Dried tortellini are a mainstay in my pantry. They’re great for a last-minute meal to whip up when I’m overdue for a grocery trip. Which happens a lot, admittedly.

Everything takes place in one skillet—after browning some sausage, the tortellini go directly into the same pan with some water. This not only keeps dish duty manageable, but it also keeps the tortellini from bursting open as they often do in vigorously boiling water.

Once the pasta is tender, cherry tomatoes join the party and soften into a makeshift sauce. Last, a shower of fresh basil makes this pantry meal feel a little fresher and more aromatic.—Brenna Donovan

Skillet Tortellini with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes FAQs

What is dried tortellini?

The dried tortellini called for in this recipe isn’t the frozen type nor the type you find in the refrigerated section in the supermarket. They are truly dried tortellini. They come in a bag or box and are found on store shelves, alongside the other dried pasta.

If you use other types of tortellini, the cooking times will be different, and the pasta can turn out mushy and break open. Yuck.

How can I make this vegetarian or even vegan?

Great question. Tester Natalie Dinki used Beyond Meat hot Italian sausage. That made the dish vegan. Badda bing, badda boom.

A pan of skillet tortellini with sausage and cherry tomatoes sprinkled with chopped basil.

Skillet Tortellini with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes

4.88 / 8 votes
After browning some sausage, the tortellini go directly into the same pan with some water. Once the pasta is tender, cherry tomatoes join the party and soften into a makeshift sauce. A shower of fresh basil makes this pantry meal feel a little fresher and more aromatic.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories786 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 ounces dried cheese tortellini, (see FAQ above)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt, plus more if needed
  • 8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


  • In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil until shimmering. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in water, pasta, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with olive oil to taste, and sprinkle with basil. Serve.
Five Ingredient Dinners Cookbook

Adapted From

Five Ingredient Dinners

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 786 kcalCarbohydrates: 52 gProtein: 29 gFat: 51 gSaturated Fat: 17 gMonounsaturated Fat: 19 gCholesterol: 140 mgSodium: 1749 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 5 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 America’s Test Kitchen. Photo © 2021 America’s Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This skillet tortellini with sausage and cherry tomatoes recipe was subtle yet delicious. The soft pillows of tortellini paired well with both the sweet and spicy sausages. The recipe called for either, but having both really gave the depth of flavor and a hint of heat that I was looking for.

Besides the overall flavor, I appreciated the technique used to cook the tortellini. Traditionally, pasta would be placed in a pot of boiling water, but doing this with the tortellini leads to them bursting. This recipe does a great job of preventing this from happening.

Something I kept a close eye on was the amount of water that would evaporate in the prescribed 15 minutes. In order to make a sauce, I typically like the liquid to concentrate enough to create a gloss on the pasta. However, this did not happen within 15 minutes. Recognizing this, I let the dish simmer down for another 5 to 10 minutes. That may sound like a lot of time to keep the tortellini in simmering liquid, but they came out perfect. And those extra minutes made a difference with the liquid level in the pan and its coating of the tortellini. From there, I added the tomatoes and the dish came out perfect.

To wrap up, this dish is definitely one of my favorites. It is simple and certainly decreases the amount of dishes normally used to create pasta dishes. This recipe will definitely be made again to create a family style meal for visiting friends.

I love a delicious meal that doesn’t use a lot of dishes. And this skillet tortellini with sausage and cherry tomatoes fits the bill. I made a couple of tweaks. First, I used spicy chicken Italian sausage rather than pork. Second, I added Parmesan cheese at the end because a pasta dish like this doesn’t seem complete without it. Also, I love cheese. A lot. A simple green salad and glass of chianti went beautifully with this dish.

Every cook deserves a “cheater” recipe that looks like the preparation might have been a bit more intense than it really was. In the end, the goal was tasty and fresh without burst tortellini. This was accomplished.

For a bit of extra festiveness with no additional work, I used hot Italian sausage, tricolour tortellini, and a cherry tomato medley. As I didn’t have fresh basil, I stirred in a teaspoon of basil pesto at the end. Fresco!

This is a simple, quick, and easy dish that can be very flexible. Be sure to use a sausage you really like, as that will be the main flavor you will taste here. There’s no draining and the tortellini will cook in the rendered fat. I used Beyond Meat hot Italian sausage and it worked well. Would also recommend ramping up the garlic and basil in this dish!

I’ve never cooked tortellini in a skillet and worried the skillet wouldn’t hold all the ingredients. But the recipe has it right. This came together so seamlessly. And I really appreciate that it was a one-skillet dish and didn’t require any draining! The only addition I made to the recipe as written was to shred some Parmesan on top of each plated dish before serving. Perfection!

This skillet tortellini with sausage and cherry tomatoes was an amazingly quick, easy, and tasty recipe. And it’ll definitely be on repeat at my house. I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and will keep this recipe for evenings when I am short on time. The entire meal was ready in about 30 minutes. It’s truly a one-pot meal with a minimal amount of clean-up.

I really liked that this was a quick recipe that was still homemade….no relying on premade sauces, precut produce, or other tricks.  The finished recipe was delicious and liked by the entire family. I topped the servings with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a little more basil than was called for. The only changes I would make in the future would be to brown the sausage for just a few more minutes to give it a more ‘browned’ look and add crushed red peppers for a bit more heat.

This was a good weeknight dish. Simple and delicious. Served with a salad.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is a staple for me, I make it at least once every other week. This is one of those recipes you can pull together in no time when you don’t know what to make. All ingredients are things I have on hand, and this comes together in one pan, with minimal prep, in 20 minutes. The flavor is incredible with the spices from the sausage, and the sauce that forms cooking the tortellini in the broth. One of the best recipes I have on hand for a weeknight dinner!

    1. Thanks, Hilary! We so pleased that this recipe is part of your regular rotation. Please let us know what you make next.