What Is Mortadella?

A Guide to Buying, Using, and Storing Mortadella

what is mortadella

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Mortadella is an Italian cold cut that deserves a spot on your shopping list. Not only is mortadella a welcome addition to charcuterie board, it's delicious in sandwiches, stuffed into pasta, and more. 

What Is Mortadella

Mortadella is an emulsified sausage with origins in Bologna, Italy. It's composed of cured pork with least 15% pork fat cubes, whole or chopped pistachios, and spiced with black pepper and myrtle berries. The extra fat content gives mortadella its signature white "polka dot" look.

How To Use Mortadella

In Italy, it’s common to see thick cubes or thin slices of mortadella served as an appetizer.

This cold cut also works well on a charcuterie board with other meats, cheeses, fruit, bread, and condiments like mustard. Mortadella is delicious in a cold sandwich or hot panini, and it makes a nice addition to cheesy pastas dishes or stuffed into ravioli or tortellini. Some Italian meatball recipes call for mortadella for an extra-flavorful savory addition. It can also be blended to make a spread.

what is mortadella
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what is mortadella
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What Does It Taste Like?

The primary flavor in mortadella is rich, fatty pork, with accents of spice and pistachio that are mellowed when cooked. Mortadella has a silky mouthfeel and hearty texture, not unlike bologna.

Mortadella vs. Bologna

The main difference between mortadella and bologna is how each is produced. In mortadella, cubes of fat break up the meat whereas in bologna the fat and meat are emulsified into one uniform mixture. Unlike mortadella, which has a rich pork flavor and a hint of spice, bologna can be bland by comparison and lacks mortadella's silky texture (owing to its lack of fat cubes).


There are two main types of mortadella: mortadella and Mortadella Bologna. While the two varieties look and taste similar, Mortadella Bologna means it was produced in the Emilia-Romagna of Italy. When you find Mortadella Bologna you may notice additional varieties as producers will sometimes use different proportions of meat to fat as well as different spices.

Mortadella Recipes

Where to Buy Mortadella

Check at the deli counter in your local grocery store, but if they don’t carry it, you can find it from an Italian specialty grocer or order it from specialty markets online.


Store mortadella in the fridge for up to 7 days. Once opened, store the package in an airtight container.