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.

david caricature

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

Ingredients for one-pot pasta with sausage meatballs--pasta, vegetables, sausage, stock, crushed tomatoes, tomato past, cheese, garlic, and bay leaf.
  • 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

Sausage being browned in a Dutch oven, then a person sautéing vegetables in the Dutch oven.
  1. Brown the sausage mini meatballs in oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the vegetables and herbs in the sausage drippings until the onion is translucent.
Carrots, onion, and celery being browned in a Dutch oven, then broth being poured into the pot.
  1. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until slightly darkened.
  2. 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.
A person stirring a pot of meatballs in tomato sauce and a person sprinkling cheese over the tomato sauce.
  1. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente and the meatballs are cooked through.
  2. Sprinkle the cheese over the pasta and let it sit, covered, until the cheese melts.

Common Questions

What should I serve with this?

This one-pot pasta recipe is a satisfying meal in itself, but a fresh, crisp Italian salad and a basket of garlic rolls play nicely to complete the meal.

What is one-pot pasta?

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!

Why is there so much liquid in the pot after cooking?

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.

Helpful Tips

  • 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.
  • If you’ve got extra sausage on hand, try one of these recipes that use ground sausage.
A white plate topped with penne, meatballs, and fresh parsley.

More Great Meatball Pasta Recipes

Write a Review

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

A white plate topped with penne, meatballs, and fresh parsley.

One Pot Pasta with Sausage Meatballs

5 / 7 votes
This one-pot sausage pasta is loaded with tender meatballs and pasta that cooks in a homemade tomato sauce. It's easy to make and requires just one pot.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories882 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour


  • 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.


  1. Cutting the sausage–To speed things up, use kitchen shears to snip your sausages into mini meatballs.
  2. Skip the pre-shredded cheese–It doesn’t melt well. Grate the cheese yourself for best results.
  3. 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.
RecipeTin Eats Dinner Cookbook

Adapted From

Recipe Tin Eats Dinner

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 882 kcalCarbohydrates: 76 gProtein: 41 gFat: 47 gSaturated Fat: 17 gMonounsaturated Fat: 20 gTrans Fat: 0.2 gCholesterol: 117 mgSodium: 2235 mgFiber: 8 gSugar: 15 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2023 Nagi Maehashi. Photos © 2023 Angie Zoobkoff. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

A scoop of pasta and tomato sauce being lifted from a pot.

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.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    One pot meals are wonderfuI.

    I made this last night with a little bit more sausage and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes but other than that, the recipe was spot on. One portion of the leftovers will be lunch today and I froze a couple of portions to take to work.

  2. 5 stars
    This. Was. A. HIT! And I mean a 12/10 hit. Generally, either via kids or husband, small (to large, let’s be honest) tweaks are requested for any new recipe I try. This is the only recipe that I can recall – EVER – that was unanimously declared to be perfect as-is. The simplicity of ingredients is deceiving here; you would not expect the depth nor complexity of flavour given the arguably short list, and the not-arguably simplicity of the recipe itself.

    I agree with another reviewer that choosing a high quality sausage is paramount here. I went with a spicy Italian sausage from our local purveyor and it was the right choice! I also opted to go with a rigatoni versus a penne for maximum pasta real estate; again, the right choice! Finally, I did pop this under the broiler for a few minutes at the very end to yield a little brown and bubbly action – 10/10 would recommend. Next time, I think I may incorporate some gruyère along with mozzarella just as an added punch, but certainly the recipe stood on its own and doesn’t need it. 100% I will be making this again!

    1. Thanks, J’enay! We’re delighted that you all enjoyed it so much. Thank you for taking the time to comment.