Sausage and Kale Skillet

$6.02 recipe / $1.51 serving

Hooray for quick skillet dinners! This one is so fantastically easy that it kind of feels like cheating. Between the Italian sausage and marinara sauce, the dish has all of the seasoning built in, so you don’t even have to measure out any extra herbs or spices. You’re pretty much just heating it all together and then it’s ready to eat!

You can bulk this recipe out further and probably make about 6 decent sized servings by stirring in some cooked pasta (I’d use 1/2 lb. dry), or by spooning this mixture over a bed of rice. It’s a pretty filling mix of ingredients, so I just skipped both and ate it plain. Not a fan of chickpeas? White beans would probably be pretty awesome in this, too.

Want to try a vegetarian version? I think sautéed eggplant or mushrooms would be a great replacement for the sausage, but you’ll want to add a teaspoon or so of Italian seasoning blend to make up for the lost spices. You’ll also need a little olive oil to sauté them in. I really can’t wait to try it with eggplant!

Sausage & Kale Skillet

Kale & Sausage Skillet

4.9 from 17 reviews
Sausage and Kale Skillet
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $6.02
Cost Per Serving: $1.51
Serves: 4
  • ½ (19 oz.) package Italian Sausage $2.25
  • 1 bunch kale $0.99
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas $1.00
  • 1 cup marinara sauce $0.88
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella $0.90 (sale!)
  1. Squeeze the sausage from the casings into a large skillet (freeze the remaining links for later use). Cook the sausage over medium heat until fully brown. Break the sausage up into pieces as it cooks. It's okay if it sticks to the bottom of the skillet a little as it cooks.
  2. While the sausage is cooking, remove the woody stems from the kale, then slice it crosswise into thin strips. Rinse the kale well, then add it to the skillet. Stir it into the sausage and continue to cook until it is fully wilted (this happens within a few minutes).
  3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to the skillet and stir to combine. Pour the marinara sauce over the skillet, then top with the shredded cheese. Place a lid on the skillet and let it simmer until the cheese is melted (about 5-10 minutes).


Kale & Sausage Skillet

Step by Step Photos


This is all you need for this super quick skillet! I used only half of the sausage (the rest went in the freezer), half of the cheese, and about half of the jar of marinara. I used Lacinato kale (or dinosaur kale) because that’s what I had on hand. You can definitely use curly kale in its place with no modifications.

Brown Sausage

Squeeze half of the sausage into a large skillet and cook it over medium heat until fully browned. I didn’t add any extra oil to the skillet because sausage has quite a bit on its own. It’s okay if some of it sticks to the bottom of the skillet, it will dissolve off later.

Remove Stems

For most kale, the stem is super tough and woody, so you’ll want to remove them (especially for curly kale). Just take a sharp knife and run it along the stem to cut it out. Then, stack the leaves and cut across into thin strips.

Chop Kale

This particular bunch of kale had really soft stems, so I didn’t even bother removing them. Stack the leaves and cut across into strips. This will be slightly more difficult with curly kale because it’s so fluffy, but you can still do it. It’s easiest if you cut each leave into two long pieces when removing the stem. After chopping the kale, make sure to rinse it really, really well.

Wilt Kale

After the sausage has browned, stir in the kale. Continue to cook and stir until the kale has wilted. This happens pretty fast. It’s okay if the kale is still a little wet from rinsing. The water will turn into steam and help it wilt, plus it will help dissolve the browned bits of sausage off the bottom of the skillet.


Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then add them to the skillet.


Pour the marinara over top… (you can stir it in, if you want).

Melt Cheese

Lastly, sprinkle the shredded cheese over top, cover it with a lid, and let it simmer until the cheese has melted.

Kale & Sausage Skillet

And now it’s ready to eat! It may not be the prettiest dish in the world, but OMG is it ever flavorful and filling!


  1. Sarah says:

    Loved this recipe. It was delicious and so easy. I’ve made this several times, and my refused to eat it because he HATES chickpeas. Last night I made this and used white beans, and I think it was even more delicious. I also had a bag of mixed greens (I think it was spinach, kale, and chard) and it worked fabulously in this.

  2. Eric T says:

    Time was running short tonight, so threw this together for my folks. I was a little worried as to how something so quick and simple would come out, but my mother was happy, so I’m happy.

    Only change is I used chicken sausage (sweet Italian), so browning it didn’t yield much fat for cooking down the kale, so I poured in a tablespoon or so of olive oil.

    With extra marinara, I could see this going great on pasta.

