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Creamy Italian sausage pasta is a deliciously easy family favorite! Tender pasta is tossed with savory crumbled sausage, a light cream sauce, wilted baby spinach, and generously grated Parmesan. Best of all, it’s easy to make in about 25 minutes.

A skillet full of creamy Italian sausage pasta with baby spinach and Parmesan.

Pasta with Crumbled Italian Sausage

You might think that dinner is just constantly fun in my house, but rest assured I am dealing with the same challenges that afflict many of you. Chief among those challenges? Choosy children. Sometimes it seems like the Venn diagram overlap of what everyone will eat is impossibly small! But this meal has a magical quality: everyone enjoys it, every time.

Whether you’re in it for the flavorful and quick-cooking sausage, the tender pasta, or the silky cream sauce, there’s lots to love. And it’s perfect for busy weeknight dinners.

We love that this creamy sausage pasta is:

  • Quick and easy to make. It can be on the table in about 25 minutes.
  • Creamy yet light. The sauce is silky and flavorful, not overly heavy.
  • An all-in-one wonder. Grains, protein, and even a smidge of greens mingle in one skillet. I usually add a steamed or roasted vegetable on the side, because I really like vegetables, but you get the idea.

Pair this cozy skillet pasta with your favorite light salad or easy side dish, and call dinner a win!

Related: Creamy Tomato Sausage Pasta

Ingredients & Substitutions

Labeled overhead photo of uncooked rigatoni, packed uncased Italian sausage, chicken broth, heavy cream, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped onion, baby spinach, and grated Parmesan cheese in prep bowls.

Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make this, as well as possible substitutions. Full amounts are noted in the print-friendly recipe card below.

  • Pasta: The shape shown here is rigatoni, the ridges and tubes of which work well to hold the cream sauce. Any mid-size pasta shape with some texture would be good: think penne, cavatappi, or rotini.
  • Italian sausage: For best results and easiest preparation, use ground Italian sausage in this recipe. It’s sold in either a vacuum-sealed or flat pack much like other ground meats. You can use sweet, mild, hot, or really any variety; the choice is yours.
  • Cream and Parmesan cheese: To thicken and flavor the sauce.
  • Broth: My secret to a nice cream sauce that’s not too heavy is to use part broth or stock. I usually grab chicken or vegetable broth, whichever I happen to have open in the fridge.
  • Baby spinach: A nice pop of green. Omit or substitute arugula, kale, or Swiss chard if you like.
  • Yellow onion, fresh minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt.

Can you use sliced Italian sausage?

Are you only able to find Italian sausage sold in links, not ground and ready-to-crumble? You can either slice open the casings and crumble the insides as they cook, or make it easy on yourself and follow this recipe for Italian chicken sausage pasta instead. It uses sausage sliced into medallions and is also quick, easy, and delicious.

Can you use milk instead of heavy cream?

You can substitute the heavy cream in this recipe with either half-and-half or milk, but the sauce will have a noticeably thinner consistency and may be more prone to separating.

How To Make Italian Sausage Pasta

This is a dinner to make when you don’t feel like making dinner! It comes together very quickly and smoothly.

Here are the steps and a quick visual overview. You will find full instructions with exact ingredients in the print-friendly recipe card below.

  1. Boil water and cook pasta just to al dente.
  2. Brown sausage and cook onion together. Season with garlic, red pepper, and salt.
  3. Make the creamy pan sauce right in with the sausage mixture. It will bubble and thicken naturally.
  4. Add pasta to sauce and toss everything together. Garnish with plenty of Parmesan!
Close-up of a skillet full of creamy Italian sausage pasta with baby spinach and Parmesan.

Recipe FAQs and Expert Tips

What flavors go well with Italian sausage?

Because Italian sausage is typically very well-seasoned, it can be paired with relatively mild sauces, pastas, and vegetables and still make for a delicious meal. This is why we love a simple sheet pan Italian sausage dinner. Extra basil, thyme, oregano, or marjoram typically pair well with the signature taste of Italian sausage, which is largely derived from fennel seeds mixed into the meat.

What does it mean to cook pasta al dente?

If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times: cook your pasta al dente. What this means in practice is that the pasta is tender enough to eat yet gives a bit of resistance when bitten into. It has a slight bite. To achieve this, you nearly always want to cook your pasta for a couple minutes less than recommended on the package.

Fun Fact: “Al dente” literally means “to the tooth” in Italian.

Can I make this gluten-free?

Yes; use your favorite gluten-free pasta variety and this dish will be naturally gluten-free.

Serving Suggestions

We love this for a simple, comforting family dinner with a large green salad, roasted garlic green beans, broccoli or broccolini, or any other veggies you enjoy. Add garlic bread, garlic knots, or breadsticks to make it a true feast or feed a crowd.

Small bowl filled with a generous serving of creamy Italian sausage pasta with red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan cheese.

Storage & Reheating

Creamy pasta with Italian sausage keeps and reheats very well. The sauce usually maintains its consistency as long as it’s not warmed for too long or over excessively high heat.

  • Storage: Leftovers keep very well for 3-4 days. Store in any airtight container in the refrigerator. (These are our favorite meal prep boxes!)
  • Reheating: Warm in the microwave or over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Add a splash of broth or water to help loosen the sauce and minimize sticking, only if needed.
  • I haven’t tried and couldn’t recommend freezing portions of this dish.

Related Recipes

Love a simple all-in-one pasta dish? Me too! Save my chicken marinara pasta, 15-minute garlic butter pasta, mushroom stroganoff, Cavatappi in cream sauce, or creamy tomato pasta to try next. Or change it up with an easy pierogies and sausage skillet.

You may also love my sausage noodle casserole and this sausage tortellini Alfredo with kale. All tasty, comforting, and easy ways to enlist this protein!

If you try this Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

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5 from 2 votes

Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta

A deliciously easy family favorite, with a light cream sauce and Parmesan. Easy to make in about 25 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pasta
  • 12-16 ounces ground Italian sausage
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 large handfuls baby spinach

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a generous pinch of salt followed by the pasta. Cook just to al dente, according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta cooks, set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and onion. Cook for 5-6 minutes, crumbling and breaking up the sausage into small pieces along the way. Add garlic, red pepper, and salt; cook for about 1 minute more. Drain or dab away excess fat, as desired.
  • Add broth to the skillet, stir well, and bring mixture to a simmer. Let it bubble for 2-3 minutes, then reduce heat to low and pour in the cream and Parmesan. Stir until mostly smooth. Add spinach and cook for just about 1 minute, until the greens wilt.
  • Add pasta, stir well, and serve right away, with extra Parmesan and red pepper flakes, as desired.

Notes

  • I don’t find it necessary to use olive oil when browning the sausage and onion, because the sausage renders enough fat, but if you are worried about sticking, warm a drizzle of olive oil in the pan first.
  • The amount and type of Italian sausage used in this recipe is flexible—I usually prefer a mild or sweet sausage for my kids, but you can use one with more spice or heat, and adjust the amount as much as you like.
  • For another layer of flavor, add a splash of dry white wine to the pan sauce at the same time as you add the broth.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 653 kcal, Carbohydrates: 48 g, Protein: 24 g, Fat: 40 g, Saturated Fat: 18 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 16 g, Cholesterol: 104 mg, Sodium: 1068 mg, Potassium: 547 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 3 g, Vitamin A: 1972 IU, Vitamin C: 8 mg, Calcium: 126 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!