Pasta alla Norcina is a creamy pasta full of the comforting flavors of pork sausage, white wine, Pecorino Romano, and just a touch of nutmeg. The velvety texture of the sauce pairs perfectly with the al dente pasta and crumbled sausage. Relatively simple to make, this dish is perfect for a weeknight when you want just a bit of decadence.
Pasta alla Norcina may be the most underrated pasta EVER.
Underrated because with one exception, I have not seen this on the menu of Italian restaurants here in New York, and I think it damn well deserves to be! 😉
Perhaps that is because this dish hails from the city of Norcia in Italy's Umbria region, where most of the Italian immigrants who came to the US (my ancestors included) were from Southern Italy and Sicily.
Traditionally, pasta alla Norcina is made using a pork sausage made in Norcia using a combination of white wine and nutmeg. A bit different from the typical fennel pork sausage available here in New York.
In addition to Norcia sausage, the dish is also typically topped with a shaving of black truffles, which are also foraged in Norcia.
So my attempt here is to deviate slightly from traditional while (hopefully) still maintaining the overall integrity of the dish.
I'm using bulk mild pork sausage and baby Bella mushrooms in the sauce along with some nutmeg, white wine, and heavy cream.
The result is quite possibly the most creamy, velvety, flavorful pasta you'll ever eat.
Fun Fact - The city of Norcia is known for its pork products, specifically cured and smoked pork, so much so that shops carrying such goods are often referred to as norcinerias after the name of the city.
How to make pasta alla Norcina
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt) to boil. Chop up 8 ounces of mushrooms. Note: I'm using baby Bella mushrooms but use any fresh mushrooms you can find. Dried mixed mushrooms, that have been reconstituted also work very well for this dish.
- Finely dice 1 small onion and remove the skin from 3 cloves of garlic.
- Heat a very large stainless steel pan to medium heat. Wait 3 minutes then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the sausage. Brown the sausage while breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
- Once the sausage is brown and almost cooked (about 5-7 minutes) move it to the side and add the mushrooms. Spread them out so that they sear and release their water. Note: If you don't have a large enough pan, (I'm using a 14" stainless steel pan) sear the sausage first then remove and set aside. The sausage can then be added back to the pan later after the mushrooms and onions have cooked.
- Once the mushrooms release their water and brown a bit (about 5 minutes) mix them in with the sausage and push both to the side. If needed, add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil along with the onions and garlic and saute until soft (about 3-5 minutes). Once the garlic turns golden, remove it and discard.
- Mix everything together and add the wine. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the alcohol out for about 60-90 seconds. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove all of the browned flavor bits.
- At this point, you can begin cooking your pasta in the salted boiling water. Add in the cream and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Once the sauce is simmering and has slightly thickened (about 2 minutes) turn the heat down to low.
- Let the sauce simmer on the lowest setting, then add a half cup of pasta water and stir together.
- Add the pasta to the sauce when it isn't yet quite al dente. Turn heat to medium. Stir well and cook the pasta with the sauce.
- Cook the pasta until it reaches just al dente. If you need more pasta water to loosen things up, add a bit at a time. When the pasta is finished cooking remove the pan from the burner and add the Pecorino Romano.
- Stir well and if too thick, again add a touch more of the reserved pasta water. Season with a good amount of cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg into the pasta Norcina as well. Serve with more grated Pecorino Romano and nutmeg on the side. Note: It's important to go easy on the nutmeg since it is so powerful. Serve extra at the table to allow guests to season to their own personal tastes.
Top tips for amazing Norcina sauce
- Go easy on the nutmeg. Nutmeg is a strong spice and can be overpowering. I'm usually not too prescriptive with my recipes and typically encourage folks to take liberties, but nutmeg is one of those ingredients you're better erring on the side of caution. Start by adding just a pinch and serve more on the side for those who would like more.
- Reserve your pasta water (always). This is good practice for any pasta dish, however, it's of major importance for dishes light on sauce (like aglio e olio) and cream-based dishes like this alla Norcina. If you're waiting for your dinner companions to join you and the pasta starts to dry out, you can simply ladle a bit more pasta water to loosen it back up and bring it to its ultra creamy ideal state.
- Use what's available to you. Unfortunately, Norcia sausage and black truffles aren't available to most of us so improvising a bit is just fine. If all you can find are sausage links with fennel, use them. Just remove the sausage from the casing. If you can't get your hands on Pecorino Romano, you can use a Grana Padano or a Parmigiano Reggiano. If you dislike mushrooms, don't use them. I just find that they add incredible texture to the dish and love the added flavor.
