This easy Tortellini with Creamy Tomato Sauce delivers a delicious, real food dinner in just 15 minutes. The tortellini cook right in the sauce for a true one pan wonder with rich flavor.

Small pasta bowl filled with tortellini cooked in a creamy tomato sauce with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

There’s not much more cozy and comforting than a bowl of tender filled pasta swimming in creamy sauce. This recipe has very classic flavors, with a creamy tomato sauce infused with subtle Italian seasonings. Even my choosy son gobbles it up and often requests any leftovers for his lunch the next day — a win if ever there were one!

Better yet, this recipe is extremely quick and simple. The tortellini simmer right in the sauce, which means no need to boil or drain water, and only one pot to wash. This technique also lets the sauce gently flavor the pasta, while the pasta’s starch naturally thickens the sauce.

Related: Try our much-loved creamy tomato tortellini soup for these flavors in a comforting bowl of soup, or a simple creamy tomato pasta with penne or rigatoni. Either is irresistible with slices of garlic bread or Texas toast.

Ingredients & Common Substitutions

Refrigerated tortellini, cream, tomato paste and sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, broth, and fresh basil arranged in prep bowls.

Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make this one-pan tomato tortellini, as well as possible substitutions. Find full amounts in the print-friendly recipe card below.

  • Refrigerated tortellini: Be sure to use the fresh kind sold in the refrigerated section. Dried tortellini will not cook as quickly in the sauce. Any type of filling is fine–our favorites are cheese or spinach.
  • Canned tomato sauce and tomato paste: Tomato sauce is the base of a perfectly smooth, creamy sauce, while tomato paste intensifies the flavor and thickens it slightly.
  • Cream or half and half: I have tested this with both; either, or a combination, works well.
  • Chicken or vegetable broth: This adds just enough liquid to produce a sauce in which the tortellini can cook. You could use extra cream or milk, instead, but I prefer the consistency with a bit of broth, not to mention the saving of calories and fat.
  • Minced garlic: Swap in 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, adding more to taste, in a pinch. If using powder, add it along with the Italian seasoning.
  • Dried Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.

You’ll also need a smidge of butter in which to sauté the garlic, and salt and pepper to add to taste.

Fresh basil is an optional garnish but definitely adds a nice pop of color. Grated or shredded Parmesan cheese is always a nice touch, as well.

How To Make a Tomato Sauce for Tortellini

Don’t even bother to get out a big pasta pot or colander for this recipe — it’s not needed.

You will need a skillet with a well-fitting lid, however. Covering the pan as the tortellini simmers in the sauce is crucial to ensuring the right amount of moisture stays in.

Your first step is simply to melt the butter, then briefly sauté the garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes in it. This mellows the garlic and enhances the paste and pepper.

Pour in the tomato sauce, broth, and Italian seasoning. Whisk well at this stage to ensure the tomato paste fully dissolves, then stir in the cream or half and half. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add in the tortellini and stir well.

Cover the pan and cook for five minutes. You’ll want to use medium-low or at most medium heat at this stage.

Overhead view of a skillet filled with a simple dish of creamy tomato tortellini.

I find my tortellini is usually done at this point, but if I cooked it from frozen or the heat was quite low, it may take an extra minute or two. It’s best to simply test and move on when the tortellini is fully tender and easy to pierce with a table fork.

A sprinkling of fresh basil or Parmesan, if desired, is all that’s needed to round out the dish. Spoon into bowls and dig in!

Close up view of cheese tortellini in a smooth tomato cream sauce.

Can you cook tortellini straight from frozen?

Yes, tortellini are a terrific freezer staple, because they can be cooked straight from frozen, either in a sauce such as this one or simply in rapidly boiling water. Just add 2-3 minutes to the stated cooking time. This is why tortellini recipes are a go-to meal here when we’ve otherwise failed to plan for dinner!

Can you cook tortellini in sauce instead of water?

Yes! Tortellini cook quickly and well in even a relatively small amount of liquid, so they are well-suited to cooking directly in a sauce for a true one-pan meal.

Angled view of creamy tomato tortellini in a low skillet.

Can I add veggies to this sauce?

For an even simpler one-pan meal, add veggies straight to this tomato sauce. Shredded carrots or frozen peas are my favorites: carrots can be added along with the garlic, so they become a little bit tender, while peas can be added at the same time as the tortellini. Chopped yellow onion or shallot can be tossed in with the garlic, as well, for another subtle dimension of flavor.

What To Serve With Tortellini

Tortellini are generally very filling, and can accompany a light salad or vegetable and still have a substantial meal. I love an easy spinach or Italian-style salad with this, or steamed broccoli, green beans, or peas. As for my husband, his favorite is pairing is this with roasted green beans or broccolini.

Want to go all out? Serve it up alongside garlic bread, garlic knots, or homemade breadsticks. Happy diners, guaranteed.

Storage & Reheating

Tortellini with tomato cream sauce keeps and reheats very well. This is a great meal to enjoy for dinner, then pack as a lunch the next day. Bring on the leftovers!

  • Store individual portions or a larger amount tightly-covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Reheat on full power in the microwave until warmed through. If warming on the stovetop, use medium-low heat, and if the sauce becomes too thick, add an extra splash of broth or water to loosen it back out.
  • Freezing, unfortunately, is not something I recommend. Creamy sauces do not generally freeze well, as they tend to separate when defrosted and reheated.
Table set with bowls of creamy tomato tortellini, with fresh basil, grated Parmesan, and black pepper in a grinder for extra flavor.

More Easy Tortellini Recipes

We always have tortellini on hand for a quick dinner! Try these favorites next: chicken tortellini soup, tortellini with mushrooms, creamy Tuscan tortellini, or creamy tortellini Alfredo. All fast, easy, and utterly delicious!

If you try this recipe for Tortellini with Tomato Sauce, 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.

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4.83 from 17 votes

Tortellini with Creamy Tomato Sauce

A delicious, real food dinner in just 15 minutes! The tortellini cook right in the sauce for a true one pan wonder with rich flavor.


  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • kosher salt & black pepper
  • 18 ounces refrigerated tortellini any kind
  • fresh grated Parmesan and basil optional for serving


  • Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. (Be sure to use a skillet with a lid.) Add garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant.
    1 Tablespoon butter, 2-3 cloves garlic, 2 Tablespoons tomato paste, pinch red pepper flakes
  • Add the tomato sauce, broth, and Italian seasoning, then stir well until the tomato paste is dissolved. Stir in cream or half and half, then sample and add salt and pepper to taste.
    1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half, kosher salt & black pepper
  • Stir in tortellini, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook for 5 minutes. Test a tortellini; if it is tender, remove from the heat and serve, but if it needs a few more minutes, return the lid and continue cooking as needed, checking every minute or so.
    18 ounces refrigerated tortellini
  • Serve right away with grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh basil or parsley. Enjoy!
    fresh grated Parmesan and basil


  • This makes a generous four helpings; if serving as a side dish or to kids, it will probably stretch to 5-6 servings.
  • If the sauce becomes too thick while the tortellini are cooking, or while reheating, stir in another 1-2 tablespoons of broth or water as needed.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 493 kcal, Carbohydrates: 60 g, Protein: 21 g, Fat: 19 g, Saturated Fat: 9 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0.1 g, Cholesterol: 72 mg, Sodium: 673 mg, Potassium: 165 mg, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 6 g, Vitamin A: 376 IU, Vitamin C: 3 mg, Calcium: 240 mg, Iron: 4 mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!

This post was originally published in October 2022 and has been updated with new photos and more helpful details on substitutions, variations, and tips and tricks for reheating.