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Italian Sausage Pasta

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close up overhead shot of a skillet full of pasta
This easy Italian sausage pasta is a classic pasta dish that is loaded with plenty of amazing flavors and is a quick dinner idea when time is short.
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Table of Contents
  1. Italian Sausage Pasta Ingredients
  2. How to Make This Italian Sausage Pasta Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This creamy Italian sausage pasta has plenty of great flavor and is nice and hearty for a quick weeknight meal. The combination of flavorful sausage, creamy pasta, and savory sauce is just too hard to beat and will have you coming back for more.

close up shot of a plate of pasta

Italian Sausage Pasta Ingredients

Italian Sausage Pasta raw ingredients that are labeled

 You’ll need: 

  • 8 ounces (half of a 1-pound box) rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes in oil and herbs
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

PRO TIP:

A standard box of rigatoni is 1 pound, and we use just half of a box in this recipe. If you’d like to use an entire box of rigatoni, you could use the same amount of sausage and onions but double the remaining ingredients (to make enough sauce). You will need to use a much larger skillet or stockpot.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

SAUSAGE: You can swap in chicken, regular mild Italian sausage, sweet Italian sausage or even shrimp for the hot Italian sausage in the recipe. The spicy Italian sausage adds a ton of flavor. 

SUNDRIED TOMATOES: Use the sundried tomatoes that come in a jar packed in olive oil and herbs. Don’t be shy about adding the oil along with the tomatoes into the sauce as the oil helps flavor the sauce. 

MIX-INS: Add fresh basil and/or fresh cherry tomatoes to this easy recipe for some added brightness. 

SPICY: If you want your dish to be extra spicy, a dash of red pepper flakes will kick up the heat. 

PASTA: Any type of short pasta works fine in this recipe. Penne pasta, rotini, or bowties are perfect choices. 

How to Make This Italian Sausage Pasta Recipe

STEP ONE: Cook the rigatoni in a large pot of salted boiling water to al dente according to package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of water to make the sauce and drain the remaining water from the pasta. 

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

The pasta water helps to thin out the sauce. Using heavy cream makes a nice rich, creamy sauce, even with the addition of the pasta water (the pasta water also holds some starches from the cooked pasta, so it helps to thicken the sauce).

You can substitute chicken broth for the pasta water for a little extra flavor. You can also use half and half or milk instead of the heavy cream. If you use half and half or milk, increase the quantity, and you may not need the pasta water. 

STEP TWO: Meanwhile, begin browning the spicy sausage meat in a large skillet over medium heat. When the sausage is about halfway cooked (some pink, some brown sausage), add the diced onion and continue cooking until the sausage is cooked and the onion is soft. 

sausage and diced onion being cooked in a skillet

STEP THREE: Add butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, and sundried tomatoes to the meat mixture in the skillet and cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes longer. 

ingredients added to the sausage mixture in a skillet

STEP FOUR: Add the cream and reserved pasta water to the sausage mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes.

PRO TIP:

If you’d like to add up to 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese to the sauce, you can do so when you’ve added the cream and reserved pasta water to the skillet, adding a handful at a time and stirring until it is melted and incorporated into the sauce.

cream and pasta water added to the sausage mixture in the skillet

STEP FIVE: Stir the spinach into the sauce (it will wilt quickly and does not need to be cooked further), followed by the pasta. 

spinach and pasta added to the sauce mixture in the skillet

STEP SIX: Simmer 1 to 2 minutes longer to thicken the sauce as needed. 

PRO TIP:

The sauce thickens substantially as it sits and cools, and the pasta absorbs the liquids. To reheat, add some milk or cream to the pasta and reheat on the stovetop.

How To Serve

This is the perfect weeknight dinner and is sure to become a family favorite in no time. Add a simple Caesar salad and garlic bread or cheesy pull-apart bread on the side to complete this delicious meal. 

If you are looking for another simple recipe to make on busy nights, our Italian sheet pan dinner or chicken and dumplings will do the trick.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: Store leftovers of this easy pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

IN THE FREEZER: This simple meal will keep in the freezer for up to two months stored in an airtight container. 

close up overhead shot of a skillet full of pasta

This creamy sausage pasta skillet checks all the boxes for busy weeknights: hearty, delicious, and quick to make. The tender pasta, creamy sauce and flavorful Italian sausage are sure to entice even the pickiest eaters to gobble it up. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I know when the pasta is al dente?

To test your pasta for al dente, take a bite of the pasta a minute or two before the package instructions indicate it should be done. When you bite into it, and your teeth feel some resistance, but the pasta is still tender, your pasta is al dente. 

Can I freeze this recipe?

This recipe can be frozen in an airtight container for up to two months. 

What kind of pasta is best for this recipe?

This sausage pasta recipe will work well with any short, bite-size pasta noodles including penne, rotini, or bowties.

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close up overhead shot of a skillet full of pasta

Italian Sausage Pasta

4.50 from 2 votes
This easy Italian sausage pasta is a classic pasta dish that is loaded with plenty of amazing flavors and is a quick dinner idea when time is short.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces rigatoni pasta, half of a 1-pound box
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes in oil and herbs
  • cups heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Cook rigatoni in a large pot of salted water to desired tenderness. Reserve about 1 cup of the water to make the sauce and drain the remaining water from the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, begin browning sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. When sausage is about halfway cooked (some pink, some brown sausage), add the diced onion and continue cooking until the sausage is cooked and the onion is soft.
  • Add butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, and sundried tomatoes to the skillet and cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  • Add the cream and reserved pasta water to the sausage mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Stir the spinach into the sauce (it will wilt quickly and does not need to be cooked further), followed by the pasta.
  • Simmer 1 to 2 minutes longer to thicken the sauce as needed.

Notes

  • A standard box of rigatoni is 1 pound, and we use just half of a box in this recipe. If you’d like to use an entire box of rigatoni, you could use the same amount of sausage and onions but double the remaining ingredients (to make enough sauce). You will need to use a much larger skillet or stockpot.
  • The pasta water helps to thin out the sauce. Using heavy cream makes a nice rich, creamy sauce, even with the addition of the pasta water (the pasta water also holds some starches from the cooked pasta, so it helps to thicken the sauce). You can substitute chicken broth for the pasta water for a little extra flavor. You can also use half and half or milk instead of the heavy cream. If you use half and half or milk, increase the quantity, and you may not need the pasta water.
  • If you’d like to add up to 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese to the sauce, you can do so when you’ve added the cream and reserved pasta water to the skillet, adding a handful at a time and stirring until it is melted and incorporated into the sauce.
  • The sauce thickens substantially as it sits and cools, and the pasta absorbs the liquids. To reheat, add some milk or cream to the pasta and reheat on the stovetop.
This recipe is derived from: The Girl Inspired.   

Nutrition

Calories: 1060kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 81g | Saturated Fat: 41g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 29g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 239mg | Sodium: 1014mg | Potassium: 1068mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3198IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 4mg
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