One Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta – an irresistible and super simple one-pot pasta dish filled with spicy sausage and a silky tomato cream sauce.
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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!
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!
What I love about this meal, aside from the ease of making it, is the straightforward ingredient list.
Here’s what you’ll need for this meal (keep scrolling down the page for the full list and recipe instructions):
- Red bell peppers
- Fresh garlic
- Ground Italian sausage (sweet or hot)
- Fennel seeds (optional)
- Marinara sauce
- Short tube pasta
- Heavy cream
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. It reminds me a bit of this pasta with sausage, peppers, and onions, except I made it with a super creamy sauce.
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!
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 rigatoni, 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.
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
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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL CLASSIC Hollow Edge Santoku Knife 7-inch Black/Stainless Steel
Large Walnut Wood Cutting Board by Virginia Boys Kitchens - 17x11 American Hardwood Chopping and Carving Countertop Block with Juice Drip Groove
All-Clad D5 Brushed 3 Quart Saute Pan with Lid Stainless Steel Skillet
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 472
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Yummm this looks awesome Tara! Going on the menu soon.
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!
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!
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 […]
[…] Adapted from Smells Like Home […]
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!
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 […]
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!
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. […]
[…] rStyle affiliate. Top: 20-Minue Black Bean Burgers with Pineapple Salsa at With Salt & Wit | One-Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta at Smells Like […]
Made this for dinner tonight, delicious! We used chicken apple sausage and it was killer. Thanks so much for this awesome recipe
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!
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
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!
Any instructions if I wanted to make ahead of time and freeze it to give to an expecting mama?
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!
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!
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!
This was so delicious! One of my new favorite recipes! I used Tofurkey Italian sausage since were vegetarian, so, so good!! Thank you!
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.
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!
So awesome to hear! This meal still remains one of our very favorites and I’m so happy you loved it, Brianna!
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!
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. 🙂
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!
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!
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.
Anise seeds sound like they would work great! I hope you enjoyed this dinner!
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.
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. 🙂
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!
So so great to hear! Thank you for coming back to let me know how your family loves this!
If I substitute heavy cream with Greek yogurt, is it a 1 to 1 ratio?
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!
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!!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
Mine came out with too much water. Idk what I did wrong.. any advice??
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.
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!!!
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!
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!
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!
In sunny Cal, but needing a carb boost for a bike ride tomorrow: great recipe! Tried it with “impossible hot sausage”, hot fresh peppers from our patio pots…..and it turned out great! Thank you! Also, love the comments and variations!
Hi Mia! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a review! I agree about the meatless sausage – it works great! I recently made it a few times with the Beyond Meat sausages as well as another type of vegetarian sausage (Field Roast or something like that) and the pasta still turns out so great!
What can I substitute dry white wine for to get the same kind of flavor? I looked it up and it said white wine vinegar but I’m really not sure.
Hi Heidi! If I’m out of white wine, I always substitute chicken or vegetable broth. Works like a charm every single time! I hope you love this recipe!
This is a favorite in our home!! Super easy and extremely tasty! Always a big hit when we have family gatherings. Thank you!
Yay! So great to hear this! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a review!
Just made this tonight. Delicious flavour. Made it exactly what the recipe called for. Didn’t need the last cup of water. Seemed really runny. Could some of the cook time be with the lid off so it thickens before the pasta gets over done. Will definitely be making this again.
Yes, you can take the lid off towards the end of the cooking time but you can also use less water next time too. The sauce will thicken as it cools as well, so keep that in mind. So glad you like this, Laurel!
Love love loved this!!! We used cream cheese because we had some on hand, and it made it really thick but in a good way. We accidentally added the whole package of noodles, so just balanced that out with additional sauce and spices. Thank you for the lovely recipe!
YAY! So happy to hear this pasta was such a hit for you, Brittany! Love the cream cheese substitution too! I’ll bet that was excellent! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a review!
Never cooking one pot pasta again. I will always cook the noodle separately.
My sauce turned out super runny and the pasta cooked very quickly. I couldn’t thicken the sauce in time. Served it as a soup… tasty but still a soup.
Hi Victoria, I’m sorry this recipe didn’t work out for you.
I made this recipe tonight with a few variations because I did not have all of the recipe ingredients. I used ground Italian sweet sausage. I did not use the fennel or the white wine. I used chicken stock in place of the wine nothing in place of the fennel.. I used half-and-half instead of the heavy cream. I also added about a cup and a half of fresh spinach and I followed the recipe as directed otherwise. It was an absolute hit in my house and I will definitely make this again! I have a lot of other people I’ve stated before it’s a very quick and easy dinner that packs allot of flavor!! Thanks for the great ideas!!
Hi Tamara! Great substitutions for this pasta dish! I’m thrilled this was such a hit for your family!! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review!
