One-pot meals and sheet pan dinners are a weeknight staple for their simplicity, easiness, and minimal cleanup. This recipe for sausage meatballs and pasta positively smothered in a homemade pasta sauce checks all of those boxes.
Cooking the meatballs and pasta directly in the tomato sauce infuses them with plenty of flavor and keeps the meatballs tender and moist without any need for extra fillers. And you know me: If there’s a lily anywhere around, I’ll gild it. In this case, the whole dish is blanketed with melted cheese. All of that, and just one pot.
Why Our Testers Loved This
Unsurprisingly, my testers loved the simplicity and easy cleanup from making a whole meal in just one pot. Kristi D. was delighted that the one-pot pasta recipe had a “really nice balance of pasta, sauce, cheese, and meat.”
What You’ll Need to Make This
- Sausage–You can use any type of sausage here, whether mild or hot, but do choose good quality sausage. The flavor is prominent in the dish. No need to remove the casing. To speed things up, use kitchen shears to snip your sausage links into meatballs!
- Crushed tomatoes–They’ll create the smooth, rich tomato base of your pasta sauce.
- Pasta–Any short tube-shaped pasta will work in this one-pot pasta recipe. Penne, rigatoni, and ziti are all good choices.
- Cheese–Any type of shreddable cheese will work here: Colby, Jack, mozzarella, and even Gruyère. Don’t use pre-shredded cheese, though, as it doesn’t melt well.
How to Make This Recipe
- Brown the sausage mini meatballs in oil over medium-high heat.
- Sauté the vegetables and herbs in the sausage drippings until the onion is translucent.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook until slightly darkened.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes, broth, and water, and season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta and meatballs to the sauce and bring it to a simmer.
- Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente and the meatballs are cooked through.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the pasta and let it sit, covered, until the cheese melts.
As the name suggests, one pot is used for cooking the meal–in which the pasta is cooked in the sauce–and then the whole thing is brought to the table. Because the starch from the pasta thickens the cooking liquid, you don’t need to dirty a colander or sieve. See? Just one pot!
You might notice the dish is quite liquid after cooking the pasta. Worry not, my dear cook. As the pasta sits, it’ll absorb more liquid, and the starch will thicken it all into the perfect amount of glossy sauce to coat the pasta and meatballs.
- Don’t forget to stir the pasta while it’s cooking, or it’ll stick to itself and the bottom of the pot. No one wants clumpy, clotty pasta.
- Leftover one-pot sausage pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or a saucepan over low heat until warmed.
More Great Meatball Pasta Recipes
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If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David
One Pot Pasta with Sausage Meatballs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound good-quality thin beef or pork sausages, cut into 3/4-inch (18-mm) pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 medium celery stalk, finely diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- One (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups store-bought or homemade low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 10 ounces penne, ziti, or rigatoni
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, such as Colby, Jack, or mozzarella
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped Italian parsley, optional
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage pieces and cook, stirring regularly, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a bowl.
- Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the saucepan, then return it to the stove. Stir in the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaf, and rosemary, and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it darkens slightly, about 1 minute.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes, broth, and water, and season with the salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta and meatballs and bring it to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer, then cover and cook, stirring regularly, until the pasta is al dente, 18 to 20 minutes.
☞ TESTER TIP: It's really important to stir the pasta every few minutes, or it may stick to the bottom of your pan.
- Remove the lid, discard the bay leaf, and stir the pasta vigorously for 10 seconds. It will still be quite saucy at this point.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the pasta. Cover and let it rest until the cheese melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with parsley, if desired.
- Cutting the sausage–To speed things up, use kitchen shears to snip your sausages into mini meatballs.
- Skip the pre-shredded cheese–It doesn’t melt well. Grate the cheese yourself for best results.
- Storage and reheating–Leftover one-pot sausage pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat until warmed through.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I noticed this recipe the day after cooking lamb meatballs for dinner. When my husband asked what was for dinner, and I said I was testing a meatball pasta recipe, he responded, “Meatballs, again?” It’s no secret that I enjoy playing in the kitchen. I just had to check out this hack. So I responded, “This is a magical recipe.”
As for the “magic” part, the starchy, creamy, cheesy, and tomatoey noodles and sauce were it! Sure, the “meatballs” were wonderful, and I really enjoyed my spicy and tender Italian sausage. However, the sausage will taste different in each application, depending on the preference.
I believe the pasta and sauce made using this recipe should produce consistent results each time. Ooey gooey, tasty comfort creaminess–all in one pot! It warmed up beautifully for my work lunches two days later. It’s a keeper.
I’ve never cooked pasta in sauce before – true story. This one-pot sausage pasta recipe fascinated me from start to finish.
The sauce turned out beautifully silky and almost creamy. The meal is hearty and satisfyingly delicious. My only complaint is the melted cheese got hopelessly caught up on and around my serving spoon, and I had to pry it off…with my mouth. Never mind, complaint retracted!
What a perfect dish to bring to a potluck! In the future, I’ll definitely pick up various types of sausage (mild, sweet, hot) to enhance the dish, but brava for a beautiful one-pot wonder.
The night I made this, I had a meeting I had to go to. When I came home, the pot of sausage meatball pasta was almost empty. Need I say more?! It would appear this was a hit.
My family is a fan of baked pasta, but what I really liked about this was how it stayed so saucy. That’s my one grievance about baked pasta–where does all the sauce go?!
The quality of the sausage makes or breaks this dish. I used fennel-and-lemon sausage from my local butcher, which was fabulous. Colby cheese isn’t readily available where I am, so I used Monterey Jack instead. I think the next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll find something with a little more zip, like a Fontina.
This recipe is too simple and flavourful to not make again. I just might need to double the batch next time.
You gotta love a pasta dish that can be done all in one pot. I haven’t made pasta before that’s cooked right in the sauce and not boiled separately, and I wondered how it would work, but it came out fabulously! Rich and creamy and delicious!
I don’t eat much sausage but the one-pot sausage pasta intrigued me. I found a nice Duroc pork sausage that worked great for this dish. Now that I made it, I will make it again and again!
The mini meatball hack is also excellent; cutting the sausages into pieces and browning worked great and were the cutest little meatballs in the pasta. It’s more saucy than I am used to with pasta, but it works. Try it. You’ll be happy you did.
Expanding my repertoire of quick but soulful/hearty pasta dishes is always good, and this fits the bill perfectly.
☞ TESTER TIP: It is crucial to get good-quality sausage. I purchased small smoked breakfast links, and the flavor they lent to the whole dish couldn’t be beaten!
I served it with an arugula salad made with olive oil and lemon with some parmesan curls.
One pot and ingredients on hand? Count me in! Using sausage as mini meatballs was a great idea because some days I don’t want a ton of meat in my pasta, like meat sauce or regular-sized meatballs!
I appreciated the addition of vegetables to this pasta dish, and I felt they were easily hidden for the non-vegetable lovers out there. I enjoyed the ease of making this whole dish on the stove and not having to turn on the oven like other pasta bakes. This one-pot sausage pasta with meatballs had a lovely balance of pasta, sauce, cheese, and meat.