Sweet bell peppers, fragrant fennel sausage, onions, Sicilian oregano, and olive oil.  A winning combination at any time.  But throw in some tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, fresh basil, and toss it all together with pasta and you’ve got a crazy good super easy meal that pleases even the pickiest eaters.  Sausage and peppers rigatoni is where it’s at!

Wooden spoon holding rigatoni and sausage over pan.

The sausage and peppers combo is one of the most iconic Italian-American pairings.


Widely known and loved as a favorite festival or street fair food, the combo is usually served on a hero without sauce.

And we love it so much we decided to toss it together with rigatoni and tomato sauce to create sausage and peppers PASTA.

Ingredients shown: rigatoni, can tomatoes, basil, garlic, Pecorino, onion, sausage, and bell peppers.

How to make rigatoni with sausage and peppers in red sauce

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Preheat oven to 450f and arrange sausage in a baking sheet or roasting pan.  Roast the sausage for approximately 25 minutes or until cooked through.  Flip the sausage at the halfway point to achieve even browning on both sides.
  2. Slice 4 bell peppers, 1 large onion, and 6 cloves of garlic.  Note: Use any color peppers you like.  Red and yellow are sweeter than green, but a variety of colors looks great.

Sausage and peppers rigatoni recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Heat your largest pan (I love this 14″ pan) to medium-low and add 3/8 cups of olive oil and the garlic.
  2. Once the garlic turns golden (about 2-3 minutes) add the peppers and onions.  Mix well to coat with the olive oil and garlic.  
  3. Pour 3/4 cups of water into the pan and cover tightly.  Turn heat to medium and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the peppers turn very soft.  At this time bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon) to boil.  Note: If your lid isn’t the tightest you might have to add a bit more water so keep an eye on it.  The goal is to soften the peppers and onions with steaming action.  If the water evaporates burning can ensue.
  4. After the sausage is cooked through, slice on a bias to about 1/2-inch thick pieces.  Place those pieces back in the roasting pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Once the peppers and onions are soft remove the lid and continue cooking to evaporate any remaining water.
  2. After the water evaporates, add 3 ounces of tomato paste to the pan and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently to distribute.
  3. After 5 minutes add one 28-ounce can of plum tomatoes (hand crushed or blender pulsed) and the sausage and bring to a simmer.  Season the sauce with 2 teaspoons of Sicilian oregano (or Italian oregano).  At this point boil the rigatoni to 1 minute less than al dente.  Note: Save 1 cup of pasta water – you will most likely not need any of it, but it’s good insurance if the pasta drys out.
  4. Add the rigatoni to the sauce.  Cook until the pasta is just al dente then turn off the heat. Taste test the sauce and season with salt, pepper, and more oregano to taste,  if desired.

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Add the Pecorino and stir to incorporate.
  2. Finish with a 1/4 cup of hand-torn basil leaves and serve immediately.  If the pasta is at all dry add a couple of ounces of reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Enjoy!

Black bowl with sausage and peppers rigatoni.

Top tips

  • The sausage.  We used Italian pork sausage with fennel for our sausage and peppers pasta.  If you don’t enjoy the taste of fennel, opt for no fennel sausage.  You can also use hot (spicy) sausage if you enjoy a bit of extra heat.  We prefer to start out with a more mild sausage for this dish and allow those who prefer heat to add it themselves – see “the peppers” below for more on that.
  • The peppers.  We used a combo of green, orange, and red bell peppers for our rigatoni with sausage and peppers, but feel free to experiment here.  If you like additional heat, you can use cubanelles or Italian long hot peppers like we did in our spicy pepper bucatini.  If we’re serving a crowd, we’ll serve a plate of cherry peppers, and Calabrian chili paste to allow guests to customize their heat level. 
  • The oregano.  The flavor of Sicilian oregano is key here, as it is in many other Italian-American dishes.  It’s what makes a NY pizza taste like a NY pizza (in addition to a few other things).   If you don’t have Sicilian oregano on hand you can use regular dried oregano.  
  • Party time. Any time we’ve made sausage and peppers rigatoni for a gathering, it’s been a huge hit!  It’s picky-eater approved, and host approved.  We’ll make this ahead of time in a tray and place it on a Sterno rack when ready to serve.  Easy!
  • Variations.  Feel free to use ziti, penne, or mezzi rigatoni here.  Any of those would be great.  We also love tossing in cubed mozzarella to extend the dish even further!

Overhead shot of large pan with sausage and peppers pasta.

More great sausage recipes

Sausage is a favorite ingredient in Italian-American cuisine, and for good reason.  It’s tasty, reasonably priced and so versatile – it’s even good by itself on the grill. 

In addition to this sausage and peppers pasta recipe, here are a few favorites from our family to yours!

If you’ve enjoyed this sausage and peppers rigatoni recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

Some people learn by watching.  If you’re that type of person, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Sausage and Peppers Rigatoni

5 from 19 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Sausage, peppers, and onions are tossed with rigatoni in a Sicilian Oregano flavored tomato sauce and topped with fresh basil.


