Top 10 Secrets to Make the Best Homemade Ravioli From Scratch

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Homemade ravioli are my signature dish. These delicate pasta pillows stuffed with goodness are a great way to impress your guests, and would be perfect for a Christmas dinner. You can make them in advance and when it is time to serve them, they only take a couple of minutes to cook. The best part is that you get to make your own stuffing. The possibilities are endless and there are numerous recipes on this blog.

If you’ve never made ravioli before and you’d like to serve them for Christmas, or any other dinner party with guests for that matter, I recommend that you practice making them at least once. Making ravioli is not a lot of work (I made the 42 ravioli pictured above in 20 minutes including taking pictures) and it is not very difficult either, but it does require some practice. Making fresh pasta dough also requires some practice, but there is still time before Christmas to practice that as well 😉

I’ve been making ravioli for years now, and in this post I will share with you what I’ve learned over the years to make the best ravioli every time.

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1. Make the dough from Italian 00 flour

In Italy, two types of flour are used to make fresh pasta: farina di grano tenero tipo 00 (Italian double zero flour from soft wheat) and semola di grano duro rimacinato (semolina flour from durum wheat). For the best ravioli it is important to make the pasta as delicate as possible, and therefore 00 flour is the best choice. Pasta made from semolina flour is more sturdy and has more flavor, which would detract from the all-important filling.

I advise against using other types of flour (such as all-purpose flour) to make fresh pasta, as they may not be suitable for making fresh pasta dough. After gaining some experience making fresh pasta, you can try out other flours to see if they work too. There are many types of wheat and many types of milling, and the flour from two bags that are both labeled as “flour” or “all-purpose flour” could behave very differently indeed.

As for the other ingredients, only flour and eggs are needed to make pasta dough for ravioli. Adding salt or olive oil is not necessary. You could substitute the eggs or part of the eggs with water, but that would diminish the elasticity of the dough, needed to roll it out thinly.

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2. Make the sheet of pasta as thin as possible

Ravioli are all about the stuffing and allowing it to shine. A common beginner’s mistake is to make ravioli from pasta that is not thin, making the ravioli clunky rather than delicate. The sheet of pasta should be so thin that you can see through it. If you use a pasta machine to roll out the pasta (which I recommend), then you should continue all the way to the narrowest setting.

It is only possible to roll out the dough that thin without tearing it if the dough is very smooth and elastic, and only slightly sticky. It takes some practice to develop a ‘feel’ for what good pasta dough should feel like. This post explains how to make pasta dough using a stand mixer. For smooth and elastic pasta dough and rolling it out thinly, the following tips are important:

  • Use Italian 00 flour (see above);
  • Out of the dough made with 1 egg, you will yield about 20-25 ravioli. The classic ratio is 100 grams (2/3 cup) flour per egg, but start with all the eggs and less flour and gradually add more until the dough is only slightly sticky. If you start with too much flour, the dough will become very hard to handle.
  • Knead the dough well, at least 5 minutes but preferably 10 minutes. Test whether the dough has become elastic: if you poke your finger into it, the dough should slowly bounce back;
  • Allow the dough to rest for at least half an hour (both inside and outside of the refrigerator are OK; outside of the refrigerator is not a good idea for a longer time when it’s hot);
  • Always wrap the dough in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out;
  • When you start rolling out the dough using a pasta machine, first work it through the widest setting 5-10 times, folding it in half after each passage, until the dough becomes even more smooth and elastic;
  • If the dough seems too sticky while you are rolling it out, dust it lightly with flour;
  • If the sheet of dough becomes too long when you are rolling it out to such a thin setting, cut it in half and finish rolling out the two pieces separately.

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3. Slightly over-season the filling

As with all cooking, tasting along the way is important. When tasting the filling for ravioli, you should always season it slightly more than seems right when tasting the filling separately. This is because the flavor will be ‘diluted’ by the pasta that will surround it. If you don’t over-season, the ravioli will end up tasting under-seasoned.

