Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta
Italian Sausage Pasta recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes for a quick, hearty meal. A creamy sausage red sauce with spinach coats penne pasta for a delicious recipe ready for weeknights!
Who doesn’t love a weeknight meal requiring only a handful of ingredients and zero brain cells?
Everyone! That’s why recipes like Grilled Salmon in Foil, Broccoli Cheese Soup, and Skillet Lasagna go over like gangbusters.
So, allow me to introduce you to your new best dinner companion – Italian Sausage Pasta.
Sausage pasta recipe requires only five simple ingredients – sweet Italian sausage, marinara, cream cheese, spinach, and penne pasta. If you have garlic, onions, or peppers on hand those make great additions too.
The cream sauce comes together in one skillet. First the Italian sausage is browned with minced garlic. To that same skillet add marinara, cream cheese, and fresh spinach. Stir until a creamy, flavorful red sauce melds together.
Pour the easy sausage sauce over cooked pasta and dinner is served in less than 30 minutes!
What type of Sausage to Use
For creamy sausage pasta use either bulk Italian sausage or sweet Italian sausage links.
Also pick between a sweet (mild) version or spicy, depending on your preference. Both are flavored with fennel and garlic, but spicy Italian sausage has chile peppers as well.
I tend to use the sweet Italian sausage links because it’s more readily available, and I can easily swap out turkey sausage.
Simply slice open the casings with a sharp knife, dump the meat into a hot skillet, and discard the casing. (See image under HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN SAUSAGE PASTA⬇️)
How to Cook Sausage for Pasta Sauce
Using bulk Italian sausage or sweet Italian sausage with casings removed infuses the sauce with more flavor. As the sausage browns the seasonings and fat drippings release.
Add the tomato sauce to the same pan the sausage cooked in, scraping up the browned bits and flavor at the bottom of the pan. That natural Italian essence of fennel and garlic will transfer to the tomato sauce.
Unlike sliced links, ground sausage also evenly distributes throughout the sauce, seasoning every bite.
Easy Creamy Pasta Sauce
Amp up that zesty marinara sausage sauce even more by adding a layer of creaminess! Italian Sausage Pasta recipe uses cream cheese for a rich, silky punch.
Either regular or light cream cheese may be used. Cut the cream cheese block into smaller cubes before adding it to the sauce. This allows the cream cheese to melt faster and smoother.
If you prefer to not use cream cheese, heavy cream or half and half may also be substituted. Or leave it out altogether for an equally delicious red sauce!
Substituting Gluten Free Pasta
Just like supreme pizza pasta skillet, creamy sausage pasta can also be made with gluten free pasta.
When cooking gluten free pasta the important thing to remember is to not overcook the pasta! It has a tendency to get mushy and not hold its shape due to the lack of gluten.
Boil the pasta according to the “al dente” time on the package. If you plan on making the Sausage Pasta Bake, decrease the cooking time by half.
For a spectacular easy, homemade pasta recipe, try gluten free gnocchi recipe or baked ziti with ricotta!
Tips and Modifications for Sausage Pasta Recipe
- Add some veggies! After browning the sausage remove it from the pan. Saute additional veggies, such as onions, mushrooms, peppers, or zucchini to add to the sauce.
- Chopped kale with stems removed may be substituted for the spinach.
- Make this a low carb dish by using “zoodles” instead of traditional pasta.
- Save some of the pasta water from boiling the penne to thin the sauce, if necessary.
- I don’t add olive oil to the pan because as sausage cooks the fat creates a natural coating on the pan. If turkey sausage is used, though, add a splash of olive oil first or spray the pan.
- For an extra hint of spice add red pepper flakes to the sauce.
How To Make Italian Sausage Pasta
How To Make Italian Sausage Pasta healthier
- Substitute sweet Italian turkey sausage. (NOTE: You will need to add a splash of olive oil to the pan before sauteeing)
- Reduce the amount of sausage crumbles by half and replace it with sauteed veggies, such as onions, mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, or zucchini.
- Used light cream cheese in place of regular.
- Alternatively, omit the cream cheese altogether for a sausage marinara sauce.
Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta
- ▢ 16 ounces penne or rigatoni pasta, regular or gluten free*
- ▢ 1 pound bulk mild or spicy sweet Italian sausage,
- ▢ 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ▢ 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
- ▢ 8 ounce package cream cheese (regular or light), cubed
- ▢ 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
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- Cook pasta in a large pot of salt boiling water according to directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile heat a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage, breaking it up into smaller pieces as it cooks. Once sausage is browned and no longer pink, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer.
- Reduce heat to medium and add marinara, scraping up browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add spinach, handfuls at a time, and stir until wilted.
- If skillet is large enough add cooked pasta to sausage sauce and stir gently to coat. Otherwise pour pasta into a serving bowl or casserole dish and pour sauce over it. Stir to combine.
- Sausage Pasta Bake
- Italian Sausage Pasta dish can easily be turned into baked pasta dish.
- Mix the creamy sausage sauce with al dente penne or rigatoni pasta.
- Pour into a 9X13 casserole dish and top with 1 1/2-2 cups shredded mozzarella.
- Bake in 350ºF oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted. To make the top golden and bubby, finish off with a 1 minute broil.
- Substituting Gluten Free Pasta
- Creamy sausage pasta can also be made with gluten free pasta.
- When cooking gluten free pasta the important thing to remember is to not overcook the pasta! It has a tendency to get mushy and not hold its shape due to the lack of gluten.
- Boil the pasta according to the “al dente” time on the package. If you plan on making the Sausage Pasta Bake, decrease the cooking time by half.
I made this recipe with spinach and cheese stuffed tortellini. I also added chicken bullion. It was really good!