For busy people trying to get dinner on the table, pasta night can be a godsend. Whether you’re trying to get kids to soccer practice, a spouse to their book/poker/chess club, or simply put food in your mouth after a long day at work, dishes centered around comforting carbs and delicious sauces never fail to hit the spot. Unfortunately, boxes of spaghetti and plain marinara can get boring after a while. When you need to put a little creativity back into your pasta recipes, ravioli never fails to help you out.
You can go the whole nine yards and make your own stuffings and roll out homemade pasta dough, but that’s a chore reserved for weekends and family reunions when your grandma is cooking. Packaged ravioli — whether it’s the frozen version or the fresher kind you find in the deli section — can serve as the best shortcut for pasta night you’ve ever used. You start with delicious pillows of pasta stuffed with cheeses and meats, vegetables, or whatever else strikes your fancy in the grocery aisle. That becomes the base for adding your own flair, whether it’s a special sauce or unique vegetables.
Whether you’re looking for a rich, comforting dish or a light recipe that still incorporates your favorite pasta, look no further. We’ve compiled unique recipes that use packaged ravioli to save you time in the kitchen. Most of these recipes boast a prep time of 30 minutes or less — which means we can get to the main event of eating them faster.
1. Skillet Ravioli with Broccoli Rabe
This recipe is a close representation of your quickest dinners: Boil the pasta, add sauce, and serve. While your ravioli boils, however, all you have to do to elevate your dinner is simmer some broccoli rabe in a skillet with water. In the time it takes the water to boil for your pasta, you’ve added a vegetable to balance out your meal. The more bitter broccoli rabe isn’t always popular in the United States, but is used frequently in Italian cooking — making it the perfect match with the pasta. This recipe from Delish can use jarred sauce, or your favorite homemade marinara, depending on how much elbow grease you want to put in.
- 1 package cheese ravioli
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella
Directions: Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Drain the raviolis and return them to the pot.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, bring 1 cup water to a simmer. Add the broccoli rabe and cook, covered, tossing occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes; drain.
Gently toss the ravioli with the sauce, broccoli rabe and cheese.
2. Nacho Chicken Ravioli
For a completely American take on the traditional pasta, enter another skillet dish. This one, from Inside Bru Crew Life, tosses cooked chicken with a cheesy sauce, adding a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles to add a kick to each bite. With a recipe that serves six and promised to be ready in less than 30 minutes, you’ve got a family-pleaser on your hands.
- 1 package (25 ounces) frozen ravioli
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 jar Ragu Double Cheddar sauce
- 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and chilies, drained
- 1 cup chopped cooked chicken
- Pepper, to taste
Directions: Make the ravioli according to package directions.
While the ravioli is boiling, chop the chicken and dice the onions. In a medium to large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onions for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken, diced tomatoes, and sauce. Stir until combined and heated through.
When ravioli are cooked and drained, gently stir pasta into the sauce. Season with pepper if desired, and serve immediately.
3. Baked Ravioli
What’s even better than classic lasagna? A dish layered with ravioli, sauce, and cheese instead. Damn Delicious melts a bit of cream cheese into a traditional marinara sauce and adds a few spices to amp up the creaminess factor and also enhance the Italian flavors of the dish. You’ll only pre-cook the ravioli for a few minutes, so they don’t become too overcooked between the boiling and the baking. In total, this recipe shouldn’t take more than half an hour.
- 1 (16-ounce) package cheese-filled ravioli
- 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
- 1/3 cup cream cheese, cubed
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup basil leaves, chiffonade
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling water until slightly tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain well.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine marinara sauce and cream cheese. Stirring constantly, cook until cream cheese has melted into the sauce, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in thyme and parsley.
In the prepared baking dish, spread ravioli and top with sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella, and place into the oven. Bake until cheese has melted, about 20 minutes. Garnish with parmesan and basil, and serve immediately.
4. Butternut Squash Ravioli with Parmesan, Walnuts and Arugula
You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen making a truly unique pasta dish. All you have to do is seek out pre-made ravioli with interesting stuffings, including some stuffed with butternut squash. The author of the Picky Eater Blog highly recommends using Pasta Prima’s version, but any brand will do. A simple sauce of melted parmesan, olive oil, and reserved pasta water is light, but full of flavor. The peppery arugula and crunch of the walnuts bring the whole dish together, for elegance without much effort.
- 1 package butternut squash ravioli and 1 seasoning packet (If you’re using ravioli other than Pasta Prima’s, you’ll add a sprinkling of dried oregano, garlic powder, and finely shredded Parmesan cheese)
- 1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 heaping bunch of arugula
- Pasta water (reserved)
- ¼ to 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Directions: Make ravioli according to package directions. When cooked through, spoon pasta into a large, greased skillet on medium heat. (Reserve pasta water for later.)
In the skillet with ravioli, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, arugula, and walnuts. Add a few ladlefuls of pasta water so it forms a sauce with the melting cheese and olive oil.
Toss the ingredients in the skillet until they are heated through and the cheese has melted into a sauce, adding 1-2 more ladles of water if needed. Divide the ravioli between two plates and top each one with 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese.
