Sausage Pasta (With Caramelized Onions)

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5 from 3 votes

Italian sausage pasta with buttery, sweet caramelized onions and fresh parsley is one of the best pasta dishes you’ll ever taste!

When you sit down at the table with a steaming bowl of sausage pasta in front of you, all is right in the world. My Italian husband asks for this specific pasta dish way too often! It’s especially delicious on a wintery night when all is cold in the world except an extra big bowl of this sausage pasta. It’s hearty yet not heavy. It’s complex-tasting without the work. AKA…it’s perfect!

The orecchiette pasta catches all the flavors perfectly with its bowl-like indentation so you are sure to get all the flavors in every single bite. Crumble sweet or spicy Italian sausage so it intertwines with the buttery-sweet caramelized onions. Garnish with parsley for a pop of freshness and of course, parmesan cheese to top it all off! Who knew simple sausage pasta could taste this good.

While I could list about a million sausage recipes that I love as much as this one, Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms and my Dad’s Sausage Succotash are two not-to-miss recipes!

Why You’ll Love Sausage Pasta

  • Simple yet big flavor. Italians love to cook with simple ingredients to create big flavor. This sausage pasta is exactly that!
  • Restaurant-quality. Picture your favorite Italian restaurant; this pasta dish would surely be on the menu! Now what if I told you that you could enjoy that restaurant-quality sausage pasta in the comfort of your own home? THAT is what I’m talking about. 
  • Customizable. I love how customizable this sausage pasta is. You can experiment with different flavored Italian sausages, a different pasta shape, toss in some veggies like spinach or broccoli, etc.!

Sausage Pasta Ingredients

  • Orecchiette pasta –  orecchiette pasta is known for its unique bowl-like indentation, perfect for scooping up flavors. Sub with penne or rigatoni if preferred. 
  • Medium yellow onions – yellow onions have a strong flavor when raw, but their flavor mellows and sweetens when cooked making them perfect for caramelizing. 
  • Italian sausages  – I like to use spicy, sweet or even a mix of Italian sausages. You can also use chicken sausages if preferred. 
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – Parmigiano-Reggiano (or regular parmesan cheese if preferred) adds cheesy, nutty, and saltiness that’s classic in Italian pastas.
  • Butter – butter adds flavor and a touch of creaminess while also helping the onions caramelize. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil – extra virgin olive oil helps caramelize the onions while also adding moisture and flavor to the pasta once tossed and assembled. 
  • Italian flat leaf parsley – parsley adds brightness and freshness.

How To Make Sausage Pasta

Learn how to sausage pasta! Full instructions in the recipe card; this is an outline!

  1. Add.

    Add butter, olive oil and onion to a large pot.

  2. Caramelize.

    Cook the onions for 20-25 minutes over medium heat. Stir every few minutes. Once onions turn golden brown, turn off the heat and set aside.

  3. Remove.

    While onions are caramelizing, use a knife to remove the sausage meat from the casings.

  4. Cook.

    Cook and break apart the sausage meat in the pot over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until cooked through.

  5. Cook more.

    Cook pasta according to box instructions. Drain.

  6. Assemble.

    Add drained pasta and crumbled sausage to the pot with caramelized onions over low heat. Toss until combined. Add chopped parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, a drizzle of olive oil if it’s dry, and salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Serve.

    Serve in pasta bowls. Garnish with more parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Tips And Tricks

  • Use different sausage to alter the taste. Italian sausages come in a variety of flavors from sweet or spicy, to herb and garlic, etc. Each sausage will change the flavor of the dish slightly. Experiment and find your favorite combo! 
  • Adjust if dry: If the pasta seems too dry, add a bit of pasta water or a drizzle of olive oil to loosen. 
  • Take your time caramelizing onions: caramelize onions over medium heat to develop a nice golden color and rich flavor. Toss every few minutes for even browning. 
  • Cook pasta to al dente: cook the pasta just until it’s al dente (firm to the bite), which is how Italians would serve it!


  • Pasta swap. My favorite pasta for this recipe is orecchiette, however you can sub with penne or rigatoni. 
  • Add some heat. Are you a fan of a little kick? Use spicy Italian sausages and a pinch of red pepper flakes for an added flair. 
  • Consider some garlic. Add minced garlic in with the onions when caramelizing for a touch of extra flavor. Sauté the garlic with the onions until the garlic becomes fragrant and the onions are golden brown. 
  • Toss in some leafy greens. Add either spinach or arugula during the assembling process. The heat of the cooked pasta, caramelized onions and cooked sausage will wilt them gently before serving. 
  • Sauté instead of caramelize. In a pinch, sauté a medium chopped onion for just a few minutes instead of caramelizing!


  • Store: after it has cooled, store leftover sausage pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
  • Freeze: I don’t recommend freezing this pasta dish, as the texture will change too much to enjoy!
  • Reheat: reheat gently in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds or gently on the stove with a splash more of olive oil. The leftovers are delicious!

More Sausage Recipes You’ll Love!

Sausage Pasta (With Caramelized Onions)

Italian sausage pasta with buttery, sweet caramelized onions and fresh parsley is one of the best pasta dishes you’ll ever taste!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: fall, spring, winter
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 990kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace


  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 4 medium yellow onions sliced into roughly ¼ inch strips
  • 4 Italian sausages spicy, sweet or a mix
  • 1 small bunch Italian flat leaf parsley stems removed and chopped
  • 1 large handful grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more to garnish
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large pot over medium heat, add butter, olive oil, and onion.
  • Cook onions, stirring every few minutes for 20-25 minutes, or until onions become golden brown (caramelize). Turn heat off and set aside.
  • When onions are about halfway done caramelizing, use a knife to remove sausage meat from casings.
  • Cook sausage meat in a separate dry pot over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until sausage is completely cooked through. Use a potato masher and/or large spoon to break up sausage into small crumbles as it cooks.
  • Cook pasta according to box instructions, or until al dente.
  • Add drained pasta and crumbled sausage to caramelized onion pot over low heat, tossing until combined.
  • Add a handful of chopped parsley, a large handful of parmigiano, a drizzle of olive oil if dry, and salt and pepper to taste.



  • You can use regular parmesan cheese instead of just Parmigiano-Reggiano if preferred.
  • Can’t find orecchiette? Use penne or rigatoni instead!


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 990kcal | Carbohydrates: 96g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 52g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 902mg | Potassium: 701mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 288IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg
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5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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