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This easy sausage rigatoni recipe is made with everyday ingredients but tastes like it came from a restaurant. It has Italian sausage simmered in a rich, garlicky tomato sauce!
Why you’ll love it
Pasta with sausage is always a good idea. This one is super simple to make with a few pantry staples, and it’s ready in just 30 minutes. That makes this Italian sausage rigatoni great for busy weeknights. You can throw it together fast, and a lot of the cooking is hands off!
Your kitchen is going to smell amazing while the tomato sauce is simmering away. This creamy pasta recipe is straight out of the quick and easy sausage pasta recipes section of the Salt & Lavender playbook, so I know your family will adore it.
What you’ll need
- Pasta – rigatoni is perfect to capture all the meaty sauce, but you can use any shape
- Italian sausage – I like to make this with spicy Italian sausage, but it’s equally good with mild
- Onion and garlic – sweet (Vidalia) onions are my go-to
- Tomatoes – we’re using both canned crushed and diced tomatoes. One needs to be much thicker than the other to get the sauce texture right, so substitute with caution!
- Heavy cream – it takes the acidic edge off tomatoes and adds richness and silkiness
- Basil – for a pop of freshness and to complement the tomatoes
If your tomatoes are a bit sour, you can add in a little sugar. Start with 1/2 teaspoon or so. This is a trick chefs use all the time for tomato sauce!
How to make sausage rigatoni
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Boil the pasta. Meanwhile, sauté the onion and sausage in a skillet, breaking it up as you go along, until the meat is browned. Stir in the garlic, cooking until fragrant. Drain some of the fat, then add in the tomatoes.
Simmer the sauce until it’s reduced a little. Stir in the heavy cream, fresh basil, and then season with salt & pepper. Cook for a couple more minutes, then toss with the drained pasta. Top with fresh parmesan if using.
Substitutions and variations
- I don’t recommend subbing something lower fat for the cream (e.g. half-and-half). The acidity of the tomatoes is likely to break the sauce if you go that route. You can leave the cream out if you absolutely have to, but the texture will be affected.
- Want to add a bit of wine to the sauce? No problem. I would simmer it a little longer, but the flavor would be amazing.
- Toss in a handful of spinach at the end if you’d like some greens.
What to serve with this sausage rigatoni
Leftovers and storage
- Store any leftover sausage pasta in a covered container for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Reheat over a low heat until warmed through.
- If you plan on freezing this one, I recommend keeping the sauce separate from the pasta and boiling up fresh pasta when you’re ready. The texture of the sauce may change after freezing, though.
If you made this Italian sausage rigatoni recipe, talk to me in the comments below! I’d love if you left a star rating and review. You can also tag me on Instagram.
Easy Sausage Rigatoni
- 8 ounces uncooked rigatoni
- 16 ounces Italian sausage (spicy or mild) see note
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
- Fresh basil, torn optional but recommended, to taste
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese optional, to taste
- Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta. Cook the rigatoni al dente according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, sauté the sausage meat and onion over medium-high heat in a skillet until browned (about 8-10 minutes), stirring it occasionally.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Drain a bit of the fat from the pan (I just spoon it out). Don't worry about getting it all.
- Add the canned tomatoes to the pan. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes (you may need to turn the heat down a bit if it starts bubbling too furiously).
- Stir in the cream, basil (if using), and season the sauce with salt & pepper as needed. Cook for another minute or two and then toss with the drained pasta.
- For the sausages, anything around the 16 ounce/1 pound ballpark is fine – it doesn’t need to be exact. Here in Canada I buy a 500g 5-pack of Johnsonville mild Italian sausages and take them out of the casings. I break the sausage meat up before adding it to the skillet, and I like to keep it somewhat chunky for this recipe. You can use bulk ground sausage meat if you prefer.
- To get the consistency of the sauce just right, I suggest using the style of tomatoes I recommend (diced and crushed). I’d also be cautious about subbing the cream for anything else (e.g. milk or half-and-half) because the acidity of the tomatoes is likely to curdle it.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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This recipe was originally published on October 17, 2019. It’s been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!