  3. Betsy says:

    I have a bunch of frozen kale. How much of the frozen kale would you use to substitute for fresh kale? Should I thaw and squeeze the water out or just dump it in as is?

    Love your recipes!

  4. Kelly-Ann Halbert says:

    This was delish! To make it go even further, I added half a package of $.99 spaghetti to it, and it was amazing! Four HUGE portions with leftovers!

  5. Gorgeous! Swapped kale for spinach, so tasty!

  6. Kelsey says:

    I’ve made this recipe twice in the past week and LOVE it. So much flavor and so easy to make. I used hot Italian sausage, and it gave it a nice extra kick. Thanks for posting this!

  7. Holly says:

    Just made this recipe for the first time tonight! Sooo easy and way more satisfying than the boring pasta + canned sauce combo I usually do. I thought I wasn’t going to like the kale, but cooking it in the sausage gave it a lot of flavor and made it painless to get some vegetables in. :) I served mine over cooked pasta to bulk it up a bit.

    Just a note for anyone who tends to eat larger portions, I found this to be more of a 3 serving recipe than 4 (even with the pasta).

  8. Heidi says:

    This was a great! I had a zucchini that was going to go bad so I sliced it and cooked it with the sausage. It was a fantastic addition! Thanks!

  9. Heather says:

    This recipe was meant to be! I found chickpeas for 50c per can after! I can’t believe how easy it was. I used turnip greens instead of kale, from frozen too, and it was perfect. This recipe isn’t too fussy but there’s a lot of flavor! My boyfriend was impressed too! Made 4 big portions! Yum!!

  10. Cara says:

    Hi Beth! I don’t have chick peas. Do think blackeye peas could be substituted instead? The kale,sausage, and mushrooms taste wonderful so far. We may not add the marinara sauce and cheese.

  11. Natalie says:

    This recipe is great! I made it with turkey Italian sausage and it was fantastic! Thank you for the quick healthy recipe!

  12. Wesley says:

    I made a manly version with:

    2lbs of sausage
    1 can chick peas
    1 can white beans
    3 cups sauce
    1lb shells

    Never paired up Italian sausage and kale, and it is amazing. Ended up with a full-sized pot to eat on all week. I work in the Permian Basin on long hours, so these type of simple, economic, and healthy skillet meals are life savers. Thanks Beth!

  13. Julia says:

    Hi Beth! What kind of herb is that in the finished picture?

  14. Tracy P says:

    My husband loves this and it has now been added to our rotation. Thanks :)

  15. Emilie says:

    Delicious and quick recipe!

  16. Sarah says:

    Wonderful!! I made this tonight and served it over brown rice, and it was delicious. Thanks for another great recipe!

  17. Natalie says:

    Big hit Beth! Simply, yet rich taste. Our two year old gobbled it down. Delicious! Thank-you!

  18. Jennifer Malone says:

    Made this tonight but substituted with a bag of baby spinach, fantastic! I will be making this again. Cheap and so, so easy.

  19. Carl says:

    About how much does a “bunch of kale” at your market weigh?

  20. Ellen says:

    i was wondering if there is any ideas what I could use instead of marinara sauce. I am not able to have tomatoes at all. Any help would be appreciated. :)

    • If you have a go-to pesto recipe, that might be a good swap. I make a great sausage-pasta dish with just white wine and lemon zest+juice from 1 lemon for the sauce, if pesto isn’t appealing. I use whatever white wine is on sale, and you might be able to use sherry instead. I’d love to hear what works!

  21. Brad says:

    I am going to make this for dinner soon! I was thinking about using ground turkey instead of sausage and wanted to know your thoughts on how this would turn out?

    • Well the herbs and spices in the sausage are what provide a lot of flavor in this dish, so if you use plain ground turkey it will be much more bland. BUT I have seen Italian sausage made with turkey before (near the rest of the ground turkey products), so hopefully you can find some of that. :)

  22. This looks great and I’ll be trying it soon! I bet the marinara sauce is what really makes this dish. I made something similar a few weeks ago that called for diced tomatoes but no sauce, and it was bland. Thanks for sharing this!

  23. Charlotte says:

    Wow, yum!!

    I made this for dinner tonight with a few changes. I used Quorn ‘meatballs’ in place of the sausage, and added a can of tomatoes. I served it on top of toasted English muffins. Can’t wait for the leftovers!

  24. Amanda says:

    I made this exactly as written and it was amazing! Served with brown rice, it was a filling and delicious. I can’t get enough — I’m making it again tonight and can’t wait for leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I’m thinking it would make a great soup too with a tomato base and maybe some pasta. Thanks for the great recipe!

