Baked Tortellini is loaded with cheese tortellini, ground beef, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese for an effortless pasta dinner that the whole family will love!
Does anyone else ever get stuck in a dinner rut? Well, this beefy, cheesy Baked Tortellini is here to save you!
As a food blogger, you may think that's a problem I would never encounter. After all, I'm working on recipes every week. I have a whole archive of family favorites. And as part of my job, I spend an inordinate amount of time pinning recipes on Pinterest (incidentally, have I mentioned how much I love my job?). 😉
Nevertheless, despite being immersed in all of this great recipe inspiration, sometimes I flat-out don't know what to make for dinner. And on those occasions, I open the freezer, stare inside, and hope that something speaks to me.
This exact scenario played out a few weeks ago and, frantically flagging me down on the freezer shelf from between a bag of peas and a box of chicken breasts, was a package of cheese tortellini. And it was squawking, "Turn me into something good!" Okay, so maybe it didn't exactly happen that way.
Maybe I'm slightly hallucinogenic due to a combo of allergy meds and sleep deprivation (because three kids and, you know, LIFE).
Maybe the frozen cheese tortellini was simply sitting there, as cheese tortellini typically does, and I randomly had the bright idea to substitute it for noodles in a spaghetti-esque pasta bake.
So that's exactly what I did. Say hello to my delicious version of Baked Tortellini recipe, loaded with ground beef, marinara, and lots of cheese!
How to Make Baked Tortellini
- Combine browned ground beef and your favorite jarred pasta sauce. Or you could certainly substitute homemade marinara if you happen to have some on hand.
- To up the vitamin intake, you can even get sneaky and add some finely grated zucchini (or other veggies) to the meat sauce using my favorite method for hiding veggies in a recipe. But shhhh...just don't tip off my kids (or my hubby) that I do this. 😉
- Toss in some cheese tortellini (I use frozen) and a bit of freshly grated mozzarella.
- Pour everything into a baking dish. Top with more cheese and pop in the oven until hot and bubbly!
A Few Notes About the Tortellini
Dinner doesn't get much more effortless than pasta + sauce!
But actually it does, because for this Baked Tortellini recipe, I didn't even have to dirty another pot by boiling the tortellini separately. I simply ran it under some warm water in a colander before adding it to the meat sauce and then everything cooked up all together in the oven.
If that's not the definition of easy peasy, I'm not sure what is. And as a bonus, the kids loved this. Pasta and cheese and beefy tomato sauce (and hidden veggies, to boot)...how can you go wrong?!
But what if the cheese tortellini that you have on hand isn't frozen? What if it's packaged (dry) or refrigerated instead?
- If your tortellini is in a package from the pasta aisle, boil it per the directions on the bag until al dente, and then proceed with this recipe as directed.
- If your tortellini is refrigerated, that's basically the same as frozen tortellini that's been thawed under warm running water (which is what this recipe calls for). So you shouldn't have to change anything at all!
Just because I try to cook plenty o' things from scratch doesn't mean that I don't keep a few all-natural pantry and freezer staples on hand for quick dinners when I'm otherwise lacking inspiration. And as a result, this Baked Tortellini is one of those perfect meals for when you're short on time and ingredients but you still want to throw together something that everyone will enjoy.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to hop on Pinterest and try to figure out what I'm making for dinner tomorrow...and the next day...and the next... 😉
More Pasta Favorites
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 (24-ounce) jar marinara/pasta sauce
- 1 (22-ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 3-quart baking dish and set aside.
- In a large pot set over medium heat, brown ground beef and garlic until meat is no longer pink, breaking it up and stirring frequently. Drain fat. Season meat with garlic powder, dried basil, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried thyme, crushed red pepper flakes (if desired), and salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Stir pasta sauce into cooked ground beef. Pour frozen tortellini into a colander and run under warm water for a minute to slightly thaw. Drain and stir tortellini into meat sauce.
- Remove pot from heat and stir in half of the grated mozzarella. Transfer tortellini/meat sauce into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining grated mozzarella and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for about 20 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly.
