Perfectly al dente Sausage Rigatoni Pasta is loaded with spicy or sweet Italian sausage, lots of basil, and parmesan cheese, in a homemade creamy tomato sauce, this simple pasta dish is one you'll be making on repeat! It's an easy weeknight dinner idea that can be on the table in under 30 minutes.

Bowls of sausage rigatoni.


Table of Contents
  1. Sausage Rigatoni Pasta Ingredients
  2. How to Make Rigatoni Pasta
  3. Rigatoni Pasta Recipe Tips
  4. What to serve with Rigatoni
  5. How to Store Rigatoni with Sausage
  6. More like this Rigatoni Recipe
  7. Rigatoni with Sausage Recipe

This is one of those dinners that is simple enough for weeknights but good enough for company or family dinner on a lazy Sunday. My sausage rigatoni pasta is something you might expect to order at a rustic-elegant Italian restaurant.

We're talking BIG flavors and a really wonderful toothsome bite to the rigatoni pasta that is sturdy enough to hold up to the robust meaty sauce.

My family was requesting that I make this again before I even had a chance to take my first bite. And the leftovers are every bit as delicious the next day. That is, if you even have any leftovers.

Sausage Rigatoni Pasta Ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Rigatoni pasta - These tubular noodles have ribbed sides that are perfect for picking up and holding on to the sauce. But you can use a similarly sized pasta such as farfalle, ziti, or even orechiette. I wouldn't recommend this with a thin pasta like spaghetti, but you could get away with fettuccine in a pinch.
  • Olive oil
  • Onion - A sweet onion or yellow onion adds savory depth to your pasta sauce.
  • Garlic - An essential element in almost any Italian dish.
  • Italian sausage - If you like things spicy, go ahead and use all spicy Italian sausage. If your family is heat averse, I recommend opting for a mild Italian sausage. You can buy the kind in casings and remove them yourself, or sometimes you can find loose Italian sausage which will save you the trouble. I will often make this with half spicy and half sweet Italian sausage.
  • Crushed tomatoes - This is one of those ingredients that I always have stocked in my pantry for easy sauces and soups.
  • Fresh basil - I highly recommend using fresh basil instead of dried basil. It's one of our favorite herbs and makes a big difference.
  • Dried oregano - Another classic Italian herb, although I usually use dried oregano instead of fresh oregano. You could also just use an equal amount of Italian seasoning if you prefer.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes - The amount in the recipe won't make the pasta spicy but it will give just enough heat to add depth and incredible flavor. You'll notice it, but it will be subtle and not enough for kids to complain.
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Heavy cream - This adds richness and also helps thicken the sauce. It makes the pasta just creamy enough without being overly heavy.
  • Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese - Freshly grated parmesan cheese makes all the difference. Don't use the powdered parmesan cheese that comes in a can.
Ingredients for a sausage rigatoni recipe.

How to Make Rigatoni Pasta

  1. Saute onions. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the garlic in the last 30 seconds just until fragrant.
  2. Brown meat. Add sausage to the pot with the onions. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until the sausage is browned, breaking up the sausage into crumbles while it cooks.
  1. Make the sauce. Once the Italian sausage is browned, add crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-20 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce.
  1. Make it creamy. Stir in heavy cream and 1 cup of the cheese. Simmer until heated through and the cheese has melted.
  1. Make the pasta. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente while the sauce is simmering. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
  1. Combine pasta & sauce. Add cooked pasta to the finished sauce and stir to combine. Add as much of the reserved pasta as you like to get a nice glossy texture. I typically use about ½ cup but you might want it a little thicker or looser based on personal preference.
  1. Garnish & serve. Serve with remaining Parmesan cheese and fresh basil sprinkled on top.
An overhead image of a bowl of sausage rigatoni next to bowls of fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Rigatoni Pasta Recipe Tips

  • Let the sausage sear. Yes, you need to break the sausage up as it cooks, but you want to give it some time to crust up on the bottom and get nicely browned before flipping the chunks of sausage around in the pan.
  • Don't overcook the pasta. Follow the package directions to cook the pasta just until it is al dente so it still has some texture and doesn't get too mushy.
  • Reserve some of the pasta water! I learned this tip years ago and it makes such a difference in really flavorful sauces that cling to the pasta. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta to use when finishing the dish. The starchy water gives a wonderful texture to the sauce, adds flavor thanks to the salt, and helps the pasta to really hold on to the sauce. It's a game-changer.

What to serve with Rigatoni

When it comes to a hearty, rustic pasta dish like this one, you can't go wrong with:

Side Dish Ideas:

How to Store Rigatoni with Sausage

Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of water to loosen up the pasta and sauce.

You can also freeze the leftovers for up to 2 months. Let them cool completely first, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in a 350 degree F oven covered with foil for 20-25 minutes until hot all the way through.

A side view of al dente rigatoni pasta in sausage meat sauce in a white pasta bowl.

More like this Rigatoni Recipe

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

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Rigatoni with Sausage

5 from 2 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Perfectly al dente Sausage Rigatoni Pasta is loaded with spicy or sweet Italian sausage, lots of basil, and parmesan cheese, in a homemade creamy tomato sauce, this simple pasta dish is one you'll be making on repeat! It's an easy weeknight dinner idea that can be on the table in under 30 minutes.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ pounds spicy or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped + more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (up to 1 teaspoon if you like it spicy)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano, divided

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta.
  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes until it starts to soften. Add garlic and sausage. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until the sausage is browned, breaking up the sausage into crumbles while it cooks.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-20 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce.
  • Stir in heavy cream and 1 cup of the cheese. Simmer until heated through and the cheese has melted.
  • Add cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Add as much of the reserved pasta water as you like to get a nice glossy texture. I typically use about ½ cup.
  • Serve with remaining Parmesan cheese and fresh basil sprinkled on top.

Notes

  • Crushed tomatoes substitute: If you are out of crushed tomatoes, you could use a can of whole tomatoes that you blend in the blender. Or use two 6-ounce cans of tomato paste combined with 2 cups chicken broth.
  • Storage: Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of water to loosen up the pasta and sauce.
  • Freezing: You can also freeze the leftovers for up to 2 months. Let them cool completely first, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in a 350 degree F oven covered with foil for 20-25 minutes until hot all the way through.

Nutrition

Calories: 717kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 1373mg | Potassium: 416mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 670IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 284mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner, it was delicious! I will make this again. Thanks for an awesome recipe.