Creamy Italian sausage pasta combines sweet fennel sausage and al dente pappardelle tossed with a velvety tomato-based cream sauce that's finished with grated Pecorino and hand-torn fresh basil. This simple but hearty pasta can be on your table in about 45 minutes.
Editor's Note: Originally published on 9/28/2018. Updated with full process shots and expanded info.
Sausage, cream, pasta: these three words, when combined, might just be my favorite phrase ever!
And these are the main ingredients in this creamy Italian sausage pasta.
The tomato-cream sauce provides a velvety backdrop to the sweet fennel sausage, and the pappardelle proves to be the perfect medium to deliver both right to your mouth!
Serve with your favorite veggies, like roasted broccoli, or garlic sauteed broccoli rabe for a full meal.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons of Morton's kosher salt per gallon of water) to boil. Dice 1 medium onion and slice 5 cloves of garlic. Grate ¾ cup of Pecorino Romano. Heat a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 1 pound of bulk mild Italian sausage.
- Brown the sausage for about 7 minutes until cooked through and break the sausage up using a spoon or meat masher.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions. Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes or until softened.
- Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes or until lightly golden. Add a ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add 3 ounces of tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes while stirring very frequently.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and add ¾ cup of dry white wine. Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes or until the wine has reduced by about half. Scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits.
- Add 14 ounces of crushed tomatoes (can be whole plum tomatoes, either hand-crushed or blender pulsed), and bring the sauce to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Meanwhile, add 1 lb of pappardelle pasta to the boiling water, cooking it to 1 minute less than al dente.
- About 5 minutes before your pasta reaches al dente, add 1 cup of heavy cream to the sauce and mix well to incorporate.
- Once the pasta is almost al dente, add it to the sauce and mix well or toss to coat the pappardelle.
- If needed, add a touch of pasta water and continue cooking, stirring frequently until the pasta reaches al dente.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the Pecorino, mixing well. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
- Top with roughly a ¼ cup worth of hand-torn fresh basil. If the pasta dries out at all, add a touch more reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Serve your creamy Italian sausage pasta with more grated Pecorino and enjoy!
- Sausage. I used mild Italian bulk sausage with fennel for this recipe. If you can't find bulk sausage, you can buy sausage links and remove the meat from its casing. If you can't find fennel sausage, you could add 2 teaspoons of loose fennel seed if desired.
- Save your pasta water! As with any cream sauce pasta, it's so important to save your pasta water! Cream sauces have a tendency to dry out and pasta water is the perfect antidote to bring it back to its intended glossy consistency.
- Pasta. I love pappardelle for hearty pasta dishes, like my short rib ragu, so that's what I've used here. If you can't find pappardelle, you can use rigatoni, paccheri, or any other pasta that will hold up to the weight of the cream and sausage.
- Cream. I strongly recommend using heavy cream for this creamy sausage pasta because it won't break. Using milk or half and half can lead to a broken sauce due to the acid if the wine and tomatoes. If you insist on using milk or half and half, tempering is recommended.
- Wine. I used a Sauvignon Blanc for this recipe but any dry white wine will do. If you prefer to not use wine, you can replace the liquid with water or stock.
More hearty creamy pasta recipes
- Gorgonzola cream sauce pasta - with sausage and peas.
- Pasta alla boscaiola - with mushrooms, rosemary, and sausage.
- Pasta alla Norcina - sausage, cream, nutmeg, and white wine.
If you’ve enjoyed this creamy Italian sausage pasta recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.
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- 1 pound pappardelle
- 1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 5 cloves garlic sliced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1 14-ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups reserved pasta water will most likely not need all of it
- ¾ cup Pecorino Romano grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup basil leaves hand torn
- Bring a large pot of salted (2 tablespoons kosher salt) water to boil.
- Heat a very large pan or Dutch oven to medium-high heat then add in the olive oil and sausage. Brown the sausage until almost cooked through (about 7 minutes).
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions to the pan. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until softened then add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until lightly golden. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes to reduce the wine by about half. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove all of the brown bits.
- Add the plum tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. At this time begin cooking the pasta to 1 minute less than al dente.
- About 5 minutes before the pasta has finished cooking add the cream and mix well to incorporate.
- Once the pasta is almost al dente add it to the sauce and mix to coat. Add a bit of pasta water if needed to loosen things up. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is a perfect al dente.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add the Pecorino, mix well, then taste test. Season with salt and pepper if required then add the basil.
- If the pasta gets at all dry before serving simply add a bit more of the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Serve with grated Pecorino. Enjoy!
- Makes 6 very large servings or 8 normal-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.
This recipe was originally published on September 28, 2018. It was completely updated on April 10, 2023.
Always love your process shots, James! That one with the sauce after you poured in the cream is swoon worthy! This recipe sounds so amazing - so rich and delicious! I can't wait to try it!
Thanks Haylie. My goal is to really step up the amount of process shots. It's definitely one of those hard to resist comfort dishes.
sheenam | thetwincookingproject.net
Oh my!!! This pasta looks so good!!! Yummy.
Thanks very much!
