One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta – an irresistible and super simple one-pot pasta dish filled with spicy sausage and a silky tomato cream sauce.

One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta

I promise I’m not going to talk about snow this week. Except, I’ll say that I’m happy now since OMW (Old Man Winter) certainly delivered us a bunch of the white stuff the other day.

Instead, let’s chat about this pasta, ok?

This one-pot creamy sausage pasta recipe. Because it’s nothing short of outstanding!!

It’s one of those one-pot meals where you start out wondering how the heck the pasta could every possibly cook in a pool of majorly diluted marinara sauce and then you end up licking the bowl clean. Not even kidding!

One-Pot Creamy Sausage PastaYep, it’s that good.

I’ve been making and tweaking this dish over the past year – more times than I can count – and it’s FINALLY ready for you to dive into.  Because really, that’s exactly what we do when it’s finished cooking!

And let’s just say that I’ve taken this pasta down a few different paths in my many iterations this past year and I can say with certainty that it’s fairly versatile.

Make this One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta Recipe Your Own!

Ground sausage and fresh chicken sausage work equally well in this versatile one-pot sausage pasta dish.

I usually use a jar of Trader Joe’s marinara sauce – of course, any marinara will do – but I have also used crushed tomatoes mixed with an Italian herb blend when I’m out of the jarred stuff. The onions, peppers, and garlic help to make a really nice and quick homemade tomato sauce if you need some sauce in a pinch.

Half-and-half or Greek yogurt can easily replace the heavy cream. You can use about 4 ounces of softened cream cheese as a heavy cream replacement too!

I’ve replaced the wine with some chicken broth as well without too much consequence to the dish. And I’ve used red wine in place of white wine when that’s all that was left in the house.

Adding some fresh greens like spinach, kale, or chard not only adds a whole lot of color, but they boost the nutritional factor as well!

One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta

And if you’re wondering about how a diluted marinara sauce could possibly ever work to cook pasta and still be good, there’s no need to worry.  I got a major side-eye from Kyle about this too as I made it the first time.

But it so so works!

The sauce-water mixture boils down in a large, wide, skillet to this silky sauce that nestles into the pasta hollows and perfectly coats the nooks and crannies of whatever short pasta shape you choose to use. You’ll see regular penne in these photos but I’ve also made this recipe with rotini, mini rigs, and cellentani and we love all of these shapes equally!

The cream and Parmesan cheese add quite a bit of richness to the dish and a good sprinkle of hot pepper flakes brings it all together.

One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta

In my world, you can never go wrong with a one-pot meal and this one-pot creamy sausage pasta just completely rocks our dinner world. Odds, are it’ll rock yours too!

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One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta

One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

An irresistible and super simple one-pot pasta dish filled with spicy sausage and a silky tomato cream sauce. It's a perfect family-friendly meal for busy weeknights!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground fennel or 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional - see note below)
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb ground hot or sweet sausage (or a mix of both)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 16 oz marinara sauce
  • 6 tbsp heavy cream
  • 8 oz short pasta shapes, like penne
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute the peppers and onions until they start to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, fennel, red pepper flakes, and a good pinch of salt and a few cranks of black pepper. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook with the peppers and onions until browned. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the sauce and 3 cups of water into the skillet and then stir the pasta into the mixture until well-combined.
  2. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Allow the liquid to simmer, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently towards the end to prevent the pasta from sticking, for about 15 to 17 minutes. Every 5 minutes or so, stir in a little of the remaining cup of water. If the liquid starts boiling over, reduce the heat to low.
  3. When the pasta is cooked through, stir in the cream, Parmesan cheese, and most of the basil (reserving a little for garnish). Allow the cream to heat through for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the dish to cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle the remaining basil over the top, and serve.

Notes

Feel free to adapt the ingredients as needed! Some suggestions:

  • Replace sausage with ground pork, turkey, or fresh chicken sausage or even vegan sausage!
  • Any type of marinara will work but I have also used crushed tomatoes with an Italian herb mix when I'm out of the jarred stuff.
  • Half-and-half or Greek yogurt can easily replace the heavy cream.
  • Replace wine with some chicken broth - or replace the white wine with red wine.
  • Add some fresh greens like spinach, kale, or chard which not only adds a whole lot of color, but they boost the nutritional factor as well.