- If you have fresh herbs, feel free to substitute them for the dried herbs (and you may use three times the amount of fresh herbs, since fresh herbs aren't as potent as dried).
- If desired, you can add some grated veggies to the meat sauce using this method.
- You may substitute refrigerated cheese tortellini for (thawed) frozen tortellini without otherwise changing the recipe.
Post originally published on February 15, 2015, and updated on September 2, 2020.
My oh my, this was delicious, made it last night for just the two of us so there is enough for us to heat up tonight too with some garlic bread and I´m so excited to eat it,. the other half is at work right now and I´m tempted just to eat it all by my self, but I won´t 🙂 Thank you for sharing this and we will 100% be making this again and again. Have a good weekend, Rakel.
We loved the flavors. I almost dried the dish out, next time I will cut the time back. It’s probably my oven. I will definitely make this again.
It seems like this would work, but can I use the refrigerated fresh tortellini? This recipe sounds delicious!
I’ve made this a bunch of times and it’s always a success! I decided to try in the crock pot the other day and it went over well!
I followed step 2 as normal and added everything to the crock pot. Poured in my sauce and set on high for about 3 hours . At that point I added in the tortellini (mine was thawed at this point), 1 cup of cheese and a few pinches of Parmesan. Mix and top with more cheese and Parmesan. Place lid on top and cook until tortellini is done (about 30 mins for me).
usually don't bother to go back and write a review on a recipe. But this one is worth it. Followed directions exactly, I prepped early in the afternoon, the sauce soaked into the rinsed pasta - the dish came out moist, tortellini tender and the flavor was exceptional. I used Roa's marinara sauce, and served on a bed of fresh spinach. Have already shared this recipe with my family and friends. It's going to be a new fav in our home. Thank you!
Mary Ann Catella
Can I use homemade meat tortellini in this recipe instead of cheese?
Yummy. Just made this dish. It’s so good and really quick. Thank you for sharing.
We really liked this recipe.
It was super quick and super good. I made no changes and likely won’t next time we make it.
Winner recipe. Didn't change a thing.
I made this a couple weeks ago for hubby and I and we LOVED it! I’m prepping some freezer meals this week in anticipation for our first baby. Can I leave the tortellini frozen when mixing altogether? What’s the best way to bake from frozen when we’re ready to eat in a couple weeks?
Hi Neely! Congrats on your upcoming arrival! I would prep and mix everything together as directed without thawing the tortellini first; cover and freeze. Then the night before you want to eat it, pop it in the fridge to thaw. When you're ready to bake it off, follow the directions for the normal cooking time and then check it. If it's not quite heated through, re-cover it and keep cooking for 10 more minutes at a time until hot. Hope that helps!
This is SO helpful! Thank you!!
So quick and easy!! SOOOO good!!!!
I am making recipe but using tortellini from pasta aisle that you requires boiling. Will that work?
Sure! I would just boil the tortellini to al dente (per package directions) before stirring it into the meat sauce and proceeding with the recipe. 🙂
I made this last night for myself it was awesome. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
We all loved cheesy tortellini bake!
Can you cook the frozen tortellini and then bake everything for 20-30 minutes?
Samantha at Five Heart Home
Sure, that would probably work! You just want to make sure that everything is heated through. 🙂
Making it as we speak. I added bell peppers, spinach, and mushrooms to the sauce. Kept everything else the same. Smells so good, I can't wait to get it out of the oven and try it.
Samantha at Five Heart Home
Hope it was a hit, Katy! 🙂
Is there a certain brand of Tortellini that you suggest? I’ve never tried nor bought it before!
Samantha at Five Heart Home
Hi, Julie! This recipe should work with any brand of frozen cheese tortellini. I've used different brands depending on which grocery store I shopped at. At the moment, I have a couple bags of Whole Foods brand frozen tortellini in the freezer. And while frozen tortellini is often sold in bags that are (or are close to) 22 ounces, I use the whole bag. But if I had a giant bag of tortellini from Costco, for example, measuring out 5 cups of it would be about equivalent (assuming that the tortellini is average-sized and not gigantic). Hope that helps!