- Use tubular pasta. Most of the time this dish will be made with rigatoni, penne, or tortiglioni. In the pics, I used a mezzi paccheri which was absolutely delicious. Basically, for a heavy sausage cream sauce like this, you want a heavy pasta that can hold up to it.
More creamy pastas you'll love
While pasta alla Norcina is now at the top of my list for creamy pastas, I think you'll also love these other ones as well. Let me know which is your favorite!
- Fettuccine Alfredo - Butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, a touch of heavy cream, and of course, fettuccine!
- Gorgonzola Cream Sauce Pasta - sausage, pasta, and peas in a gorgonzola dolce sauce.
- Garlic mushroom pasta - Super easy pasta dish with heavy cream, Pecorino Romano, and loads of garlic and mushrooms.
- Cacio e Pepe - Classic Roman dish made with pasta, black pepper, and Pecorino Romano cheese. The secret is in the technique and the starchy pasta water.
- Pasta alla Boscaiola - mushrooms, sausage and rosemary with pasta in a white wine cream sauce.
- Creamy Italian sausage pasta - Pappardelle with a creamy sausage, tomato, white wine, and garlic sauce.
- Salsa di Noci - Also known as walnut sauce, this dish includes cream, Moscato wine, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, and of course walnuts.
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- 1 pound rigatoni or other tubular pasta
- 8 ounces baby Bella mushrooms diced
- 1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 2 cups reserved pasta water will not need it all
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- ¾ cup Pecorino Romano grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted (2 tablespoons kosher salt) water to boil.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat then add in the olive oil and sausage. Brown the sausage (about 5-7 minutes) then make some room in the pan and add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they brown as well.
- Once the sausage and mushrooms are brown add the onion and garlic. After 2 minutes remove the garlic from the pan and discard. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the onions are soft.
- Turn heat to medium-high and add the wine. Cook for a minute to reduce the wine by about half. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove all the brown bits. At this time begin cooking pasta to a bit less than al dente.
- Add the cream and bring sauce to a simmer while stirring. Once simmering turn the heat down to low.
- Once pasta is almost al dente add it to the sauce and mix to coat. Turn heat to medium. Add a bit of pasta water if needed to loosen things up. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is perfectly al dente.
- Turn the heat off and remove the pan from the heat. Add the Pecorino, mix well, then taste test. Season with a good amount of black pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt to taste. Serve with grated Pecorino. Enjoy!
- Makes 4 very large servings or 6 normal size ones.
- If the pasta dries out at all just add a touch of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up and mix well before serving.
- Serve with extra grated Pecorino Romano cheese and nutmeg. Nutmeg can be overpowering so it's best to let the individual add more if they like.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated on the stovetop or the microwave.
Dina and Bruce
This sounds amazing and can’t wait to try it!
My mouth is watering but I’m missing a few ingredients so I’ll have to try the recipe with some substitutions. It’s about 150°F here so there’s no way I’m going to the grocery store. Thanks for the pasta inspiration!
Hi Joe, thanks for the comment and yes, definitely improvise rather than go out in the heat. Stay cool!
Made this three times now, and it has been a consistent hit with me and my boyfriend. Thank you!!
Hi Alisa, that's great to hear and so happy you enjoyed it all three times! 🙂
A++ recipe; made it tonight and it was fantastic. Great website and YouTube channel
Thanks, Austen! Glad you enjoyed it.
This dish is very yummy! Perfect instructions. Will definitely make it again. All my favorite ingredients 👍👍
Hi Deb. Really glad you enjoyed the pasta Norcina and thanks for the comment.
So good and such a straightforward recipe! All my siblings loved it and I'll definitely be making it again. Thank you!
Hi Andrea. Glad you all enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment.
This recipe was great - easy and very satisfying. My small children (3 and 7) both asked for seconds. Respect the nutmeg but don't fear it, I found a bit 'extra' to bring a highly desirable balance to the inherent richness of the dish. If I ever get access to good truffles I know one of the first places they're going to go.
Hi Caleb. I like a bit more nutmeg too. Really glad that everyone enjoyed it.
Absolutely amazing! Going to take this to school for lunch. Didn't feel like I needed the nutmeg so I didn't use any. Thanks for the recipe!!!
Great to hear, Isaiah!
