to slowly fade away the more international this stuffed pasta gets. Traditionally, tortellini are boiled in beef broth, sometimes even chicken broth.

Chefs do not recommend boiling them in water, as it might ruin the filling and water it down a little bit. It is also pretty common to eat tortellini with the addition of butter and sage.

Outside their home country, Italy, things change a little bit. Cooks around the world experimented by adding tortellini to different pasta sauces, like meat sauce, tomato, and mozzarella, or ricotta cheese and spinach sauce.

Other people decide to enjoy their tortellini dish with some fresh pesto, made out of basil and pine nuts, or a simple, spicier red pesto.

There is no right or wrong way to serve both ravioli and tortellini, it all depends on your personal preferences!

Are tortellini and ravioli the same?

No, tortellini are not the same as ravioli. At least, they were not conceived as the same, but things are heading in a different direction.

In our modern society, tortellini and ravioli are often treated as the same type of stuffed pasta, leading to the creation of similar fillings and implementing the use of the same pasta sauces.

As long as traditions are preserved, it is fantastic to experiment and explore new dishes and flavors in the kitchen. Different cultures always bring something new to the table, and mixing cultures and traditional dishes is a great way to come up with brand-new ideas.

Whether you prefer tortellini to ravioli or vice versa, it is up to you what filling to choose from a wide range of tasty flavors, and what pasta sauce to serve them with.

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Passionate chef, in love with everything related to food and cooking it to perfection!
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