Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Tortellini

Well, this was amazing.

And, quite honestly, a little unexpected. So much so that we had already sat down to dinner and started chowing, when I abstractedly noticed the first few bites were being met with “wow” and “mmmm” and “seriously this is awesome” by my table partners. I shouted “STOP!! Stop eating!” as I realized the importance of documenting this meal for blogging posterity before it was all completely inhaled. No one stopped, story of my life, so I quickly grabbed my plate, scraped the tortellini onto something {slightly} more presentable, scooted the oblivious eaters out of the way to get to good light, and snapped a couple pictures.

What started out as an experiment-slash-means-to-a-dinner-end proved to be a new family favorite. It’s already been requested for birthday dinners, anniversaries (not the marriage kind, the “I haven’t hit my brother in three weeks kind”), and just becauses. All the while I’m sitting here thinking how it’s going to save my life this winter. Comforting, delicious, and so, so easy.

If you haven’t experienced the delightfulness of butternut squash in pasta (like here, here and here), you’re missing out. The very lightly sweet, winter squash makes the perfect creamy, cheesy, silky smooth sauce and is wonderful with the tender tortellini.

Seriously. That sauce is sooooo yummy. Plus, can we just talk about how the slow cooker wins again? I’m nominating her for best appliance in the history of ever.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Tortellini

What To ServeRoasted broccoli or skillet green beans
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Green salad or fresh fruit

One Year Ago: Foolproof No-Stir Homemade Caramels {With Step-by-Step Tutorial}
Two Years Ago: Homemade Green Enchilada Sauce
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Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Tortellini

Yield: Serves 6-8

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Tortellini

All tortellini are not created equal, I'm afraid. Based on past experience and recipes, I don't think the dry tortellini in the pasta aisle will work out very well (but that's just an untested opinion). I highly recommend using refrigerated tortellini (I usually get mine from Costco but have seen it at my grocery store, too).

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 4 cups or so)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 to 8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular (depending on how creamy you want it), cubed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving, if desired
  • 1 1/2 pound refrigerated tortellini (see note above)

Directions

  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is starting to soften, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
  2. Place the butternut squash in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Add the sautéed onion and garlic and then pour in the chicken broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  3. Add the cubes of cream cheese and the Parmesan cheese to the slow cooker. Stir until mostly melted. Using an immersion blender (or using a blender or food processor in batches), blend the mixture until smooth (and return it to the slow cooker if needed). Stir in the tortellini. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until the tortellini are tender.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/slow-cooker-butternut-squash-tortellini/

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (inspired by this recipe and this one, too)

105 Responses to Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Tortellini

  1. Sheila says:

    We love butternut squash and I have one sitting on the counter! We were away last week and so here it is Monday morning and I was sitting here agonizing over the age old question, “What will I fix for supper?” . Have I told you lately just how wonderful my family thinks you are — creative, giving, talented, hard working with a great sense of humor? Thanksgiving for all you do flows around here not just in November but throughout the year. 🙂

  2. Kaitlyn says:

    This looks lovely. We gobbled down your butternut squash stuffed shells last night and cant wait to get to the leftovers for lunch. This however, looks equally as lovely and slow cooker…… yes please!

  3. Helen says:

    What a great way to start the day!! Not only did I get to read an email from my boy in Armenia… who reported he made breadsticks and scones (the fryed in oil kind).. “thanks for teaching me how to cook Mommy… the recipes you sent with me are really coming in handy” .. Many of those recipes include ones from MKC. I get to read this totally fun post by you and I now know what to do with the butternut squash that has been sitting on my counter staring at me for a couple of weeks now. And the bonus is that my hubby who had to head to the city this morning for a work related meeting was already planning a stop at Costco on the way home, so I can get the good tortellini too!! Can’t wait to try this. Bring on Halloween week… hope you have a great one with your kiddo’s !!

  4. Jodi says:

    Yum! This looks and sounds amazing! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks Mel!

  5. Jane says:

    The refrigerated tortellini I see at the store is usually filled with cheese or herbs. Is the tortellini you used filled?

  6. Dana says:

    Yummmm… I was going to cook squash tonight anyway- this sounds like a great way to try it. Any tips on peeling the squash? I’ve never peeled one before though I’ve baked it a million times. The skin seems to so hard. Thanks in advance!

    • Amanda says:

      Peeling and cutting up butternut squash used to be a total pain for me until I discovered this tip. Cut the squash into two parts – the long upper part, and the round part at the bottom. It makes it easier to hold this way. Peel it with a regular vegetable peeler. Chop it up into cubes (or whatever you need). There will be seeds in the round part, just scrape them out 🙂 No need to buy the pre-cubed containers of squash at the grocery store.