Hi Jim, I stumbled upon your channel via this recipe on Youtube and decided to make this dish for my fiancée the next day. We both absolutely loved it, and had a great evening. It was our first time trying nutmeg in a pasta dish as well, so thanks for providing the new experience for us - I liked a little extra, she liked just a hint of it, so it was fun trying it out.
Also interesting how you pointed out the type of sausage used in Italy is different from the typical fennel type sausage found in the states, because I did feel that the generic brand mild Italian sausage that I used overpowered the dish. Do you have any recommendations on any brands of a more authentic Italian sausage that I might be able to find? Thank you!
Hey Doug. Really glad you both enjoyed it. Regarding the sausage - you could possibly find a closer sausage if you have access to an Italian pork store. Some places will make a sausage to your liking. Otherwise, you could try making your own by mixing pork shoulder or other cuts of pork (use more of the leaner than fatty parts) with spices similar to what they use in Norcia. But that might be a bit too much trouble for such a simple dish like this. Thanks for the comment.
Thank you for taking the time and effort to post this recipe and video for it. I made this tonight for my son and I, and it was sublime. We did make a small tweak of adding a diced red pepper with the onion for a little sweetness. My son said to add this to his top five favorite recipes, and he doesn't even like mushrooms! Thanks again!
Hi Chris. Happy to hear that you both enjoyed it. Thanks for liking the recipes and videos!
I love watching you cook!
I have learned so much by doing this and have already tried cooking some of these dishes!
This one looks great and u can’t wait to try it!
Thank you so much!
Glad you're enjoying the recipes and videos, Nancy!
Delicious!!! (And easy recipe to follow) Hubby’s belly was happy. I’m going to make it at our next family gathering. Thanks Jim.
Hi Briana. Really glad you both enjoyed it. Thanks!
I made this for the first time last night and it was fantastic! The only thing that I did differently was to use chopped garlic and kept it in the pan with the onions and mushrooms. For a "pinch" of nutmeg, I used 1/8 tsp, and that was perfect and very subtle.
Hi Ed, Sounds great with both of the changes. Glad it was a hit!
Another fantastic, yet simple recipe. I stucked to the plan and reluctantly removed the garlic.
Thanks Jim! Another one to include in my go to's.
Hi Maggie, I don't typically remove garlic, but I did follow the way most of the versions were made on Italian YouTube. I like watching those videos for ideas. Anyway, I 100% think some chopped or sliced garlic can be included next time. Glad it was a hit!
Hi, l Love your cooking channel, have not tried any of the recipes yet but l have selected a few that l want to try promise to give a honest review. And can’t wait to see your daughter use her skills. Do more Videos with her.
Thank you, Lois! I appreciate the feedback!
Would you say the wine is necessary for this recipe?
Hi, Dan. No, you can omit the wine if you prefer. You can substitute with chicken stock.
This is amazing! Easily one of my favorite pasta dishes. I go a little heavy on the nutmeg, throw in some minced garlic, and add a small drizzle of truffle oil to finish the pasta off - heavenly. Thanks for a fantastic recipe!
Hi Brittany, thank you for the comment and so happy you liked this one!
TASTY BUT SOMEWHAT UNFAMIIAR. MAYBE BECAUSE I AM FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HUDSON RIVER. I LEARNED SOMETHING NEW.
Thank you, Arthur. I'm happy you enjoyed this recipe!
Awesome recipe. I used minced garlic and didn’t remove. Also drained the excess fat and liquid before adding the wine. I cooked the pasta dente, drained and added to serving bowl. Then topped with sauce and mixed well since my large sauté pan could not handle the sauce and pasta combined.
Hi Mark, thanks for the comment and happy you liked the recipe!
Recipe was perfect! I left the cloves whole and when soft, used to make garlic bread. Thank you
Hey Deanna. Great to hear it was a hit! Thanks for the comment.
Hi there, do you know if there is anything I can substitute for the sausage so I can make the pasta meat-less? I know the original is with the sausage, but I am a vegetarian and would still love to try this flavor of pasta. Thank you!
Hi HP, my recipe includes mushrooms so you can increase the number of mushrooms if you'd like. I haven't tested it this way but I'd bet it would be a good meatless option.
Very Good. The whole family enjoyed it!
Thank you, Kelly! I appreciate the comment and am so happy you all enjoyed this recipe!
Wonderful recipe. I don't really make pasta that often but today I cooked this recipe for my partner and we both loved it (and, as a bonus, we discovered that she likes nutmeg more than I had any cause to suspect previously.) Made it in my dutch oven because I didn't want to clean the other pans and it worked just fine, just had to use a bit less oil and a bit more time.
