Easy Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce: Something Completely Different!

Easy Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Sauce simmering prior to adding the cream cheese. It smells truly heavenly!

When I post savory recipes, it's usually on a Sunday, and because I adore alliteration, I call them Sunday Suppers. I made this easy Italian sausage pasta sauce for dinner a couple of nights ago, and it was so good that I want to share it today. We're leaving in the morning to jet off to Los Angeles for our swanky #PeopleVIP Oscars trip from People Magazine and klout perks, and as soon as we get home, we're jumping in the car to spend the rest of next week at The Outer Banks. I am 99% sure I won't post next week, so consider this Italian sausage pasta sauce a gift to apologize in advance for my absence on the blog next week.

This sauce is versatile. You can use it as a "straight up" pasta sauce. You can mix it with the pasta in a casserole and bake it. You can use it for the meaty-saucy layer in lasagna. You can stuff it into shells or pour it over cheese-stuffed shells before baking. Heck, you could even add stock and creamy cannellini beans and maybe some torn kale to make your own Italian-inspired soup! As the name implies, it is very easy to make, and you probably have everything you need without having to make a special shopping trip.

I find sauces like this really comforting. The cream cheese lends a comforting richness that reminds me of being a kid, yet the flavors are bold and sparkling. I like the juxtaposition, and I think you will, too.

Since I had no plans to post this on the blog, I don't have a beautiful picture. Still, I think that you can get a bit of an idea from the quick phone pic I took. I know that you will enjoy it and find all sorts of ways to use it and to vary it to suit your own tastes.

4.5 from 4 reviews
Easy Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
This simple sauce comes together in about 40 minutes. It makes enough for a crowd or for a couple of folks to have enough for a few meals each.
What You Need
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage or link Italian sausage removed from the casings
  • 1 medium onion, diced (I used a sweet onion. Use what you have)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano are ideal, but I didn't have any and nothing bad happened)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed lightly in your palm
  • 3 oz softened cream cheese, optional but comforting (You could also finish it with creme fraiche, a splash or two of heavy cream or half & half)
What To Do
  1. Place the sausage in a large, heavy skillet (I used my 12" Lodge) or a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Break up the sausage as it begins to cook.
  3. Once it has released some of its fat, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic along with about ½ teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper.
  4. Let sizzle along over medium heat until the vegetables have softened and the sausage is cooked through, well crumbled and is starting to brown, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the vinegar, stir for a moment and cook another minute or so until dry.
  6. Pour in the two cans of tomatoes with all their juices as well as the Italian seasoning and another ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and some more grindings of black pepper.
  7. Simmer for about twenty minutes, breaking up the whole tomatoes into pieces.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
  9. Over low heat, stir in the softened cream cheese (if using) until it has all melted and is evenly distributed throughout the sauce.
Serving Suggestion
  1. Cook a pound of pasta until just shy of al dente (a large, hearty shape such as rigatoni would work well with this rustic sauce).
  2. Drain the pasta, reserving about ⅓ cup of the starchy water.
  3. Add about three cups of the sauce to the pot along with the drained pasta and reserved water.
  4. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly. Be a bit careful about this so you don't break up the pasta.
  5. After about 2 minutes, the watery sauce will have thickened up and will coat the pasta nicely.
  6. Serve the pasta on plates or in shallow bowls, ladling over just a bit extra of the remaining sauce if you'd like.

And there you have it. Simple. Hearty. Filling. I hope that this wonderful sauce takes you through Winter's last hurrah and sees you through to spring!

Before I go, here are some other heartwarming, stomach-warming dishes from around the Internet for you to enjoy.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read. I hope you have a lovely day.




  1. says

    You are brilliant! I would not have thought to use cream cheese for a flavor perk. I loved your candor about nothing going wrong from not using San Marzano tomatoes. Have a splendid time in LA,and through the rest of your week. Lastly, thank you so much for the savory dish shout out. 🙂

    • says

      How’m I supposed to read your French Onion Soup post and NOT share it, Brooks?! It was a lovely, lovely post! Having a ball so far. When we get home, it’s off to the Outer Banks. Busy Vacation week!

  2. says

    Awwwwww Thank you so much for the kind mention and link to my blog post. So sweet of you. I saw this Easy Italian Sausage Pasta earlier and I made a mental note to get some sausages tomorrow at the market. Love the addition of red wine vinegar. Must make this soon. Have a great weekend and thanks for being the bestest friend ever, Jenni!

    • says

      Me, too, Chris! I really wasn’t going to post it, but then I ate some for breakfast yesterday morning and thought, “Dang, this really is delicious! And so easy–I must share with my friends!” Or something like that! =)

  3. Maggie says

    Jenni, I know you’re travelling/vacationing, but I just wanted to mention that I just nominated you for Saveur’s 2014 best blog awards, in the baking/sweets category. And to remind you to please tell your readers to vote for you SOONER THAN one day before the voting closes — which you did with the Kitchn awards voting, causing me to miss out on casting my vote for you because I didn’t read the post til a day too late!

    (But I was happy to see that you still came in 5th overall in the Kitchn awards in a HUGE field of bloggers, so that’s something.)

    • says

      I really appreciate the nomination–I’m just seeing this now! I asked all my fans to vote as soon as voting opened. Voting was open for 4 days. Sorry you missed the window, but I can’t thank you enough for the support!

  4. Paola says

    I’m italian and this recipe sounds terrible, BUT this could mean it’s perfect for english/american taste 😉

    • says

      Thanks for adding to the conversation, Paola. I am well aware that this is by no means a traditional Italian dish. It was just something quick, simple and yes, delicious, that I whipped up for dinner one night.

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