    • Lauri says:

      I’ve used both a vegetable peeler & a regular knife. Either way, the key is to cut it up into sections first. If you decide to use a regular knife, make “solid” chunks that will sit flat on your cutting board and just slice down the outside.

    • Alicia says:

      I saw a tip here on MKC quite a while back I’ve been using with great success. I stab the squash just a few times to keep it from exploding, then put it (whole) in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. It totally softens the skin (even though it is hot). I either let it cool first then peel, or grab a hot pad and do it if I’m in a hurry. It works great.

    • Mel says:

      Hey Dana – great question. The skin is really tough but I usually use a vegetable peeler. This method from The Kitchn is basically how I do it if I’m not buying it at Costco already peeled and cut for me (so spoiled).

      http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-peel-and-cut-butternut-squash-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-65196

  7. Laurel says:

    Looks so cozy and comfy can’t wait to enjoy this on a cold winter day.

  8. Gail says:

    Hi Mel: I have he butternut squash chopped and in the slow cooker….heading out for the tortellini soon. This sound wonderful…..will let you know how hubby and I like it. Thanks for all the time and effort you expend to ensure those of us with no imaginations, can find, such great recipes. Have a wonderful day Mel.

  9. K34 says:

    Mel,
    My husband hates cream cheese. Would this turn out okay if I left it out? Is there something I can substitute, like do you think just basic cream would work?
    Thanks in advance!
    PS Thanks for saving me at dinnertime daily for five years now 🙂

  10. Lauri says:

    Hmmmm – my husband hates squash, but I might make this when he isn’t looking & see if he’ll eat it… I’m all about the crockpot lately too. I even made my Thanksgiving ham (I’m Canadian) in it this year. It came out perfect & it was nice to not juggle oven space for all the sides.

  11. Paige says:

    Yum! This looks like such an easy meal to pull together! We’ll have to put this on the menu plan for next week because my husband loves all things tortellini!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  12. Karen says:

    Been making your recipes for years now and they never disappoint. Thanks Mel!

  13. K34 says:

    Do you think it would turn out well enough if I left out the cream cheese? Or used heavy cream instead?

    • Mel says:

      Leaving out the cream cheese would make it less creamy and probably a bit less thick but you could definitely try.

      • K34 says:

        Report (for anyone else who might have husbands against cream cheese too!) — I used 1/2 cup cream instead of the cream cheese. It is delicious! I’m sure it’s missing the tangy element (maybe sometime I will try Fage) but it’s still definitely worth eating and so super easy. Thanks for a great recipe and for saving me at dinnertime pretty much every night for the past five years 🙂

  14. Melanie says:

    I’m so sad it’s too late in the day to start this for dinner tonight……tomorrrow it is!

  15. Teresa says:

    Wow, haven’t seen you in my newsfeed for a while…So glad..This looks amazing, I wonder if the dry would work if you cooked it according to the package and just stirred it in…

  16. Lisa says:

    This looks amazing. What are your thoughts on adding a bit of maple syrup to the squash mixture? I love pumpkin ravioli with maple cream sauce but I’m not sure if maple will go well with the other flavorings in this recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Hmmm, I’m not sure. I probably wouldn’t add it because I don’t like savory dishes to have too much sweetness and the butternut already adds a touch of sweet but if you like the flavor combo, I think it’s worth a try.

  17. Sarah says:

    I want this right now! Next week meal plan for sure.

  18. This looks so good! I wish they made versions of pre-made tortellini thats gluten free.

    • angie says:

      There is a brand of GF tortellini’s that I purchase for my son.. Conte’s pasta, if you have a Wegman’s near you, they carry the brand. Hope this helps.

  19. angie says:

    Making this tonight with pumpkin puree I have in the freezer. Thanks for the very quick dinner idea.

  20. Rita says:

    Do you think frozen cubed squash would work?

  21. Cathy says:

    Hi – I was wondering if the tortellini you used was cheese or meat – my Costco carries both… ?

  22. Tricia says:

    Tried it, LOVED it!! I added about 3 sauteed chicken breasts cut into pieces….perfect, complete meal with some crusty bread and a salad or steamed vegetable. Another winner from Mel!
    Thanks so much and keep them coming!
    Tricia

  23. Amy W. says:

    I am not a squash person. I eat it maybe once a year to be polite at my mother-in-law’s house. I tried this recipe tonight, and I can honestly say that this is one of the most delicious meals I have ever created. I used the Costco tortellini and it was divine. I also omitted the sage as I am not a fan of safe and it was still amazing. Wow. Thanks, Mel!!!

