Italian Sausage Rigatoni is a delicious comfort food pasta dish. Made with flavorful sausage and hearty rigatoni pasta in a rich tomato sauce. Perfect for busy weeknights, this easy recipe is very flavorful and one we make again and again!
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Rigatoni and Sausage Recipe
This Italian Sausage Rigatoni recipe is an easy weeknight dinner made on the stovetop in about 40 minutes.
This hearty sausage rigatoni recipe has simple ingredients found in most grocery stores, Italian sausage, canned tomatoes, and rigatoni pasta. This is a meal that the whole family can enjoy.
What is Rigatoni?
Rigatoni, which comes from the word “rigato” meaning ridged, are short, wide pasta tubes that have ridges lengthwise on the outside, and are smooth on the inside.
Rigatoni pasta is great for chunkier sauces and holds up well in baking and in heartier recipes.
What is a Good Substitute for Rigatoni?
Penne Rigate is a good substitute as it also has the ridges on the outside, perfect for holding the sauce.
How Long Do I Cook Rigatoni?
Note: For this particular recipe you will cook the rigatoni to less than al dente (less done).
• To cook rigatoni to al dente (which is when there is still a little bit of chewiness or slight firmness to the pasta), add to salted, boiling water and cook the pasta for 2 to 3 minutes less time than the package instructions say.
• Then fish out one of the noodles and taste it (careful, as it's hot!). If it is just a bit chewy, that is good. Then drain it and use in your recipe.
• I would say that the average cook time is about 12 minutes.
What Ingredients are in Sausage Rigatoni?
See the recipe card for exact measurements.
Rigatoni Pasta - A hearty pasta with ridges for the sauce to cling to.
Olive Oil - To sauté.
Italian Sausage - Use sweet/mild or hot, or half of each (ground).
Sweet Onion - For savory flavor.
Garlic Cloves - A must for savory, delicious flavor. Use fresh, or jarred if that's all you have.
Seasoning - Kosher Salt + more for pasta water, Black Pepper, Dried Thyme Leaves
Red Pepper Flakes - For heat (optional).
Tomato Paste - For depth of flavor.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes - Adds flavor, texture, and color.
Canned San Marzano Tomatoes - The best tasting whole canned tomatoes.
Heavy Cream - Thickens the sauce and adds creaminess.
Baby Spinach - Adds a nice freshness and nutrition. Optional.
Fresh Basil - For a fresh, herby flavor. Use as garnish and in the sauce.
Pasta Water - Just enough to thin the sauce.
Parmesan Cheese - For garnish and flavor.
What Kind of Sausage to Use?
- Bulk Ground Italian Sausage: This is what I use, and it is great. You can use mild or spicy. I often do half of each so it's only a little spicy and the kids will eat it.
- Italian Sausage Links: If all you have are the links, remove the casings and break it up in the pan while frying it.
- Turkey Sausage: This is a great option to get that sausage flavor without using pork. There is a chicken sausage as well. Check your local grocery store.
- Beyond Sausage: Beyond Meat is a brand that is vegetarian. This is another option. They have both mild and hot.
How to Make Sausage Rigatoni
For detailed instructions, please see the recipe card.
1) Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the rigatoni to a little firmer than al dente. Save some of the pasta water.
2) While pasta cooks, Cook the Italian sausage.
3) Add in the onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes until softened. Drain the fat.
4) Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, and thyme. Cook for one minute.
5) Next, add the can of tomatoes and heavy cream. Simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes covered, until slightly thickened.
6) Add the Spinach, cooked pasta, and fresh basil. Add a little pasta water as needed. Simmer until pasta is cooked to desired doneness.
7) Serve with fresh parmesan cheese and more fresh basil.
What to Serve with Sausage Rigatoni
Bread: We love to eat bread with our tomato-based Italian recipes. Many varieties are available at your grocery store bakery if you are not inclined to bake your own. Here are some delicious options:
Italian Bread Loaf
Olive Bread Loaf
Sourdough Bread Loaf
Salad: A simple green salad, or cucumber salad would pair nicely with this Italian Sausage Rigatoni recipe.
• You can use a 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce in place of the canned tomatoes.
• Heavy Cream is the best for this recipe. The acid of the tomatoes won't break down the cream.
• If your tomatoes are more bitter than you like, add a little sugar (start with half a teaspoon).
• Try adding some red wine to the sauce. About a quarter cup of a red wine you like to drink. Add it with the onion.
Storage and Reheating
- If you end up with leftovers, you will want to store them properly so you can enjoy them the next time.
- Refrigerator: Let cool to room temperature. Place leftover sausage rigatoni in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezer: I don't recommend freezing this dish.
- Reheat In the Microwave: I recommend adding a splash of milk or cream to add back moisture and thin out the sauce. Heat for about 40 seconds. Stir, test temperature, then reheat for 30 seconds more, if needed. Repeat until desired temperature.
- Reheat On the Stovetop: Again, I recommend adding a splash of milk or cream to add back moisture and thin out the sauce. Reheat leftovers in a frying pan on medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even heating.
Creamy tomato sauce based pasta recipes aren't quite the same when reheated, but that has never stopped us from enjoying the leftovers!
Easy Pasta Recipes
If you make this delicious Italian sausage and pasta recipe, please let me know. Just leave a comment with a star rating below. Thanks!
Italian Sausage Rigatoni
- 12 ounces Rigatoni Pasta
- 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
- 1 lb Italian Sausage (sweet or hot)
- 1 Sweet Onion diced
- 5 Garlic Cloves minced (1 ½ Tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt + more for pasta water
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 5 Sun-Dried Tomatoes sliced
- 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme Leaves (or ½ teaspoon ground)
- 1 28-ounce can San Marzano Tomatoes
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 4 ounces Spinach
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil
- ½ cup Pasta Water
- Bring a pot of water to boil on medium high heat. Once boiling add in 5-6 Tablespoons of salt. Add the rigatoni. Cook for only 5 minutes, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain the rest. Pasta will finish cooking in the sauce.
- While pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a large skillet on medium high heat. Fully cook the Italian sausage until it is no longer pink.
- Add in the onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes until softened. Drain the fat.
- Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the Kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Add in tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, and thyme, cooking for one minute.
- Add the whole peeled tomatoes and heavy cream. Simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes covered, until slightly thickened.
- Add in Spinach, cooked pasta, and fresh basil. Simmer for 5 more minutes (add some pasta water if needed to finish cooking the pasta).
- Serve with fresh parmesan and more fresh basil.