Smells Like Home original recipe

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  • ellysaysopa
    February 3, 2015 at 11:50 AM

    Yummm this looks awesome Tara! Going on the menu soon.

  • Liz @ FloatingKitchen
    February 13, 2015 at 7:07 AM

    Oh my gosh, I feel like all I can talk about is the snow (I’m in MA). It’s bad and totally all consuming. And more is heading at me this weekend. Eeek. I need a big skillet of this amazing, comforting pasta to make me feel better!

    • February 13, 2015 at 9:29 PM

      I so feel for you! We’ve gotten a bit here in CT but not nearly as much as you guys. This is definitely THE meal for these ridiculously frigid and snowy winter nights and I hope you love it!

  • March 2, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    Great to hear! Thank you for coming back to let me know how your family loved it!

  • […] this dish. Add in any veggies that you like, and you’ve got a filling meal ready. Tara from Smells Like Home has been tweaking this recipe for a while, so give this a […]

  • July 13, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    […] Adapted from Smells Like Home […]

  • Emily Asbury
    August 26, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    I made this for dinner tonight – after a full day of work and a 60 min workout, we were still eating by just after 7pm. This dish is amazing! It is decadent and tastes like it is really unhealthy. I substituted evaporated milk for cream, with no consequence. Seriously. I don’t love a ton of pasta, but this was great. I was highly skeptical of the 4c water, but i used almost all of it. There might have been 1/8c leftover. I did use a splash more wine and a few tblsp of fresh basil at the end. I will add this to the rotation. Thank you so much for the great recipe!

    • August 28, 2015 at 8:50 AM

      Oh yeah! This is by far one of the best things we’ve made in the past couple of years and I’m SO happy to hear you love it too! Great idea for a substitution – I don’t always have cream in the fridge but usually have a can of evaporated milk in the cabinet.

  • […] sausage available. This helped me narrow down what type of recipe to look for this week. I found this recipe, from Smells Like Home, on Pinterest. As I was makings this, I altered it a bit to fit […]

  • Jaime
    May 22, 2016 at 9:25 PM

    Made this tonight and it was delicious! I used chicken stock in place of dry white wine; don’t know what the wine tastes like, but I can’t imagine it would be much better! Got some picky eaters in this household and everyone ate it up!

    • May 24, 2016 at 8:58 AM

      So happy this was a big hit with your family, Jaime! The chicken stock is a great substitution for white wine and I’m sure it didn’t change the taste all that much at all. Thanks so much for coming back to leave a comment!

  • […] This One Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta at Smells Like Home is the ultimate comfort food. Use sweet or spicy sausage depending on your (or your kid’s) mood, and prepare to be amazed. […]

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  • Courtney
    August 30, 2017 at 9:50 PM

    Made this for dinner tonight, delicious! We used chicken apple sausage and it was killer. Thanks so much for this awesome recipe

    • Tara
      September 18, 2017 at 2:07 PM

      Awesome to hear! I love that a slightly sweet chicken apple sausage worked well since we usually have a bunch of that on hand throughout the winter!

  • Isabella
    August 31, 2017 at 7:10 PM

    Hi! If I wanted to make just the sauce (already prepped noodles), would I just emit the 4 cups of water from the recipe? Thanks

    • Tara
      September 18, 2017 at 2:08 PM

      So sorry for the late response here, Isabella! I’ve got a new baby in the house and things are nutso here! 🙂 Yes, you can definitely make just the sauce but you will likely need a little water to thin it out a little – just use your judgement there. I hope you love(d) it!

  • Gretchen
    October 17, 2017 at 1:41 PM

    Any instructions if I wanted to make ahead of time and freeze it to give to an expecting mama?

    • Tara
      October 17, 2017 at 2:57 PM

      Hi Gretchen! I would make the recipe as is, let it cool, and then freeze it in a disposable aluminum pan covered tightly with a double layer of plastic wrap. When ready to cook, it should be thawed in the fridge (I would move it from the freezer to the fridge the night before) and then reheat in the oven or dump the pasta in a large saute pan and heat on the stove. I hope this is a hit for your friend!

