Who knew that pasta could cook perfectly in a pool of majorly diluted marinara sauce and still turn out amazingly? The one-pot creamy sausage pasta shows you how!
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.  Instead, let’s chat about this pasta, ok?

This one-pot creamy sausage pasta.  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. Seriously.

One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta

Yep, 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!

Let’s just say that I’ve taken this pasta down a few different paths in my many iterations and can say that it’s fairly versatile.

Ground pork and fresh chicken sausage work equally well.  I usually use a jar of Trader Joe’s organic marinara sauce – of course, any marinara will work – but 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.

I’ve replaced the wine with some chicken broth as well without too much consequence to the dish.  Adding some fresh greens like spinach, kale, or chard not only adds a whole lot of color, it boosts 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 works!

The sauce-water mixture boils down to this silky sauce that nestles into pasta hollows and perfectly coats the nooks and crannies of whatever short pasta shape you choose to use.  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 my world. Odds, are it’ll rock yours too.

One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta

  • Prep Time: 10min
  • Cook Time: 25min
  • Yield: 4-6 servings

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
4 cups water
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  • 01

    Heat the oil in a 12-inch 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.

  • 02

    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.

  • 03

    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.

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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!

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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!

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