Hi Evie, thank you for the comment and so happy you both enjoyed this one!
I made this tonight. I left out the cheese because I am doing dialysis three days a week and have to limit my sodium. It was still amazing. I love pasta but I am not able to have tomatoes because of the potassium. This is life altering for an Italian. Thank you for posting some pasta dishes without tomatoes. I love your recipes. They take me back to my young years.
Hi Roseanne, I am so happy you enjoyed this recipe. Thank you for your comment and wishing you all the best.
Fantastic recipe. Thank you for sharing your recipes. Everything that I have made from you has turned out beautifully. Thank you for putting such detail into your videos and recipes.
Hi Linda, thank you for your comment. I'm so happy you're enjoying the recipes and videos. Thanks for watching!
Thank you so much for this receipe! It is beyond delish! Next time I might add spinach. My granddaughter and mine bellies are full and warm. Thanks.
Have a good day/evening.
Hi Linda, thank you for the comment! I'm so happy you and your grandaughter enjoyed!
Wow! So delicious- we really enjoyed this recipe. I used sweet Italian garlic sausage from a local Italian grocery store near me. Also left my garlic 🧄 in. Wasn’t excessively garlicky, but we like a lot of garlic anyway! I also enjoyed a little extra nutmeg on mine, verygood!
Love your recipes so much! My family does too 😋. Thank you so much!
Hi Carol, thank you for your comment! We're so happy you and your family are enjoying the recipes!
Thank you for the detailed video and fantastic recipe. It was the first dish I made for my family and everyone loved it. Best YT cooking channel!!
Hey Jake. Really glad everyone enjoyed it! Thanks for liking my videos!
This dish is delicious. We had a nice salad on the side. I only used 8 oz of pasta and 8 oz of sausage (there's only 2 of us) but had enough leftovers for 3 more servings. Wonderful. I'm so glad your page showed up in my Facebook feed. I've also made your Italian Beef Stew and it was great. There are many more recipes I am going to try. I grew up on eastern Long Island and your website and videos just send me back home. I can't wait to try cooking your next recipe. Thank you!
Hi Marilyn, I'm happy you found our page and that you're enjoying the recipes so far! Thank you for the comment!
I've cooked this twice and its been a hit with family and friends. Thanks for the clear easy instructions!
So happy you liked this one, Jami! Thanks for the comment!
Made this for friends while on vacation and it was a hit. Everything comes together so easily. Loved it.
Thanks for the comment, Scott! So happy you enjoyed it!
This looks so delicious!! I am definitely going to give it a try!! I love watching all your cooking videos.
Thank you, Gina! I hope you enjoy the recipe and am happy you like the videos!
Incredible! Could eat the whole thing in one sitting. How does it reheat? How to reheat?
Thanks Susan! You can microwave or warm it in a pan on the stovetop to reheat.
Ok this was amazing. We had this dish recently in Amelia, Italy and I wanted to recreate it when we got home. This did NOT disappoint! Absolutely loved it. Thank you!
Hi Chris, thanks for the comment! I'm so happy you liked the Norcina!
Great recipe & happy to see this dish! We first had it at Trattoria Dardano in Cortona in 2004 & were instant fans! I haven’t tried the WF bulk sausage you showed - is it without the fennel? That is the hardest ingredient for me to find as all Italian sausage seems to have it. I like the flavor with the fennel, but would like to make a more authentic version if I can find it. Grazie!
Hi Stephanie, the sausage I used for this did not have fennel. Some of the grocery stores near me will sell mild Italian sausage that will say "no fennel" on the packaging. If you can't find that, you could try using ground pork mixed to make your own bulk sausage of sorts.
I cooked this tonight. I think next week we're going to have a Sip & Feast fest and just figure out which of your recipes we most want to try and do that all week. So glad you popped up in my YouTube suggestions. My husband is already talking about having this one again, too. And I got questioned about the sweet potato gnocchi I made earlier in the week when I was in the break room at work.
Hi Tori, I love the Sip & Feast fest idea lol! So happy you enjoyed this one and appreciate you watching the videos. Thanks for the comment!
Wonderful recipe!! I've made it twice and I love it. I'm just wondering what would be the best way to reheat this? I tried the stovetop as recommended but it split really bad. Is there a stovetop method I can use to prevent this? I don't have a microwave
Hi Saiedah, bring it to room temperature first, and then it can be reheated gently on the stovetop adding additional cream as you go. The cream will help it form a new emulsion. I hope this helps!
