Brown Butter Bacon Tortellini
This brown butter Bacon Tortellini is quick and easy yet tastes luxurious, with cheesy tortellini, crisp bacon, tangy shallots, and tender peas. It makes a fantastic weeknight dinner but also is completely worthy of serving to company.
This is one of those meals I would love to make every week, because it tastes so delicious, is so easy to make, and delivers something that every member of my family can get excited about.
Store-bought tortellini is simple to make, but the addition of rich browned butter and crisp bacon really makes it shine as a cozy yet elevated weeknight treat. Best of all, this recipe still has just a few ingredients and can be done in about 30 minutes.
Serve portions with a quick side salad, roasted broccoli or another veggie, or with garlic bread for a decadent meal. Don’t forget more Parmesan for sprinkling at the table. You won’t hear complaints!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make this, as well as possible substitutions. Find full amounts in the print-friendly recipe card below.
- Fresh tortellini. My go-to are the type that are sold in the refrigerator or deli section, but for this recipe you can also use frozen or shelf-stable tortellini and simply cook according to the package directions. You can use cheese tortellini, spinach-filled, sausage-filled, or any other type that you like.
- Butter. I prefer unsalted, but if you usually cook with salted butter, by all means use that.
- Bacon. Cooking this in the pan renders bacon fat and flavor that becomes part of the sauce, but I’ve also made this with pre-cooked bacon in a pinch. Everyone still loved it!
- Shallot. Any onion would be a good substitute if needed.
- Frozen peas.
- Garlic. Fresh minced is best, jarred minced is a good substitute (estimate 1/2 teaspoon jarred per clove), and garlic powder works if needed (estimate 1/8 teaspoon powdered per clove). Use even more if you’re a big garlic lover.
- Grated Parmesan cheese. I don’t personally find it necessary to use fresh-grated here.
- Italian parsley, dried or fresh, and red pepper flakes make an optional but nice pop of color and finishing flavor at the end.
How To Make Bacon Tortellini
This is a general overview. As always, you will find full instructions with exact ingredients and times in the print-friendly recipe card below.
- Cook tortellini. Boil a large pot of water, add salt, cook just to al dente, then drain and set aside.
- Brown butter. This is the step that really packs in the flavor!
- Crisp up the bacon. There are a few ways to do this, but my preference is to cook full strips for a couple minutes on each side in the skillet, then finish crisping in the microwave.
- Finish the sauce. Shallot, peas, and garlic go in.
- Combine everything. Plus plenty of Parmesan, of course!
Season with salt to taste, but bacon is so salty that I typically find adding extra unnecessary.
If you can only pay close attention for 5 minutes, make it the 5 minutes while the butter is browning. The butter will melt, then start to foam and bubble, and then develop brown flecks and a nutty aroma. That’s the point to pour it from the pan into a bowl. If you wait too long, it will burn and you’ll have to start over! It should be a rich brown color as shown in the photo below.
Recipe FAQs & Expert Tips
What’s the best way to crisp bacon for a recipe?
There are a few different ways to cook bacon for use in a recipe, and really the best way is just what delivers the crispness you like. I prefer to cook full strips the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, then remove the strips to a paper towel-lined plate, fold the paper towel over top of the bacon, then microwave in 30 second bursts until it’s as crispy as we like it. This saves time and gets bacon really crisp while still giving you lots of bacon flavor in the pan sauce.
You can also cut or chop the bacon into small pieces before adding it to the pan. I personally find this method takes longer to cook for really crispy bacon. It also makes it harder to soak up some of the excess rendered fat. This is why I prefer to cook the strips whole, then chop or crumble into bits.
Could I make this without bacon?
Yes; try substituting toasted walnuts for a similarly crunchy effect that will still go really well with the browned butter. Admittedly, this will not be bacon tortellini, but it will be very tasty.
Without bacon, this will be vegetarian, but keep in mind that to make it vegan you would have to use a dairy-free butter and omit the Parmesan, at which point you would be compromising a lot of the intended flavors.
Storage & Reheating
- Storage: Place leftovers in any airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. (These are our favorite meal prep boxes for the fridge.)
- Reheating: Warm portions in the microwave or in a small pan over medium heat on the stovetop. If it starts to look dry, stir in a small splash of water or broth.
Love using tortellini for an easy pasta dish? You’re in the right place! Creamy tortellini Alfredo with peas, tomato tortellini soup, and tortellini with butter and mushrooms are some of our favorite ways to prepare this staple. In the mood for a cream sauce? Creamy Tuscan tortellini hits the spot every time.
If you try this Brown Butter Bacon Tortellini recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Brown Butter Bacon Tortellini
- 16-20 ounces tortellini any flavor, see note
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 4-5 strips of bacon
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- dried parsley, salt, and red pepper flakes optional garnish
- Cook tortellini. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add tortellini and cook just to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.16-20 ounces tortellini
- Brown butter. While the tortellini cooks, set a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Let the butter melt, then bubble, then begin to turn brown, all while swirling the pan occasionally. When the butter is medium brown with darker flecks speckled throughout, and has a slightly nutty aroma, pour it out of the skillet and into a bowl. Set the butter aside and return pan to the heat.6 Tablespoons butter
- Cook bacon. Add bacon strips to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until nice and crisp, then remove bacon to a small plate and set aside. (You can also cook or finish the bacon in the microwave to save time.)4-5 strips of bacon
- Finish sauce. Add shallot to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until beginning to soften. Stir in the peas and continue to cook until the pan starts to sizzle again. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.1 shallot, 2 cups frozen peas, 2-3 cloves garlic
- Combine. Stir the browned butter and drained tortellini back into the skillet. Stir in Parmesan. Crumble the cooked bacon into small pieces and mix in or reserve to top individual portions. Season with salt to taste, and garnish with parsley, red pepper, and more Parmesan as desired. Enjoy!1/2 cup grated Parmesan, dried parsley, salt, and red pepper flakes
- Tortellini: My go-to are the type sold in the refrigerator or deli section, but for this recipe you can also use frozen or shelf-stable tortellini and simply cook according to the package directions. You can use cheese-filled, spinach-filled, sausage-filled, or any other type that you like.
- Bacon: I like to cook the bacon in the skillet for 2-3 minutes on each side, then remove the strips to a paper towel-lined plate, fold the paper towel over top of the bacon, then microwave in 30 second bursts until it’s as crispy as we like it. This saves time and gets bacon really crisp while still giving you lots of bacon flavor in the pan sauce. You can also cut or chop the bacon into small pieces before adding it to the pan, but I find this makes it take a lot longer to cook and also makes it harder to soak up some of the excess rendered fat in the end, so my personal preference is to cook the strips whole, then crumble.
- Garlic: Fresh minced is best, jarred minced is a good substitute (estimate 1/2 teaspoon jarred per clove, so 1 teaspoon or a little more total for this recipe), and garlic powder works if needed (estimate 1/8 teaspoon powdered per clove, so 1/4 teaspoon or a little more total).