Tortellini is a stuffed pasta variety that is not very easy and quick to make from scratch. This is why there is the frozen version of this cheese or meat-stuffed pasta.
Having a bag of frozen tortellini in your fridge means that you can have an amazing Italian-style meal ready in just under 30 minutes.
But how to cook frozen tortellini? There are a few methods for cooking frozen tortellini. The most popular method is cooking the tortellini in boiling water. However, you can also cook frozen tortellini in an instant pot and microwave too, as well as bake it in the oven.
In this article, we give you step-by-step instructions for cooking frozen tortellini using different methods. Additionally, we also give you tips for how to have fun with frozen tortellini and make your tortellini dishes more versatile.
What Is Tortellini?
Tortellini is a pasta variety that originated in Emilia, a historical region of northern Italy.
Tortellini is a ring-shaped stuffed pasta that is hard to confuse with any other pasta variety. Some people say that tortellini look like mini croissants or wontons.
Tortellini are stuffed with cheese, meat, or a mixture of both. Traditionally, tortellini stuffing is a mixture of minced pork or veal. It also often contains prosciutto, mortadella, ricotta or parmesan cheese, and nutmeg.
The traditional way of serving tortellini is in broth. This is what the Italians call tortellini in brodo. But you can serve with a cheese topping, tomato, or pesto sauce after cooking the tortellini in plain boiling water.
While fresh homemade tortellini is always better, not everyone has the time and the skills to make this stuffed pasta. And it’s not always possible to buy fresh tortellini from nearby stores.
Luckily, tortellini comes in a frozen variety too. Commercially produced frozen tortellini has a long shelf life and it’s easy to cook for when you need a quick dinner.
You can freeze homemade tortellini too. Make a big batch of your favorite meat or cheese-stuffed tortellini and freeze it for later use.
How To Cook Frozen Tortellini
Frozen tortellini makes a quick and easy meal. You don’t have to spend much time on preparation and the cooking process itself doesn’t take that long.
There are a few methods for cooking frozen tortellini. You can choose one depending on how much time you have, how you like to eat your tortellini, and how easy you want the process to be.
Do You Need To Thaw Tortellini Before Cooking?
What makes cooking frozen tortellini so easy is the fact that you don’t need to defrost it before cooking. Tortellini will defrost and start cooking once you put it into the hot liquid.
But frozen pasta does take a little longer to cook than fresh pasta. So, keep that in mind when cooking frozen tortellini.
4 Ways to Cook Frozen Tortellini
There are multiple methods for cooking frozen tortellini. Here are step-by-step instructions for each of them.
Method #1: In Boiling Water
Boiling frozen tortellini is the most straightforward way of cooking this stuffed pasta variety.
Even if cooking is not your strong suit and you don’t know much about various cooking methods and kitchen appliances, you can’t go wrong with this one.
- Take a large pot and fill it with half a gallon of water or until there is 2 inches of headspace between the water and the top of the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil. You can use high heat to make the water come to a boil faster.
- Add salt to the boiling water. It is suitable to add 1-2 tablespoons of salt per half a gallon of water. Make sure you don’t skip this step as the salt added to the boiling water does add flavor to the pasta.
- Put the tortellini on a large spoon and submerge them into the boiling water. Doing this will prevent the tortellini from sticking to each other and breaking open.
- As the tortellini cook, don’t forget to stir them to ensure that they don’t stick together.
- Cook the tortellini for as many minutes as the packaging says. It usually takes stuffed pasta 10-12 minutes to cook.
- If you are not sure if the tortellini are cooked, take one out and give it a try. If it’s not ready, cook the rest for an additional 2 minutes.
- Once ready, use a slotted spoon to take the tortellini out of the water.
- Serve the tortellini with your favorite pasta sauce or cheese topping.
Method #2: In the Oven
Cooking frozen tortellini in the oven is a great place to start experimenting with your stuffed frozen pasta. Aside from the frozen tortellini, you will need a couple of other common pasta ingredients.
Here’s how to cook frozen tortellini in the oven.
- Start with preheating the oven to 400°F.
- For a 20-ounce bag of frozen tortellini, combine a jar of tomato sauce with 1 ½ cup of water, and shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Pour the mixture into the baking pan and add in the tortellini.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
- After 35 minutes, uncover the pan. Top the tortellini with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted.
Method #3: In An Instant Pot
If you own an instant pot and you cook frozen tortellini often, then it is certainly worth trying to cook the frozen stuffed pasta in it. Here’s how to do it.
- Put the tortellini in the instant pot.
- Add a cup of water for a 19-ounce bag of frozen tortellini. You may think that there is little liquid in the pot. But you don’t need the liquid to cover the tortellini. So, a cup of water is enough. Don’t pour less water into the instant pot even if you are cooking half the bag of frozen tortellini as the instant pot needs at least a cup of water to create pressure.
- Set the instant pot at High pressure and cook the tortellini for 2 minutes. You can cook the stuffed pasta for 1-3 minutes too depending on how firm you like the cooked tortellini to be.
- When the cooking time is over, do a quick pressure release.
- Drain the tortellini if there is any liquid left in the pot.
- Add your favorite pasta sauce, top with cheese, fresh spinach, or heavy cream, and enjoy.
Method #4: In The Microwave
Another quick method for cooking frozen tortellini is using the microwave. Here’s how.
- Put a cup of frozen tortellini in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Add ¼ cup of water.
- Add 2 tablespoons of tomato pasta sauce. You can skip this step and add the sauce when the tortellini is ready.
- Cover the bowl with food wrap.
- Microwave on High for 2 minutes.
- Stir the tortellini, cover it, and microwave on High for another 2 minutes.
- When you remove the tortellini from the microwave, let it stand for 2-3 minutes before you start eating.
Tips For Cooking Frozen Tortellini
Cooking frozen tortellini can be more fun than you think. Aside from boiling the stuffed pasta and serving it with a cheese topping and tomato sauce, try one of these tips to spice up your tortellini dishes.
Cook Tortellini In Tomato Soup
If you love tomato soup but like to be more filling at times, just cook tortellini in it. Frozen tortellini cooks perfectly well not only in water but in any other liquid too.
You can use homemade or a can of store-bought tomato soup to cook tortellini in. You can cook tortellini in your favorite type of broth too. Add a couple of other ingredients, and your quick tortellini soup is ready.
Make Tortellini Skewers
A creative way to serve tortellini is on skewers. Thread your favorite tortellini on skewers along with such ingredients as cherry tomatoes, olives, basil leaves, or roasted bell peppers!
Tortellini skewers are a convenient way to serve this stuffed pasta for parties. It is also a great way to make kids eat tortellini if they don’t like eating it served in the traditional way.
Toss Them In Stir-Fry
If you need a creative way to serve frozen tortellini, cook them al dente and stir-fry them with the vegetables of your choice. You can use frozen or fresh vegetables for the tortellini stir-fry.