  • Melanie
    October 19, 2017 at 12:06 PM

    I made this last night. I used both hot and sweet sausage. I added a lot of fresh spinach at the end. Fabulous. My family and our guests gobbled it up! Thank you for the recipe!

    • Tara
      October 19, 2017 at 9:02 PM

      Oh yay!! Yes, I’ve been making it with a combo of sweet and hot – it’s a compromise for Kyle and I since he LOVES spicy food – and it’s so good. Love that you added spinach – bet that was so great! Thanks so much for coming back to comment!

  • Krist Nolan
    October 23, 2017 at 9:52 PM

    This was so delicious! One of my new favorite recipes! I used Tofurkey Italian sausage since were vegetarian, so, so good!! Thank you!

    • Tara
      October 24, 2017 at 8:02 AM

      Woot!! So glad you enjoyed this, Kristi! And so great to hear that a meatless option works so well in place of the pork sausage! Thank you SO much for coming back to say hi and let me know how the recipe went for you.

  • Brianna Forest
    November 12, 2017 at 9:21 PM

    Had to leave a comment to say how much I LOVED this recipe. Used three large hot sausages that I cut the casings off and crumbled, White Linen marinara sauce from Costco, and half-and-half cream, and it had amazing spicy but not too spicy flavour. This was seriously the best thing I have made in months!! Thank you for a fantastic recipe!

    • Tara
      November 17, 2017 at 7:32 AM

      So awesome to hear! This meal still remains one of our very favorites and I’m so happy you loved it, Brianna!

  • Becky
    January 14, 2018 at 8:48 PM

    I used this recipe as a guide last night when making dinner!! 🙂 I didn’t have everything on the list, so I subbed out some, but it was sooooo good! Thank you!! I did write about how I changed it on my blog, with giving your link for the original post and the actual recipe 🙂 I hope you give permission for that! 🙂 Check out familyfoodplay.com to see it! THanks again! it was a hit with my family!

    • Tara
      January 17, 2018 at 9:02 AM

      Yes! Such an adaptable and versatile recipe, isn’t it? I love that you used chicken sausage in place of the ground pork sausage – GREAT swap – and that you made it in an Instant Pot-like dealie. So happy this was a winner in your house too! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know ho it turned out. 🙂

  • Michelle
    January 31, 2018 at 7:40 PM

    Just made this is it was great!! 9 year old picky eater declared it the best pasta ever. Only had half and half and no fennel. Can’t wait to try it properly!

    • Tara
      February 4, 2018 at 8:23 AM

      That’s awesome!! I absolutely love that this pasta is a hit with picky kids! Half and half definitely works in place of the heavy cream. Thanks so much for coming back to leave a comment!

  • Jaime Isaac
    June 2, 2018 at 12:56 AM

    I am also reviewing this recipe tonight to prepare it for dinner for my family. I also wanted to point out that since I do not have fennel, I will substitute it with Anise Seeds which also have that licorice flavor. I will comment again to see how everyone enjoyed the dish. Thank you.

    • Tara
      June 4, 2018 at 11:04 AM

      Anise seeds sound like they would work great! I hope you enjoyed this dinner!

  • Jerry trust
    September 6, 2018 at 9:46 PM

    Tara,
    So are you saying you do not cook the pasta separate, you just put it in with the sausage and other ingredients and let it cook in with that. I always cooked my pasta seperate then rinsed it to get the starch out.

    • Tara
      September 7, 2018 at 9:00 AM

      Yep, that’s correct! Add the dry pasta into the pan with the sausage, sauce, and water and let everything simmer down until the pasta is cooked through. You’ll need the starch from the pasta to help thicken the sauce. Trust me, I was skeptical about this too – I always cooked the pasta separately – but this method definitely works! I hope you’ll try it and let me know how it turns out for you. 🙂

  • Anne
    October 7, 2018 at 5:50 PM

    This has become a regular favorite for us! The only change I made is that I only use 2 1/2 cups of water rather than 4 because it’s just way to liquidy otherwise. We love to use hot sausage with ours. Delicious!