  24. I made this and it WAS fabulous. I didn’t have chicken broth so i added a tablespoon of soysauce and water – worked great. I made half for a friend and kept half. The half I kept sat warming in the crockpot for too long and this gave it a bitter overcooked onion aftertaste. I added 5-7 drops of lemon essential oil*, and the bitter flavor was gone. The lemon turned into a nice sweet aftertaste without the sugar! *Only use essential oils that are pure enough to consume.

  25. Deb says:

    Completely and totally amazing! Less than 10 minutes prep and you get the most awesome flavor payoff! Love how creamy and smooth the sauce is and without using cream or butter. I crisped up some pancetta and sever it on the side for an added salty texture and it was great. Another winner Mel!

  26. Maxine says:

    Always looking for delicious vegetarian dinner ideas that I can make for when my mother-in-law makes her weekly visits. I think I’ll give this one a try as my two teen-aged sons love anything cheesy and/or pasta-y and this looks like it may just make everyone happy. I will try making it with vegetable broth. Have you tried it that way?

  27. A says:

    Made it. Loved it. Will definitely be making it again soon. Thanks for another winning, tasty, delicious and easy meal. I talk about you and your recipes so much my fiance always asks about you, “What’s Mel cooking up today?”

  28. Ashlee T says:

    Mel I’ve followed this recipe- using 4 cups of butternut squash. But I have half a squash left that I have peeled and cut. Can I save it somehow? Thank you for your help and recipes!!!

  29. Melanie says:

    I made this using the whole 8oz of cream cheese. It was alright, but I think next time I will definitely make with the 4oz or less of the cream cheese. It was too cheesy (hard to believe that’s possible) it completely overpowered everything else.

  30. Sheriece says:

    Wait. I’m sorry. Did you just post a recipe calling for two convenience items from Costco, utilizing the entire amounts in the package, and all the other ingredients are kitchen staples? You did? I love you. It’s in my crockpot now.

  31. Slow cookers are the best appliances ever. This looks amazing – maybe just maybe it’ll convince my kiddos to eat tortellini? How they can NOT like it I’ll never understand. Can’t wait to try this one!

  32. Gail says:

    Unfortunately, this wasn’t the best dish I’ve made from the site, Mel. Thank goodness our guest said she enjoyed it(?)…..but, she seemed sincere, so that was positive. However, neither my hubby or myself cared for the dish. It may have had something to do with the fact that I used the whole 8 oz. of cream cheese – way too much richness for us…..however, as it was the first time making this dish, I thought I would give it a try….likely the mistake.
    It was way to rich for our tastes – we eat a lot of simple stir fried veggies with very little meat…..creamy dishes are not our ‘cuppa tea’ so to speak.
    However, this does not deter me from trying other recipes and I will c/t do so.
    This one just isn’t going to be one of our favourites.

  33. Jane says:

    Another great recipe. I do think I’d prefer a little less Cream Cheese so next time I’ll go with 4 oz instead of almost all of the 8 oz. block. I loved the taste but, alas, due to a real dumb error on my part, we didn’t really get to enjoy it. I love using my crock pot and the imersion blender has saved my rear end several times – that said, PLEASE don’t use a crock pot liner with this recipe. I did it and I can tell you that shredded crock pot liner does not add to the consistency of the dish. LOL – I tried to strain it out but decided it probably wasn’t very healthy because tiny bits were probably still in there. Luckily I hadn’t added the ravioli (I had some frozen ravioli I was going to use instead of tortellini) ended up with regular tomato sauce. I’ll be making this again soon. Thought you’d get a chuckle out of my mistake!

    • Mel says:

      Ah, Jane! You have an awfully good attitude despite the liner fiasco. What a nightmare!

    • Anna says:

      Jane – thank you for posting this! I always use liners and was debating about using it with this recipe today. Now that I have read your experience, the debate has ended and this recipe is now happily cooking in my naked crockpot! Thanks again!

  34. Angela says:

    Tried this a few days ago (with 4 oz cream cheese) and it was awesome! The only thing that would keep me from making it often would be the cost of the refrigerated pasta. Leftovers – the sauce had turned very thick, but I guess I could have tried thinning it a bit with some milk or water. Great flavor. Thanks, Mel!

  35. Jillie says:

    We had this last night for dinner. It was so good. We all loved it. I just used the whole squash I bought, most likely more than 4 cups, but just added more chicken broth. I used frozen cheese ravioli and just cooked it and then let everyone just put on how much sauce they wanted on their pasta. I didn’t add the Parmesan in the sauce, just let everyone put it on top of their own. It was yummy for a cool fall night.
    We had the beef with broccoli the night before and loved it also. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing all your great recipes. I have tried several of your recipes and all of them have been awesome. My family knows if I get the recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, then it is going to be great. Your site is by far my favorite recipe blog. Thanks!

