One-Pot Creamy Sausage Rigatoni is an easy-to-make weeknight dinner made in just 30 minutes! This rigatoni recipe features basic ingredients found in most grocery stores. Everything is cooked in one pan on the stove-top: Italian sausage, creamy tomato sauce, and pasta. It's restaurant-quality comfort food made at home!
One-Pan, 30-Minute Recipe
This creamy pasta dish is flavor-packed, easy to make, and looks like the main course from a fine Italian restaurant. The beauty of the creamy sausage rigatoni is that it can be made on a busy weeknight because it takes only 30 minutes. Everything is cooked in one pot on the stovetop. Not only is it easy to make, but it also makes a beautiful presentation! You can certainly make this fantastic Italian recipe for special occasions to treat your family, friends, and guests. Sausage Rigatoni has earned the spot of one of my family's favorite pasta recipes! If you like more Italian sausage pasta inspiration, don't miss creamy sausage gnocchi or a popular recipe on my site: Italian sausage pasta with spinach and mushrooms.
Classic rigatoni recipe
Rigatoni is traditionally used with thick sauces, such as bolognese or a rich alfredo sauce. This recipe sticks to the tradition by using the rich creamy tomato-based sauce and crumbled Italian sausage. Rigatoni is pasta with ridges which makes a perfect surface for sauces to coat. Ridged tubular pasta like rigatoni is perfect for thick, creamy sauces as thick pasta sauces stick better to this kind of pasta thanks to the ridges on the pasta surface.
Why this recipe works
- Bring Italy to your dinner table. Italian sausage is combined together with rigatoni pasta, garlic, Italian seasoning, cream, marinara sauce (or any other tomato pasta sauce), and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and fresh herbs on top. The flavor combination is amazing.
- This simple rigatoni dinner is made in 30 minutes and is perfect for busy weeknights or as a weekend meal.
- Cleanup is a breeze. Everything is cooked in one pan on the stovetop, so the cleanup is minimal.
What is rigatoni?
- Rigatoni is a tube-shaped short pasta with ridges down its length.
- This type of pasta originated in Italy, and the word rigatoni comes from the Italian word rigate which means ridged or lined.
- Rigatoni is one of the most favorite pasta dishes in Sicily, Italy, where it is often used in the traditional Sicilian dish Pasta Alla Norma (sautéed eggplant tossed with tomato sauce and topped with ricotta salata cheese and basil).
- Rigatoni recipes usually involve thick sauces, such as bolognese or a rich alfredo sauce.
What is a good substitute for rigatoni?
Because both rigatoni and penne are tubular-shaped short pasta, penne is your next best choice. Do keep in mind that pasta with ridges, such as rigatoni, is better for thick sauces like the creamy tomato sauce in this recipe because the sauce will stick better to the outside surface with ridges. So if you are to use penne, make sure you use penne with ridges.
How long to cook rigatoni?
It's best to cook rigatoni al dente. To cook pasta al dente means to cook the pasta so that it's soft yet firm at the core of the noodle. The pasta cooked al dente should feel firm to the bite, hard under your teeth, while being soft yet not mushy.
- To achieve this desirable pasta texture you normally have to boil pasta 2 to 3 minutes shorter than normal. For instance, if your package instructions tell you to cook pasta for 12 minutes in boiling water that means that to cook your pasta al dente, you should cook it for 10 minutes (2 minutes less) once the water starts boiling.
What kind of sausage to use?
- Crumbled Italian Sausage. I used 15 oz of crumbled mild Italian sausage. I used the mild kind but only because my local grocery store was out of spicy Italian sausage. This recipe tastes good with some spice in it!
- Italian sausage links. You can also use Italian sausage in casings. I would remove the casings and slice the sausage.
- Chicken or turkey sausage is another great option.
- Beyond Sausage, a brand is a great option for a plant-based, vegetarian version.
The Directions - How to make sausage rigatoni
Here I provide detailed step-by-step photos and instructions on how to make this delicious Italian recipe! A more detailed recipe is provided in the recipe card below at the bottom of this post.
1) First, you will cook crumbled Italian sausage with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat in a large, high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet on the stovetop. Once the sausage is completely cooked through, drain any grease or liquid.
2) Next, you will add the remaining ingredients into the same skillet. Start with minced garlic and Italian seasoning:
3) Then, add uncooked rigatoni:
4) Add chicken broth and heavy cream:
5) Add tomato sauce:
6) Mix everything well.
7) Then, bring everything to a boil, cover with the lid and cook for about 10 or 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked.
8) After that, add fresh spinach to the skillet and cook on lower heat until the spinach wilts to your liking.
9) Finally, give everything a good stir, and season with salt and pepper, or red pepper flakes, if desired!
Variations and substitutions
Sausage rigatoni is a flexible recipe that is easy to adjust to whatever you have available.
