Looking for a quick and simple weeknight dinner idea? This delicious tortellini and meatballs is a dinner everyone in the family will love. Made with a simple meatball marinara sauce and refrigerated store-bought tortellini, this tortellini marinara will quickly become a weeknight dinner staple.
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Looking for a simple dinner option to feed your family? This tortellini and meatballs recipe is fantastic and super easy! Made with store-bought, refrigerated tortellini, frozen meatballs and jarred marinara sauce, this recipe couldn’t be easier.
To make the meatball marinara I’ll show you how to add a few ingredients to make it the perfect sauce for the tortellini.
In this post I’ll also give you some suggestions on what to serve this recipe with, how to store leftovers and the best ingredients to buy.
What do I need to make tortellini marinara?
- Frozen meatballs – using frozen meatballs that you get from the frozen foods section of the grocery store is a huge time-saver. I recommend selecting a medium or large meatball.
- Tortellini – another great time-saver, I recommend buying a package of refrigerated tortellini from the prepared foods/refrigerated pasta section. You can also use dry/shelf-stable tortellini or frozen tortellini, just allow for time to cook these prior to adding them to the sauce.
- Marinara sauce – select a jar of your favorite marinara sauce. I like to look for sauces without added sugar.
- Diced tomatoes – a can of petite diced tomatoes is a great way to add some volume to your sauce.
- Italian Herbs – Italian Herbs can be found in the spice section of the grocery store. It is a mix of oregano, basil, rosemary and other spices.
- Garlic Salt – a small amount of garlic salt is the perfect addition to bring in extra flavor to the sauce.
- Mozzarella Cheese – adding a layer of shredded Mozzarella cheese to the top of this tortellini will take it from good to amazing!
For exact ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe. Thanks!
How do I make meatball marinara?
To make meatball marinara sauce, start by bringing your frozen meatballs to temperature. If you’re starting with frozen meatballs, add them to a skillet along with about 1/2 cup of water. Turn the heat to medium-high and place a lid over the skillet.
The meatballs will begin to defrost and steam. Stir with a spoon every 3-4 minutes, allowing them to brown slightly. The water will evaporate off, and the meatballs will be thawed and begin to brown on the outside.
Once the meatballs have browned, add in the jarred marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning and garlic salt. Stir together to combine.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, allowing the sauce to simmer.
Adding the tortellini to the meatball marinara
Once the sauce comes to a simmer, you can add the refrigerated tortellini directly to the sauce.
There is no need to pre-boil or cook the tortellini before you add it to the sauce. The tortellini will cook in the simmering sauce. This helps the tortellini maintain its shape and still heat the internal filling of the pasta.
Note: if you are using dry (shelf-stable) tortellini or frozen tortellini, these will need to be cooked to al dente prior to being added to the sauce.
Ingredient Substitutions and Recommendations:
- Refrigerated Tortellini – there are a couple other options for tortellini. Instead of purchasing refrigerated tortellini, you can also find shelf-stable tortellini in the pasta section of the grocery store. You can also find frozen tortellini in frozen food section.
- Ricotta cheese – if you’re looking to add some extra volume and richness to this tortellini marinara, a few dollops (about 1/2 cup) of ricotta cheese is a fantastic addition.
- Grated Parmesan cheese – grab a wedge of good quality Parmesan cheese and give each serving a generous shred just before serving. It will feel like you’re sitting at your favorite Italian restaurant!
For exact ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions be sure to scroll down to the recipe at the bottom of the post. Thanks!
Adding cheese to the tortellini marinara
Once the tortellini marinara come to a simmer, top generously with shredded mozzarella cheese. Add the lid back to the skillet for 2-3 minutes. After a couple of minutes the cheese will be melted and the tortellini and meatballs will be ready to serve.
Once the tortellini and meatballs is served, try adding some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
What can I serve with tortellini marinara?
This easy dinner option can be served with a simple vegetable side dish or side salad. Here are some delicious side dishes that would be perfect with this tortellini:
- Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad
- Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic
- Roasted Rainbow Carrots
- Italian Chopped Salad
- Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- Simple Green Salad topped with my Healthy Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe or Lemon Olive Oil Dressing.
Frequently asked questions about cooking with tortellini and meatballs:
Tortellini is best served in a marinara sauce or white alfredo sauce. It can also be served with meats, such as chicken, meatballs, sausage, or shrimp.
While both are made with either a ricotta cheese or meat filling, the shapes of these two pastas are different. Tortellini has a ring, crescent or wonton shape, where ravioli are square in shape with a crimped edge.
While a cheese filling is most common, tortellini can also be stuffed with meat and/or vegetables. Common fillings include ricotta and spinach, sausage and cheese or other combinations.
Depending if you have dry, refrigerated or frozen tortellini, the cook times will vary. Be sure to follow package directions for how long to cook. You’ll know the tortellini is done cooking when it floats to the top of the water.
Tortellini and meatballs can be easily baked in the oven. Check out my recipe at Real Housemoms for Easy Baked Tortellini and Meatballs.
If you are using refrigerated tortellini (not dry or frozen tortellini) it can be cooked directly in a sauce without boiling in water.
If you loved this cheese tortellini recipe, check out some of our other similar recipes:
- 1 (28 oz) pkg. frozen Italian meatballs
- 1 (20 oz.) pkg., refrigerated cheese tortellini
- 1 (24 oz.) jar, marinara sauce
- 1 (14 oz.) can, petite diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Italian herbs
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Begin defrosting the frozen meatballs in a large skillet. Add the frozen meatballs to a large skillet, and add 1/2 cup water. Heat over medium-high heat. The water will begin to simmer and defrost the meatballs. Heat for 6-8 minutes, turning the meatballs often. The water will evaporate off and the meatballs will being to brown. Turn the meatballs to brown on all sides for another 3-4 minutes.
- Once the meatballs have browned and are completely heated through, add in the marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian herbs and garlic salt. Stir together to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low and bring the sauce to a simmer. This will take approximate 3-4 minutes.
- Once the sauce comes to a simmer, add in the refrigerated tortellini. (Note - since the refrigerated tortellini is already soft, you do not need to pre-cook. Adding the tortellini directly to the sauce will bring the tortellini to temperature without over cooking.) Simmer the tortellini in the sauce for 3-5 minutes.
- Top the tortellini and meatballs with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Add a lid back to the skillet and let the cheese melt over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
Note - the refrigerated tortellini does not need to be boiled prior to being added to the sauce. After testing we discovered that when the tortellini is boiled it quickly falls apart after being added to the sauce. The best results were when the refrigerated tortellini is warmed directly in the sauce. It heats through and holds its shape well.
If you are using dry or frozen tortellini - these will need to be boiled prior to being added to the sauce. Cook only until al dente (2 minutes shorter than the listed package cook times.)
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigertor. The leftovers will keep for up to 5 days refrigerated.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 378Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 592mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 10g