A flavorful pasta dish with a rich tomato sauce made with good quality Italian sausage. This Italian Sausage Pasta is the perfect Italian-style Sunday dinner (or lunch). It's also an easy pasta recipe to make as a perfect weeknight dinner because it's ready in just 40 minutes. A few quality ingredients can make a perfect meal.
It's no secret that sausages work great in a tomato sauce. That's why it is one of my favorite pizza toppings. In Tuscany, we also have a traditional main course of sausages stewed in a tomato sauce with beans. It sounds like an English thing, but it's totally Italian! It's called "Fagioli all'Uccelletto" and it's so good! There's also a simplified version of Italian Sausage and Beans.
This Creamy Sausage Pasta has a touch of spiciness from red pepper flakes. Or you can use spicy Italian sausage as well. It's an easy recipe and a perfect meal for busy weeknights for the whole family. It will be one of the family favorite pasta dishes.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Sausages: Use Italian fresh sausages, either sweet Italian sausage, spicy Italian sausage, or fennel Italian sausage, as you prefer. Adjust the seasonings based on the sausage flavor. So if you use a sweet or spicy sausage, you can add ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds to the sauce. If instead, you use sweet or fennel sausage, you can add a pinch of red chili pepper flakes to the sauce.
- Tomato Purèe: Buy a good quality Italian canned tomato purèe, also called Passata. It's usually made with San Marzano tomatoes which are the most flavorful tomatoes.
- Soffritto: Check this guide to make and store portioned Soffritto, or just chop carrots, celery, and onion, in equal quantities.
- Pasta: Any short-cut pasta will work. From penne pasta, to fusilli, to rigatoni. Use your favorite pasta shape.
- Cream: Heavy cream or half and half is added at the end to the sauce to make it more creamy and break the acidity of the tomatoes.
See the recipe card for full quantities.
What is Italian Sausage?
You would think that the term "Italian Sausage" would identify a specific product that is always the same. But it's not. It doesn't exist a unique "Italian Sausage", as in Italy, each region has its own different way of making sausages. In Tuscany, we make it with coarse-cut meat and we use a lot of black pepper. This type of sausage is not easily found outside of Tuscany.
The most common sausages exported around the world, are mostly the Southern style. Maybe because the majority of Italian immigrants around the world are from the South of Italy. They often have fennel seeds, sweet paprika, or spicy chili pepper. Sometimes even a mix of herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage.
For this delicious pasta recipe, you can use whichever Italian sausage you prefer or have available in stores near you. I used a fennel sausage in this case, which gives a nice aroma to the tomato sauce, similar to my Pork Chop with Fennel sauce recipe.
Instructions with Photos
This recipe for pasta and sausage is super easy and you don't need a ton of ingredients, as long as you use good quality ones. Good quality meat, good quality tomatoes, and good quality pasta.
Step 1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage at medium heat without the casing with the garlic. Break it with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
Step 2. Add the soffritto and the tomato purèe to the sausage mixture.
Step 3. Simmer the sauce for 20-30 minutes at low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can also add fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, or more chili pepper flakes.
Step 4. Add the cream and the cooked al dente pasta to the sauce and serve. You can top it with fresh basil and additional parmesan cheese.
Tips on how to cook the Sausage
The most important step of making this spicy Italian sausage pasta sauce is cooking the sausage properly. Nobody likes a bite of sausage bigger than the pasta, so it's important that you break the sausage correctly when you cook it.
First, you need to remove the sausage from the casing, then instead of tossing it directly in the pan, break it already in pieces with your hands, this way it'll be easier to break it further while it cooks. Turn on the heat so it starts browning and with a wooden spoon keep breaking it into pieces as small as possible. You can leave a few bigger chunks but most of it should be broken into small pieces.
The more it cooks, the easier it will be breaking it. If it's browning too much, lower the heat or remove from the heat for a few minutes while you keep working on it.
I do not recommend cooking the pasta directly in the sauce (even though it's possible), because it takes too long and you need to stir often to make sure it doesn't stick. So even though you use one less pan, it takes more work to do it.
Yes, you can use any kind of sausage you prefer or have available. As long as it's fresh sausage. Experiment and adjust the seasonings to taste based on the sausage flavor.
You can store leftover spicy sausage pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
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Italian Sausage Pasta
- 6 oz Dried Pasta
- 2 Garlic cloves
- Olive Oil
- 2 Italian Sausages, 7 oz /200 g
- 2 tablespoon Soffritto, see notes
- 1 can Tomato Passata, 15 oz/425 ml
- 3-4 tablespoon Milk or Cream
- Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Red Chili Pepper flakes
- Parmesan cheese, optional
- ½ teaspoon Fennel seeds, optional
- In a skillet or a non-stick pan, drizzle some olive oil and add the peeled garlic cloves cut in halves and the sausages. Turn on the heat and break the sausages into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until it starts to brown.
- Add the Soffritto and the tomato sauce to the pan with ⅓ cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
- Turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and when the sauce it's almost done, toss the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
- Add the milk or cream to the sauce and season to taste.
- Drain the pasta al dente and toss it in the skillet with the sauce.
- Serve with grated Parmigiano on top.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.