Picking up a package of tortellini makes prepping dinner on busy weeknights a breeze. Whether you use fresh, frozen or dried tortellini pasta, it cooks quickly, tastes great and is incredibly versatile. Learn how to cook tortellini in just minutes for a hearty meal the whole family will love.
What is Tortellini?
Tortellini translates to "small little pies." This classic filled Italian pasta noodle is like a bite-sized dumpling. Thin squares of pasta are loaded with meat, cheese, and vegetables like spinach and then folded to form a ring. They can be added to soups, baked casseroles or salads or topped with any number of sauces for a hearty and filling meal.
Types of Tortellini
Tortellini are made from egg dough and are available in several different colors and flavors. Tortellini are sold fresh, frozen and dried.
- Refrigerated (Fresh) - Fresh tortellini is typically found in the produce section of your grocery store, often near the specialty cheese. Refrigerated tortellini cooks the quickest but has the shortest shelf life. If you can't use it by the date on the package, it should be frozen. Fresh tortellini cooks very quickly, so it's perfect for weeknight dinners.
- Frozen – If you have freezer space, frozen tortellini is a great alternative to fresh tortellini because it has a longer shelf life and cooks almost as quickly as fresh tortellini. Frozen tortellini comes in cooked and uncooked varieties.
- Dry – Dried tortellini are typically available in cheese or spinach flavors and are found at the grocery store with the other dry pasta noodles. Dry tortellini is boiled until tender and can be used just like other types but takes significantly longer to cook.
What you need to cook tortellini
- tortellini pasta - My family prefers cheese tortellini but you can get different varieties with fillings such as spinach, meat or chicken.
- water - fill your pot
- salt - I always use either kosher or sea salt
How to Boil Tortellini
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
- Add the tortellini to the pot and bring the water back to a boil.
- Cook according to the package directions.
- Drain and top with butter, sauce or add to your favorite recipes.
How Long to Boil Tortellini
Each type of tortellini cooks at a different rate. Depending on the brand, there can also be differences, so it's always best to consult the package for detailed instructions. As a rule of thumb, below is general cooking times.
- Refrigerated - 4 to 7 min
- Frozen Precooked - 2 to 5 minutes
- Frozen uncooked - 8 to 12 minutes
- Dry - 10 to 12 minutes
Best Cooking Tips
- Bring the water to a full rolling boil before adding the pasta.
- Salt the water to add more flavor to the pasta.
- Do not add oil to water. It doesn't prevent the pasta from sticking together, but it will prevent your sauce from sticking to your pasta.
- Cook the pasta to al dente as it will continue to cook when added to the sauce.
- Tortellini will float when it's cooked through.
- Use a slotted spoon or a kitchen spider to remove the pasta from the boiling water or drain in a collender.
- Find dried tortellini in the dry pasta aisle.
- Find fresh tortellini in the deli or produce section, typically it's with the specialty cheeses.
- Frozen tortellini will be located with other frozen pasta dishes.
Leftover tortellini will typically keep well for up to 5 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container.
I do not freeze leftover tortellini dishes due to a change in texture but uncooked tortellini freezes well. I prefer to scoop individual portions into freezer bags and pop them in the freezer for up to 2 months. They are perfect for quick lunches and snacks. They can also be frozen in the refrigerated packaging.
Tortellini is so versatile. It can be served hot with your favorite marinara sauce or tomato sauce, topped with alfredo or tossed with butter or olive oil and parmesan cheese. I also love tossing them with my air fryer roasted tomatoes. If you want more protein you can serve it with chicken, ground beef, Italian sausage or shrimp.
Thread cold tortellini onto skewers with cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese for a filling party appetizer or mix with dressing for a cheesy twist on pasta salad.
Tortellini can also be added to soups and casseroles instead of other pasta.
Frozen tortellini does not need to be thawed! Simply drop frozen tortellini into boiling water, adding a few minutes to the cooking time to account for them being frozen.
Cook tortellini to according to the package directions. Tortellini will float when it is cook and heated all the way through.
You can cook tortellini in simmering sauce however you will need to increase the cooking time since the sauce will not be at a rolling boil.
- Cheese Tortellini with Sausage and Mushrooms
- Tortellini Alla Panna with Ham and Peas
- Garlic Alfredo Tortellini from Damn Delicious
If you like this Tortellini with Butter and Cheese, please leave a 5-star rating.
Tortellini with Butter and Cheese
- 1 large pot
- 16 - 18 ounces cheese tortellini (refrigerated, frozen or dry)
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium high heat. Add tortellini and salt.
- Once pasta comes to a rolling boil, bring heat to medium and stir occasionally. Cook according to package instructions or minutes provided in the notes below. Cook less than maximum time and taste to see if they are cooked enough. Cook for a few more minutes if necessary.
- Drain tortellini then melt butter in the same pot on low heat. Add tortellini and gently mix to distribute butter. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
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