What is Mortadella? [Italian APPROVED]

If you love Italian food but don’t know what is mortadella–we’ve got your back! We’ll teach you everything there is to know about this delicious delicacy so you can impress your friends at your next Italian dinner party. 

And if you’re already an expert in all things mortadella…well, then we hope this article will be useful for brushing up on some new facts! Either way, read on because it’s time to learn more about one of our favorite foods – mortadella.

What is Mortadella?

Mortadella is a hot pork sausage typically flavored with spices like coriander, myrtle berries, and pistachios. It hails from Bologna, Italy, where it was first made more than 500 years ago.

what is mortadella

Today, mortadella can be found all over the world. And while it’s traditionally made with pork, many manufacturers add beef, veal, and even chicken to the recipe.

Mortadella meat is a type of salami, which is Italian for “salted.” Like other types of salami, mortadella can come in different shapes and sizes, depending on its producer. It also contains chopped meat and fat, as well as cubes of lard that provide additional flavor. 

Mortadella is similar to many other sausages, including braunschweiger and hot dogs. But it’s known for its milder taste compared to other Italian varieties like Genoa salami. The fatty content also makes it stand out compared to other sausages.

Mortadella is typically served as part of an Italian antipasto platter with olives, cheese, and breadsticks at the beginning of a meal. It can also be sliced or even eaten whole. Many people enjoy it on its own or paired with crackers for a quick snack.

What is Mortadella Made From?

As we mentioned above, traditional mortadella is made from ground pork and beef mixed with spices. The exact ingredients used depend on the recipe and include black pepper, nutmeg, pistachios, milk, eggs, and even truffles. 

Recipes will usually also include a small amount of lard and a variety of other ingredients (flavorings, sugar, and more).

You can make your own authentic mortadella at home using a meat grinder or food processor. However, you may want to stick with store-bought varieties if you’re not comfortable grinding your own meat. You can find mortadella worldwide, but the Italian version is considered to be the best.

The Best Use Cases for Mortadella

Mortadella is a delicious Italian sausage that can be served in many different ways. Some people love it on its own, while others prefer to eat it on a sandwich or other accompanying dishes.

Since mortadella meat is a type of sausage, you’ll likely want to cook with it instead of eating it raw. This is because raw meat can carry harmful bacteria that may cause illness if not killed before eating.

You’re probably going to want to slice and cook your mortadella before using it, as this is the way most recipes recommend serving it. However, you could also cut it into cubes or use a meat grinder to make it into a paste that you can spread on bread or use in other recipes.

Mortadella is most commonly served in sandwiches, especially for breakfast. However, it’s often eaten with other ingredients like cheese and vegetables to make the sandwich more flavorful and nutritious. 

Mortadella is also used as an ingredient in many dishes, including pasta, salads, and casseroles. It may also be added to other meats or vegetables to add flavor.

In the Middle East, mortadella is served with lettuce and vegetables or on sandwiches made from pita bread. In Spain, it’s usually served as an appetizer served either sliced or spread on bread.

What Does Mortadella Taste Like?

Mortadella has a very distinct taste that’s hard to describe. It can be similar to other sausages like salami or bologna, depending on the exact ingredients used. The spices and seasonings will also affect how it tastes, with everyone having their favorite flavor.

The main thing people seem to agree on is that mortadella has a very rich flavor with hints of sweetness. It’s also reasonably salty, but not quite as much compared to other types of sausages.

Two Types of Mortadella Varieties

There are two primary varieties of mortadella: pork and bologna. Both come from Italy, but they have a few differences in ingredients and how the sausage looks when sliced or cooked. 

Pork mortadella is made with a combination of pork and beef in equal parts. The meat is then ground or chopped before being stuffed into casings to form the sausage. It’s commonly served in thin slices for breakfast or on sandwiches.

Bologna mortadella is made with pork, beef, and lamb (in that order). The ratio of these meats can vary depending on where it’s made, but they’re typically ground and stuffed into horsehide casings to form the sausage.

If you’re looking for mortadella in stores, pork or bologna is usually the best bet. However, if you want to make your own at home, you can make it with just about any kind of meat, including beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, etc.

The Proper Way of Storing Mortadella

Store your mortadella in a cool, dry place with a moderate temperature of approximately 39°F (3.88℃). The proper way to store this sausage is to either hang it from the ceiling or wrap it in paper and keep it on a shelf. 

Avoid storing it in plastic as this may cause the mortadella to spoil faster. If you’re planning on using it within a week, you can keep it in the refrigerator and consume it soon after. Otherwise, you’ll need to freeze it.

Where to Purchase Mortadella Cold Cuts

Mortadella is sold in specialty stores and deli counters around the world. It can be found in areas with a large Italian population. You can also purchase it online from specialty sausage stores.

What is the Difference Between Mortadella and Bologna?

The technique by which mortadella and bologna are made is the most significant difference between them. In mortadella, fat cubes separate the meat, while in bologna, fat and meat are blended into a single homogeneous substance. This blending of meat and fat is what gives bologna its soft and spongy texture.

