If you’re looking for an easy, indulgent pasta dinner, then this Tortellini Carbonara will hit the spot. We take a classic carbonara sauce, add a little bit of cream, frozen peas, and perfectly cooked fresh tortellini pasta for an easy twist on tradition.
You know what? Sometimes you just need a big bowl of carb-y, creamy, cheese-filled tortellini carbonara.
At least I do.
This super easy, quick weeknight meal will solve all your comfort food cravings, and I insist you make it as soon as you feel the urge for something a little indulgent. (If you’re looking for a lighter pasta without cream, check out our One Pot Fresh Tomato Pasta or our Easy Shrimp Pappardelle.)
Instead of tossing our favorite carbonara sauce with aldente spaghetti noodles, I chose to intertwine it with cheese-filled, quick-cooking tortellini and a handful of frozen peas – because we gotta have some veggies in there, don’t we?
I’m sure all of your are familiar with a carbonara sauce, but for those that aren’t, it’s basically a creamy sauce made of just eggs, cheese, and pasta water instead of cream. We skated the rules a little bit on this one with the addition of cream, because well, we can. So please, any spaghetti carbonara purists out there, don’t come at me.
Let’s make it!
Ingredients in Tortellini Carbonara
Fair warning, tortellini carbonara is indulgent, and the ingredients reflect that, let’s discuss.
Bacon. Carbonara is nothing without bacon. I like to use a thick-cut smoked bacon, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Pancetta is lovely too.
Garlic. This isn’t a necessary ingredient and most carbonara recipes don’t call for it, but since this isn’t a traditional carbonara, I added it in.
Cream. Like I said, a traditional carbonara does not have cream in it, but this ones does. All you need is a 1/2 cup.
Eggs. We can’t call tortellini carbonara, carbonara without eggs. I opt to only use the egg yolks here for richness and to thicken the sauce. Add in an extra yolk if you want.
Cheese. Lots and lots of FRESHLY grated parmesan cheese. It’s really important to use freshly grated parmesan cheese, and I high recommend picking up parmigiano reggiano. It can be pricey, so if you want to get something a little more affordable, swap it out with an aged parmesan.
Tortellini. We use a cheese-filled tortellini, but use whatever you want! Oh, and make sure it’s fresh or frozen fresh.
Peas. Peas, bacon, and cream is a trio that belongs together, plus I feel a little bit better knowing my kiddos are at least getting something green in their bellies.
Let’s make tortellini carbonara!
Cook the bacon. You can either cook the bacon whole, and then chop it later, or chop it before and then cook it. Totally a personal choice.
You know the drill, cook until the bacon is super crispy! Use a slotted spoon to to take all of the bacon out and drain a paper towel.
Make the sauce. Whisk the egg yolks, cream, salt, and cheese together in a small bowl.
Cook the garlic. I pour out all but about a tablespoon of bacon grease. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, no longer. Turn the heat down to low and whisk in the cream sauce. Scrape up any bits at the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir frequently while cooking the sauce on a low heat.
Cook the tortellini. Add the tortellini to a big pot of boiling water. Boil one minute less than your package says. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the carbonara sauce. Reserve pasta water.
Toss everything together. Add the frozen peas. Continue to toss everything together until the cheese has melted. If you need to, add in a little bit of pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Don’t overcook the tortellini! Fresh tortellini takes virtually no time to cook, so make sure you cook it for LESS time than the package says since it will continue to cook when we toss the pasta with carbonara sauce.
- Use pancetta in place of bacon.
- Fresh baby spinach would also be a great addition.
- Be sure to cook your sauce on a LOW heat. Because there are egg yolks in the sauce, you don’t want the eggs to curdle. Cooking the tortellini carbonara over a low heat ensures they won’t.
- For a little kick, add in lots of freshly cracked black pepper.
Other favorite easy pasta meals
- One Pot Creamy Tomato Pasta and Meatballs is our FAVORITE creamy tomato-based pasta. It only has a hint of cream, but still feels really luxurious.
- Our Cheesy Pasta Gratin is only FIVE ingredients and tastes virtually no time to throw together.
- This Easy Greek Skillet Pastitsio is one of my favorite pasta recipes of all time. We take classic pastitsio and turn it into a one-pan skillet meal perfect for a weeknight.
- 3 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 10 oz package favorite tortelloni
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- large pot
- Large skillet
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
- Add bacon to a large skillet. Set the skillet over a medium heat. Cook until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. If you cooked bacon whole, chop. Drain all but one tablespoon of bacon fat.
- While the bacon cooks, whisk cream, eggs yolks, cheese, and salt together in a small bowl.
- Add tortellini to boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes less than the package instructs.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low in the same skillet you cooked the bacon in. Add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the cream, egg, and cheese mixture. Turn the heat down to low. Continue to cook the sauce, while whisking frequently until the cheese melts.
- Once the pasta has cooked 2 minutes less than the package says, use a slotted spoon or sieve to transfer the pasta to the cream sauce. Reserve the pasta water. Toss the tortellini with the sauce and continue to cook on low until the cheese melts. Add the frozen peas and continue to toss until they are defrosted. If needed, add a little bit of hot starchy pasta water to loosen the sauce up. Once the cheese has melted and the sauce has a nice consistency, add the bacon to the pasta. Toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.