One Pot Baked Tortellini with Italian Sausage is the perfect weeknight family dinner! It's full of flavor, lots of veggies, and a creamy tomato sauce that everyone will love. The best part, it's all cooked in one pot, no need to pre-boil the tortellini! It takes just 15 minutes to prep and throw in the oven!
What's to love about Baked Pasta?
- There is NO need to pre-boil the pasta! - That's right! This one-pan tortellini bake uses refrigerated fresh tortellini which has a cooking time of only 3 minutes. So, there is no need to pre-boil it. It fully cooks right in the sauce as it bakes! One pot, less clean up!
- It's a well rounded and balanced dinner (full of veggies)! - This pasta night goes way beyond just noodles and sauce! It's full of Italian sausage, lots of healthy veggies like onion, red bell pepper, fresh spinach, and tomato, and it's all baked together in a cheesy creamy sauce. Total home-cooked comfort food! Add a simple Italian Mixed Greens Salad to round out the meal!
- It's the perfect dinner to make ahead when you need to bring someone a meal! - Friend with a new baby, or neighbor in need of a home-cooked meal? This baked tortellini with sausage is perfect to prep up at home and take to a friend. Just follow the instructions doing everything except baking it and keep refrigerated. Then just include a note with the temperature and time and have them bake it in their own oven. Or meal prep it for your own fridge for a busy night this week! You may need to increase the baking time if you bake it straight from the fridge, try 10 extra minutes then taste a noodle to make sure it's done.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Refrigerated Cheese Tortellini - Refrigerated Fresh Pasta is a pretty impressive store-bought ingredient these days! It's high quality, and much better than dried stuffed pasta. I used a family size, Rana Three Cheese Tortellini for this recipe, but any refrigerated pasta with a cooking time on the package of 3 or 4 minutes will work the same way. You can try different flavors of tortellini or ravioli. Buy an extra bag to throw in your freezer so you can make this easy pasta night on the fly!
- Italian Sausage - I like to use bulk Italian sausage from our local butcher shop. I often buy a handful of mild bulk sausage packaged in half pound quantities and stock them in my freezer. It's an easy protein to thaw out for quick pasta dishes, soups like Pasta Fagioli Soup, or as a Homemade Pizza topping! You can use any amount of sausage you like for this recipe (about half to one pound) or leave the sausage out completely for a vegetarian dish.
- Red Bell Pepper & Onion - This sausage tortellini bake is great for adding in lots of veggies to bump up the nutrition and balance out that pasta! I like onion and bell pepper, but you can also substitute or add chopped zucchini or mushrooms. You can also just as easily leave out any veggies you don't like!
- Garlic - I always recommend fresh garlic, but a half teaspoon of pre-chopped jarred garlic or garlic powder will also work just fine. That garlic flavor is classic in Italian dishes.
- Salt & Italian Seasoning - Salt and Italian seasoning are all you need to season this dish, super simple! You could also substitute about ¼ cup of fresh Italian herbs if you have them like basil, oregano, thyme, parsley and rosemary.
- Canned Crushed Tomatoes - A small 15oz can of crushed tomatoes provides the base for your sauce, another veggie, and some of the liquid needed to cook the pasta. You could also substitute two cups of Homemade Spaghetti Sauce or Marinara Sauce from the Garden, especially if you have homemade sauce in your freezer!
- Fresh Spinach - Fresh spinach adds another bit of nutrition and a pop of color! You can also sub chopped kale, or leave it out if you don't like or have it.
- Heavy Cream & Water - Combined with the crushed tomato, this is the liquid that is going to cook your pasta! The cream when baked mixes with the tomatoes and reduces into a velvety rich pink sauce, coating every bite! If you love this combination, try my Creamy Tomato Pink Sauce Pasta with Italian Sausage!
- Parmesan & Fresh Mozzarella Cheese - Cheese lover alert! This no boil tortellini bake is seriously cheesy! The Parmesan cheese gets mixed in the sauce and the fresh ball of mozzarella gets sliced and layered over the top. If you are a cheese fan, use the whole ball of mozzarella. Or use less if you want to lighten things up. You could also sub any regular white shredded cheese as a top layer, like mozzarella, provolone, or white cheddar.
It's quick to put together and bakes all in one pot!
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 400°. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. As it browns, push the sausage to one side of the pan and saute the onion and peppers in the sausage fat on the other side.
Step 2 - Stir each half occasionally, don't worry if they mix together a bit.
When the sausage is fully cooked and nicely browned and the veggies softened, mix them together.
Step 3 - Turn off the heat, and add all other ingredients except the fresh mozzarella.
Step 4 - Mix everything together very well. Press the tortellini down into the sauce as best you can to ensure even cooking.
