Sausage & Pepper Pasta

$10.75 recipe / $1.34 serving

I caught a few minutes of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn the other night and was reminded of how much I love stories like that and The Grapes of Wrath. They really make me thankful for every little thing I have and remind me that even if I feel like times are hard, I really have it pretty damn good.

Every now and then I get an email or comment that suggests my sparing use of meat is unrealistic or unreasonable. It’s true, I often treat meat more like a garnish than the main star of the meal, but stretching a small amount of meat out over many servings is not only realistic, but it’s a reality for many people around the world (past, present, and future). We’ve all become used to half pound burgers, but for cost and health reasons, I prefer to use just a little and make it go a long way. That’s my culinary style.

This recipe is a good example of that technique. I used only half of a 19oz. package (2.5 links) of sausage for this entire pot of pasta. When sliced thin, the sausage medallions distribue well into the dish and every bowl will have at least a few pieces. Cutting back on the meat helped offset the cost of the peppers, and bulking out the dish with pasta helped keep the overall cost low and my belly full. 

Want to go heavy on sausage and light on the peppers? By all means, do. In this case the cost would have been about the same (since the peppers were a bit pricey), but I happened to prefer the peppers.

The flavor of this pasta is sweet, a little spicy, and a lot of yum. Dishes like this also freeze wonderfully, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch. You’ll be glad to have single serving portions tucked away in the freezer for those days that you don’t want to cook!

Sausage & Pepper Pasta

Sausage & Pepper Pasta

4.8 from 17 reviews
Sausage & Pepper Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $10.75
Cost Per Serving: $1.34
Serves: 8
  • ½ (19 oz.) package Italian sausage (hot, sweet, or mild) $1.99
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.02
  • 2 medium green bell peppers $1.50
  • 1 medium red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion $0.85
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 (28 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes $1.69
  • ½ Tbsp dried basil $0.07
  • ½ Tbsp dried oregano $0.07
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (optional) $0.03
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.05
  • ¾ lb. pasta (rigatoni or your favorite shape) $1.32
  1. Add the vegetable oil and sausage links (unsliced) to a large pot and cook over medium heat until the sausage is browned and firm enough to slice. It doesn't have to be cooked through at this point.
  2. While the sausage is cooking, thinly slice the bell peppers and onions, and mince the garlic. Once the sausage is browned, remove it from the pot and add the peppers, onions, and garlic. Let them cook while you slice the sausage into thin medallions.
  3. After the peppers and onions have softened, return the sliced sausage to the pot along with the diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine and continue to cook over medium heat.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta for about 7 minutes, or just until tender, but still firm. Slightly undercook the pasta as it will continue to cook and soak up liquid once added to the pot with the sausage and peppers.
  5. Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander and then add it to the pot with the sausage and peppers. Stir to combine, place a lid on top, and allow the pasta to cook in the pepper sauce for about 5 more minutes, or until it has absorbed most of the liquid in the pot. Add about a half teaspoon of salt, taste, and add more if needed.
For a thicker sauce, use your favorite marinara sauce in place of diced tomatoes. You'll need about three cups.


Sausage & Pepper Pasta

Step by Step Photos

Peppers and OnionsGreen bell peppers are usually much less expensive than other colored peppers, so I try to use more of them and less of the others. You can also jazz this up by using an Anaheim pepper (slightly spicy) in place of one of the bell peppers.

Italian SausageYou can use any type of Italian sausage you like. I used sweet, but I would have also loved hot. If using hot, you may want to skip the crushed red pepper later. I only used half of this package and froze the rest.

Cook SausageCook the sausage in a large pot with a little vegetable oil until it is browned and firm enough to slice. It doesn’t have to be cooked through at this point because it will be cooked more later. While the sausage is cooking, thinly slice the bell peppers and onion, and mince the garlic.

Slice SausagesOnce the sausage is nicely browned, remove it from the pot. Thinly slice the sausage. The thinner it is sliced, the greater number of medallions, and the more pieces you’ll have in every bowl.

Cook PeppersAfter removing the sausage from the pot, add the sliced bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Let those cook (stir occasionally) while you’re slicing the sausage.

Return Sausage to PotReturn the sausage to the pot. Stir it in and continue to let everything cook. You can begin to cook the pasta in a separate pot at this point too… Make sure to not over cook the pasta, as you’ll want it to absorb some of the liquid after it is added in with the sausage and peppers.

Tomatoes HerbsNow add the diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Stir everything to combine and keep cookin’. (you can use marinara sauce in place of the diced tomatoes if you want a thicker, richer sauce).

Cook pepper pastaLet that cook while the pasta is boiling, so that some of the liquid evaporates away (see how it’s kinda soupy at first?).

Add PastaFinally, once the pasta is mostly cooked, drain it and add it to the pot with the sausage and peppers. Stir it to combine with the sauce, place a lid on top, and let it cook for 5-7 minutes more, so that the pasta can absorb some of the liquid and flavor. Add about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, taste, and add more if needed.

Sausage & Pepper Pasta

Now it’s ready to serve! It’s especially good with a light sprinkle of parmesan cheese. YUM!


  1. Dana H says:

    So pretty, and smelled great. Tasty, but I’m thinking I’ll love it even more tomorrow. Do “we” think this will freeze well Miss Beth, or would it get mushy if frozen thawed, then rewarmed?

  2. Veronica says:

    Just tried this recipe last night and loved the simplicity of the recipe yet complexity of the flavors! I added spinach because I bought a HUGE bag from Costco, and despite at least one green smoothie daily, I hadn’t made a dent in the bag so I decided to add some to this recipe and it was delicious! I used spicy sausage and think I may add a habanero pepper as well to spice it up even more the next time I make this.