5. Slow Cooker Ravioli Casserole
What is a quick weeknight dinner without at least one slow cooker version? You don’t have to cook the ravioli before layering them in the casserole, but you’ll need at least a few minutes to brown some ground beef or sausage and add other quick sauce components. Otherwise, you simply layer the ingredients and let the slow cooker work its magic. It takes about 4 hours on low, which makes this perfect if you have someone at home to start the slow cooker, or wait until a day off for a no-fuss weekend meal.
- 1 pound ground beef or sausage, browned
- 1 package (25 ounces) frozen ravioli
- 1 (25-28 ounce) jar pasta sauce
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
Directions: In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef or sausage over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and tomatoes, simmering for 5 minutes.
Stir in the pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper, simmering for another 5 minutes.
To assemble, spoon 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add half of the frozen ravioli, half of the remainder of the sauce, and then repeat the layers. Top with shredded cheese, and cook on low for 4 hours, or until ravioli is tender.
6. Spinach and Artichoke Ravioli Bake
You can do no wrong with rich Alfredo sauce, ravioli, and a mixture of spinach and artichokes to round out the dish. This recipe from The Cooking Jar incorporates all of this, giving you the option to make your own Alfredo sauce or use your favorite jarred version. It doesn’t get much more indulgent or comfort-food level than this pasta bake, which from experience is loaded with creamy goodness balanced by the spinach and artichokes tossed in a bit of pesto for extra flavor.
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped
- 1 can (16 ounces) artichoke hearts, diced
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 2 cups Alfredo sauce
- ¼ cup vegetable/chicken broth
- 25 ounces frozen ravioli
- 1 cup Italian cheese blend, shredded
For the Alfredo sauce
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Directions: If you’re making the Alfredo sauce from scratch, melt butter in a medium saucepan, stirring in the heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste; then stir in Parmesan in increments until fully melted and combined. Set aside until ravioli bake assembly.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the spinach, artichoke hearts, and pesto sauce until the vegetables are coated evenly with the sauce. In a separate bowl, combine the Alfredo sauce and the broth to make the sauce more spreadable.
In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread 1/3 cup of the Alfredo sauce mixture to coat the bottom. Top with half of the spinach mixture; then layer half of the frozen ravioli in the pan. Add another 1/3 cup of sauce, then repeat the spinach and ravioli layers.
Top with the remaining sauce, then bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and broil for 3-5 minutes, until top becomes browned and bubbly. Serve hot.
7. Ravioli with Peas and Crispy Bacon
If you’re looking for a slightly less rich dish, this pasta dish has you covered. The bacon adds a savory element and crunch, but the peas and ravioli keep it lighter without a heavy or creamy sauce. With a touch of garlic in this recipe from Real Simple, you’ll have a no-fuss dinner that still is heavy on the flavor.
- 16 to 18 ounces fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
- 6 slices bacon
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/4 cup grated ricotta salata
Directions: Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water, drain the ravioli, and return them to the pot.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool, then break into pieces.
Add the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peas and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently mix the ravioli with the peas, reserved pasta water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with the bacon and ricotta salata.
8. Fried Ravioli
Whether you’re aiming for a dynamite appetizer or a cheat day dinner, this recipe for fried ravioli from The Food Network is the ticket. Giada De Laurentiis walks you through the process, which simply entails dipping the ravioli in buttermilk and breadcrumbs before frying them in olive oil on your stovetop. The best part is you can customize this dish, based on the ravioli fillings you choose.
- Olive oil, for frying
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
- 1 box store-bought cheese ravioli (about 24 ravioli)
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 jar store bought marinara sauce, heated, for dipping
Directions: Pour enough olive oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees.
While the oil is heating, put the buttermilk and the bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Working in batches, dip ravioli in buttermilk to coat completely. Allow the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Dredge ravioli in the bread crumbs. Place the ravioli on a baking sheet, and continue with the remaining ravioli.
When the oil is hot, fry the ravioli in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried ravioli to paper towels to drain.
Sprinkle the fried ravioli with parmesan and serve with a bowl of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.
9. Cheesy Ravioli and Italian Sausage Skillet
Italian food goes incredibly well, obviously enough, with Italian sausage. It doesn’t matter whether the sausage is inside the ravioli or in the sauce that tops it, but it makes a naturally delicious pairing. This recipe from The Comfort of Cooking incorporates the sausage in the sauce of this skillet dish, which can be made completely in one dish. You don’t even need an extra pan for the ravioli, since they cook in the tomato juices. This leads to extra-flavorful pasta topped with tomatoes, sausage, and melted cheeses — the recipe for a successful dinner any night of the week.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound (16 ounces) Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 (16-ounce) package cheese ravioli
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped, optional
Directions: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned, 3-5 minutes, crumbling it as it cooks.
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper, to taste. Add ravioli and water, then bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat; then simmer until ravioli is tender, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, sprinkling with cheeses. Place under the oven broiler and cook until cheeses are melted and golden brown, 2-4 minutes. Serve immediately, garnishing with fresh basil if desired.