Kristine | Kristine's Kitchen
This is such a delicious comfort food dinner! The creamy sausage sauce sounds amazing!
Thanks for the comment Kristine. It's definitely one of our favorites!
Two enthusiastic thumbs up from my family, toddler included. We served over Banza and it didn’t compromise the sauce at all! So so yummy!
That's great to hear. I'm happy you enjoyed it!
Very easy to make and full of flavour, instant hit with the family. Even two fussy kids, definitely make this again
Great to hear! Glad you all enjoyed it.
I am giving this 5 stars before the sauce is even finished because hubby smelled it as he came home, then tasted the sauce and declared it delicious! Will be in my rotation of dinners.
Thanks so much! This is one of our go-to recipes. I'm glad it's now one of yours!
Can I use crushed tomatoes instead of pulse plum tomatoes?
Absolutely. Any quality crushed tomato would be fine. Enjoy!
Fabulous recipe!! Do you have a cookbook out? TY TY TY for this recipe!!!!!
I made your pork chop + vinegar pepper recipe. Sooo good. The key was cooking the pork chops at 325 degrees for 1 1/2. Wow delicious.
Hey thank you! I'm glad you liked both this one and the pork chops. I plan to get a book out within the next 12-18 months. Until then, I'll keep posting weekly recipes.
Made this dish for dinner today! It was super easy to make! And it was really delicious! My husband, went back for 3rds! Both of my sons also loved it!
Thank you for another winning dish! 💕
Glad to hear you all enjoyed it! Appreciate you making the recipes and leaving feedback.
Darlene E. Lockrem
You always make cooking fun and so easy to follow. Watching your videos I learn something new every day, it's a pleasure to watch them and in my case, I often watch them 4-5 or 6 times.
Hi Darlene. Thanks for watching the videos. I find video instruction is so important even for a very well-written recipe. My goal is to make every written recipe here into a long-form hosted video. Glad they are providing value to you and I hope you enjoy this recipe.
Phenomenal! Easy to make but tastes like a million bucks.
Hey Tom. Really glad you enjoyed the recipe!
I've been watching your videos on YouTube for awhile now. I finally got enough nerve to try one...this one. It turn out great. I added some mushrooms and spinach to it. My entire family enjoyed it. It will not be long before I try another one of your recipes. My wife was calling me "Chef" all night. hehehe
Hi David. Really glad you and the family enjoyed it. Thanks for watching my videos, chef!
from southern california keep cooking
Thank you, Steven!
A flavor explosion! Delicious!
Hi Sarah, thank you, and glad you liked the recipe!
This is by far one of my favorite recipes! Absolutely delicious! My kids and hubby beg for this. Thank you for sharing.
Hi Renee, thanks for your comment and so happy you all enjoy this recipe!
This was sooo damn good and very simple Thank you thank you for sharing!!
Thank you, Kim! So happy you liked this one!
Can you use half n half instead of heavy cream?
Hi Janice, you can try but it may break. You may want to temper the half and half before adding to help with that.
really tasty and delicious and easy to make!👌
Hi Loretta, so happy you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for the comment!
This was amazing! I was skeptical because the recipe seemed so simple, and so many recipes for this dish seem fussy in comparison. I stand corrected. This is classic and delicious. Truly flawless. Hey, if you know, you know. Thank you.
Hi there, thanks for the comment and so happy you liked it!
Excellent recipe. We all loved it.l
Thanks for the comment, Cindy! So happy you enjoyed this one!
I made this and was amazed how simple it was. I wii say I followed everything and noticed it was sweet. I did not add sugar so it must have been in sausage or cream. It makes so much. What a keeper!
Hi Nancy, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed this one!
I love this combination and I’ve been making it for years. At the very end of the cooking process, I add some frozen green peas for a little green color. Delicious!
Hi Joanne, so happy you enjoyed the recipe and appreciate the comment!
I have made this dish and loved it. Delicious!!!!
Hi Maria, so happy you enjoyed this and really appreciate the comment!
I made this tonight for dinner and will definitely revisit this recipe. It was easy to follow and a really nice change from a standard red sauce. Absolutely delicious! I made breadsticks to serve with it and they were even better dunked in that sauce!
Hi Deb, so happy you enjoyed this one and thank you for the comment!
One of my favorite recipes - loved by everyone who's tasted it!!! Quick question - I noticed that you revamped the recipe, and I'm used to the older version with 28 oz. can of tomatoes, and 6 oz can tomato paste. Why did you change the recipe - it was perfect!!!
Hi Vicki, thanks for the comment. I am always looking to try to improve recipes for taste, ease, and user experience. This was one of the oldest recipes on my site and wasn't up to the standards of the Recipe Writer's Handbook. Both the old and the new will give great results, but feel free to use the old recipe if that's what you prefer. I'm so happy you enjoy the recipe, and thanks for the feedback.
Hi great stuff as always!!
The printed recipe seems different then the video clip or am I seeing it wrong?
In clip first onions then sausage and in recipe first sausage then onions
Hi there, thanks for the comment! You can do it either way, but I always recommend going with my recipe on my website whenever there is a difference. I will often update the recipes on my website which I can't really update a video once it's created.