Delicious! First had this dish in Rome many years ago in a little restaurant near Vatican. I have made it many times. I agree it is one that should be offered in some fine Italian restaurants.The recipe I had had a bit of heat to it as well..about 1/2 of a small italian hot pepper finely chopped was added when sauteing the onion. It gives a tiny zip to the creaminess and sweetness of the nutmeg and wine. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Hi Diane, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed the recipe!
I made this for the first time last night to use up some Italian sausage I had in the refrigerator. It was a huge hit with my girlfriend who not usually into eating pasta. Instead of onion I used a chopped shallot and probably grated more than a pinch of nutmeg but I'm like the Townsends, I love nutmeg.
Hi Lou, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed the norcina!
That looks amazing. I will be making it soon.
Hi Linda, thanks for the comment and hope you enjoy it!
made this saturday with homemade fresh milled whole wheat penne. only had hot italian sausage(live in rural fl, so not much else available here), it was wonderful. my husband loved it. will definitely make again. thinking of doing the broccoli and little meatball soup tonight.
Hi Terry, so happy you enjoyed this one and thanks for the comment and review!
I made this delicious recipe last night for me and my husband. The flavor was even better the next day. We both so enjoyed it! Thank you so much. I enjoy watching your show and all the unique recipes you are sharing with all of us!
Hi Shawnee, thanks for the comment and review and so happy you both enjoyed it!
Looking forward to making this meal shortly. Would like a taste of the truffle. I can't access truffles but I do have truffle oil and truffle cream. What would be best to use and how would I incorporate it into the recipe? Thank you, Jim. Your recipes rock!
Hi Jeana, I've never used truffle cream, so can't say for sure. A drizzle of truffle oil at the very end before serving might be good! Thanks so much for the comment and so happy you're enjoying the recipes!
I was craving some creamy pasta dish and I wanted something different than the usual chicken alfredo etc. I found this and realized I had every ingredient, so I thought it was a perfect recipe to try. Well Jim, this was so good that I dream about it! I was blown away by this simple to make amazing pasta dish. I made if for my bestie and her husband for helping me with something and with a salad, I thought it was easy and delicious. We ALL thought so. This is one of your best and I am so thankful for this recipe. LOVED IT!!
Hi Joyce, so happy you found a recipe to suit your craving and really appreciate the comment!
Hiya Jim, this is Eamonn from Ireland here. I've commented once before one a different dish, but want to do so again for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, this dish is OUTRAGEOUS. Insanely good, one I'll be doing for many years time come, thanks a million.
Secondly, as a first time father of a 10 week old son, I just wanted to say that say that if my son Ultan grows up to be half as kind, well manned and good natured as James is, I'll be a happy man. You're an amazing Dad as well as being an incredible cook - precisely my goal!
All the very best.
Hi Eamonn, thank you for your very kind words and thoughtful comment. Congrats on being a new dad, and enjoy every moment with your son!
i totally forgot to put the onion in lol but it still tasted fab, so comforting and will be making this pasta foreverrrr. thanks!!
Hi Darcy, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed!
I have made this recipe many times. Absolutely delicious. Last night I changed things up a bit and made Ravioli alla Norcina using mushroom ravioli instead of the pasta. It turned out great. Also, I added a pinch of baking soda to the sausage to help with the browning process. It gives you some nice crispy pieces (if you like that sort of texture).
Thank you again, Jim, for all your great recipes.
Hi Marilyn, so happy you enjoyed this one and really appreciate the comment!
This looks yumbolishes 😋 can't wait to make this keep up the good work
Hi Maggie, thanks for the comment and hope you enjoy!
My goodness this was good. While you make everything look easy, this really was pretty simple. Very comforting on cold night. YUM
Hi Pam, so happy you liked this one as well! Thanks for the comment!
This is the second recipe I've tried from this website and OMG my family devoured it completely it was amazing. I'm going to have to pick another recipe and I'm sure it's going to be amazing.
Hi Mary, so happy you liked this one too and truly appreciate the comment and review!
Love this recipe
Great job Jim!
Hi Tony, really appreciate the comment and so happy you enjoyed the norcina!
Loved, loved , loved this recipe! I stumbled across your YouTube channel and became a subscriber instantly. Just watched the video for this recipe the other day and decided to make this for company tonight. It was a huge hit! Pure comfort! Thank you so much for your inspiring recipes!
Hi Eileen, I'm so happy you all enjoyed, and I appreciate the support for the channel. Thank you!