  • 1 pound rigatoni or penne, ziti, etc
  • 1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage
  • 3/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 large red bell peppers or any color you like, sliced
  • 2 large green bell peppers or any color you like, sliced
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 3/4 cup water for steaming veggies
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
  • 2 teaspoons Sicilian oregano or Italian oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano grated
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves hand torn
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water will not need all of it


  • Preheat oven to 450f. Roast the sausage links for approximately 25 (flipping halfway through) minutes or until cooked through and browned. Slice the sausage on a bias into 1/2" thick pieces once cool enough to handle.
  • Meanwhile, heat a very large pan to medium-low and add the olive oil and garlic. Once the garlic turns golden add the peppers and onions and mix to coat with the oil. Pour the water into the pan, cover, and cook over medium heat until soft.
  • At this time bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon) to boil.
  • After 15 minutes of cooking, remove the lid from the peppers and continue to cook over medium heat until most of the water evaporates and the peppers are very soft.
  • Once the water has mostly evaporated, add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Next, add the crushed plum tomatoes and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Add the sliced sausage links to the sauce and continue to simmer. Season the sauce with the oregano and begin to boil the pasta.
  • Cook the pasta to 1 minute less than al dente, drain and add to the sauce. Cook until the pasta is just al dente then turn off the heat. Taste test the sauce and season with salt, pepper, and more oregano if desired to taste. Add the Pecorino and stir to incorporate. Finish with hand-torn basil and serve immediately. If the pasta is at all dry add a couple of ounces of reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Enjoy!


  • Makes 4 very large servings or 6 moderate sized 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.
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated on the stovetop or the microwave.


Calories: 834kcal | Carbohydrates: 67.9g | Protein: 35.6g | Fat: 47.9g | Saturated Fat: 13.1g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 1043mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 4.9g | Sugar: 9.4g | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Vincent says:

    Awesome recipes! Thanks a lot!
    Could it be possible to have measures with metric system (grams, liters)?
    Many thanks

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Vincent, we’re so happy you’re enjoying the recipes and appreciate your comment. Our pizza/breadmaking/baking recipes have gram measurements, but our other recipes do not. Since we’re US based we don’t usually include gram measurements for many recipes. At some point we hope to have an automated way to convert all ingredinets but we don’t have that functionality yet.

  2. Clay says:

    5 stars
    I’m a lousy cook . . . Okay, worse than that. I love Italian food: pasta with meat sauce, veal scalopini . . . Everything I cook turns out as “This isn’t ‘too’ bad. I can eat it. Probably put some
    Tapatio on it to augment the taste.
    The first time I followed James’s instructions for Sausage and pepper rigatoni I was astonished at my more than pleasantly surprised success. Was it luck? I tried it a second time and I was smiling. It was so good that . . . the word “Good” does not express how easy and fantastic it turned out. Magnificent is a better word for it.
    It was so great that I would have been proud to present the dish to somebody else. I had never thought of letting somebody taste my kind of sort of okay food until I made this dish. I’m making it again and will give half to a neighbor whom I owe a million favors. She’s not a good cook, either. I’m giving her the Sip and Feast website link too.

  3. Bob says:

    5 stars
    iI made this on Sat. followed directions as written. Another GREAT receipt. Thank you Next Sat I’m going to make Steak au Poivre I’ll let you know how it turns out. My first time with Steak. Thank you again

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Bob, it’s great to hear you enjoyed this one! We hope you love the steak too – let us know how it turns out!

  4. Bob says:

    Good Morning Jim, I plan to make this on Saturday can I use poblano peppers and Italian green peepers? Thank you for your time

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Bob, you can use poblanos although they do have a different flavor and slightly more heat than green bell peppers.

  5. Anna Atkins says:

    5 stars
    Thanks Tara!

    I have question. Do I need to take the casings off the sausage? I forgot to ask before. We will be making this again very soon. We are doing garlic knots this weekend. So glad we found your channel.

    1. James says:

      Hi Anna, while you certainly can remove the sausage from the casing, you don’t have to. I did not do so for this recipe. Hope you enjoy!

      1. Cheryl Honaski Ciuffreda says:

        Hi James -can you reheat in the oven?

        1. Tara says:

          Hi Cheryl, you can but might be better to reheat on the stovetop with a little water as it may dry out. Hope you enjoy!

  6. Anna Atkins says:

    5 stars
    I have just found your site and love it. This recipe we made on a Saturday. Where we live there is no pecorino Romano cheese or Sicilian oregano, so we used oregano and parmesan. It was so delicous. On Sunday we had leftovers and still so delicious!

    I looked on Amazon for the pecorino or Sicilian oregano and it seemed reasonable until shipping was added. The shipping was around $30 to $40.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Anna, thank you for your comment. We’re happy you found our site and that you enjoyed the recipe!

  7. Mark says:

    5 stars
    I made this and everyone loved it. I’m glad I stumbled across this site.

    1. James says:

      Hi Mark, I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it and thanks for the comment!

  8. CherieDe says:

    5 stars
    Delicious and easy. I was concerned my pan was not big enough to hold the pasta, the sauce and the meat, but it worked. My pan was 11 x 3-1/2. I used ground sausage which I cooked up and removed from the pan, drained most of the grease and then sauteed the vegetables in the little amount of remaining fat plus olive oil and then followed the instructions. I also added 3 sliced sweet/hot cherry peppers. I delivered a large portion to some family members because for two of us – it would take a week to eat this!!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Cherie, I’m so happy you enjoyed the pasta and you had more to share with family. Thank you for the comment!