Tortellini Vs Tortelloni: What's The Difference?

If you know anything about Italians, you know that they love, adore, and practically worship the art of pasta making. Like rice, pasta is cheap, easy to make, and a good source of carbohydrates. Pasta is a food that people all over the world enjoy in all shapes and sizes; from orzo to linguine and clams, pasta holds a special and nostalgic place in people's hearts, none so much as in Italy. But while pasta dishes are an Italian tradition, PBS claims that it is impossible to trace exactly who, why, when, and where pasta was invented. 

What we do know is that pasta is the word for "paste" in Italian and is made from a dough of flour, water, and eggs. According to Italy Magazine, there are over 350 different kinds of pasta — and that's only the ones they could keep track of — each with their own flair. Italian pasta usually ends with "–ini, -elli, -illi, -etti, -ine, or -elle" to describe small-sized pasta whereas using "-oni or -one" at the end of the word would indicate that the pasta was larger in size. This is the first way you could tell that there is a difference between tortellini and tortelloni.

What are tortellini?

Most of us who love all things pasta related are familiar with tortellini. Paesana claims that tortellini pasta originated in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. There are various legends surrounding the creation of the tortellini recipe, but the truth of the pasta's creation seems like a mystery lost to time. Though The Culture Trip does say that the most popular of all the tortellini myths is that the Roman goddess of love, Venus, crossed paths with an innkeeper and her very presence inspired him to fly into the kitchen and whip up the traditional tortellini: an egg noodle wrapped around a filling of parmesan and ricotta cheese.

Today, tortellini is stuffed with a variety of ingredients, the most popular being cuts of meat like prosciutto, mortadella, and pork, and are served in some type of sauce whether it be of tomato, butter, mushroom, or broth base. Tortellini are ring-shaped and rather reminiscent of dumplings and can really be stuffed with whatever the heart desires, but based on the "ini" found at the end of "tortellini" these little guys are usually only supposed to be barely over an inch in length (via Philoso Kitchen).

How are tortelloni different?

Like tortellini, tortelloni is a stuffed pasta shaped into a circle and stuffed with warm cheese. MasterClass claims that tortelloni, while also from Northern Italy, is traditionally vegetarian in nature. It uses no meat, just ricotta cheese and vegetables, most popularly spinach, and is seasoned with herbs. Because it contains no meat like tortellini does, it is a popular dish on Christmas Eve, which is when most practicing Catholics try to avoid eating animal protein.

Another difference is quite literally highlighted by the name "tortelloni". Tortelloni ends with the suffix "oni" which Art Viva says indicates a larger-sized pasta. So, not only are tortelloni vegetarian, but they are also larger than tortellini. This larger stuffed pasta uses the same egg noodles and is even served in sauces much like that of tortellini. If you are making a meal for a large group, tortelloni might be the best of the two dishes to make since the pasta is bigger and the vegetarian nature of the dish makes it more accessible to those with dietary restrictions.