- Sausage. Use Italian mild or spicy sausage, smoked sausage, andouille sausage, or cajun sausage.
- Veggies. Add vegetables of your choice. I used lots of spinach in this recipe. You can also add mushrooms, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions.
- Pasta. Any kind of short pasta will work for this one-pan dinner. Rigatoni, penne, farfalle (bow-tie), fusilli (spiral pasta), etc.
- Tomato sauce. I used a store-bought tomato-based sauce for pasta that comes in a glass jar. You can use any kind you like: tomato basil, roasted tomatoes, arrabbiata. You can also use canned diced tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce.
Cooking tips and recommendations
- Use a large high-sided heavy-bottomed skillet. It's the best kind of pan to cook rigatoni on the stovetop. Thinner pans will cause the sauce, sausage, and pasta to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Use red wine. Add a splash of dry red wine (about ¼ cup) to the creamy tomato-based sauce, if you like. It will add richness and flavor to the sauce, and is a very Italian thing to do!
- Spice it up! Sausage rigatoni pasta is the kind of recipe that benefits from a bit of heat. Use red pepper flakes to spice up this dish, especially if the sausage is not spicy.
- Use crumbled sausage or remove casings from the sausage and slice the sausage into small pieces. Do this even if you use sausage links. This will make the texture of the whole dish much better!
- Make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free short pasta - there are many options on the market right now.
- Toppings. Top the pasta with grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil.
- Salt. Usually, most sausages are quite salty, so don't add any salt at all or add very little as the whole dish might already be salty enough from sausage.
Storage and reheating tips
Unfortunately, creamy sauces are notorious for being difficult to reheat. The cream-based sauce solidifies really fast in the fridge, and when you reheat it, it loses its silky creamy consistency. As long as you are aware of the fact the leftover sausage rigatoni will have more inferior texture than freshly made, here are my tips:
- Fridge. Store creamy sausage rigatoni in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezer. I do not recommend freezing this dish.
- Reheat in the microwave oven. Reheat the refrigerated sausage pasta in a microwave oven for about 30 seconds. Stir, taste, and reheat for 30 seconds more, if needed. Repeat. You might have to add a splash of milk or heavy cream to thin out the sauce.
- Reheat on the stovetop. Reheat this dish in a large, high-sided skillet on the stovetop on low-medium heat. When using this method, add a small amount of heavy cream, or half-and-half, or milk to thin out the sauce when reheating.
What to serve with sausage rigatoni
- Bread. Serve this easy recipe with something equally simple, such as a slice of store-bought, warm Italian bread, garlic bread, or olive bread loaf. Sausage rigatoni also pairs well with baguette or sourdough bread. A slice of warm bread would be delicious to dip into the creamy tomato sauce.
- Simple salad. Because sausage rigatoni has a rich and creamy sauce, I highly recommend serving a generous serving of salad to go along with all that rich creaminess. I would suggest a basic spinach or arugula salad, probably sprinkled with toasted nuts, a small amount of shredded Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese, and dressed with your favorite salad dressing!
Other sausage recipes you might like
- Skillet Mac and Cheese with Sausage and Bell Peppers
- 30-Minute One-Pan Italian Sausage Gnocchi
- Creamy Sausage Tortellini with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella Cheese Sauce
- Italian Sausage Pasta with Vegetables
- Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta with Sausage and Spinach
Creamy Sausage Rigatoni (One-Pan, 30-Minute Meal)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 15 oz Italian sausage crumbled
- 8 oz rigatoni uncooked
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or Herbs from Provence
- 15 oz tomato sauce such as tomato pasta sauce or marinara
- 5 oz fresh spinach
- salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat in a large, high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet on the stovetop.
- Add crumbled sausage and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, crumbling it, until it is cooked through. Drain any grease or liquid.
- To the same skillet with sausage, add uncooked rigatoni, chicken broth, heavy cream, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and tomato sauce.
- Bring to a boil on medium heat and stir everything well. Cover with a lid, and allow the pasta to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat, while the sauce boils.
- Cook until pasta reaches an "al dente" texture. Stir frequently to prevent pasta and sausage from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add fresh spinach, and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently for a couple of minutes, until the spinach wilts to your liking.
- Alternatively, just remove the skillet from heat, top sausage rigatoni with spinach, cover the pan with the lid. Let the spinach wilt, off heat, in the residual heat in a covered skillet for about 4 minutes. Then, stir.
- Cook longer if you would like a thicker sauce.
- Mix everything well. Remove from heat. Season with salt, freshly ground coarse black pepper, and red pepper flakes if you like.
- Tip: use your best judgment about the salt. If the sausage is salty enough, you might not need to add any extra salt.
- Note: I provide very helpful step-by-step photos for this recipe above the recipe card. Scroll up if you would like to see the photos that visually explain this recipe.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.