Suitable Alternatives to Mortadella in Italian Recipes

Look for mild-tasting cold cuts to substitute mortadella; your best selections are bologna, olive loaf, thüringer, or galantine

These options will come closest to replicating the flavor and texture of the original meat, while there will be some changes. For example, Fleischkäse, Landjäger, or Lebanon Bologna could be substituted in a hurry.


The cut of meat used to produce bologna is similar in appearance to that used for mortadella. But it’s not made with cubes of fat, nor does it have the same texture as mortadella.


This French cold cut typically contains pork and veal but has a very different flavor from mortadella.

Lebanon Bologna

Lebanon bologna is made with finely ground beef and pork, like mortadella, but it is seasoned differently.


This German cold cut has a very different taste; it’s very salty and has a very robust flavor.


Olive Loaf 

This fatty cold cut comes closest to the taste of mortadella but is typically made with various types of olives.

The History of Mortadella

Mortadella is a type of sausage that originated in Italy. As the name suggests, it’s traditionally made with pork, beef, lardons, and spices.

The exact date when mortadella was created is unknown. However, it’s thought to have been created during the Renaissance period in Bologna by one of two people: either Bartolomeo Scappi, the famous cook of Pope Pius V, or Giuseppe Parini, a poet, and gastronomist.

Mortadella first became popular in Italy and spread to other Mediterranean countries like Spain and Greece. However, it wasn’t until around 1920 that commercial production began in Italy. 

Mortadella was first mentioned under its current name by Giovanni Battista Croce, another Italian poet, who used it as an analogy for excellence in his poem “La Vita Humana” in 1588.

Your Easy Mortadella Recipe to Try at Home

Mortadella Sandwich

Here’s a quick recipe for a traditional Italian-style mortadella sandwich to provide you with the right combination of fresh and delicious ingredients. This easy masterpiece highlights mortadella’s strong, uncomplicated pork tastes with just the right mix of fresh and delicious ingredients.


  • 2 slices of high-quality bread of your choice
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced mortadella
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, loose
  • 2 thin mozzarella slices (or any other cheese)


  1. Lightly toast the bread after brushing it with oil. 
  2. Apply mayonnaise on the bottom, mortadella, basil, and mozzarella on top.
  3. Make a sandwich out of it and serve.

Mortadella Sandwich

While this basic mortadella sandwich is delicious on its own, lightly frying it allows you to take advantage of mortadella’s trademark extra fat. Here’s a somewhat different recipe of the mortadella sandwich that toasts the bread with the rendered fat.


  • 2 slices of your favorite high-quality bread (optional)
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced mortadella
  • 2 provolone slices (or other cheese)
  • A small amount of butter or oil for frying


  1. Make a smooth, even cake out of the mortadella. 
  2. Fry the mortadella stack in a pan over medium heat until the edges begin to brown, rotating once. You can generally cook them for three minutes on each side.
  3. Lay out your bread and top each piece with a slice of cheese just before it finishes. When the mortadella is done, sandwich it between two slices of bread and a slice of cheese.
  4. Before putting the sandwich in the frying pan, brush it with a bit of oil or butter. 
  5. Cook for about three minutes per side on medium heat, or until the bread gets somewhat crispy, using a second frying pan as a weight to push down on the top of the sandwich. 
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and serve.

Sandwich Muffuletta

The term “muffuletta” refers to both an Italian bread style and an American sandwich prepared with this type of bread. It’s a delectable celebration of Italian-American culture that, with the right ingredients, is quite simple to prepare at home.


  • 1 muffuletta loaf (or any long roll of bread)
  • 1/2 cup pitted and coarsely chopped olives
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped giardiniera
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound sliced salami
  • 1/4 pound sliced ham
  • 1/4 pound mortadella, sliced (or bologna)
  • 1/4 pound provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 pound sliced mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated


  1. To prepare an olive salad, combine olives and giardiniera.
  2. Invert the bread and cut it in half. 
  3. Olive oil should be drizzled on both the top and bottom slices.
  4. Alternate layers of meat and cheese on the bottom loaf.
  5. Top with the olive and giardiniera mixture.
  6. Top with the last slice of bread and serve!

Goditi la tua Mortadella! (Enjoy your Mortadella)

The Italians have long been known for their culinary creativity, so it’s not surprising that the mortadella has Italian roots. Mortadella is a type of meat product known as an Italian sausage

It’s made from ground pork and beef, with added fat, spices, salt, sugar, and other ingredients like pistachios or olives. The result is a delicious sandwich filling that tastes great on its own or in combination with other meats.

You can use mortadella to make sandwiches for lunchtime at work or school; it’s the perfect way to add some flavor to your favorite bread. Or you can serve it up as an antipasto – just slice it into thin pieces and enjoy! No matter how you eat it, though, we know you’ll love this tasty meat treat.