This One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage is everything you need in a hearty meal that can be tweaked and customized based on whatever you can find in your fridge or pantry. It’ll be on your dinner table in 40 minutes or less. Bonus points: Leftovers freeze like a breeze, so you can save even more time in the kitchen the next time you’re craving pasta.
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Life has been a whirlwind around here lately, and I am not complaining one bit! As a mom of four little ones, I am all about minimizing stress and maximizing meal prep. And it doesn’t get much easier, tastier or more satisfying than a big ol’ bowl of cheesy Italian sausage pasta.
The real beauty of this dish is that the noodles cook directly in the sauce, so there’s no waiting on a pot of water coming to a boil. The simmering sauce thickens into a hearty ragù, and all that’s left to do is add a few halved mini mozzarella balls and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Then, complete your feast with a hot loaf of my go-to Secret Ingredient Cheesy Garlic Bread!
Why You’ll Love It
- It’s effortless. Brown the meat, pour in the sauce and add the noodles. Easy peasy!
- It’s freezer-friendly. Freezing cooked pasta is a convenient way to have a quick meal ready to go when you’re in a rush or don’t feel like cooking.
- It’s family-friendly. It’s hearty, comforting and loved by both kids and adults alike.
Best of all…
It’s completely customizable. All you need is this basic recipe template (and a large appetite and/or a desire for freezable leftovers):
- Pick Your Protein: I’ve opted for Italian sausage, but ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork or even ground chicken would work.
- Select Your Sauce: Homemade or store-bought marinara both do the trick, but if you’re feeling like taking things up a notch, can I interest you in my DIY vodka sauce?
- Know Your Noodles: Any variety of noodle will work, but I favor a sturdier shape that can stand up to a meaty ragù, such as rigatoni, cavatappi or penne.
- Italian sausage: Italian sausage is an absolute favorite of mine for this one-pot pasta. However, if you can’t find Italian sausage, you can use regular pork sausage or chicken sausage seasoned with Italian herbs like fennel seeds, oregano, basil and garlic.
- Marinara sauce: Any store-bought variety will work in this recipe, however, I prefer using my homemade marinara sauce (it’s a quick, 10-minute recipe!) to really elevate the dish.
- Pasta: I’ve found that penne, rigatoni or cavatappi work exceptionally well in this dish. Their ridges and shapes are perfect for ensuring every bite is covered in saucy goodness. However, you can use any pasta shape you have on hand, like spaghetti, farfalle or shells.
- Mini mozzarella balls: These small mozzarella pearls melt easily, creating a perfectly creamy texture. You can replace them with regular shredded mozzarella cheese or even diced fresh mozzarella if that’s what you have.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
This one-pot meal is the epitome of ease and convenience. With minimal prep and cooking time, you can have a hearty and flavor-packed dinner on the table within 40 minutes.
- Sauté the Italian sausage. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook it, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink.
- Add the minced garlic. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add sauce, water and pasta. Add the marinara sauce, stirring to combine, then stir in 2 cups of water.
- Cook the pasta. Add the pasta and bring the mixture to a boil, reduce it to a simmer then cover the pot and continue cooking until the pasta is al dente, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Serve, garnish and enjoy! Dish out the pasta into individual bowls. Top each serving with mini mozzarella balls, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.
- Pick the Right Pot: Aim for a 6-quart heavy-bottomed stock pot or braiser that has a lid.
- Properly Season the Dish: Taste the sauce before adding the pasta to ensure it’s well-seasoned. If needed, add a pinch of salt and pepper to enhance the flavors. Remember that the pasta will absorb some of the sauce’s seasoning, so a well-seasoned sauce is crucial.
- Add the Right Amount of Liquid: In this one-pot pasta recipe, the pasta cooks directly in the sauce, absorbing some of it as it softens. If the sauce seems too thick or the pasta isn’t fully cooked, add a splash of water or chicken broth as needed, and continue cooking until the pasta reaches the desired doneness.
- Stir Occasionally: While the pasta cooks, stir it occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking. Be gentle while stirring to avoid breaking the pasta.
Whether you’ve made an extra-large batch of pasta or want to store leftover pasta, freezing is a great option. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to freeze cooked pasta properly:
- Cool the pasta. This step prevents condensation from forming inside the container, which could lead to freezer burn.
- Divide into individual or family-sized portions. Pre-portioning allows you to take out only the amount you need, saving time and reducing food waste.
- Store in resealable freezer bags. Make sure to remove as much air as possible from the bags before sealing them.
- Label and date. This will help you keep track of the contents and know how long it’s been in the freezer.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen one-pot pasta, you can reheat it using either the stovetop or microwave method:
- Stovetop: Place the frozen pasta in a saucepan with a splash of water or additional marinara sauce to loosen it up. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through.
- Microwave: Transfer the frozen pasta to a microwave-safe dish and, if you have one, cover it with a microwave-safe lid. Heat on medium power in short intervals, stirring in between until the pasta is thoroughly heated.
Kelly’s Note: It’s best to avoid reheating the pasta more than once to preserve its texture and taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
The easiest way to thicken a one-pot pasta recipe with too much water is to ladle out the excess liquid. If you attempt to continue boiling the sauce, the pasta (and any other ingredients) will get overcooked.
Yes, you can absolutely cook pasta directly in the pasta sauce – that’s what this recipe is all about! The simmering sauce thickens into a deliciously hearty ragù, infusing the pasta with rich flavors.
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- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 4 cups marinara sauce
- 16 oz. uncooked pasta, sauce as penne, rigatoni or cavatappi
- Mini mozzarella balls, for serving
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Fresh basil, for serving
- In a large pot set over medium-low heat, add the olive oil then add the sausage and cook it, breaking it apart into pieces, until it is no longer pink.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the marinara sauce, stirring to combine, then stir in 2 cups of water and the pasta.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce it to a simmer then cover the pot and continue cooking until the pasta is al dente, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Serve the pasta topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
- Aim for a 6-quart heavy-bottomed stock pot or braiser that has a lid.
- Leftovers can be stored in resealable freezer bags in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.