This Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta is a hearty comfort food great for the whole family! Tender pasta is tossed in a rich, spicy sauce made with hot Italian sausage, heavy cream, broth, and warm spices. The best part is this hearty pasta dish comes together so quickly – it’s perfect for busy weeknights!
If you love a good pasta dish, you’re in for a treat with this Spicy Sausage Pasta. It’s the perfect combination of spicy flavor + creamy sauce + hearty meat. And it all comes together in under 30 minutes, making weeknight dinner a breeze!
Plus, this is a great dish if you’re feeding large crowds because the cook time is very short, and yet the flavors are very big! If you’re still skeptical, make this for dinner tonight and watch it disappear from your kitchen table. I promise it will become a new favorite!
And if you’re on the hunt for more easy pasta recipes, be sure to try this Creamy Cajun Salmon Pasta and Cheesy Baked Bechamel Pasta. And don’t forget the shellfish delight with this Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Pasta. These are just some of my favorite pasta dishes but check out all the pasta meals here.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta:
Spicy (Hot) Italian Sausage: Use your favorite spicy sausage. You will need about 3-4 hot Italian sausage links with casings removed.
Heavy cream: Adds richness to the creamy Italian sausage pasta and helps to thicken the sauce.
Chicken stock: Combined with the cream, chicken broth or stock helps to create that rich and flavorful sauce.
Pasta: A 16-ounce box of rigatoni will work. You can also use your favorite type of pasta like penne pasta or another short pasta.
Chives: I love the freshness of fresh chives but you can also use fresh chopped parsley or omit this all together.
HOW TO MAKE SPICY ITALIAN SAUSAGE PASTA: STEP BY STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When oil is hot, add diced onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the sausage links and break it up into pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Then, add the chicken stock and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
Step 3: Add chives and freshly grated cheese. Stir and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce thickens a bit.
Step 4: Add cooked pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle more Parmesan cheese and chili flakes, if using.
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS
- Cook pasta al dente. Don’t overcook the pasta. You want it to be firm to the bite as it will continue to cook when added to the sauce. A good rule of thumb is to cook your pasta 1-2 minutes less than the package directions.
- Deglaze the pan. If there are any stuck sausage pieces on the bottom of the pan, deglaze with broth or white wine (for extra flavor!) and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any pieces.
- Cook the sauce until it thickens. It’s normal for the sausage to release fat and make the sauce runny and thin, especially when adding other ingredients like chicken broth and heavy cream. Continue to cook on medium or low heat until it thickens–the starch from the pasta will help thicken the sauce.
STORAGE & REHEATING
- Storage: Ensure the pasta dish has completely cooled down before storing it. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Reheating: For best results, reheat this pasta dish on the stovetop. Place a skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat, add a little bit of water or broth to the pan, then add the pasta. Stir occasionally until heated through. You can also pop it in the microwave for a few minutes, covered with a damp paper towel to prevent the pasta from drying out.
- Freezing: While this dish can be frozen, I don’t recommend it because freshly cooked pasta can become soft when frozen and thawed. Additionally, creamy sauces can sometimes separate and change texture when after thawing.
Additions & Substitutions
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Chopped sun-dried tomatoes add a sweet and tangy flavor.
- Leafy greens: Consider adding chopped kale or baby spinach during the last few minutes of cooking for added color and nutrition.
- Crumbled bacon: Crispy bacon adds a savory and smoky flavor to this creamy sauce pasta recipe. It complements the other ingredients well.
- Sausage: If you want the dish less spicy, use mild Italian sausage, sweet Italian sausage, or even turkey sausage. Any savory sausage meat will work in this recipe!
- Tomato paste: If you’re out of tomato paste, feel free to use tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. You may need to cook a little longer for the liquid to evaporate and the sauce to thicken, but it will still work!
- Pasta: Have fun with this easy pasta dish. Use a different pasta shape to correlate with seasons and capture the kid’s attention.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Absolutely! When sauteing the onions, feel free to add extra veggies like sweet bell peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini. You can also blanch or steam them first to remove some of the moisture.
You can make the sauce and cook the pasta and store them in separate containers. When ready to assemble, bring them together in a skillet over medium-high heat before serving.
Alternatively, you can make it per recipe and transfer it to a baking dish. Cover it and refrigerate for up to 4 days. When ready to serve, reheat it in a preheated oven at 375°F for 20 minutes or until warmed through.
Yes! You can easily use less cayenne pepper or omit it altogether. You can also use a regular sausage instead of spicy sausage to keep the spiciness down.
If you find that your dish is too spicy, add creaminess to offset the spicy flavor. This can be additional heavy cream, cream cheese, or even sour cream or a bit of cream cheese–yumm!
TOOLS FOR THIS RECIPE
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Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta
- 1 16oz. box rigatoni or your favorite pasta shape
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
- 1 lb. spicy Italian sausage (3-4 links), casings removed
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper can also use chili powder
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp fresh or dried chives
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese + more for serving
- red pepper flakes (optional), for additional heat
- Prep: Cook pasta 1-2 minutes less than package instructions. Drain. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside (See Note 1).
- Cook: While pasta is cooking, start making the sauce. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When oil is hot, add onions. Cook 2-3 minutes.
- Add: Add the sausage links and cook sausage, breaking it up into pieces with the wooden spoons until cooked through — about 3-4 minutes. Then, add the chicken stock and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
- Add: Reduce heat to medium and add the heavy cream, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. Mix well. Then, add chives and freshly grated cheese. Stir and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until sauce thickens up a bit.
- Finish: Add pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle on more Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes, if using.