  36. Courtney says:

    I made this today and like another poster reported, it was way too rich for us. I used 6 oz of cream cheese and we could each only eat a small bowl full :(. Too bad because it’s a beautiful dish! But beware that it’s very rich. I’d only add maybe 2 oz of cream cheese (if at all) if I made it again. Maybe a dash of cream or half and half would lighten it up a bit. Thanks for all your recipes, Mel. I usually love everything I try from your blog!

  37. Marci says:

    My kids LOVED this. I served it with grilled cheese, and they hardly touched their sandwiches. My 5 year old exclaimed, “this is the best night of my life! This is better then all my candy!” While one of my 3 year old boys (who was struggling to put his thoughts into words) said, “this makes my belly clap!”

  38. Bev says:

    I keep reviewing this recipe to see if I left something out, but nope, I followed it exactly. I thought it was just okay and my kids (who are usually good eaters) only ate it because I forced them . I’m stumped reading all these rave reviews. Not sure how everyone thinks it was so amazing. I usually love butternut squash, but I thought this was somewhat flavorless and blah.

    • Mel says:

      Sorry you didn’t love this, Bev – if it was flavorless, it might have benefitted from a pinch of salt and pepper at the end (in step #4 of the instructions). A lot of the flavor will come from the brand of chicken broth and tortellini you use, too. In the end, some recipes just aren’t for everyone; thanks for checking back in with your thoughts. 🙂

  39. Heather says:

    My husband tried hard to hide his lack of enthusiasm when I told him this was for dinner. He LOVED it and then claimed the leftovers.

    MKC is my go to website for menu planning. Thank you!!

  40. Laura says:

    My husband is not a huge tortellini fan. Could i just use regular elbow noodles or something like that instead? Or do you think it wouldn’t be quite right?

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried any other pasta besides tortellini but you could make the sauce in the slow cooker and boil whatever kind of noodles you wanted separately and serve the sauce over the top – several people have tried that already and it works great.

  41. Kindra says:

    is it 1 package of 1/2 lbs of pasta, or do you need 1 and a 1/2 lbs of it?

  42. Kristin says:

    We loved this! Thanks for the recipe.

  43. Julianne says:

    We made this to cook while we were at church. Prep time was like 5 mins. I used frozen tortellini. I used 4 oz of cream cheese and it made a wonderful almost-soupy sauce, which we loved to dip toasted french bread slices into. This with a salad and grapes made this a major hit over here…even the two big kids ate it and there were enough for leftovers for two. A great recipe! Thank you!

  44. Jenny says:

    I misread the recipe and used four blocks of 8 ounce cream cheese! It was super creamy and there was way too much sauce but it tasted good. You might want to change the way you word the amount of cream cheese.

    • Rachel S says:

      Oh my! I am soo glad I read the replies while my squash was cooking in the crockpot; I also bought 4 blocks of cream cheese (thinking, wow that’s alot of chees)

  45. Amanda says:

    Omgyum! I made this the day you posted it, the day after and again later that week, and today.. So so good! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  46. Sarah says:

    This was fantastic! I got it started in the morning and my teenager finished it up and got it on the table. Thanks for another great recipe to add to my list of slow cooker favorites!

  47. Erin says:

    Hi Mel– if I use fresh herbs instead of dried (I’m an herb snob)– what quantities would you suggest? Thank you for all of your amazing recipes!

    • Mel says:

      When I sub in fresh herbs for dried, I usually use the rule of thumb to sub in 3X the amount of fresh for dried (so if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon dried, I’ll sub in about a tablespoon fresh).

      • Erin says:

        Thanks Mel! This will be going in the crockpot momentarily! You’re recipes are fantastic– my favorite is your sheet carrot cake. People think I am la creme de la creme when I make it!

  48. Tiffany says:

    I made this for dinner last night, and it was SOOOO GOOOOD! So easy too! I only used half a brick of cream cheese (4oz), and that was plenty. I wonder if anyone has tried making this as soup (without the tortellini)? Maybe by subbing heavy cream or half and half for the cream cheese? What do you think? It sounds delicious to me. 😀

  49. Lachelle says:

    Yum!! So good! Thanks!

  50. Amy Prange says:

    I made this dish with 16 oz of cream cheese and woah . . . I agree it wasn’t my favorite. I thought it was rather one note. Texture was all the same and very thick when eaten as leftovers. I consider this my fault due to the excess about of cream cheese, I added. I remember I checked the recipe multiple times like “seriously, 4 blocks of cream cheese?”

