This recipe for cheese tortellini in meat sauce is tender cheese filled pasta tossed in a homemade bolognese style sauce. A quick and easy dinner option that can be on the table in just 20 minutes!
My kids go crazy over tortellini, and I love that it’s so quick to prepare. This cheese tortellini recipe features an easy homemade meat sauce, and is the perfect comfort food meal at the end of a long day!
How do you make cheese tortellini in meat sauce?
This recipe starts with a super simple meat sauce, which consists of ground beef, garlic, onion and marinara sauce. Using store bought marinara sauce saves a ton of time because you won’t have to sit and wait for your sauce to simmer all day. The meat sauce is tossed with cooked cheese tortellini. Add a sprinkle of parsley and parmesan cheese, then serve and enjoy!
Tips for this cheese tortellini recipe
- When choosing ground beef, use 90% lean ground beef. It has plenty of flavor with minimal grease. You can use meat with a higher fat content if you prefer, just be sure to drain any excess grease from the pan before you add the marinara sauce.
- Make sure you use a high quality store bought marinara sauce. Bargain sauces may be too watery or lacking in flavor. I often use Newman’s Own, Classico or Bertolli.
- This recipe works with either fresh or frozen tortellini. If you use frozen tortellini, you don’t need to thaw it before cooking!
Cheese tortellini variations
Meat sauce with cheese tortellini is fantastic, but if you are feeling inventive, you can change the recipe to suit your family’s tastes.
- Tortellini: You can use different flavors of tortellini like chicken, mushroom, spinach or artichoke.
- Meat: Italian sausage, ground turkey or grilled chicken would be delicious in the meat sauce. Those can be used instead of, or in addition to, the ground beef.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add your favorite vegetables such as roasted zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, or mushrooms.
- Flavorings: You can add flavorings to the sauce such as olives or pine nuts.
- Creamy: The meat sauce can be creamy if you add 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Let the sauce simmer for an extra 5 minutes so that the cream can thicken.
- Ravioli: If you have a favorite ravioli, you can use it instead of tortellini. Choose a smaller ravioli to makes sure they stay intact after being mixed in the meat sauce.
What is the difference between tortellini and ravioli?
The practical difference between tortellini and ravioli is very small. They are both pasta enclosing a filling. Ravioli is two sheets of pasta enclosing the filling in a pillow shape. Tortellini is a ring shaped pasta enclosing a filling. Ravioli tend to be bigger than tortellini and can be quite large. Both work well for this recipe, although smaller ravioli work better than larger ravioli because they’re easier to eat.
Slow cooker tortellini
It is easy to make this tortellini with meat sauce in a slow cooker. First, brown the ground beef in a pan and add onions and garlic to cook with the beef. Add the cooked meat, garlic and onions to a slow cooker along with your favorite marinara sauce. Set the slow cooker to HIGH and cook the meat sauce for 2 hours or set it to LOW for 4 hours. Stir the cooked tortellini into the meat sauce and cook everything for another 10 minutes. When you serve the dish, garnish the tortellini with parsley and parmesan cheese.
Tortellini with meat sauce is a fantastic way to enjoy rich meat sauce with a fun pasta. No one needs to know that this recipe is as easy as it is flavorful.
More easy pasta dishes
- Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- Turkey Pasta Carbonara
- Cheeseburger Pasta
- Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
- Caprese Pasta
Cheese Tortellini with Meat Sauce
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
- 1/2 cup diced white onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 20 ounces cheese tortellini fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened.
- Add the ground beef to the pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula, until done, approximately 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the pan, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Pour the marinara sauce into the pan with the beef and heat until warmed through.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the tortellini according to package directions.
- Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley, then serve.