If you are worried about tasting a filling that contains raw egg (or raw meat or fish), cook a teaspoon of the filling briefly in the microwave or in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat until it is cooked through before sampling it.

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4. Allow the filling to firm up

Most ravioli are best when the filling is creamy. For this reason, eggs and ricotta are often added. Such a creamy, slightly ‘runny’, filling can be difficult to handle when sealing the ravioli. The solution is simple: put the filling in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for a couple of hours. The filling will become firmer and easier to handle. When the ravioli are cooked, the filling will become creamy again.

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5. Seal the ravioli without trapped air

There are many different methods of sealing the stuffing inside pillows of fresh pasta. No matter which method you use, it is important that they are completely sealed (such that the filling won’t leak out when they are cooked) and that they are sealed without trapped air (because that trapped air would expand when the ravioli are cooked, and cause rupturing and thus leaking).

My preferred method of making ravioli, because of its speed and easiness, is as follows.

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Arrange a sheet of pasta on a floured work surface (to prevent the sheet from sticking to the work surface). The sheet of pasta should be about 10 cm (4 inches) wide and (approximately) rectangular. Do not dust the top of the sheet with flour, this should remain slightly sticky.

Arrange small heaps (teaspoon-sized) of filling on the sheet of pasta dough, just off-center, with about 2-3 cm (1 inch) space in between. You can do this either with two spoons, your fingers, or a piping bag.

If the dough is slightly sticky there is no need to moisten with water. If however the dough is too dry, moisten the edge as well as between the heaps of filling.

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Fold over the sheet of dough.

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If you placed the heaps of filling correctly and the sheet of pasta has the right width, the two edges of the sheet will meet.

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Now lightly stroke (‘caress’) each heap of filling, working from the top to the sides, to ‘massage’ out any trapped air…

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…pushing down firmly when you reach the part where there is no more filling and two layers of dough are touching. Repeat this with all the heaps of filling, making sure not to trap any air in between the two sheets of dough.

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6. Cut the ravioli with a scalloped pastry wheel

Using a scalloped pastry wheel serves two purposes: it will make the ravioli look pretty and because of the ‘bluntness’ of the wheel it will help sealing the ravioli.

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It is important not to leave too much ‘skirt’ around the filling, about 4 mm (1/6 inch) is sufficient, as otherwise the ravioli will end up looking out of balance (taking into account that the dough will expand when it is cooked).

You can gather all the scraps of dough that you cut off, knead them briefly, and use the dough to make more ravioli, or gather all the scraps and eat them the next day with a simple sauce as maltagliati.

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7. Turn the ravioli to dry both sides

Arrange the ravioli on a floured tray or a tea towel sprinkled with flour. It is important to turn them after 10-15 minutes, as otherwise the bottom could become soggy and stick to the surface. You don’t want to find out after finishing the last ravioli, that the first has become stuck and ruptures when you try to pry it free. If you make the ravioli long before you are going to cook them, refrigerate them on the tray (do not put them on top of each other) once they are dry. (It is possible to freeze ravioli by freezing them on the tray first and then putting them into a bag, but fresh ravioli have a better texture.)

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8. Cook ravioli very briefly

Because the dough is so thin, ravioli take only 1-2 minutes to cook in ample boiling salted water. If you cook them for too long, they may start leaking and the pasta will become too soft (no longer al dente).

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When draining the ravioli, be careful not to break them. For this reason, I prefer to lift the ravioli out with a strainer and gently lower them into the sauce rather than using a colander. However, this method is only suitable if you work quickly and for a limited amount of ravioli, as otherwise the ravioli will overcook while you are fishing them out of the pot.

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9. Dress ravioli with a light sauce

As ravioli are all about the stuffing, it is important to dress them with a sauce that does not distract from that. Classic examples are butter and sage, some gravy from braising the meat that was used in the stuffing, or a simple pink sauce of cream and tomatoes.