You could also transfer to a casserole dish at this point.
Step 5 - Top with the slices of fresh mozzarella (you may not use all of it, depending on how cheesy you like it!).
Cover (either with the pot lid or tin foil), and transfer to the oven. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.
Step 6 - Pull out a tortellini with a spoon to taste if it is done. If it isn't, cover and cook 5 more minutes, then retest.
When the pasta is cooked through, Broil uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes until the mozzarella is starting to brown and bubble (keep an eye on it!).
- Make Ahead Instructions - You can make this tortellini bake up to 2 days in advance! Follow the instructions up until you are ready to bake. Then cover it tightly and store in the fridge, deliver to a friend, or freeze. You can transfer to a casserole dish if that's easier to freeze. To bake, just thaw overnight in the fridge. You can leave it on the counter an hour before baking to take the chill of the fridge off, or just plan to add 10 to 15 minutes to the baking time. Definitely taste a noodle to make sure it's done!
- Storage - After this dish has been baked, leftovers can be stored in an air tight container and refrigerated up to 3 days. Delicious for lunch! Reheat in the microwave.
- How to hide the veggies for kids! - If your kids are really good at picking every visible vegetable out of their food, try pulsing the veggies in a food processor before adding them in with the sausage. That way the veggies become part of the sauce, undetectable to those picky eaters! Try this Italian Sausage Bolognese if you like this idea, feels like spaghetti with lots of hidden veggies!
- Use refrigerated tortellini, not dry - Refrigerated stuffed pasta is of pretty good quality these days! You can find it at any grocery store. It's worth the extra couple dollars over the dry variety that has been preserved and sitting on the shelf for who knows how long! I used a family sized package of Rana Three Cheese Tortellini.
No! Because fresh pasta has such a short cooking time (3 to 4 minutes), baking in the sauce is enough to cook the pasta through! Making sure the Italian sausage tortellini dish is covered while it bakes helps cook the pasta through.
I used a family size package (20oz) Rana Cheese Tortellini for this dish. Any refrigerated pasta that looks good and has a cooking time on the package of 3 to 4 minutes is fine to use in baked pasta. Use a package that is 18 to 20 ounces for this recipe.
Yes! Stashing a bag of fresh tortellini in your freezer is a great way to always have a homemade meal easy to throw together. You do not need to thaw it beforehand, but you may need to add about 10 minutes to the total baking time. Just be sure to taste a noodle to make sure they are cooked through.
More Favorite Pasta Recipes!
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One Pot Baked Tortellini with Italian Sausage
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- ½ to 1 pound mild or sweet ground Italian sausage
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 15 oz can crushed tomatoes (not the big can!)
- 20 oz refrigerated cheese tortellini uncooked
- 1 handful fresh spinach chopped or left whole
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella cheese sliced (or sub 1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella, provolone or white cheddar)
- fresh basil or parsley for serving chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- In a large oven-safe pot, over medium heat, brown the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. As it's browning, push the sausage to one side of the pan and saute the onion and peppers on the other side at the same time. The sausage may release enough fat to cook the onions and peppers in, if not, at a bit of olive oil. Stir each half occasionally, don't worry if they mix together a bit (about 10 to 15 minutes).
- When the sausage is fully cooked and nicely browned (drain the fat if you like) and the veggies softened, mix together, turn off the heat, and add all other ingredients except the fresh mozzarella.
- Mix everything together very well. Press the tortellini down into the sauce as best you can to ensure even cooking. Top with the slices of fresh mozzarella (you may not use all of it, depending on how cheesy you like it!).
- COVER (either with the pot lid or tin foil), and transfer to the oven. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cover and pull out a tortellini with a spoon to taste if it is done. Careful, it's hot! If it isn't, cover and cook 5 more minutes, then retest.
- When the pasta is cooked through, turn oven to high broil and return the pot uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes until the mozzarella is starting to brown and bubble (keep an eye on it!).
- Garnish with fresh chopped basil or parsley and serve.
- Make Ahead Instructions - You can make this dish 2 days in advance, follow the instructions up until you are ready to bake. Then cover it tightly and store in the fridge, deliver to a friend, or freeze (you can transfer to a casserole dish if that is easier to freeze). To bake, just thaw overnight in the fridge. You can leave it on the counter an hour before baking to take the chill of the fridge off, or just plan to add 10 to 15 minutes to the baking time. Definitely taste a noodle to make sure it's done!
- How to hide the veggies for kids! - If your kids are really good at picking every visible vegetable out of their food, try pulsing the veggies in a food processor before adding them in with the sausage. That way the veggies become part of the sauce, undetectable to those picky eaters!