Sausage Peppers pasta

Sausage Peppers Pasta is creamy, cheesy, addictive comfort food on your table in 30 minutes!

This Sausage Peppers Pasta is so packed with creamy, cheesy, sweet and spicy flavor fireworks, you’ll never want to put your fork down!  It features juicy Italian sausage, sweet bell peppers, fire roasted tomatoes and aromatic garlic and onions in a luxuriously béchamel sauce spiked with Gouda and Parmesan.  This sausage pasta recipe is also extremely versatile and can be made with turkey sausage, any of your favorite vegetables or cheeses.  Your family will love this easy, indulgent sausage pasta with a side of Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread for the ultimate 5 star dine-in experience.

Pasta dinners are favorites of adults and kids alike – especially with Italian sausage! Some of our favorites sausage pasta recipes include: Bolognese, Lasagna, Lasagna Soup, Linguine in Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce, Rigatoni and Sausage in Cream Sauce, Manicotti, and Baked Penne.

HOW TO MAKE sausage pasta VIDEo

showing how to make sausage pepper pasta in a skillet with Italian sausage and bell peppers
sausage pepper pasta with Italian sausage being served with Parmesan

Sausage Pasta Ingredients 

Creamy, cheesy, and expertly seasoned, this Italian Sausage Peppers Pasta is perfect for easy weeknight cooking! Three kinds of bell peppers and a yellow onion balance out the slightly spicy Italian sausage, while a combination of half and half and shredded Gouda add irresistible creaminess. Here’s what you’ll need to make this sausage pasta recipe (full measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post): 

  • Pasta: I recommend using a short and sturdy pasta, such as rotini, cavatappi, or penne. You want something that can holds its own against the rich and creamy sauce. 
  • Italian sausage: I prefer hot Italian Sausage. It will not make your pasta spicy, just flavorful. Italian sausage comes seasoned with Italian seasonings, primarily fennel.  Fennel is crucial for authentic Italian flavor so if you swap the sausage for beef or turkey, make sure you add some fennel, Italian seasonings and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Onion: One yellow onion will do the trick.
  • Bell peppers: I used three different colors of bell peppers (red, orange and yellow), but you may use just one color if that’s what you have on hand.  I don’t recommend using green because it is earthy and grassy instead of sweet.
  • Garlic: I use 4-6 cloves of garlic and it is divine but feel free to use less if you prefer.
  • Flour: This is the thickening agent in the béchamel sauce that creates the roux.
  • Chicken broth: This is more flavorful than just milk or half and half. Make sure you use low sodium broth so we can control the salt.
  • Half and half: This adds body and richness to the sauce but doesn’t have nearly as many calories as heavy cream. You may also create your own with equal parts milk and heavy cream.
  • Chicken bouillon: Choose from bouillon powder, bouillon cubes, or better than bouillon. Add the bouillon to the sauce without dissolving in liquid first. If using cubes, you will need 1 which you crush up and then add directly to the sauce.
  • Canned fire roasted tomatoes: These tomatoes are NOT spicy – the fire simply means they have been roasted which gives them a complex smokiness and removes the acidic bite. Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the regular diced tomatoes – just make sure you get the ones without any added seasonings. 
  • Seasonings: In addition to garlic, this sausage pasta is seasoned with dried basil, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried thyme, and optional red pepper flakes. You can add more or less of any of the seasonings to suit your tastes.
  • Gouda cheese:  Gouda tastes similar to cheddar but is milder, slightly sweet, nutty, and buttery and doesn’t overpower the dish. Equally important, Gouda melts 1000X better than cheddar so it allows you to enhance the flavor while melting gorgeously.  Young Gouda will be more mild and sweet and more mature Gouda will be stronger and nuttier, so pay attention and make sure you choose the right one for you.
  • Parmesan cheese:  This is a fantastic salty, nutty companion to the Gouda.  For best results, use ONLY freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  It is much more flavorful and melts into silky oblivion unlike powdered or pre-shredded cheese.
up close of sausage peppers pasta recipe with Italian sausage showing how creamy it is
  • Italian sausage: Regular Italian sausage (instead of hot), pork sausage or chicken sausage may be used along with additional seasonings. 
  • Half and half: You may swap the half and half with 1 cup milk mixed with 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch.
  • All-purpose flour: A gluten-free all-purpose flour like this one will also work. 
  • Fire roasted tomatoes: If you can’t find fire roasted diced tomatoes, then use traditional diced tomatoes.
  • Herbs: Feel free to mix and match the dried herbs with fresh herbs to suit what you have on hand. If using fresh herbs, you’ll have to use 3X the amount of dried. 
  • Gouda: A mild cheddar cheese may be substituted.
  • Onion: For lazy days, you can substitute the fresh onion with 1 ½ teaspoons of onion powder.
  • Garlic: You may use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead.

