Perfect for busy nights, this easy sausage pasta recipe is ready in under 30 minutes! With a few shortcuts, you can make an easy, creamy sausage pasta sauce the whole family will love... even when you’re short on time.
Darlings, today I’m going to share my secrets for a really amazing weeknight pasta! The sauce tastes like you spent time making it from scratch, but it’s a shortcut. Involved from-scratch recipes are wonderful, but you still have to eat on busy days! And those days, I’m reaching for recipes like this one. I know I can have this easy pasta recipe on the table in 30 minutes. Everyone loves it, and the leftovers are AMAZING!
This is just a basic pasta and sauce recipe with a little extra pizzazz. I learned early on in my cooking adventures that doctoring store-bought sauces is something I’m good at. Sure, I could open the jar of sauce, heat, and serve. But wh? Start doctoring the store-bought sauces a bit and get a dish that tastes restaurant-worthy at a fraction of the price!
Usually, I just start throwing things into a pot, add the sauce, adjust as needed, and serve. But when I made this easy sausage pasta sauce recipe for dinner one night, the whole family started RAVING. They said it was blog-worthy. So I immediately wrote down what I did, then added it to the menu again the next week to confirm and get some pictures.
Honestly, I was a little hesitant about sharing, but a social media ask had tons of recipe requests. I think sometimes we can get caught up in the idea that meals are either really involved or takeout with little in between. This easy sausage pasta is one of those in-between recipes.
You start with a box of pasta, which you cook according to the package directions. Easy. While that’s cooking, you make the most amazing easy creamy sausage pasta sauce EVER! Only it’s really just doctored store-bought sauce. No need for long simmers and hours over the stove. The magic is in combining a few simple ingredients – a jarred pasta sauce, sausage, and spices.
Let’s talk about ingredients!
For the pasta, you can use any you have on hand. You all know I’m a big proponent of using what you have. But if you’re shopping and want to find the best pasta shape for a meat pasta sauce like this one, look for thicker noodles. So a linguine or fettuccine would be good. The wider noodles will stick well to the sauce and provide a good base for the ground meat. If you ask my pixies though, rotini is the most acceptable shape.
For the pasta sauce, you have tons of options! I’ve found that the best store-bought pasta sauces for doctoring are the classic flavors. Look for a basic marinara, garlic, or tomato and herb. I’ve tested with all three and they’re all wonderful. The best way to start is by using a brand you like.
In one of my conversations about pasta sauces with a friend, she mentioned she finds store-bought sauces to be sweet. Since my Whole30 a few years back when I read a lot of labels, we started purchasing pasta sauce with no sugar added. There are lots of options without added sugar at any grocery store. So if you’re someone who hasn’t bought pasta sauce in a while for that reason, look for the “no added sugar” sauces. I don’t think my family even noticed the difference.
The last ingredient you’ll need is the sausage! This recipe calls for a sweet Italian sausage. This is different than mild Italian sausage. Mild Italian sausage has a mix of spices – usually fennel, parsley, etc – and no red pepper flakes. Hot Italian sausage has the spice mix plus red pepper flakes for heat. Sweet Italian sausage has the same spice mix as mild Italian sausage but has added basil.
If you can find sweet Italian sausage, that’s the one we liked best for this recipe. The extra punch of basil is nice. But if you can’t find it, mild is a great substitute. The sausage usually comes in links, so you’ll need to remove the casing so you can break apart the sausage inside as it cooks.
Finally, if you don’t eat pork, or are looking for a lighter option, check the turkey area in your meat department. I’ve found a sweet Italian turkey sausage that works *perfectly* in this recipe and is leaner. So while this easy sausage pasta recipe is comfort food, you can easily lighten it up a bit. That way it can be on the menu more often!
I hope you love this weeknight pasta recipe, darlings. I hope it helps you on a busy night. And if right now you’re scrolling and reading while trying to multitask a zillion other things and feeling a little rushed, I’m sending you a huge virtual hug. Take a deep breath, you’ve got this.
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
- 1 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil (see notes)
- 1 lb pasta of your choice
- Parmesan cheese for sprinkling (optional)
- Additional basil for sprinkling (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. While you are boiling the water and pasta, make the sauce.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, making sure to break the sausage into crumbles, until it's no longer pink.
- Add the onion and garlic. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the onion is translucent and fragrant.
- Pour in the entire jar of pasta sauce and the fresh basil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Around this time, your pasta will likely be done cooking. Drain and set aside. Drizzle or spray with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Stir in the heavy cream (or substitute if you are using per the notes), and allow the sauce to heat through but not boil.
- Check the seasoning and adjust to taste if needed. Serve over your cooked pasta and enjoy! Sprinkle with Parmesan and additional fresh basil if desired.
- If you don't have any fresh basil on hand, you may substitute 1 tablespoon of dried basil for the 1/4 cup of fresh basil. Depending on the potency of your dried basil, you may want to add an additional teaspoon, but I'd start with a single tablespoon and adjust at the end if needed.
- If you are not cooking with leftovers in mind and are only feeding a smaller family (4 or less), you may make less pasta. I recommend making the full amount of sauce because the sauce does freeze well for later.
- If you don't have heavy cream, you can substitute plain yogurt (Greek or regular) or sour cream. Use 1/3 cup and add 2 tablespoons of milk.
- Extra sauce can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week, or frozen up to a month.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.