An easy, delicious recipe for Cheese Tortellini in a simple garlic butter sauce with basil. Keep it warm in a crockpot for a party appetizer, or serve up in a big bowl for a comforting weeknight meal in 15 minutes or less.
Cheese tortellini: Your favorite brand. It can be handmade, or store-bought. Fresh, frozen, or even dried. Tortellini are small and compact, easy to grab with a fork, and hold up well in the cooking water.
- Set aside 1 ½ cups of broth in a small bowl and whisk the cornstarch into it. Heat the remaining broth in a saucepan until boiling.
- Add tortellini and cook until the tortellini floats to the top of the water and the internal temperature of a tortellini is 165 degrees. Gently drain and set aside.
- In a non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until it foams. Add the garlic and dried basil and stir for 2 minutes to sauté the garlic.
- Then add the broth and cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the mixture thickens, only 1 or 2 minutes.
- Stir in the al dente tortellini and toss in the garlic butter mixture to coat every piece. Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
Recipe tips and variations:
- Yield: 16 ounces of pasta should feed 4 people.
- Make ahead: This recipe is best made when you plan to serve it, even though the leftovers are delicious. But if you want to pre-cook a larger amount of tortellini so you can replenish a buffet, toss the pasta lightly in olive oil after it’s drained, which will keep it from drying out. Then simmer the sauce and combine the two as you need more.
- Using water: Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for each pound of tortellini you plan to cook. Add salt if desired; I like 1 tablespoon salt/quart if I’m using water. (I do not add salt if I’m cooking in broth.)
- Tortelloni vs tortellini: Both types of stuffed pasta have the same basic shape. However, tortellini are smaller (generally about 2 grams each) and tortelloni are larger (generally about 5 grams each).
- Leftovers: Cooked pasta, in general, keeps 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. This recipe should be consumed within that time frame as well (and the leftovers are excellent.)
- Low sodium: Although I typically purchase low-sodium chicken broth and unsalted butter, this particular recipe tasted a little off when I tested with those ingredients. So, in this one instance I do not recommend the low-sodium options. If that’s what you have, just add a little salt to the finished dish until it tastes perfect.
- Tortellini cooking times: 2 to 3 minutes for refrigerated (soft) tortellini, 3 to 5 minutes for frozen tortellini, and 10 to 11 minutes for dried tortellini. Signs of doneness are when the pasta floats to the surface of the water, and has an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Spinach: A handful or two of baby spinach added to the pasta in the pan couldn’t hurt, especially if you want to up your leafy greens.
More fantastically simple pasta recipes:
Cheese Tortellini in Garlic Butter Sauce
- 32 ounces chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided (see note 1)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (see note 2)
- 1 (16 ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini (see note 3)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Fresh basil chiffonade, for garnish, optional
- In a large pot, bring 2 ½ cups broth to a boil. Add cheese tortellini. Return to a boil and cook until the tortellini float to the top of the water, about 3 minutes. The internal temperature of a tortellini should be 165ºF. Drain completely.
- Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1 ½ cups broth with corn starch. In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Stir in garlic and basil and cook 2 minutes.
- Add broth-cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil; simmer until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes longer. Add the cooked tortellini to the skillet and toss to coat.
- Pour into a serving dish and garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, if desired.
- To make this dish vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
- All-purpose flour can be substituted for cornstarch. It may increase the sauce's cooking time by an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Refrigerated tortellini can be substituted; it will float in 2 to 3 minutes. If you want to use dried tortellini, follow the instructions on the package (should be about 10 to 11 minutes).
- Serves 8 as an appetizer or first course (2 ounces per person, 275 calories per serving). Keep warm in a slow cooker if serving a buffet.