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10. Serve small portions of ravioli on preheated plates

Serving a small portion of about 6 ravioli makes them more special. Rather than quickly stuffing yourself with a large quantity, such a portion invites you to enjoy them slowly, savoring the wonderful flavor and texture. It is important to preheat the plates, so the ravioli won’t cool off too quickly. However, do not make the plates warmer than about 100ºC/210ºF, as higher temperatures would cause the ravioli to stick to the plate.
I hope these tips will encourage you to try making your own ravioli. Please feel free to ask any questions.

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64 thoughts on “Top 10 Secrets to Make the Best Homemade Ravioli From Scratch

  1. We looked up your 00 Italian flour to see what we should use here in Canada, and all we could find was that it is “white” as opposed to whole wheat. So we used all purpose in our dough. It worked beautifully, but my daughter said next time she wants to try our “bread” flour, which has more gluten, because we had one or two break slightly in the cooking. I’m happy with the results we got with all purpose, though… Your tips on kneading and rolling the dough are great and are what beginners need to know – thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is correct that 00 refers to the ‘whiteness’ of the flour (not the color, but the fact that it is as far away from whole wheat as possible). However, what is sold in Italy as 00 flour also has other qualities that make it suitable for making pasta dough.
      Bread flour/strong flour does indeed have more gluten than all-purpose flour, and it may require you to allow the dough to rest for a longer period of time (e.g. 2-4 hours) for the gluten to relax, as otherwise the dough may be too elastic. A mix of flours could also work, for instance all-purpose flour mixed with 1/4 semolina if you can get that. P.S. Did you know that “Manitoba” flour is the strongest flour available in Italy? It is actually produced in the Manitoba region.

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      • I purchased 00 flour in an Italian store. Hoping to do ravioli tonight but not sure if I want to use raw beef over cooked one as I have a new ravioli attachment and there is a picture of raw ground beef being filled but how it will get cooked through is my question.
        Anyhow the 00 doesn’t stand for whiteness of flour but for finest of grain.

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        • In Italian recipes meat is always cooked before using it in ravioli filling. This is not only because of food safety, but also because the beef will release liquid as it is cooked (causing a soggy filling).
          The 00 stands for how much of the grain is included in the flour, which for 00 is only 70-75%. Wholemeal is 100%.

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          • My grandmother always used raw ground beef/veal mixture, ricotta, eggs, Pecorino Romano, parsley, salt/pepper. Never had a problem. The filling cooked through when boiling the ravioli without problems. The very best meat filling I have ever had.

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      • That’s what I do. I freeze them (uncooked & not touching each other) on floured wax paper for about 30 minutes, then put them into a freezer bag. Doesn’t take up much room at all. Then cook frozen – less than 3 minutes.

        Liked by 1 person

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  3. Love your suggestion to over season the filling. So true or you will end up with bland ravioli. Just finished making tortellini for Christmas and I am over the whole process. One comment: for a meat filling, I also use the mixer but I noticed that a meat grinder gives a more pleasant texture – it’s too easy to get a paste-like filling with the mixer. Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ciao Claudia, I agree with you that with a mixer you have to watch out not to process it for too long. In fact, if you look closely at the picture you can tell that the stuffing of my duck ravioli was a bit too paste-like. I’ve never owned a meat grinder, but I found one under the Christmas tree this year, so I’m certainly going to try that.

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  4. A wonderful informational post and tutorial, Stefan. It’s just not a holiday meal unless there’s some ravioli to kick things off and I enjoy every step of the process. Over the years, I’ve bought 2 ravioli making attachments, one for my stand mixer and another for my hand-cranked pasta machine. It took me a number of tries before I realized that each required dough that was at more than twice as thick as I used when making ravioli. Needless to say, the ravioli had far too much dough and both attachments now sit on a shelf, probably never to be used again. I’d give them away but I’d hate to inflict them upon the poor. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Hi Stefan, I have no idea why your blog has passed me by, but I feel all the better now for finding it. I love making fresh pasta too, but it does make a mess. Interestingly as you mentioned semolina flour to begin with. I use this to coat the raviolis once made. I found flour wasn’t totally foolproof. The semolina then falls off when cooked.

