Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce

Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce is super simple, super fast and super delish! It also has just a bit of a sophisticated air about it, which means it’s perfect fast meal for a family dinner or great if a friend or two drops by. “Would you like to stay for dinner?” “Umm, yes!”

Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce
Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce

I don’t know about you but I usually have a package of cheese tortellini in the pantry and they are such a great save for those “I have to eat but don’t know what to make and it’s 5:00” nights. Cheese Tortellini can be served plain, tossed with a tomato sauce or you can make this. A bit of asparagus, a simple browned butter sauce, a touch of garlic, lemon and herbs and a shaving of cheese and dinner is ready. In under 20 minutes. “Umm, yes!”

About Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce:

You’re gonna love the simple flavors of this dish and they’re just a bit unexpected. The tarragon is lovely and leans this dish a bit more toward the French than the Italian side of the spectrum. If you’re not a tarragon fan, a little combo of basil and oregano might be just your thing.

The Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce can be changed up in a few different ways. Leave out the meat if you’re looking for a vegetarian dish, or use ham or prosciutto. If asparagus isn’t your thing, try sun-dried tomatoes, Slow Roasted Oven Tomatoes or roasted bell peppers. Feel free to riff and make this dish your own.

The brown butter sauce is subtle and gives this dish just a little hit of panache with the touch of garlic to bring the flavors home. Leftovers get a little dry, though. Add some liquid or pull out a jar of something if you lean that way. Either a tomato or an alfredo sauce blend so well with the existing flavors and can give this dish an instant makeover.

Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce
Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce
Making Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce:

The biggest trick to making Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce is to really watch that butter. Use a heavy bottomed pan and be ready to immediately add in the pasta if it looks as if the butter is getting too hot. If the butter goes too far (you’ll see it separate and dark bits forming) you’ll need to start over.

Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce
Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce
Saving on Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce:

This whole meal is inexpensive, especially if the asparagus is in season and/or on sale. Check Aldi if you have one, for the asparagus. Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce is even more inexpensive if you leave out the ham or prosciutto and go totally vegetarian.

When shopping for the tortellini, if cost and convenience is a big consideration, go for the dried tortellini. A fresh, refrigerated tortellini is always going to be more tender and have an edge in the quality department.

The lemon and cheese are just gilding the lily. When serving a dish topped by cheese, you’re going to find that the price is usually less if you buy it by the block or wedge and grate or shave it yourself. I love shaving – less cheese but bigger flavor! I also love Romano over Parmesan. Romano is usually a bit stronger than Parm and costs less. A little goes a long way so it’s a great way to get more “bang for your buck” flavor-wise.

Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce
Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce


Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce

Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce

A simple but sophisticated dinner ready in under 20 minutes.

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings


8 to 9 ounce package dried or fresh cheese tortellini
2 teaspoons salt for water
8 ounces to 1 pound of thick asparagus, cut into 1 1/2″ lengths, stems separated from tips
4 tablespoons butter
cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or two teaspoons dried
4 ounces Prosciutto or thinly sliced ham, optional
1/2 lemon in wedges for garnish
Parmesan or Romano shavings for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, or if you have a large enough skillet, use that.

If using dried tortellini, add to pot and set timer for 8 minutes when it comes to a boil. After four minutes, add the asparagus ends and at 7 minutes, add the asparagus tips. Test pasta and when al dente, drain.

If using fresh tortellini, add the asparagus stems to the pot and simmer for 1 minute, then the pasta and simmer for two, then the asparagus stems and simmer for an additional minute until pasta is heated through but still al dente. Drain.

For fresh or dried tortellini:

In the pot, add the butter and heat over medium-high heat until butter begins to turn golden brown. Add garlic and prosciutto or ham, if using. Add tarragon. Add the pasta/asparagus back into the pot and toss.

Serve with shavings of Parmesan or Romano and wedges of lemon.


If planning on serving leftovers, do not store with the lemon or Parmesan. They become too strong with time.

Very thin asparagus may need to cook for slightly less time


I will be sharing Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce at Fiesta Friday #229, hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.


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Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce is quick, easy and elegant - perfect for family or company and ready in under 20 minutes. #CheeseTortelliniBrownButterSauce #CheeseTortelllini


21 Comments on “Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce

  1. My mother always browned butter. Maybe it’s a French thing? I’ll have to ask, although not sure if she’d have an answer now. But it’s just so darn good. Definitely in this pasta!

    • Hi Mimi, sorry to reply so late! I know I saw your comment so maybe only replied in my head! I don’t know why I didn’t put it together that you come from a French heritage – you’ve got it all, the looks, the name and the cooking talent! I never really ever heard of brown butter until I saw it on some cooking show or another but it is amazing! Especially in chocolate chip cookies, but that’s ano. post, lol!!

      • No big deal. Actually my DNA test showed that I was about 63% Italian, which didn’t make my mother very happy!!! My birth name was Marie-France. Nope. Wasn’t ever pronounced right or spelled right, and I’d always gone by Mimi unless I was in trouble, so when I was 18 I changed my name. I also changed my last name because I’d never gone by it, as I only knew my stepfather. So I dropped the Sicilian name and changed to Parma, my stepfather’s name. Also Italian. TMI? These days there’s no way I could probably do this, but back in 1974 I just signed a paper in an office!

        • I love family history so, no,, it’s all fascinating! My Dad came through as 1 percent Italian…from where we may never know, and 14 percent Scandinavian – probably his English/Scottish side mingled with the Norsemen! So that explains our freckles, lol!! Yes, my name got lengthened out when I was in trouble, too, haha!! If you did that today, you’d probably be on someone’s list. Bwaaaha!

    • Thank you, and so glad to be an inspiration!

  2. Browned butter sauce is a great way to dress pasta esp tortellini. I enjoy adding fresh sage leaves to the sauce in the last few minutes as well.

    • Sage is a great idea! It makes me wish I liked butternut squash more coz I could see using the brown butter sage sauce wiht the tortellini and the a little squash as the vegetable.

      • I like butternut squash but baked sweet potato works too. Dice it up and roast it in the oven with a little olive oil until browned and tender and add it to the sauce. 🙂

        • Ah, yes, sweet potato would be much more my style!! 🙂

    • Thanks! I love tortellini – and ravioli, too. Delish and they’re fun to eat!

  3. Looks lovely! Can hardly wait for spring to come around again and asparagus season.

    • Hi Barbara, we’re still having the most wonderful asparagus in the markets. I actually didn’t even check where it came from, but I do love those big thick spears. 🙂

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