12 Different Ways To Cook With Ravioli

Pasta is a food that many home cooks can't live without. There are countless ways to prepare it, and it comes together so quickly. If you've only got 15 minutes to make dinner, pasta is the solution. If you have to feed many mouths, it's a tasty and affordable way to do so. And ravioli is a type of pasta that hasn't always received the praise it deserves as a tasty little dumpling with numerous filling possibilities. 

Perhaps this is because making ravioli requires the extra step of filling and sealing the pasta, which many home cooks may find intimidating. Luckily, in recent years high-quality pre-made ravioli has become widely available at grocery stores, whether frozen or fresh. The best part about ravioli is how quickly this dish cooks, usually within only a few minutes. Additionally, you can find a good amount of variety when it comes to ravioli fillings, from meaty to vegan options, with delicious combinations including pumpkin and sage or Pecorino and black pepper. There's no quicker way to have a satisfying and nutritious meal ready in minutes, especially for those days when you don't feel like cooking. 

What's more, ravioli can be cooked in different ways to be incorporated into numerous dishes. This filled pasta is truly versatile, and offers you a world of opportunities, depending on your preferences and what you have in your pantry. Here are some different ways to cook with ravioli.

1. Substitute lasagna sheets with ravioli

You may not have thought of this before, but it's possible to use ravioli as a hack for making lasagna. This idea was perhaps first thought of out of necessity — perhaps when a cook ran out of lasagna sheets — but it's a pretty ingenious idea in its own right. In fact, you may start doing this anytime you make lasagna, whether you have pasta sheets or not. 

When substituting pasta sheets in a lasagna-style dish, it's possible to use a number of options — however, none of them hold up as well as ravioli does. Ravioli is a sturdier pasta shape, and it holds the weight of the sauce and fillings with no worries, all while being thick enough to resemble a pasta sheet in texture. You can also layer it flat, the way you would with regular lasagna sheets, which would not work with penne, macaroni, and many other types of pasta.

Using store-bought ravioli, it couldn't be easier to make a ravioli-layered lasagna. No extra cooking is required, as the pasta will be in the oven long enough to cook with the sauces. However, the best part about using ravioli is that it incorporates added flavor into your lasagna. Bolster up the meatiness with ground beef ravioli, or make it extra cheesy by choosing a ricotta-stuffed ravioli. Alternatively, you can up the veggie content — whether your lasagna is vegetarian or not — by using one of the many vegetable-stuffed ravioli varieties.

2. Pan fry them for a quick snack

Many people think that there's only one way to cook ravioli, and that's by lightly boiling them in a pot. Sure, this is an easy way to cook them up, but ravioli can be cooked by boiling, steaming, baking, and even pan-frying them. Whether they're store-bought or freshly made, you can use any of these cooking methods. 

If you're hungry and in the mood for something quick but substantial, you can quickly pan-fry ravioli for a yummy snack. Doing so doesn't actually require you to add anything else, and you can even forgo oil if you have a nonstick pan. Otherwise, drizzle a little oil in the pan and add your ravioli, cooking them on medium heat. Turn them over occasionally, and they'll be done in about three to four minutes.

If you love a crispy shell, you can always leave them cooking in your pan on one side without turning them over too often. Once one side has browned slightly, you can turn them over and crisp up the other side. This step sometimes requires a little bit of oil and higher heat — but be careful not to leave them unattended to prevent the ravioli from burning.

3. Use ravioli to make a creamy pasta casserole

If you're in the mood for something warm and comforting, you can't go wrong with a baked pasta dish, also known as pasta casserole. Usually it just takes three components — pasta, sauce, and cheese — to make a successful pasta casserole, and you can customize it as much as you like. Because it doesn't go by the name of lasagna, you can get creative without feeling like you're breaking any rules. This makes it a perfect dish for using ravioli. You can layer the pasta with sauce and cheese, and bake it in the oven until the cheese is sizzling and the top layer is golden brown and crispy.

This is also a great way to turn your ravioli into a more substantial meal, and even feed more people than one package would ordinarily serve. You can add any ravioli with some broccoli, béchamel, and cheddar, or make a tuna pasta casserole with a tomato-and-mozzarella stuffed ravioli, some olives, and extra mozzarella on top for an affordable but satisfying meal. 

4. Throw them into a chunky vegetable soup

Whipping up a chunky vegetable soup is a great way to make something satisfying in no time. It's also a great way to eat more vegetables, and to use up any leftover veggies in your fridge. However, depending on your appetite, you may need something a little more substantial to get full. This is where ravioli comes to the rescue. 

Just by throwing some ravioli into your bubbling soup, you've instantly bulked up your meal, making it not only more delicious, but also more filling. Adding pasta to soup is nothing new, and you do it with everything from minestrone to chicken noodle soup, so doing this with ravioli is an obvious choice.

Plus, you can play with flavor combinations and add a cheese-filled ravioli to make your veggie soup a little more enjoyable, or you can add more vegetable content by adding spinach-filled ravioli, or even something with pumpkin or mushrooms. If you're not vegetarian, you can add meat-filled ravioli for some extra protein in your veggie soup. Whatever you choose, just make sure not to add the ravioli in at the beginning of your soup-making procedure to avoid overcooking them. It's best to toss in the ravioli about five minutes before serving the soup, which will keep the pasta al dente.

5. Store-bought ravioli makes a great side dish

You may see ravioli as the main attraction in a meal, but it also makes for an elegant side dish for roast beef or a rack of lamb. Instead of making roast potatoes, rice, or another type of side that you usually enjoy with meaty entrées, ravioli can hit those same notes. It's a tasty carb that is more often than not stuffed with vegetables. The best thing is that it comes together in minutes, leaving you the time, energy, and freedom to concentrate on the main dish to make it right. 

You can play around with ravioli flavors, to tie it into the flavor profile of your main dish. If you're making lamb, sprinkle some rosemary on both your lamb and your ravioli, or if you're making some pork chops, do the same with fresh thyme.

Anyone having a dinner party can easily elevate some store-bought ravioli and make a side dish that is just as appetizing as the main course. Make your ravioli as usual, then toast up some pine nuts to sprinkle on top, for some added nutty richness. You can also easily air-fry sage leaves to throw on top of your ravioli, along with some good-quality olive oil, and you've got yourself a luxurious side dish. 

6. Add them to a savory broth

When you're in the mood for something warm and soothing, broth is always a comforting choice. We turn to it when we're feeling under the weather, or maybe not in the best of moods. It's easy on the stomach, and nourishing — however, it's not the most filling of meals. Adding in some ravioli is a tasty and easy way to turn your broth into a heartier meal. 

Using the same concept as adding dumplings in soup, which is popular in many cultures, it makes perfect sense to make ravioli soup, too. Something similar actually exists in the form of anolini, a classic Italian pasta served in rich broth. These little filled pasta pockets are close cousins to ravioli, further confirming why this is a good pairing.

You can't go wrong with adding ravioli to a clear, savory broth. Whether you've made some broth previously and frozen it, or you've just cooked up a fresh pot of chicken stock, or you've simply boiled some water and thrown in a stock cube, you can always throw in some ravioli. Let it cook in the broth so that it absorbs the savory flavor, and save yourself the hassle of washing another pot. Then, keep things simple and eat the ravioli-enhanced broth as is, or jazz it up with some grated cheese, a squeeze of lemon, a splash of cream, or even just some fresh herbs thrown on top. 

7. Make a cold pasta salad with ravioli

When the weather warms up, there's an increase in cravings for salads and cold dishes. You don't want to always have to turn your oven on to make dinner. This is why pasta salads are so popular during summer, because other than boiling your pasta, you can make a full meal without needing to cook much else. 

The pleasantly surprising thing is that you can make a pasta salad using ravioli. Why wouldn't you? Cold ravioli is just as tasty as warm ravioli, depending on the filling. Plus, choosing smaller-sized pockets would help the ravioli better resemble your usual pasta salads.

Other than size, the next step is to choose your ravioli filling wisely. Ravioli filled with tomato and mozzarella makes for an obvious choice. The mozzarella won't be melted, but that won't stop it from being delicious. Then, all you need is salad dressing and fresh toppings. You can always use pesto cold as well, and it works great with ravioli — or you can make a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing, and top the pasta salad with some olives and fresh tomatoes. Nothing says you can't go the mayo route either, as a tangy, creamy ravioli pasta salad works too. Just go a little bit lighter on the mayonnaise than usual, as the flat surfaces of your ravioli will likely hold more of it than other pasta shapes would. 

8. Fry up breaded ravioli for a surprising snack

It may be a surprising revelation to many, but ravioli can be breaded and fried or oven-baked until crisp. This tempting snack is decadent and delicious, with an intriguing origin story — a tipsy mishap may have led to the invention of toasted ravioli. Whatever the story may be behind this crunchy creation, it's a surefire way to do something different and exciting with your ravioli.

While this dish may sound slightly difficult to make, it's actually quite uncomplicated, especially if you're using store-bought ravioli. Simply dip your ravioli individually in milk, then coat them in breadcrumbs. Add extra flavor to your breadcrumbs by mixing in some Italian seasoning, or even some grated Parmesan (or both). Then, lay it out in a single layer on a tray to bake, or cook the ravioli in some hot oil to deep-fry them. However you choose to prepare it, make sure that it cooks until golden brown. Opt for cheesy ravioli to achieve a gooey, melted center, and serve with a spicy or sweet dipping sauce to complete the dish.

9. Try a ravioli pizza crust

If you're open to thinking outside of the box, and are ready for a ravioli-inspired culinary adventure, then you've got to try a ravioli crust to take pizza beyond what you thought possible. Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of using regular pizza dough, you can make a pizza base using ravioli. 

Use a cheese-filled ravioli to make it extra cheesy. It's going to be thinner than regular pizza dough because pasta usually doesn't contain yeast, and therefore won't rise. But, in many other ways, pasta and pizza dough are not drastically different. Instead of having a stuffed crust on the edges, you'll have an entire stuffed-crust pizza, making it extra decadent. Using store-bought ravioli for this is recommended, since they're usually made with thicker dough and expertly sealed, meaning they'll be more likely to hold up as a pizza base.

Don't worry, you're not going to end up with little individual ravioli bites of pizza, because they're going to form one cohesive base. To do that, you're going to pre-cook the ravioli and let them cool. Then lay them out in a single layer with no gaps, letting the edges overlap slightly. Cover them in a mixture of eggs, seasoning, and cheese, which will bind them together, and pre-bake the crust. Afterwards, proceed as usual with your favorite pizza-making style. 

10. Make chuchvara with ravioli

Cuisine from Uzbekistan is not so well-known in the U.S., perhaps with the exception of their famous plov (also called pilaf in other parts of the world) — but one dish that's almost universal is dumplings in soup. In Uzbek cuisine, this takes the form of a hearty and flavorful soup made with chuchvara, which are small, rounded dumplings filled with finely ground meat. The filling is often also made into meatballs, which are served alongside the dumplings in the tomato-based soup. It's an incredibly tasty and comforting dish that doesn't actually require too many ingredients.

If you're following a recipe and want to make chuchvara at home, but you can't find these little dumplings in stores, you may have to improvise — and ravioli is a good choice for a substitute in this dish. While it won't exactly be authentic, it comes close, and it's a way to try a dish that you might not be able to enjoy otherwise. Opt for small ravioli filled with ground beef to mimic the recipe as closely as possibly, and cook the pasta only until it is al dente

11. Win over a crowd with toasted ravioli nachos

So you've heard of toasted ravioli, a snack that's as delicious as it sounds. Ravioli is breaded and fried until crispy, and served with a tasty dipping sauce. It seemingly can't get better. However, in true American fashion, this tasty cooking method can be taken to new heights, and people are using these crispy creations to make toasted ravioli nachos.

The thinking is that instead of getting creative with toppings for nachos, you can get creative with the base of chips. And toasted ravioli has all the makings of being a good replacement for tortilla chips — if you crisp the pasta up enough, the ravioli will be sturdy and able to hold your nacho toppings. The added benefit is the extra-cheesy center, if you use cheese-stuffed ravioli.

Nowadays you can find frozen toasted ravioli at the supermarket, so you don't have to go through the hassle of making it yourself. Just cook a package of toasted ravioli until it's crispy. Then load them up with your favorite nacho toppings, and bake. 

12. Eat them with a dipping sauce, like dumplings

Ravioli may be Italian, but there's no reason why you can't emulate the dumplings of other cultures in how to eat this pasta variety. Stuffed dough parcels are common in many parts of the world. Ravioli is but another type of dumpling that consists of stuffing wrapped in pasta dough, not too dissimilar from Japanese gyoza, Turkish manti, Polish pierogies, or Chinese wontons. In fact, you can even find potstickers called "Peking ravioli" in Boston.

This is all to say that you can approach ravioli from many cultural angles, and there's nothing keeping you from eating them with some chopped fresh scallions, chili crisp, and soy sauce. Or you can steam or pan-fry ravioli and make a dipping sauce from Italian-inspired ingredients. Don't be limited by what your dish "should" be. Instead, get creative to make something that you like to eat, using what's in your fridge and pantry. If it's tasty, that's what matters.