    • Tara
      November 10, 2018 at 2:34 PM

      So so great to hear! Thank you for coming back to let me know how your family loves this!

  • Jessica
    December 3, 2018 at 5:33 PM

    If I substitute heavy cream with Greek yogurt, is it a 1 to 1 ratio?

    • Tara
      December 4, 2018 at 9:18 AM

      Hi Jessica! I’d start with 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and if you think it should be a little creamier, add a couple of tablespoons at a time until it’s as creamy as you’d like it to be. Let me know how the yogurt substitute turns out for you! Enjoy!

  • Diane Taylor
    December 15, 2018 at 11:20 PM

    I’m thinking of adding vodka and crispy bacon….and another time it’ll be hot italian sausage….geez the possibilities are endless.
    Thanks for a great recipe for a fabulous meal!
    P.s. love all the comments it’s a great help and awesome ideas when you’re trying a meal for the first time!!

    • Tara
      December 17, 2018 at 4:04 PM

      Hi Diane! Yes, the possibilities ARE endless! I LOVE the idea of adding bacon and vodka. Someone on Pinterest left a comment on one of the Pins of this recipe about adding vodka and she said it turned out great. I can only imagine it would be pretty delicious (I’m a big fan of vodka sauce!). So glad the comments have been helpful to you too – this is great feedback!

  • Maegan
    December 27, 2018 at 5:12 PM

    I made this a few weeks and my husband has been begging for it ever since! I used skim milk in place of the cream (all I had in hand in the fridge) but added in some cream cheese to get that nice smooth creamy consistency and no complaints over here! Great recipe and definitely saving for future use!

    • Tara
      December 27, 2018 at 7:49 PM

      LOVE the substitute suggestion, Maegan! I’m sure cream cheese was a phenomenal addition. Thank you so much for coming back to let me know how you liked it!

  • tamens
    January 12, 2019 at 11:16 PM

    Just tried this tonight, used a kielbasa I had on hand instead of sausage. I fed the family and had enough leftover for a couple days of lunch next week.

    This is absolutely going to be in the dinner rotation from now on! Perfect blend of sauce to noodle ratio. YUMMY!

    • Tara
      January 13, 2019 at 9:48 AM

      Yay! I love hearing this! And I love the idea of using kielbasa instead of sausage – use what ya got, right?? Thank you so much for coming back to leave a comment! This gives other readers ideas about how to adapt this recipe to make it work for their families. Have a great rest of your weekend!

  • Cassie c.
    January 29, 2019 at 9:05 PM

    Mine came out with too much water. Idk what I did wrong.. any advice??

    • Tara
      February 3, 2019 at 4:54 PM

      Did you follow the recipe exactly as written or did you make any changes to it? It’s hard for me know to what went wrong for you without knowing if you made changes.

  • Jessica H.
    February 17, 2019 at 7:40 PM

    I just made it, and I intentionally left out 1 cup of water….but kept it handy for an emergency 😉. It seemed like an excessive amount for my liking, but I’ve been wrong before. I wasn’t wrong this time, and regardless…..it was AH-mazing!! I followed the recipe exactly except for the water, and I added fresh spinach after letting the cream heat through. Oh, and I always double the cheese, and this was no exception. Thank you so much for the recipe!!!

    • Tara
      February 18, 2019 at 11:01 AM

      Yay!! So great to hear your feedback on this one, Jessica. Yes, the amount of liquid can be tricky but I’m glad you went with your instinct – that’s your best guide sometimes. Love your addition of spinach too! It’s a delicious and easy add-in, especially if you’ve got some leftover in the fridge (ahem, like me, always). Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review!

  • MaryAnn Jones
    March 31, 2019 at 8:26 PM

    I found this recipe a couple of months ago and it’s now one of my go-to recipes. The adults sprinkle the red pepper flakes in their own bowl and everyone but dad sprinkles the fresh parm in their own bowls. We all love this meal. Thank you!

    • Tara
      April 1, 2019 at 9:58 AM

      Hi MaryAnn! This is SO great to hear! Since we have a toddler in the house now, we also skip adding the red pepper flakes to the sauce and opt to sprinkle them on when serving too. Oftentimes, I don’t put them on at all and I honestly don’t even miss the flavor. Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review!

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