    Now I can get stuck into all your other posts.

    Regards

    Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dave, thanks for following and the nice message. I’m going to check out your blog now. In what sense did you find that flour wasn’t totally foolproof? Since I’ve been using a stand mixer to make fresh pasta, there isn’t that much mess. But of course Kees, who cleans up after my cooking, says that I *always* make a mess anyway 😉

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      • I’ve found that if I put some nice delicate raviolis on to a floured plate, the moisture in the pasta will get into the flour and hence stick it to the plate.

        The only two ways I’ve found to get round this is baking parchment or semolina.

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        • Interesting that semolina works better than regular flour for this. I think I have had the same problem, although I believe it is not moisture from the pasta but moisture from the filling that causes the ravioli to stick. The solution is to turn the ravioli after about 10 minutes.

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  10. Very nice guide! I love homemade pasta, especially ravioli and tagliatelle. I’m in the market for a pasta machine. I read somewhere that you use Marcato 150 Atlas. Would you recommend this machine? I find that I really need to be able to roll out the dough until it’s extremely thin and transparent to make a delicate ravioli.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bought the machine, but I might need some advice. The tagliatelle turned out great, but when I tried to make ravioli (thinnest setting) I run into problems. For some reason the dough pulls to the left during the last or second last round. I place it in the middle of the wheel but it moves more and more to the left side. Once it hits the edge it folds, and I have to start over again. Any advice on this? Everything is fine up to, and including, level 7 of thickness .

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    • Hi Adam,
      It may help to lightly dust the sheet with flour after level 7.
      It also helps to use the first passes through level 1 (fold, level 1, fold, level 1) to make the sheet as rectangular as possible before continuing.
      Hope this helps. If not, I may need a photo or even video to understand what’s going wrong 😉

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  12. Thank you for the quick reply!

    I dust the dough with flour every now and then, and I do the fold/roll-thing on the first level a couple of times. But keeping it rectangular might be the problem. It’s kind of hard to describe, but the edge of the dough somehow ends up at the edge of the machine. Gonna try a few more times though. Hopefully it’s me and not the pasta machine!

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    • If the dough starts out rectangular and you feed it straight, and the dough doesn’t stick, this shouldn’t happen. Do you do it all by yourself or do you have someone to assist? Guiding the dough through with an extra pair of hands is a great help! Also, the sheet of dough may become too large and difficult to handle. If that happens, cut it into two pieces.
      It could be that the pasta machine was damaged during transport, so the rollers are misaligned. I don’t think that’s very likely though.

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  13. It might be that the dough isn’t rectangular enough, which may lead to me not inserting it “straight” into the machine. I tried to involve another person though, but the same thing happened. Or maybe I’m holding the dough wrong so it’s slightly skewed or something when it goes into the machine. Could the flour impact this? I’ve ordered Tipo 00, but so far I’ve only used regular all-purpose. I’m gonna make a few more attempts and if it the problems persist, I’ll make a video 🙂 Thank you so much for the help!

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  14. Found a video of some guy using the machine on youtube. Obviously he’s dough looks a bit weird, and he’s standing behind the machine not to obscure the camera, but if you look at 2:50 and forward, you can see how the edge of the dough somehow ends up at the edge of the machine. That kind of happens to me on the most narrow settings, and after that the dough starts to fold.

