Don't be intimidated by the title! Making homemade beef ravioli is so simple once you have the right tools. Roll out some fresh ravioli dough and you'll be eating a ravioli dinner in about an hour! A classic Italian meat ravioli filling the whole family will love...or make it a ravioli party with some cheese ravioli or butternut squash ravioli!
Why is it that ordering ravioli in a restaurant can make you feel like a kid again? Is it just me? And why is it that the idea of making homemade ravioli (especially beef ravioli) feels like a challenge only a real Italian chef can handle?
Making meat ravioli at home is not only a simple process and it doesn't take all day either. Follow these easy tips and you could be scarfing down homemade meat ravioli in about an hour.
p.s. if you're not into meat ravioli but looove ravioli, you might really like this classic ricotta cheese ravioli filling or this yummy savory roasted buttternut squash ravioli filling.
Let's demystify beef ravioli filling...what's in it?
Here's what you need to make an amazing classic meat ravioli filling that's layered with lots of flavor.
Beef ravioli filling ingredients
- Ground beef. I prefer 80-85% for the most flavor.
- Ground pork.
- Egg. My grandma Josie's recipe (or more likely, her sister, Aunt Rosie's recipe) had egg whites in it and it makes the filling so light!
- Greens like Swiss chard or spinach (or a combo of both!)
- White wine. A little bit will do it and adds the right amount of acid and flavor!
- Cheese. Pecorino Romano is the cheese of choice here. Grated fresh. Always
- Garlic. Gram used powdered garlic believe it or not but you can use fresh garlic for sure especially if your mincing the meat.
Gram's secret tip
Folding whipped egg whites into the filling binds the meat filling while making it light at the same time!
Techniques to make fine ravioli filling
The goal is to make a beef ravioli filling that is moist, rich, light and stays inside when you boil it.
Easy, right? YESSS!
There are a couple of schools of thoughts on making meat ravioli filling.
- Method #1. You can cook all the ingredients first, then blend into a smooth tight paste in a food processor before filling the ravioli.
- Method #2. You blend everything together first (in a bowl), fill the ravioli and then the filling cooks while the pasta cooks.
For this beef ravioli recipe, we'll use Method #1.
For the ravioli dough
- a stand mixer. My tried and true is the KitchenAid Pro-Line 7 qt. Stand Mixer.
- a pasta machine or pasta roller attachment for your mixern (shown above). I use the pasta attachment for the KitchenAid mixer.
(Wink, wink: either of those make a beautiful gift for the avid pasta maker (or baker) in your life)
For the filling
- Food processor. You can use a food processor fitted with a smaller bowl (like 4-6 cups) (but not as small as the mini prep processors). The one shown here is the Magimix 14 cup food processor and it comes with 3 different sized bowls.
- If you don't have a food processor, you're going to want to use a really sharp knife and a cutting board to mince the meat as finely as possible.
To cook the ravioli
Ravioli dough options
Make your own easy ravioli dough.
- This ravioli dough recipe is a tried and true dough that isn't too thick and allows the meat filling to shine through.
- Or make a batch of this homemade pasta dough recipe (the main difference between the two is there is semolina flour along with "00" flour (pasta/pizza flour) in the homemade pasta dough recipe.
NOTE: you can use store-bought pasta dough to make ravioli.
Roll the ravioli dough to setting 2 on your pasta roller or machine. Follow my easy tips for homemade ravioli dough here.
How to make beef ravioli filling
Alrighty...let's get to handcrafting some ravioli!
- In a large skillet, saute onion in a combination of butter and olive oil. Add in garlic and saute for about 30 seconds (far left).
- Add in ground meats and brown until completely cooked, about 8 minutes or so (middle). Add in a handful of greens and cook down for a couple of minutes.
- Process the meat filling in a food processor until crumbly, about 15 pulses. Add in the slices of bread/breadcrumbs, Romano cheese, and seasoning.
- Gently fold in egg whites and pulse 2 times.
Don't have a food processor?
Finely mince the meat as you brown it by using a flat wooden paddle or edge of a wooden spoon.
Use breadcrumbs as opposed to slices of white bread so you get a filling with a finer texture.
How to fill ravioli
- Use a ravioli stamp to space out where the filling will go along the strip of dough
- Place a teaspoon of dough in the center of each ravioli. You don't want too much filling so the ravioli doesn't burst.
- Seal around each ravioli with water using a brush (or a clean finger) to help insure that the ravioli won’t split.
- Fold over the dough to cover the filling and press around the filling to seal off any air pockets.
- Sealing tool. Whether you use a ravioli stamp or a ravioli mold (which comes with a little roller that simultaneously seals and cuts the ravioli 12 at a time), make sure to press firmly to seal the meat ravioli.
Ravioli Cooking Tips
- Add ravioli to boiling water that has been generously seasoned with kosher salt.
- Once the ravioli floats to the top again a second time, cook it in bubbling water for 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the ravioli carefully with a chinese spider or large slotted spoon to a warmed bowl.
- Don’t pour ravioli into a strainer as you risk the ravioli breaking.
How long does it take to boil fresh ravioli?
3-5 minutes! Yup that's it!-Josie + Nina
Serving, Storage and Freezing
Make ravioli the same day you plan to cook it. Lay the ravioli on a floured baking sheet and refrigerated covered with plastic wrap for a few hours
Freeze ravioli. Lay the ravioli on a floured baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm. Transfer to a freezer safe plastic bag. Can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Thaw. No need to thaw before cooking!
