Sometimes a rich, indulgent pasta is exactly what you need to hit the spot. This easy Tortellini Carbonara has a homemade creamy sauce made from eggs and parmesan and the bacon scattered throughout provides the perfect amount of saltiness. Plus, with pre-made tortellini, the dish comes together in just 20 minutes.
Table of Contents
About this Pasta
Tortellini is one of my favorite pastas. The soft, pillowy texture with any variety of filling options - I never get sick of them! Plus, they take literally less than 5 minutes to make, so it’s a super convenient option for busy nights.
Add a homemade, rich, creamy and silky carbonara sauce and you’ve got quite the dinner. The sauce is traditional with eggs and parmesan that thicken together to create something magical. This Tortellini Carbonara is so simple, yet so tasty you’ll think it came straight out of the Cheesecake Factory.
Carbonara is traditionally served with spaghetti or rigatoni. However, as mentioned, I LOVE tortellini and it makes for a fun twist on this classic dish. And if you’re into tortellini comfort foods as much as I am, also try this Healthy Chicken Tortellini Soup that I think you and the whole family will obsess over as well.
- Tortellini - I recommend three cheese-filled tortellini or the chicken and garlic flavor.
- Bacon - Chopped finely, crispy bacon bits give the salty, deep flavor of a carbonara.
- Egg Yolks - The base of our sauce. Using just the yolks creates a richer, creamier sauce as compared to using whole eggs.
- Cheese - I used both parmesan and pecorino cheese. Make sure you get grated, so it can easily melt into the sauce.
- The Cheesecake Factory®’s Brown Bread - It's now available in Kroger! I love adding it to get restaurant taste at home, at a great value!
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions and Variations
- Pasta: Tortellini is the star of this recipe, but you could instead use spaghetti or penne to keep it more traditional.
- Sauce: The carbonara sauce is homemade in this recipe. Although homemade is best IMO, you can use a jarred carbonara, jarred Cacio E Pepe (peppery cream sauce), or jarred alfredo sauce if you’d like. If you’re using pre-made sauce, leave out the pasta water.
- Meat: Guanciale (which is pork) is the meat used in traditional carbonara. You can use that in place of the bacon or you could use crispy pancetta, too.
- Veggies: Add some veggies to your dish! Try frozen peas, sautéed onions or mushrooms, or stirring in some spinach.
How to Make This Tortellini Carbonara Recipe
1. Start by preparing the bacon. Use kitchen shears to cut it into small, bite sized pieces. Place it in a large skillet and turn to medium heat. Allow the bacon to cook, but avoid over crisping it. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan and keep the excess bacon grease in the pan.
2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, grated cheese, and ground pepper. Set aside.
3. Then bring a large pot of water to medium-high heat. Boil the tortellini for 1 minute less than according to package directions. Drain the tortellini, saving at least 1 cup of pasta water for the pasta.
4. Add the bacon greased skillet back to the warm stove burner that you used to boil the pasta, but keep it turned off (we want the raw eggs to warm from the residual heat, not scramble). Add butter, cooked bacon, cheese + egg mixture, and hot pasta to the skillet and mix fervently.
5. Gradually add pasta water into the mixture in increments of 2 tablespoons. Mix well, adding more pasta water if the sauce is too thick or tortellini looks dry. Serve tortellini carbonara immediately, garnished with parmesan cheese and black pepper. Enjoy!
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat the next day in the microwave for ~30-60 seconds, until warm throughout.
Carbonara is most often served with spaghetti noodles or rigatoni noodles. Penne is not uncommon either. This recipe, however, takes a little bit of a twist and uses tortellini instead, but feel free to use whatever type of pasta you’d like.
Alfredo is butter and cream based, whereas carbonara sauce is egg based and uses pasta water to thin it out.
Serve this dish alongside warm bread (try the Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread you can now purchase at Walmart, Jewel Osco, Kroger, etc!), a light side salad like this Spinach Quinoa Salad, or a cooked veggie like these Balsamic Green Beans. This tortellini dish is plenty hearty on its own, but if you want to add protein, grilled chicken would be a great option for a perfect meal.
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- Kitchen shears
- Slotted spoon
- Measuring cups and spoons
- rubber spatula or mixing spoon
- Sauce pot
- 1 package (20 oz) tortellini, chicken & garlic or three cheese
- 8 oz thick cut bacon, diced
- 3 egg yolks
- ¾ cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup grated pecorino cheese
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
- Start by preparing the bacon. Use kitchen shears to cut it into small, bite sized pieces. Place it in a cold skillet and turn to medium heat. Allow the bacon to cook, but avoid over crisping it.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan and keep the excess bacon grease in the pan.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, grated cheeses, and ground pepper. Set aside.
- Bring a sauce pot of water to medium-high heat. Boil the tortellini for 1 minute less than according to package instructions. Drain the tortellini, saving at least 1 cup of pasta water for the pasta.
- Add the bacon greased skillet back to the warm stove burner that you used to boil the pasta, but keep it turned off (we want the eggs to warm, not scramble). Add butter, bacon, egg/cheese mixture, and tortellini to the skillet and mix fervently.
- Gradually add pasta water into the mixture in increments of 2 tablespoons. Mix well, adding more pasta water if the sauce is too thick or tortellini looks dry.
- Serve tortellini carbonara immediately, garnished with more cheese and black pepper. Enjoy!
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