Baked Tortellini is an easy, comforting recipe 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 the next time that happens!
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 from the freezer shelf -- 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 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 tortellinii bake.
So that's exactly what I did. Say hello to my delicious version of Baked Tortellini, loaded with just a few simple ingredients for a comforting, hearty dinner!
Dinner doesn't get much more effortless than pasta + sauce, y'all.
But actually it does, because for this Baked Tortellini, 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 tortellini bake. Pasta and cheese and a beefy tomato sauce (plus optional hidden veggies, to boot)...how can you go wrong?!
Simple ingredients combine for maximum deliciousness!
- Ground beef. Feel free to swap in ground turkey or Italian sausage for the ground beef.
- Garlic. I always add extra. 😉
- Seasonings. Specifically, garlic powder, dried basil, parsley, oregano, and thyme (or you can substitute Italian seasoning), crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.
- Marinara sauce. Use your favorite jarred pasta sauce or even Homemade Marinara if you're lucky enough to have some on hand.
- Cheese tortellini. I always keep a bag of frozen tortellini in the freezer, but scroll down for instructions on how to incorporate fresh or dried tortellini instead.
- Grated cheese. Both mozzarella and Parmesan make this Baked Tortellini extra cheesy!
How to Make Baked Tortellini
- Preheat the oven and grease a baking dish.
- Pour frozen tortellini into a colander and run under warm water for a minute to slightly thaw it, then drain.
- In a large pot set over medium heat, cook the ground beef and garlic until nicely browned. Drain any grease.
- Season the cooked beef with dried herbs and spices, including crushed red pepper flakes, if desired, and salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Stir marinara into the ground beef and then add the drained cheese tortellini.
- Stir gently to combine.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in half of the grated mozzarella.
- Transfer the tortellini with meat sauce and cheese into the prepared baking dish.
- Top with the remaining grated mozzarella and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
- Cover with foil and pop into the oven for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for about 20 minutes more until hot and bubbly!
Ta-daaa! Baked Tortellini fit for a king!
Or a ravenous and/or picky family...whichever fits your scenario. 🙂
Subbing Different Types of Cheese Tortellini
So you're ready to make Baked Tortellini. 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!
This simple tortellini bake is easy to change up to your liking!
- Saute half an onion until translucent (before adding and browning the ground beef).
- To up the vitamin intake of your Baked Tortellini, 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! 😉
- Or, if you're feeling less sneaking, stir in some baby spinach (and let it wilt) before transferring the beef/sauce/tortellini mixture to the baking dish.
- Swap half of the marinara for alfredo for a creamier sauce.
- Incorporate fresh herbs instead of dried, keeping in mind that dried herbs are about three times more potent than fresh...so you'll need to use three times the amount of fresh herbs as compared to dried.
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 (or stare into the freezer) and try to figure out what I'm making for dinner tomorrow...and the next day...and the next...
More Pasta Favorites
Easy Baked Tortellini (Beefy, Cheesy, AMAZING!)
- 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.
- If you wish to use dried tortellini, you will need to boil and drain it (according to package directions) first before adding it to this Baked Tortellini recipe.
Post originally published on February 15, 2015, and updated on September 2, 2020, March 6, 2021, and October 16, 2023.