Made this last night and it was FANTASTIC! I made it with vegetarian sausage since our 24 year old vegetarian son is home due to the shelter in place… I didn’t have an onion so I used dried onion, 1/2 of a red pepper, chicken broth for the wine (we don’t drink) and only 3 cups of water without adding the last cup. My son said, “Mom, this is the best pasta I have had in a long time!” This will be on our rotation for sure! Thank you!
YAY! So glad this was a hit for you and your fam, Annie! Vegetarian sausage works so great with this pasta! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a review!
Listen, I hate when people make adjustments to a recipe, then rate that recipe as adjusted, but I didn’t have all the ingredients and we are in a pandemic. I used cream cheese instead of heavy cream, and a half a green bell pepper instead of the red. Everything else was followed exactly. It was so good, family-pleasing, and very easy. Thank you so much!
I hear you on that, Kathleen!! What I love most about the recipe, aside from the taste, is that it is such a versatile recipe. So many substitutions work and still result in a fantastic meal. Thank you so much for taking the time to come back to leave a comment!
This was really good. I used a venison/pork sausage and instead of marinara sauce, I added several garden fresh tomatoes and a little Italian seasoning. Probably was less tomatoey, but it was good.
Sounds wonderful!! This is such a versatile recipe and it always works great with so many changes!
This is an awesome recipe! I used to make a similar recipe but dirtied way too many dishes. So happy I found this recipe! The clean up was so easy. Thank you!
Thanks, Amanda! So glad to hear this was a hit for you!
Hi there! Looking to make this while on vacation at a cabin. In hopes to cut down time in the kitchen and to simplify packing I was think of cooking the peppers, onion and sausage ahead of time and then starting from there at the cabin. Any thoughts? It seems like a pretty full proof and quick recipe as is so maybe cooking ahead isn’t necessary.
Sure, I don’t see why you can’t prep some of this recipe in advance. I hope you loved it!
I have been making a dish just like this for years but cooking the pasta separately. I love the idea of cooking everything in one pot. My only question is, I usually use a full 16 ounce box of penne because we like to have leftovers. Will this dish work the same using a full 16 ounce box and would I just be doubling everything?
Hi Ad! Yes, I would double the recipe but you’ll need to use 2 pans to cook it in. A stock pot might work too for a doubled recipe, though I haven’t tried making it that way. I hope you love this!
I’m so excited to make this! Is it just me or am I unable to locate the recipe video on this page?! Help lol.
Hi Katrina! Thanks for your note. It looks like the video had disappeared but I just fixed it. It is located under the first pasta photo on the page and the video will automatically play after the ad finishes (or you can Skip Ad). Let me know if you still can’t see it.
Just made this for dinner tonight and it was SO GOOD. It was easy, low mess (I LOVE one-pot recipes), used ingredients we always have in the kitchen, and total comfort food.The only change I made was adding more red pepper flakes, but that’s just my personal preference as a spicy food fan. I absolutely plan on making this again multiple times, especially with the weather getting colder.
Hi Laura! Love to hear this!! So glad you love it!
Hello thanks for the recipe! Sorry, I can’t seem to see the recipe video. Which part of the page is it embedded at?
Hi Gina! Thanks for your note. It looks like the video had disappeared but I just fixed it. It is located under the first pasta photo on the page and the video will automatically play after the ad finishes (or you can Skip Ad). Let me know if you still can’t see it.
I like your recipe but wish you would put a “jump to recipe” in your blog.
Thank you for your feedback! I’m considering this feature.
Ngl, I doubted a lot of this recipe, especially the cooking the pasta in the pan part, BUT I made it today for lunch it was great. My belly is full and it’s enough to last me a couple more days in quarantine. Thanks so much!
Yay!! So happy you took the chance on this recipe! I also doubted cooking pasta in the pan at first but it really does work! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review!
This is my GO TO MEAL! If we are needing a meal that we always like and to fill us up this does the trick! Most of these ingredients are staples in our home and the recipe is easy to follow! So glad I found this.
Yes!!!! So happy to hear this, Dani!! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review!
Made this pasta for dinner tonight
So yummy! So glad I found this recipe, my family absolutely loved it!!
Yay!! So great to hear this, Susan!!
Excellent! Used Italian sausage and added fresh sauteed mushrooms at the same time as the cream. I’m not a big fan of penne but this was the easiest and most delicious dish ever!
Thrilled that you loved this dinner, Katherine! And love the idea of adding mushrooms to the mix!
Made this tonight. I subbed chicken broth for the white wine as well as the water, heavy cream for the half and half. Finally, I also used hot Italian sausage and spinach.
The entire family loved it, and even asked for leftovers for tomorrows dinner! It was so tasty and had a lot of depth to the flavors. This is now a staple meal in this family.
Thank you for this recipe!
Fantastic to hear, Ann! Love the substitutions and additions you made! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review!