  25. I just made this and it was sooo delicious! I made a few variations: I used frozen spinach instead of kale, because it’s what I had on hand. I just had to cook it a little longer. I also added orechiette pasta to bulk it up a little bit, and it worked great!

  26. Christopher James says:

    Tried a wonderful (if not a little obvious) leftovers twist:

    Thinly sliced artisan bread (sesame, ciabatta, even french–anything but sandwich bread) with the sausage/kale mixture on top, extra cheese to top it off.

    I accidentally left them in the toaster oven too long, the cheese was golden brown and the bread was half crunchy–I’m so glad I did because it was amazing like this! The kale got so crunchy and flavorful as a result, as if all the flavors it stewed in got squeezed out and concentrated.

  27. Never had kale before, but I made this for dinner tonight and ADORED IT! :D Thank you for not only the wonderful recipe, but also for introducing me to a new ingredient! I subbed Italian cheese mix instead of the mozzerella since I forgot to shred the mozzerella before cooking, but it was really yummy with the different cheese too.

  28. I’ve always been a fan of this website (I gifted your book as a present to my roommate recently!) and immediately fell in love with this recipe as soon as I saw it on your website. Just made it, and am currently eating the dish. It is SO tasty and hearty and CHEAP! :)

  29. I made this last night but substituted ground beef for the crumbled sausage (it was majorly on sale). To compensate, I added tons of seasoning (garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, more garlic, worcestershire, etc). It was pretty good (and cheap), but I am left with the feeling the FENNEL SEED is the key seasoning from the italian sausage that pulls together all of the flavors in this dish. (Some anisette flavored liquor like Sambuca would have done the job, too). Just my two cents.

  30. Tried this the first night saw the recipe. For some reason right now I am on a MAJOR Kale kick (hmmm, come to think of it, it was because of ANOTHER Recipe I found on this site, the Kale, Tortellini and Cranberry Salad!! (MAJOR YUM!!). This was actually pretty good … although I ignored the suggestion about the extra oil when browning the sauage – big boo-boo, was too oily, had to drain everything before I added the sauce and cheese. This is now my new go-to when starved and wanting to eat 5 minutes ago. Love it, love this site. Thanks!!

  31. Lori Wigginton says:

    I am preparing this meal tonight but have recently started a new “DIET” and need nutritional breakdown for Sausage and Kale meal off of budgetbytes……please email nutritional information per serving and how much is actually in one serving…Thanks in advance.

    • I’m sorry, I don’t have the nutritional information.

    • Kristen says:

      There are sites that can help you estimate. I use MyFitnessPal. It lets you input recipes. Based on the ingredients, it gives you a full nutritional breakdown per serving size. I did this one out of curiosity (and because it looks amazing!) and these are the stats per serving (recipe serves 4):

      Calories 380
      Fat 22g
      Sat Fat 8.5g
      Choles 57mg
      Sodium 1186mg
      Potassium 347mg
      Carbs 29g
      Fiber 5.3g
      Sugars 7g
      Protein 23g

    • Comments like this drive me INSANE!

      Recipe looks delicious! Trying it out this weekend :)

  32. Katie says:

    Just tried this and it was delicious! Thanks so much for the tip, I never would have thought if this myself!

  33. Erin says:

    Do you think another green such as spinach or chard would work? The store I went to didn’t have kale….I know, bad store. Thanks.

  34. I love quick, easy, pantry meals like this one. Thanks for idea!!

  35. Marian says:

    Any suggestions for subbing out the chickpeas? Shell pasta? Or would white beans be better?

  36. Sounds awesome! Not sure if my crew would agree, we shall see.

  37. Ericka says:

    Genius! By the way, I’ll be out shopping for your book today! Yay!

  38. I have almost everything on this list! So making this for dinner tonight! :)

  39. 2 questions/comments from a Northshore girl who tends to shop at the same grocery chain you do:

    Do you like the Best Choice cheese? I bought a bag of cheddar because the price was so much lower, but it had a lot of starch in it, to the point that the cheese was gritty. I’ve been afraid to try another bag because the first one was so unpleasant.

    Have you tried the Italian sausage made in-store? The flavor is so much better and sometimes they package it in bulk without the casings.

    • I haven’t tried their sausage, but I will! Thanks for the suggestion! Yes, the Best Choice cheese does have a lot of starch. Their block cheese is usually the same price as the shredded, though, so sometimes I’ll get that instead.

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