How to Make Italian SAusage Pasta with Bell Peppers

This Sausage Peppers Pasta is sassy, saucy, cheesy, creamy addictive comfort food you will CRAVE!  Here’s an overview of how the pasta is made: 

  • Step 1: Cook the pasta. Follow the instructions on the packaging and cook the pasta until al dente. Be sure to heavily salt the water after it starts to boil. 
  • Step 2: Brown the sausage. While the pasta cooks, brown the Italian sausage in a large pan over medium-high heat. 
showing how to make Sausage Peppers Pasta recipe by browning Italian sausage in a skillet
  • Step 3: Sauté the bell peppers and onion. Once the sausage is done, remove it from the skillet, then sauté the bell peppers and onions until the onions are mostly softened. Next, add the garlic and optional red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
showing how to make Sausage Peppers Pasta recipe by sautéing bell peppers until crisp tender
  • Step 4: Make the sauce. Add the flour and cook it for about 1 minute to cook off the raw flour taste. Then, stir in the broth, half and half, diced tomatoes and herbs. Simmer until thickened. 
a collage of showing how to make Sausage Peppers Pasta recipe by cooking flour then adding the chicken broth, half and half, Italian seasonings and tomatoes
  • Step 5: Stir in the cheese and pasta. Turn down the heat, then stir in the shredded cheeses one at a time until melted. Once your sauce is silky smooth, add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and stir to evenly coat. 
a collage showing how to make Sausage Peppers Pasta recipe by adding Parmesan cheese and simmering until the sauce is thickened

How to Thin the Sauce

The sauce can become too thick if it’s simmered at too high of heat or for too long. But don’t worry, it’s SO easy to fix! Simply stir in a little reserved pasta water or chicken broth after you combine the pasta with the sauce until it reaches desired consistency.  For extra indulgence, you can even thin the sauce with additional half and half.

How to Thicken the Sauce

The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it’s not as thick as you would like, then simmer longer. Or you can thicken it with cornstarch: whisk ½ tablespoon cornstarch with 3 tablespoons chicken broth with a fork until smooth then whisk it back into the sauce.  Simmer until thickened. 

showing how to make Italian sausage pepper pasta recipe by combining pasta, sausage, peppers and sauce in a skillet
serving sausage pasta with Italian sausage showing how creamy it is
  • Use a different protein. I recommend hot Italian sausage because it is mega flavorful but you can certainly swap it out. For a lighter version, try using hot ground Italian turkey sausage. You can also use plain lean ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, sliced sausage etc. Just be aware that you will be losing some flavor if you omit the Italian sausage because it is seasoned with Italian seasonings.  I recommend adding some Italian seasonings, ground fennel (about ¼ teaspoon) and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you use a different protein. Be ready to season to taste when the pasta is done.
  • Add veggies.  This fast-cooking Sausage Peppers Pasta is amendable to whatever vegetables you have on hand.  In addition to the onions and bell peppers, you can add mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, etc.   
  • Make it spicy. The hot Italian sausage is flavorful but does not make this Italian Sausage Pasta overly spicy. If you really want to kick it up, then add red pepper flakes directly to the sauce or to individual servings.
  • Swap cheese: Mix up the flavor profile by using a different melting cheese in place of the Gouda such as mozzarella, Monterrey, smoked cheddar, Muenster, Fontina or Colby Jack, Gruyere, etc. Be aware that the cheese you use will have a big impact on the flavor.
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes: Instead of canned tomatoes or in addition to, add sun-dried tomatoes.  Purchase the sun-dried tomatoes in a jar packed in oil, not water, located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store. Rinse about ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, pat dry, chop and sauté with the garlic.
  • Make it gluten-free: Use gluten free flour in the sauce (this one is my fav, awesome for cakes too!) and serve this sausage pasta recipe over gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada is a great brand), sweet potato noodles, zoodles or spaghetti squash. 
  • Make it vegetarian:  Omit the sausage and use a vegan sausage alternative or extra vegetables along with addition Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes.  Swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth and omit the chicken bouillon and salt to taste.
Italian sausage pasta with peppers in a creamy sauce served in a bowl with Parmesan
picking up Italian sausage pasta with peppers with a fork showing how creamy it is

