The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat mortadella. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What mortadella etiquette is

Mortadella etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat mortadella. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve mortadella to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat mortadella at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat mortadella

What you should know about mortadella

Mortadella is a type of Italian sausage made from ground pork, flavored with spices, and often contains cubes of pork fat.

Mortadella has a pale pink color with white speckles from the cubes of pork fat. It has a smooth texture with a bologna-like consistency and a delicate, slightly sweet flavor.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat mortadella

1) How to store mortadella

Store mortadella in the fridge at a temperature between 32°F to 40°F (0°C and 4°C). You can store it in the pantry at room temperature if unopened and vacuum-sealed. If opened, you should wrap it in plastic and store it in the fridge. You can freeze mortadella but the low temperature can alter the texture and flavor. Unopened mortadella can last for up to 1 week in the pantry, up to 2 weeks in the fridge, and up to 2 months in the freezer.

Store sliced or cooked mortadella in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

2) How to clean mortadella

Mortadella does not need to be cleaned.

You can tell if mortadella has turned bad when it has a sour or rancid smell or if it appears slimy or discolored.

3) How to prepare & cook mortadella

Mortadella can be eaten raw or cooked. If you want to cook mortadella, you can fry it or grill it. It is not necessary to use any specific utensils or appliances to prepare and cook mortadella.

Mortadella is a common ingredient in sandwiches and salads. It is an unusual but acceptable meat ingredient in pasta dishes.

Mortadella is not suitable for guests on a vegan, keto, or paleo diet. Some guests may not eat mortadella due to religious dietary restrictions.

4) How to serve & present mortadella

Mortadella is appropriate for any occasion, from formal to informal meals, breakfast, brunch, or snacks. However, it is most appropriate for informal occasions. You can serve it as a side dish, main course, or appetizer.

Always remove mortadella from its packaging before serving. Mortadella should be served at room temperature or slightly chilled. You can present it on a platter or on a plate. A sharp knife or a meat slicer can be used to slice it.

Mortadella can be accompanied by crusty bread, olives, and pickles. It pairs well with mustard, honey, and balsamic vinegar.

5) Food and wine to pair mortadella with

Mortadella pairs well with roasted vegetables, such as peppers and eggplant, and with fruit, such as figs and melons. It does not pair well with bitter greens, such as arugula. It can go well with nuts, such as pistachios.

Mortadella goes well with cheese and dairy, such as mozzarella, provolone, Parmigiano Reggiano, and ricotta. It does not pair well with pungent cheeses, such as blue cheese.

Mortadella can go well on a charcuterie board with other cured meats, such as prosciutto and salami. It does not pair well with fish.

Mortadella pairs well with light to medium-bodied red wines, such as Chianti and Barbera. It also pairs well with white wines, such as Pinot Grigio and Verdicchio. Mortadella does not pair well with heavy or tannic red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

6) How to eat mortadella

The most polite way to eat mortadella is to slice it thinly and eat it with a fork and knife. It is not considered impolite to eat it with your fingers, but it is recommended to use utensils for more formal occasions. You can eat the entire slice of mortadella, including the peel if it has one, as it is edible.

Mortadella etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common mortadella etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Not slicing mortadella thinly.

Additional information for properly serving mortadella

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

The number of calories in mortadella can vary depending on the type and brand. On average, a serving of mortadella (around 2 ounces or 56 grams) contains around 140-160 calories. Per 100 grams, mortadella contains around 300-350 calories.

How to buy the best mortadella

A crucial factor in mortadella etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability

Mortadella is generally available all year round in most regions.

Choose the best

Mortadella can be found in commerce in a variety of ways, including fresh, pre-sliced, vacuum-sealed, and canned. It is commonly sold in delis, supermarkets, and specialty food stores.

The most popular varieties of mortadella in commerce include traditional Bologna-style mortadella, Italian-style mortadella with added herbs or spices, and artisanal or regional varieties. Some of the most prized varieties are those made with high-quality ingredients and traditional production methods. Mortadella di Bologna IGP is perhaps the most prized variety.

To buy the best mortadella, look for varieties made with high-quality ingredients and traditional production methods. Look for mortadella that is free of any visible defects or discoloration, and that has a consistent texture and color. Additionally, seek out mortadella from reputable producers or brands with a good reputation for quality.

Alternatives to mortadella

Some common alternatives to mortadella include other types of cured meats such as prosciutto, salami, or ham. Plant-based alternatives such as tofu or seitan can also be used as substitutes.


  • Survey of the chemical, physical, and sensory characteristics of currently produced mortadella bologna: