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An easy family-friendly dinner that’s full of flavor! This Italian Sausage Pasta includes a rich homemade sauce with sausage, tomatoes, peppers and onions, as well as plenty of fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese. Toss the sauce with tender pasta and you’ve got a simple, hearty and delicious meal in less than 1 hour. Don’t forget the garlic bread!
Italian Sausage Pasta Recipes
From soups to casseroles, Italian sausage pasta recipes are always a hit! The two ingredients are just a match made in heaven, so it’s no surprise that this classic combination always wins rave reviews — even from picky little eaters. The Italian Sausage pasta sauce coats your favorite pasta shapes and gets topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. With a side salad and a loaf of crusty bread, this is an easy dinner that you can prep in advance or whip up on a busy evening. It’s a perfectly cozy way to satisfying hungry appetites!
How to Make Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce
This recipe is similar to my easy Bolognese sauce, but we’re using sausage instead of beef and a few different veggies. Peppers and onions pair so nicely with the tomatoes, garlic and Italian sausage, creating a flavorful and nourishing sauce that simmers quickly on the stovetop. Add a splash of heavy cream for a richer flavor and plenty of Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs for even more deliciousness! You can serve the sauce with rigatoni (as shown here), or any of your other favorite pasta shapes — like penne, bowties, rotini or spaghetti. It’s total comfort food!
- Olive oil
- Finely-chopped onion
- Finely-chopped sweet bell pepper
- Italian sausage
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Red wine
- Crushed tomatoes
- Heavy cream or half-and-half
- Tomato paste
- Fresh parsley and basil
- Parmesan cheese
- Cooked pasta, for serving
Step 1: Make the Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce
In a big Dutch oven, simmer a pot of tomato sauce with Italian sausage.
Step 2: Boil Pasta
Meanwhile, boil the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions.
Step 3: Add Pasta to Sauce
Add the pasta to the pot of sauce and give it all a good toss to combine.
Step 4: Serve
Ladle the pasta into individual bowls and garnish with plenty of additional Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs!
What to Serve with Italian Sausage Pasta
This pasta dish goes well with any of the following easy sides:
- Garlic bread
- A loaf of crusty No-Knead Bread
- Soft dinner rolls
- Green salad dressed with Balsamic Vinaigrette or Caesar Salad
- Roasted broccoli or asparagus
- 2-Ingredient Italian Sugar Snap Peas
- Sauteed Spinach with Garlic
To prep ahead, make the sauce in advance but do not add the pasta. Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Reheat on the stovetop over low heat while you boil the pasta, then add the pasta to the pot and combine with the sauce.
Leftover cooked pasta with the sauce will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing the sauce with the pasta, since the pasta will get mushy when thawed.
To reheat the pasta, place in a saucepan or skillet, cover, and warm over low heat just until the dish reaches the desired temperature. Be careful not to boil the sauce or reheat it for too long, or the pasta will get mushy. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave.
- Rigatoni works well because the sausage can cling to the big pasta shapes making each bite a delight! That said, you can use whatever pasta you have on hand — penne, rotini, spaghetti, linguine, bowties — the list goes on.
- Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese is best for flavor and texture, but in a pinch you can substitute with a can of powdered, pre-grated Parmesan.
- Any variety of Italian sausage will work. I typically use sweet Italian sausage because that’s my kids’ preference. Hot or spicy Italian sausage is also delicious, or try turkey Italian sausage.
- Pasta with Italian Sausage and Spinach: Add a few cups of fresh baby spinach leaves to the sauce at the very end. The spinach will wilt almost instantly and will add a nice green touch to the dish.
- If you don’t care for sweet bell peppers in your sauce, you can use additional onion instead.
Tips for the Best Italian Sausage Pasta
- Cut the onions and peppers into a very fine dice. This way they add flavor to the sauce, but they don’t stand out or make the sauce chunky. They blend right in and the kids will never know they’re there!
- Cook the pasta just until al dente (tender, but with a firm bite). The pasta will continue to cook in the hot sauce for a few minutes, so you don’t want it to end up mushy and overdone.
- Use a high-quality dry red wine that you would actually like to drink. Good options include Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chianti and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- If you’re cooking for a smaller family, cut all of the ingredients in half. This recipe makes a very large portion!
More Pasta Recipes to Try
Italian Sausage Pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup finely-chopped onion
- ½ cup finely-chopped sweet bell pepper
- 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 lb. pasta (such as penne, rigatoni or rotini)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- ½ cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and bell peppers; sauté for about 5-7 minutes (or until tender). Add the sausage and cook for 7-8 more minutes, until browned. Add garlic, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add wine; bring to a boil, scraping bits from the bottom of the pan. Add crushed tomatoes, cream and tomato paste. Bring back to a boil; reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20-25 minutes (until sauce thickens). Remove from heat; stir in parsley, basil and Parmesan.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions for al dente. Drain. Transfer pasta to the sauce, stir to combine. Let the pasta continue to cook in the sauce for another minute or two so that it absorbs all of that great flavor. Serve in individual bowls and garnish with additional herbs or grated Parmesan, if desired.
Sounds yummy. Could you use milk instead of half and half!
Hi, Ashleigh! Yes, but it will have a thinner consistency. I would stick with whole milk, if possible. In a pinch, use 2%, but don’t use 1% or skim, or they’ll just water it down. Hope you enjoy!
Made this last night and it was delicious!! I did use whole milk instead of cream. I was also cleaning and desteming mushrooms for stuffed mushrooms at a later date, so I chopped this stems and added to the veggies. My kids called it “fancy spaghetti” lol. Thanks for the recipe. It’s a keeper.
That’s awesome, Sarah! I’m so glad that your kids approved! 🙂