This easy one pot creamy sausage pasta can be whipped up in 40 minutes and is a favourite family dinner. Penne pasta is coated in a thick, luscious cream cheese and tomato sauce dotted with chunks of pork sausage to make this simple budget pasta recipe.
My 4 year old son loves one pot pasta dinners like this one – and so do I! Whether it’s the vegetarian one pot tomato pasta, one pot lasagna soup, or this creamy sausage pasta, they are a great stand by dinner. As much as I love pasta bakes like my tuna pasta bake – so versatile! – there is something about not having to put the oven on.
Why we love this recipe
- As the name suggests, this sausage pasta recipe is made in one saucepan, which means less pans to wash up!
- It is a creamy pasta recipe without cream. The cream cheese adds a lovely rich creaminess. Cooking the pasta in with the tomatoes and sausages rather than boiling it separately makes a thick and creamy sauce without the need for lots of butter or cream.
- You don’t need as many sausages when making this style of pasta dish as you would if you served sausages on a plate with mash. Here I’ve used 4 sausages to serve 4 people, but you can use 3 if you want to reduce the cost further.
- This is an easy recipe, made from simple ingredients, and is ready in under 40 minutes, making it a perfect dinner for busy weeknights.
- This budget sausage pasta is very kid friendly. My son loves it so much he often overlooks if I add some veggies that he’s not keen on in to the pasta.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Sausages – I like to use Italian sausages or plain pork sausages, but you can use chicken sausages if you prefer.
- Onion – brown onion.
- Garlic – fresh garlic adds a delicious taste to the pasta. However you can substitute with ¼ – ⅓ teaspoon of garlic powder if you prefer.
- Capsicum – bell pepper. I like to use red, but you can swap it for green capsicum / pepper which is often cheaper. Yellow or orange capsicum / pepper would be colourful addition if you have those to hand.
- Tinned tomatoes – I like to use crushed / diced tinned tomatoes. However you can use tinned plum tomatoes and break them up with a spoon.
- Pasta – I often use penne pasta or fusilli pasta to make this recipe, but you can use any pasta shapes you like. Pasta bows / farfelle, pasta spirals / fusilli, shells or macaroni would all be delicious.
- Water – I like to use plain water. If you have some vegetable stock or chicken stock you wanted to use that would work. Just check bought stocks as they could make the sausage pasta taste pretty salty when combined with the sausages.
- Cream cheese – plain cream cheese. I use Philadephia cream cheese if I can buy it on offer, or supermarket own brand other times. I recommend you use full fat cream cheese as it makes the pasta creamier and is less watery.
How to make this recipe
- Squeeze the sausages out from their skins and cook in a little oil in a large saucepan.
- Once the sausage meat is golden brown, remove from the pan.
- Add the chopped onion to the saucepan and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the crushed garlic and chopped capsicum / pepper. Fry for 1-2 minutes before adding the pasta, tinned tomatoes, and water.
- Tip the cooked sausages back to the pan, bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer.
- Gently simmer for 15-18 minutes, stirring every so often until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened.
- Take off the heat and stir through the cream cheese.
- Check for seasoning and serve.
Sausage meat is not the same as mined pork. Sausage meat usually contains breadcrumbs, fat, and herbs and spices as well as ground (minced) pork, whereas pork mince is minced pork.
Ricotta and mascarpone are good alternatives to cream cheese as they both provide a creamy richness as cream cheese does. If you are looking for healthier alternatives, cottage cheese blended until it’s smooth, or Greek yogurt can be used. Although they will add creaminess, the dish won’t be as rich and can be more watery.
My recipe tips
- If the sausage meat has stuck to the pan and is beginning to burn, carefully add a little water from the kettle. Warning! – it will steam and spit so stand back to avoid being burnt! Once its stopped steaming, gently scrape the bits with a spoon (keep them – they are full of flavour!).
- Don’t drain the tomatoes – you want all that lovely juice.
- Stir every so often to make sure the pasta and sausages aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- The pasta may look slightly watery when you stir in the cream cheese, however by the time you serve it, it will have thickened slightly.
Less sausages – You can use 3 sausages rather than 4 in this recipe and still get lots of sausage flavour in your pasta!
Capsicum / bell peppers – when capsicum are pricy, green capsicum usually cost less than the red, or use a zucchini (courgette), or tinned or frozen corn.
Add more vegetables
Add another chopped capsicum / pepper if they aren’t too expensive or coarsely grate a carrot or zucchini / courgette and cook with the onion.
- This pasta recipe is perfect to serve on its own. However if you want a little more, or want to pad the meal out, a simple lettuce and tomato side salad would go well, or add a couple of slices of air fryer garlic bread on the side.
I recommend you serve this sausage pasta recipe soon after making as the sauce is absorbed by the pasta on standing. If you were to make it ahead and keep it in the fridge it would become a little dry. However, if you are left with some leftover creamy pasta don’t throw it away! You can heat it gently and add a splash of water, or use it in a frittata or add to a soup.
- Gluten free – you can use gluten free pasta and check sure your sausages are gluten free.
- Vegetables – red capsicum can be pricey at times (or maybe you don’t have it in), so instead you can use a zucchini / courgette either in moon shapes and fry with the onion to get a little colour, or coarsely grate it (especially good for picky eaters). Other vegetables which would be delicious additions to this sausage pasta recipe are tinned or frozen sweetcorn, frozen peas, sliced mushrooms, or fresh or frozen spinach. If using frozen vegetables add 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
More easy family dinners – all kid approved!
One Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta
- 1 tablespoon oil ($0.08 /£0.03p)
- 4 pork sausages, (approx 400g / 14oz in weight) ($4.00 /£1.25)
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped ($0.45 /£0.10p)
- 1 capsicum / bell pepper, finely chopped ($2.48 /£0.48p)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed ($0.26 /£0.05p)
- 400g (14oz) tin or can of chopped / diced tomatoes ($0.75 /£0.28p)
- 300g (10½oz) penne pasta ($0.60 /£0.45p)
- 1100ml (4½c) water ($0 /£0)
- 60g (2oz) cream cheese ($0.70 /£0.30p)
- salt ($0.01 /£0.01)
- black pepper ($0.01 /£0.01)
- Squeeze the sausage meat out of the sausages in to a large saucepan and heat with the oil over a medium heat until golden, breaking up with a spoon as you stir.
- Remove the sausage pieces and place on some kitchen towel. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until soft, scraping any bits of sausage that have stuck to the pan to prevent them from burning (see tip in notes below if it's starting to burn too much).
- Add the chopped capsicum / pepper and crushed garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Tip in the pasta, tinned tomatoes, water and return the sausages to the pan.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-18 minutes until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Take off the heat and stir through the cream cheese. Check for seasoning. You shouldn't need any salt as the sausages tend to be salty, but I like to add a pinch of black pepper.
- Serve straight away.
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