This cheesy Smoked Sausage Pasta recipe is quick and easy. With only one pan, smoked sausage, pasta, and cheese make a perfect lower-fat healthy dinner for a busy weeknight.
Fast enough to make after work simple enough for the beginner chef.
Aromatics—onion, garlic, and green onion
Tomatoes—diced or RoTel
Dairy—sour cream and shredded cheese
Salt and black pepper
Featured comment from Jon Eric:
"Doc! Another favorite of mine, this recipe... (has) been my after-work go-to's for a while now. Quick, easy, and, of course, delicious. Thanks for the 30 minute recipes!"
A great-tasting smoked sausage recipe with pasta made in one pan in only 30 minutes from start to finish, nobody is waiting for dinner.
This is a light version that fits well in healthy diets like low-caloric and low-fat diets. If made using full-fat products, one serving is 562 calories and 36 grams of fat. By switching to lower-fat products, one serving is 374 calories and 12.5 grams of fat.
This is a skinny version of an American Test Kitchen Spicy Sausage Pasta recipe (subscription required) from their The Best Simple Recipes cookbook. I lowered the fat by using turkey smoked sausage and substituted low-fat sour cream for the heavy cream.
👨🍳How to Make Smoked Sausage Pasta
- Slice precooked turkey smoked sausage, kielbasa, or chorizo into ¼ inch thick disks. Chop the medium onion also.
- Over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe skillet, cook the sausage and onion until the onion is clearing and the sausage is browning.
- To the sausage mixture, add chicken broth, drained diced tomatoes or RoTel, sour cream, and spices. Bring to a boil and add uncooked pasta.
- Simmer until pasta is tender. Mix in a little cheese. Top with more cheese and brown under a broiler.
- Serving sprinkled with sliced scallions.
This is a summary of the steps and ingredients. See the recipe card or the step-by-step photo instructions below for complete instructions.
Sausage: I suggest turkey smoked sausage, which provides excellent taste and decreases the fat. Any sausage can be used, but it should be thoroughly cooked before being used in this recipe if uncooked.
Pasta: The pasta is cooked in the spicy sauce in the dish. Use a bite-sized standard commercial-type pasta and cook until tender. I used bowtie pasta, but something like penne pasta would be good. If you want to use a non-standard type of pasta, you need to cook until al dente or cook separately and add it near the end.
Cheese: I like Monterey Jack cheese in this casserole, but Pepper Jack, mozzarella, or cheddar cheese are also excellent choices.
You will need 1 to 1 ½ cups of shredded cheese of your choice. Use a lower-fat cheese, like 2% or lower fat, to keep this skinny. I never recommend using fat-free cheese.
Tomatoes: Use tomatoes with green chilis added—commonly called Rotel, which come in 10 ½ ounce cans. It will add lots of spiciness—6/10 spicy. If you don't want that spicy southwest-type taste, use a can of drained diced tomatoes.
Spices: No additional spices are suggested, but you can add other flavors if you want. Use drained diced tomatoes instead of Rotel, and add what you like. You can adjust the spiciness with red pepper flakes.
The obvious variations are your choice of what smoked sausage to try. It comes in so many variations. And try out some other precooked sausages.
You can adjust the heat of the spicy easily. Rotel™ comes with a variety of spice levels. Or replace it with drained diced tomatoes and control the heat with added cayenne pepper.
Try adding some vegetables to the pasta. A diced bell pepper can be added to the dry pasta. Other vegetables, like broccoli, can be added fully cooked when the cheese is added.
Make a fast Italian casserole for dinner. Use Italian sausage and drained diced tomatoes—season with Italian seasoning or basil. Change the cheese to mozzarella or an Italian cheese mix.
How to store and reheat leftovers
Store leftovers sealed airtight and refrigerated for 4 days or frozen for 4 months.
Reheat, after thawing overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, on the stovetop with a bit of oil, in the oven, or in the microwave. The pasta may have absorbed some of the moisture; a splash of water or milk may be needed.
