Local specialties, Bake, Dessert, Recipes

Traditional raviole bolognesi

Raviole bolognesi

Raviole bolognesi are one of the best-kept secrets of my region. Not common outside of Bologna, but deeply rooted in our tradition, raviole (singular: raviola) are a sweet (but not too sweet) treat that reminds me of my childhood. A typical snack that my mom used to bake on Sunday for the whole week, today I want to share with you my original family recipe!

Raviole, not ravioli!

First of all, raviole is not ravioli! There will be for sure a lot of confusion in my friends abroad: don’t worry, even in Italy most of the time I say raviole someone corrects “maybe you meant ravioli?” 🙂

In my region, Emilia Romagna, there is a huge tradition of filled, fresh pasta: just think of tortellini, ravioli, cappelletti, cappellacci, anolini, only to mention some of the traditional shapes that come filled with different types of meat, cheese, herbs.

Well, what is less known, is that there is a peasant tradition of creating similar shapes of sweet pastry, filling them with jam or mustard and using the same (or almost the same) names!

That’s why you have raviole in Bologna (similar to ravioli) or tortelli dolci in Parma.

Raviole bolognesi: the tradition

But, are raviole typical of a particular time of the year? Thanks for asking!

Today, raviole in Bologna are the typical gift for Father’s day, that is celebrated in Italy on San Giuseppe (St Joseph) day (March 19th).

This festivity, thinking about the rural past of my Country, is strongly connected to celebrate returning to the work in the fields, after the long winter stop, and that took place on San Giuseppe day. Being this work mainly a men’s one, the connection between celebrating the springtime and celebrating grown-up men (“fathers”) was easily done.

Originally, on St Joseph day, small bags full of raviole were left hanging from the hedges beside the paths from the villages to the fields, so that men could get their treats while going back to work.

Of course, in different parts of Italy there are different traditions to celebrate Father’s day. If you go to Naples, and in most Southern Italy, you won’t find raviole, but you will taste zeppole di San Giovanni… another delicious surprise.

Why that color?

You might be wondering why some of the raviole in my picture are ruby red. That’s because in Emilia-Romagna we traditionally use a liquor named Alkermes (or Alchermes), that gives the typical ruby color not only to raviole, but also to “zuppa inglese“. This liquor is particularly hard to find abroad, I was able to find this one… my advice: if you like our traditional food, when it’s not out of stock, don’t miss the chance! 😉

But now it’s finally time to cook your first raviole bolognesi following my mom’s recipe!

And if you like this recipe… PIN IT! 🙂

If you want to try other sweet things from this blog, you can check out my persimmon’s tart or my famous tiramisu 😉

Raviole bolognesi

Raviole bolognesi are a typical treat from Bologna, very common in the countryside and originally made for Father's Day (San Giuseppe).
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Resting time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 50 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Bolognese, Italian, Regional
Keyword: Bologna, Father’s day
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 180kcal
Author: Roberto


  • a bowl or a standing mixer
  • a cookies mold
  • a spoon
  • plastic film
  • a rolling pin
  • an oven tray


  • 2 eggs
  • 480 gr all purpose flour
  • 140 gr butter
  • 180 gr sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lemon's zest
  • 60 gr milk
  • 150 gr bolognese mustard
  • q.s. Alkermes liquor (optional)


  • In a bowl or using a standing mixer, start slowly mixing the flour, the baking powder, the lemon zest and the butter.
    Raviole bolognesi - powders, butter and zest
  • Add the sugar…
    Raviole bolognesi - sugar
  • … the eggs..
    Raviole bolognesi - eggs
  • … and the milk.
    Raviole bolognesi - milk
  • Adding the milk slowly, you will obtain the desired texture.
    Raviole bolognesi - mixing
  • The final result is a rich shortcrust pastry, that you will wrap in plastic film. Put it into the fridge, where it will rest (minimum 1 hour, ideally 3-4 hours).
    Raviole bolognesi - dough
  • After the resting period, roll it with a rolling pin and cut circles with the mold. Turn on the oven at 170 °C.
    Raviole bolognesi - shapes
  • Put at the centre of each circle a teaspoon of mustard, then close the shapes creating the raviole. Press the borders so they don't open while cooking.
    Raviole bolognesi - filling
  • Place the raviole on a baking tray covered with baking paper. With a finger, moist the top with some milk, spray with some sugar and put them into the oven.
    Raviole bolognesi - milk and oven
  • After 20 minutes, the raviole are ready! PRO TIP: you can moist the raviole with some alkermes liquor, with its typical dark pink color. Amazing! 🙂
    Raviole bolognesi


  • use all the ingredients at ambient temperature
  • if you cannot find bolognese mustard (quite likely…) use a not too sweet jam. My choice would be a green tomatoes jam (absolutely delicious and a perfect pairing imho).


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Buon appetito!

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