    I have bookmarked your site and look forward to making more delicious dishes!

  3. Ashley says:

    This is simple, quick, and tasty! Will make again–thank you for sharing :)

  4. I made this recipe for the first time last year and it has now become a regular in my house. My boyfriend requests it all the time!

  5. Sarah says:

    Your sparing use of meat, especially red, is wise, for good health. I was advised of that by my grandfather when I was little! I love your recipes and have tried several. And will continue to do so. Thank you.

    • Trish says:

      Please stop with the “meat’s not healthy” stuff. Your grandfather grew up in a time before meat was nationally shipped and therefore was local. Johnsonville sausages are full of corn syrup and preservatives. That–not the fact that they’re meat–is what makes them unhealthy.

  6. april says:

    Hi! Is it safe to add olives in this recipe? Will it have a different effect on the over-all taste of the dish? Thanks! Would appreciate your input.

  7. Bethany says:

    I made this last night and to be honest, I was underwhelmed. However, I ate the leftovers for lunch today and LOVED IT! Next time I will let the pasta soak in the flavor for much longer. I’ll also add more sausage and red pepper.

    • Hahah, that happens to me sometimes, too. I typically wait a day or two after making something before posting it to the blog to figure out exactly how I feel about the recipe. ;)

  8. My very picky 2, 4 and 6 year olds loved this. Making it again this week!

  9. Sandyg265 says:

    I was looking for a sausage and pepper pasta recipe since I have so many ripe peppers in my garden. I’m going to give this a try.

  10. taylor says:

    Happy to have found your website. Always on the look out for ways to stretch my cooking dollar but still enjoy my favourites. I currently live on a tropical island and the pkg of Johnsonville Sweet Sausage is the equivalent of $11.00 US. I buy frozen sweet peppers as it is much cheaper than fresh. Quite often watch Food Network but the recipes call for so many expensive ingredients ( expensive here) that I just don’t bother. Would love to see some of these tv chefs visit here and try to cook within a budget.

  11. Ours would cost more, the cheapest package of sausage is $3.99 :0(

    • Mine was about $4, too. But, I used half of the package for this recipe and froze the rest to use in another recipe at a later time. :)

  12. Beth, tried this last night, and all I can say is WOW!!!!!!
    kids are begging me to make again tonight, so here we go again, luckily I still have enough ingredients. Thanks

  13. Tracy says:

    I bought the ingredients today to make this dish….although all I needed were the sausages and tomatoes….always have everything else. Unfortunately I was unable to make it tonight but it is definitely on the menu for tomorrow. In fact, my brother-in-law said he was coming for dinner just for this dish! I married into an Italian family so pasta is a staple but the men also love meat…I can do without so this dish is perfect. It looks like a lot more meat than what is actually in there.

    I love your website! If for nothing else, the fact that you do use less meat but I don’t think any meat eater would know it! Thank you!

    • Tracy says:

      I made this for dinner the other night and it was a huge hit with the hubby! I loved it as well. I had to package some up and bring to my mom. I don’t know if she’s tried it yet. I will definitely make this again…..and again…..I still have an entire pasta pot full of it! YUM!

  14. Kathy says:

    I just wanted to say that I’m happy that I found your website. I’ve tried a couple of your recipes now and both my husband and my 2 year old daughter like what I’ve made so far. Thanks again! :)

  15. Marie says:

    I’m a bit of a meat snob. We buy hormone free, antibiotic free meat in huge batches and freeze it. If we were to use what North Americans consider a ” normal” portion of meat, it would be outrageously priced. Using your website, I feed my husband, one year old and myself for approx $60 a week.

  16. Amber Leigh says:

    I can see both sides of the meat arguement. I love eating huge servings of meat at dinner and usually stray away from veggies (just kinda how I grew up I suppose), but lately I’ve been cutting back on the meat between me and my boyfriend. Granted, when I make chicken parm we eat far too much meat to pasta, but one night out of every 10 doesn’t make costs too terrible. Especially with a meal like this. I buy a couple dozen peppers at a time when they’re on sale, slice them, and freeze them for later so I get the best prices. We also get our sausage and bacon for free from the in-laws since my father in law makes all his own and we tend to be his guinea pigs (I know I’m super lucky). So for a night where I spend pennies for pasta, I can put a full meat night (like chicken parm) on the menu.

  17. Brit says:

    Just found your blog, love it!

  18. Just made dinner for my girlfriend and myself. Kicked up the SPICE a bit with a couple jalapeno peppers and some red pepper flakes. Delicious and affordable! Thanks!

  19. WOW!! Made this tonight and everyone–including normally picky kids–loved it and went for seconds. “Awesome comfort food” and “add it to our repertoire” were their comments. Home-grown peppers decreased the cost even more. This is the first of your dishes we’ve tried, having just found your blog on Saturday. Our whole week’s menu is planned around your recipes, so I’m looking forward to what’s coming next. Thanks so much!!

  20. Bret says:

    I love how you show pictures with everything. It helps with newbies at cooking like myself.

  21. I immediately went to the store and bought all of the ingredients I was missing after reading this recipe. I can’t wait to make it! I’ve been looking for new ways to use protein besides chicken breast and ground beef.

  22. Hilary says:

    This is really really good! I was looking for a recipe to used up a bunch of orange and red sweet peppers and this worked great. My whole family (2 adults and 4 kids) ate it all up :)

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