Three changes make this recipe healthier. Turkey smoked sausage or kielbasa will decrease the fat, as will using lower-fat sour cream and shredded cheese. Never use non-fat cheese or sour cream.
Using full-fat products, one serving is 562 calories and 36 grams of fat. By switching to lower-fat products, one serving is 374 calories and 12.5 grams of fat. Since this is how I usually cook this recipe, this is what appears in the nutrition calculations.
The sodium can be decreased by using low-sodium broth and cutting the added salt in half to save 200 mg of sodium per serving.
If using gluten-free pasta, it is best to precook the pasta to al dente before adding it since cooking uncooked gluten-free pasta in a dish is unpredictable.
And don't forget to check the labels on all the other ingredients since there is variability between brands.
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Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Use turkey smoked sausage, but most precooked smoked sausage will be fine.
Chop one medium onion and 1 pound of cooked sausage of your choice into ¼ inch medallions.
Preheat 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe skillet. Add the onion and sausage to the pan. Cook until onion is clearing nicely and sausage is browning—about 5 minutes. Add two cloves of minced garlic and cook another 30 seconds.
Add a 14 oz can of chicken broth, a 10 ½ oz can RoTel, or a can of drained diced tomatoes, ½ cup sour cream, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper—mix well.
Add 8 oz.(2 cups) of dry pasta of your choice.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer. Stir occasionally and cook until pasta is tender — about 15 minutes. If you are approaching the endpoint for the pasta and too much fluid is present, uncover and increase heat to medium-high for the last few minutes.
Add ½ cup of shredded cheese of your choice and mix in.
Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese on top.
Place under broiler until cheese is melted and browned.
Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.
Smoked Sausage Casserole in 30-Minutes
- 1 pound smoked sausage - turkey sausage suggested
- 1 onion - medium chopped
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 2 cloves garlic - minced or crushed
- 14 oz chicken broth - Low sodium suggested
- 10.5 oz RoTel - or drained diced tomatoes
- ½ cup sour cream - low fat suggested
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 8 oz dry pasta - of choice
- 1 ½ cup shredded cheese - Monterey, cheddar, or mozzarella. Low fat suggested.
- 2 green onion - sliced to garnish optional
- Preheat 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe skillet.
- Chop one medium onion and 1 pound of cooked sausage of your choice into ¼ inch medallions. I suggest turkey smoked sausage.
- Add the onion and sausage to the pan. Cook until onion is clearing nicely and sausage is browning—about 5 minutes. Add two cloves of minced garlic and cook another 30 seconds.
- Add 1 – 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth, 1 – 10 ½ oz can RoTel, ½ cup low fat sour cream, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix well.
- Add 8 oz.(2 cups) of dry pasta of your choice.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to low: cover and simmer. Stir occasionally and cook until pasta is tender — about 15 minutes. If you are approaching the endpoint for the pasta and too much fluid is present, uncover and increase heat to medium-high for the last few minutes.
- Add ½ cup of shredded cheese of your choice and mix in.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese on top.
- Place under broiler until cheese is melted and browned.
- Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.
Your Own Private Notes
- This is an easy recipe to modify to your taste. Use the sausage, pasta, and cheese of your choice.
- The pasta going in uncooked works well if you are using standard commercial type pasta but always be aware of the endpoint you want and watch for it.
- If you want to use a non-standard type of pasta, you need to cook until al dente or cook separately and add it near the end when mixing in cheese.
- Using full-fat products, one serving is 562 calories and 36 grams of fat. By switching to lower fat products, one serving is 373 calories and 12.3 grams of fat. Since this is how I normally cook this recipe. This is what appears in the nutrition calculations.
- If you don't want spicy, substitute a can of drained diced tomatoes for the Rotel.
- I like to use precooked turkey sausage but use the sausage of your choice. You can even use bulk sausage as long as you cook it to a safe 165°.
- Use the cheese of your choice, also. I suspect most will use cheddar but I like Monterey for this. Even mozzarella would be good. To decrease fat, you can use a 2% milk cheese. Please do not use non-fat cheese.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days and will freeze well for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published September 28, 2013. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.