The ultimate Italian sausage and peppers rigatoni with caramelized onions and peppers, crispy pepperoni and juicy grape tomatoes. Just wait until you try it!
This pasta was entirely inspired by pizza. If it’s good as a pizza, it’s meant to be pasta and vice versa in our book. Cade could eat pizza every day of his life and be quite happy, and pasta is quickly taking hold on his heart as well. So if you think this is good we highly encourage you to bust out our Little Italy Pizza recipe too. Like, this weekend, for sure.
Cade and I love good food and the older we get it’s interesting to see how our tastes are changing. Cade never was into dessert and now he’s got a huge sweet tooth. I never was all that into peppers and onions and now anything savory hits the spot for me far more than treats. Which means this Ultimate Italian Sausage Pasta is one of our favorites, followed by a skookie for Cade. Ridiculous…
Continue scrolling to the end of this post to see the measurements of each ingredient in the recipe card. This is a list of the ingredients needed:
- Rigatoni Pasta – the ridges on the outside gather the sauce beautifully creating extra saucy flavorful bites
- Italian Sausage – you can get mild or spicy depending on your need for heat
- Olive Oil – mild in flavor and helps cook down the peppers and onions
- Onion – we prefer a yellow onion, sliced thin
- Bell Peppers – red, yellow and green, one of each and sliced thin
- Spaghetti Sauce – you can grab your favorite brand at the store or make our homemade spaghetti sauce
- Pepperoni – this gets cooked by itself until crispy which helps control the greasiness and adds so much texture and flavor
- Grape Tomatoes – gives a pop of freshness
- Mozzarella Cheese (shredded) – gets stirred into the pasta to add flavor and structure to the dish
- Parmesan Cheese – you can buy shredded parmesan or shred your own
- Mozzarella Cheese (fresh, slices) – this goes on top of the dish and melted in the broiler, you can use more shredded cheese but the fresh mozzarella is so dang good!
- Basil (fresh) – you can use dried but fresh is definitely better, if you use dried, just a teaspoon
- Italian Seasoning – gets sprinkled on the top at the end for garnish and extra flavor
You can also save and print the recipe from the recipe card below.
- First thing’s first, cook the sausage in a large skillet. This flavors the skillet and leaves seasoning behind for cooking the onions and peppers.
- Next, let those peppers and onions cook down. In a perfect world I would caramelize the onions first, then the peppers, but I’m all kinds of lazy and while I generally start the onions alone I almost always end up throwing in the peppers too. Really, I don’t know why it matters but the onions never caramelize as well when I do that, but all you need to worry about is LOW AND SLOW. In fact, I cook them off in the morning so that I don’t get antsy and turn up the heat.
- Crisp up the pepperoni in the skillet. Remove any grease left behind. This is critical to controlling the amount of grease in the final dish. It also adds texture to the dish that would be missing with soggy pepperoni.
- Cook the pasta per package directions in heavily salted water until it is al dente. This is your one chance to flavor the pasta as it cooks, so don’t skip the salt. Al dente pasta is also crucial so that all the other ingredients in the dish don’t overpower for the rigatoni. Nobody likes soggy pasta!
- Top the entire pot of deliciousness with fresh mozzarella and stick it under the broiler to get all melty.
Simple: no crazy ingredients, all done in one pot (with the exception of boiling the pasta), and as easy as boiling pasta and sauteing veggies
Quick: the whole dish from beginning to end comes together in just about an hour
Full of Flavor: it’s like pizza in pasta form and with the peppers, onions, pepperoni and sausage, it’s an irresistible bite
Family Friendly: what kid doesn’t love pizza? and pasta for that matter? everyone will love this dish!
Satisfying: this dish is hearty and combines your veggies, protein and carb all in one dish checking all the typical main dish boxes
Is Italian Sausage Spicy?
The most common varieties of Italian Sausage are hot, sweet, and mild.
The main difference between hot and mild is the addition of hot red pepper flakes in the spice mix.
Is Pork Sausage and Italian Sausage the Same?
In North America, Italian sausage most often refers to a style of pork sausage.
They are actually the same thing, the seasonings are a little different.
Italian Sausage comes in a sweet (the same thing as mild) Italian variety, which is primarily flavored with fennel and garlic.
Hot Italian sausage contains the same spices, but with a shake or two of chile pepper.
Storing, Reheating, and Freezing Italian Sausage Pasta
This pasta dish stores great. Let it cool completely and then put it in an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
I always just zap a serving at a time in the microwave. It makes a great lunch the next day!
Noodles will get softer when you freeze this dish. I would recommend not freezing this, but if you want it to last longer, then freeze it in an airtight container and let it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating. Just beware that the texture will be different.
I can’t stop eating this ultimate Italian sausage and peppers rigatoni recipe. I dare you to gobble it all up until you have to unbutton your jeans you’re so full. Or be like me and bust out the lounge pants because those will for sure allow stretching.
More Delicious Pasta Recipes You’ll Love:
Ultimate Italian Sausage and Peppers Rigatoni
Servings: 6 -8 servings
- 1 Package Rigatoni Pasta 16 oz
- 1/2 Pound Hot or Mild Italian Sausage
- 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Yellow Onion sliced in half and sliced again into thin pieces
- 1 Red Bell Pepper sliced
- 1 Yellow Bell Pepper sliced
- 1 Green Bell Pepper sliced
- 1 1/2-2 Cups Spaghetti Sauce any jarred sauce you love will work, or you can make homemade sauce
- 1 Cup Pepperoni chopped
- 1 Cup Grape Tomatoes halved
- 1/2 Cup Mozzarella shredded
- 2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese finely grated
- 5-7 Slices Mozzarella
- 1-2 Tablespoons Chopped Basil fresh
- 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the sausage and break up while cooking, about 3-5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Turn the heat to medium, add the olive oil and add the onions and peppers for about 3-5 minutes.
Turn down to medium low and cook for 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender and golden in color. Add the tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes or until soft. Remove to the sausage plate.
Turn the heat up to medium and add the pepperoni, cooking just until crisped. Remove all but a handful of the pepperoni to the sausage plate and drain any excess grease. Place the handful of pepperoni on a small plate for garnish.
Place all ingredients back in the skillet, including the shredded cheese, parmesan and sauce. Stir to combine and heat until warmed through. If your skillet is oven safe go ahead and proceed, otherwise transfer to a casserole dish.
Heat the oven to broil.
Top the pasta with cheese and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browning slightly in spots.
Remove the skillet from the oven and top with reserved pepperoni, Italian seasoning and basil.
store left overs in the refrigerator for up to 4 days
Ultimate Italian Sausage and Peppers Rigatoni
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 15g
Vitamin A 1465IU29%
Vitamin C 87mg105%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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