    • Mel says:

      Hi Amy, whenever I write a recipe up with multiple blocks of cream cheese I put it as 4 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese so I’m sorry the range of 4-8 ounces confused you (and a few others it sounds like). I’ve added “to” in the ingredients list to make it more clear.

  51. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Mel, Do you think the recipe would cook well in the slow cooker if I halved the recipe?
    Thanks

  52. Lynn says:

    I was able to customize the sauce to my vegan life style and it was fabulous. I have put the sauce over everything possible. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes. I cook many of your recipes for my family and have never had a complaint only compliments.

  53. Melanie B says:

    This was amazing! My kids tolerated it but that just meant more for me! And I’m not happy about your recent Reese’s cheesecake post because now I’m going to have to try it out to see if it’s as good as you say. I will let you know! Thanks for yet another amazing recipe!

  54. Lori says:

    Hi Mel,
    I decided to try this recipe since so many others have tried it already. My family was VERY concerned when they saw the crockpot cooking with the squash. But I told them to keep an open mind. When it was ready, both my husband and daughter thought it was delicious!
    I used frozen cubed squash (which I thawed out before cooking) and I used spinach and cheese ravioli since in your pictures the pasta looked more like ravioli than tortellini. I was not a fan of the spinach in the ravioli, so next time I will stick to a cheese or meaty pasta. But I will say it was so gratifying to see my 14 yr old daughter eat this dish (and eat leftovers of it) when she is NOT a veggie fan! Truly miraculous! Thank you so much for your fantastic recipes 🙂

  55. Jamie says:

    I made this last night. I was hoping that this would persuade my husband and kids to like ravioli or tortellini. I LOVED this, but the kids refused to eat more than a few bites. I did add a little chopped apple to add sweetness and I added a couple of tablespoons of leftover heavy cream (and a little less cream cheese) at the end. It was really delicious. I would eat the sauce as a soup without the pasta it was so good. Some day I will get my kids to like tortellini and ravioli!

  56. Raquel says:

    This was so delicious. Ours turned out a bit more soup-like than your picture, but I actually prefer a soup with extra “broth.” It was so silky and creamy. We used the full 8 oz. of cream cheese and loved it…didn’t find it one-note or overwhelmed with cream cheese flavor. It seemed absolutely perfect to us! Thanks for this one.

  57. Brinley says:

    This looks fabulous. Did you use grated or shredded Parmesan? The pic looks like there’s shredded Parmesan on top but the recipe says grated. Want to make sure I get this Right!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Brinley – I think it is just a matter of semantics. 🙂 I always have a big block of Parmesan cheese and I grate/shred it myself. That’s what I used here.

  58. Bridget G says:

    This was awesome! We used the 4 oz of cream cheese.

  59. Melanie says:

    I made this tonight for supper. In truth, I think I burned myself out on squash this year and didn’t appreciate it as much as others might. I am just squashed-out, I guess. The sauce idea is very creative, and mine turned out very silky using my Blendtec. I love the idea of this dish, and I will put the rest in the freezer and take it out in a few months when I no longer feel overwhelmed by squash. And, consider yourself VERY fortunate if you can find cubed, frozen squash. I about threw my peeler and knife out the window after I finished prepping my squash this morning (even using the “tips” that are out there, it still is a crappy process). Now what to do with the 20 squash that are still sitting in my garage…

  60. Jennifer says:

    Question: This recipe was delicious! I had a lot of the sauce leftover. Do you think it would work as the sauce for your butternut squash risotto?

  61. Marie says:

    So good! I’ve made it twice. It makes my heart happy. Next year, I’m growing a garden full of butternut squash!

  62. Loretta says:

    My family loves this, and so do the sister missionaries. I made this for them a few weeks ago and they dubbed it the “best member dinner ever.” They requested it again this week, as did my daughter for her birthday. So simple, yet so delicious. Thanks for such an awesome recipe.

  63. Natalie says:

    New favorite. I think I’ve made it once a week for the last month. Thank you!

  64. Linda says:

    My daughter told me about this site a few months ago. I am so sorry I didn’t know about it earlier because everything I have tried is delicious and I can’t wait to try it all. I made this last night and it is one of the best things I have ever eaten. Thank you!

  65. Mel, I finally made this tonight, and we loved it! I used 3 ounces of cream cheese, chicken stock instead of broth, and lots of ravioli. The ravioli was frozen and took forever to heat through, so next time I will cook that on the stove. Thanks for a great recipe!

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