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top view of sausage pepper pasta with Italian sausage in a skillet with cheesy cream sauce

Sausage Peppers Pasta

This Sausage Peppers Pasta is so packed with creamy, cheesy, sweet and spicy flavor fireworks, you’ll never want to put your fork down!  It features juicy Italian sausage, sweet bell peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, and aromatic garlic and onions in a luxuriously béchamel sauce spiked with Gouda and Parmesan.  This sausage pasta recipe is also extremely versatile and can be made with turkey sausage, any of your favorite vegetables or cheeses.  Your family will love this easy, indulgent pasta dinner with a side of Caesar Salad and Buttery Breadsticks for the ultimate 5 star dine-in experience.
Servings: 6 servings
Total Time: 30 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne, cavatappi or rotini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage or hot turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1/2-inch chop
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, 1/2-inch chop
  • 1 orange bell pepper, 1/2-inch chop
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional for spicy)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with juices
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (granulated, cube or base)
  • 1 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried thyme, salt, pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half (or milk whisked with 1 ½ tsps cornstarch)

ADD LATER

  • 6 ounces (1 ½ packed cups) freshly grated mild Gouda (may sub cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook pasta al dente according to package directions in salted water. Remove 1 cup pasta water before draining. Toss drained pasta with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together; set aside. Meanwhile:
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan/braiser over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook while crumbling until sausage is completely cooked through; remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  • Add a drizzle of oil to the drippings if it seems dry. Add the bell peppers and onions and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and optional red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the flour and cook while stirring for 1 minute (it will be thick).
  • Reduce heat to low, then add the sausage back to the skillet, followed by the fire roasted tomatoes, chicken bouillon, all seasoniongs, chicken broth, half and half. Stir the ingredients together while scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Bring the sauce to a vigorous simmer then reduce heat and simmer until thickened, stirring often, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Once thickened, reduce heat to low and stir in Gouda until melted followed by Parmesan cheese until melted. Stir in pasta until well coated. Add additional reserved pasta water a little at a time if needed to thin to desired consistency.
  • Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste. Garnish individual servings with additional Parmesan if desired.

Video

Notes

  • Bell peppers:  You may use all of one color (red, yellow orange, NOT green).  Take care not to chop the bell peppers too small so they don’t become too soft while they cook with the onions. 
  • Sausage substitute: I recommend hot Italian sausage because it is mega flavorful but you can certainly swap it out for lean ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, sliced sausage etc. Be prepared to season the dish with additional Italian seasonings, ground fennel (about ¼ teaspoon) and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Swap cheese: Mix up the flavor profile by using a different melting cheese in place of the Gouda such as mozzarella, Monterrey, smoked cheddar, Muenster, Fontina or Colby Jack, Gruyere, etc. Be aware that the cheese you use will have a big impact on the flavor.
  • Gluten free: Use gluten free flour in the sauce (this one is my fav, awesome for cakes too!) and serve this sausage pasta recipe over gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada is a great brand), sweet potato noodles, zoodles or spaghetti squash. 
  • Bakes Sausage Pasta: This is an especially great option for meal prepping.   Transfer the assembled pasta to a 9×13 baking dish and evenly top pasta with 1 cup (or more) extra Gouda cheese, cover and refrigerate. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the dish is heated through.

How to Store and Reheat

  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • To reheat: Microwave for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 20-second intervals until warmed through.  For larger portions, reheat pasta gently on the stove. You may need to add a splash of half and half or broth to thin the sauce as it will have thickened in the refrigerator.

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