    Like

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  21. My grandparents always used a long narrow rolling pin and I prefer it to a pasta machine. They also sprinkled uncooked polenta (cornmeal) onto a tray that kept
    the finished raviolis from sticking. This also also allows enough air in underneath to dry the under side without having to turn them over. The polenta falls off when the raviolis are put into the water. The filling was run through a meat grinder using
    large holes and came out with a chunky texture and provided contrast to the smoothness of the pasta. The sauce was never bland but contained the key ingredients of the filling, thus complimenting the flavors not obscuring them.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi Stefan, Great post, very informative. I can make ravioli and other filled pastas ok, but sometimes make them the day before I want to use them. I put them on to a tray dusted with flour, cover with a cloth and refrigerate, however when I get them out to use they are very soggy due to the filling. Should I dust all of the pasta (top and bottom) with flour before refrigerating? Many thanks, Chris.

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    • Hi Chris,
      Tip #7 should help, which is to first allow the top of the ravioli to dry for 15 minutes, and then to turn them to allow the bottom to dry as well. Wait until both sides have dried a bit before covering with a cloth.
      If that doesn’t help, your filling may be too wet, which means that you should drain the ricotta before using it, or add more parmigiano (which will also affect the flavor), or add dried breadcrumbs (which will dilute the flavor).
      Hope this helps!
      Stefan

      Like

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  26. Great post and information. While I’ve made ravioli many times, I;m looking for a pasta dough for a chunky lobster ravioli. Running the pasta super thin sounds like I may be set up for disaster with popping when boiling.. Suggestions on settings ?

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    • Hi Anthony, thin pasta should not be a problem as long as you make sure that the pasta dough is smooth and pliable (by long kneading and sufficient resting, as well as folding the pasta and running it through the machine at the widest setting multiple times) and there is no trapped air. A chunky filling could lead more easily to trapped air. You could always boil one raviolo first before you make the rest, so you can make changes if needed before making the whole batch. Hope this helps!

      Like

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  29. Hi Stefan,
    Thank you for this post! The tips have helped me a lot in making homemade ravioli. I used to make them manually with a rolling pin with no problems. I bought a Pasta Machine last Christmas and it was definitely a faster process.

    However, after letting the finished raviolis freeze, I discovered that they cracked in the freezer! Was the pasta rolled too thin? And do you have any more tips for storing/preserving your ravioli?

    I was still able to eat the ravioli by baking them lasagna style, instead of boiling them in water 🙂

    Thank you for your help!

    Like

    • Hi Kim, great to read you’re making ravioli and that my tips have been helpful. Usually I cook and serve ravioli straight away, and mine have never cracked before when I did freeze them. I have two hypotheses why yours did.
      1) If the skin has dried out too much. You can prevent this by: (a) freezing the ravioli as soon as possible after making them instead of letting them dry first, (b) making sure the dough isn’t too dry (you should not need to moisten with water to seal them), (c) keeping them in a tight bag in the freezer to prevent/slow down evaporation. The latter is especially important if your freezer is “no frost” as that makes the air inside the freezer more dry.
      2) If the water content of your filling is too high, the filling expands more than the dough (especially if the dough is too dry, see theory 1), which will cause the ravioli to break. You probably know that water expands as it freezes. Add more salt to the filling or reduce the water content. For example, when using ricotta you could allow it to drain overnight in a tea towel in a sieve over a bowl. For spinach, squeeze it dry in a tea towel. The filling should be dry, to check you should be able to roll balls out of it that keep their shape. Some of the ravioli recipes on my blog have wetter fillings than that, and may be less suitable for freezing.
      I hope this helps. Please let me know your results. And don’t hesitate to ask any further questions.
      Happy ravioli making!
      Stefan

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      • Hi Stefan,

        I think it is most likely 1.a. I let them dry first before putting them in the freezer. They were like crackers already by the time I put them in. If they dried already, will it be better to simply refrigerate them? And consume them within 7 days?

        Okay, I shall freeze them immediately on my next ravioli making session! I need to work faster so that they don’t dry out so quickly.

        Thank you for the quick reply and tips!!

        Like

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