- food processor I use the Magimix 14 cup processor
- ravioli mold optional
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ cup white wine
- ¼ lb ground beef, 80-85%
- ¼ lb ground pork
- 4 egg whites, beaten stiff
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup soft breadcrumbs, equal to 2 slices soft white bread
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For ravioli dough
- 4 cups flour
- 1 ½ cup water, start with 1 ¼ cup
- 1 egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Ravioli Filling
- Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute chopped onion until translucent about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds or until you can smell it.1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 Tablespoons butter, 1 cup chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring up any brown bits at the bottom. Cook for 2 minutes.½ cup white wine
- Brown ground beef and pork until cooked approximately 8 minutes.¼ lb ground beef, ¼ lb ground pork
- Sprinkle in a big handful of spinach (about 1 cup).1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
- Blend the meat mix in a food processor and then add the breadcrumbs (or slices of soft white bread). Add romano cheese,and garlic salt, kosher salt and nutmeg.1 cup soft breadcrumbs, ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Gently fold in egg whites until fully incorporated.4 egg whites
Mixing and assembling ravioli dough
- Pour the flour tossed with the salt on a wooden cutting board or clean countertop and make a well in the middle. Add the whole eggs along with the egg yolks to the center. Use a fork to gently mix the eggs pulling in flour a little at a time. Work your way around the middle pulling flour in until most of the flour is incorporated. Start by adding ¼ cup of water to the flour. Now add a little more flour. Keep adding water and flour until a ball is made. It’s ok if you don’t use all the flour and water.4 cups flour, 1 ½ cup water, 1 egg, 2 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Using either a hand crank pasta machine or a mixer attachment, roll out pasta dough until you get to setting #2. Fold the dough using the book method as described in this Homemade Ravioli Dough recipe.
Fill and Roll the Ravioli
- Lay the length of dough onto a floured surface (clean table, board or countertop).Find the center of the long side of the dough. You’ll fill one half and use the other half to cover the filled ravioli. Lightly mark the dough using the ravioli stamp (loooove this one especially). Another option: lay the short side of a sheet of ravioli dough at the top of a ravioli mold and let the rest hang over the bottom, ensuring that the remaining dough is long enough to cover the mold.This will help you to know where to place the filling.
- Using a small spoon, place up to 1 tablespoon of the ravioli filling in the center of each ravioli "stamp". Use a pastry brush to brush water around the outside edge of each ravioli. Pull the half of the dough over the filled side. Use two fingers to pat the dough firmly and gently around the filling sealing the ravioli as you go, pressing the air pockets out at the same time. Don't skip this step to avoid the ravioli from bursting open.
Cook meat ravioli
- Remove prepped ravioli to a floured baking sheet or clean surface. Cover with a dish towel and refrigerate if cooking later in the day. Add the ravioli to lightly boiling, heavily salted water (I use kosher salt). The ravioli might float immediately and then will sink down. Cook the ravioli for 3-5 minutes after the ravioli floats a second time. Test for doneness to your preference.
About Lori Murphy
Lori has over 30 years in the food industry as a marketing strategist, culinary instructor and chef for three kids with discerning palates. As the chief content creator at Josie + Nina, Lori is dedicated to helping home cooks create food memories through fresh ingredients and Italian flavors.
Hi...I'm planning to try your meat Ravioli recipe. Sounds delicious!! Question for you: ravioli recipes always say to cook to till they float -typically 3-5 minutes. However, my ravioli floats almost immediately, so there's no way they're cooked. I usually find it takes about 9 minutes for the pasta to be cooked to my liking (a nice chew). I roll the dough to a 6 on my Kitchenaid attachment, and I use 00 flour. So...not sure why my pasta takes so much longer to cook than what recipes suggest. Advice??
Lori Murphy says
Hi Janice! And I totally agree cooking times can be confusing when it comes to filled pastas. I do mention in the post that once the ravioli floats to the top the second time to cook it for 3-5 minutes. I have added that to the recipe card - thank you for asking as it helps everyone and I'm always so eager to get the posts up, I sometimes miss things 😊. If the ravioli is homemade, excess air in the pocket holding the filling will lead to more float so as much as you can press out that air the better. Side note: I also think that everyone has different definitions of "al dente". I was taught you should see a little white center of the pasta when you bite it for a true al dente but that is usually too firm for my hubby so we adjust. Hope that helps and please reach out anytime! And let me know how the filling works out for you!!
Thank you for replying so quickly. My husband would agree with yours...so I do as you do, "adjust". I do my utmost to ensure no air pockets remain; so I'm at a loss to explain as to why my ravioli float and stay afloat. Guess it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I'll just cook till we deem ready. Lol. I will definitely try your filling recipe, and report back. In the meantime, one more question if I may: do you re-roll scraps of dough? I haven't been, in case they produce a tough ravioli, but I hate the waste.
Lori Murphy says
Such a great question Janice! Yes definitely always re-roll the scraps - my grandma Nina would call things like that "dear" meaning expensive and both my grandmas used every bit of everything. Use 'em up until you're all done...I'd even just boil the pasta if you run out of filing..cut them into little noodles 😊 Enjoy!