Italian Sausage Spaghetti


This is my favorite method of making Italian sausage spaghetti. By browning the sausages first and then cooking them in the sauce at a long, slow simmer, the sausage is loaded with flavor and firm, but tender--almost meatball-like in texture. And we hardly need any seasonings because the long cook time allows the sauce to get infused with all the sausage-y goodness!

Prep Time:
5 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 55 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
4 servings

There are basically three ways you can do Italian sausage and spaghetti. Two of those ways are very popular and perfectly acceptable. This recipe features the much lesser known third method, which I feel is vastly superior in both taste and texture (although it requires doing something I've been training you for years not to do, and that's overcooking meat).

The secret to this simple method is simmering the pieces of sausage way longer than necessary to cook them. A two-inch section of Italian sausage only needs to braise in tomato sauce for about ten minutes to be "cooked through," so it might seem a little crazy to simmer it for 90 minutes, but if you can get past that seemingly insane instruction, you'll be treated to one of the best pasta sauces of your life.

Thanks to the long, slow braising, the flavors in the sausage permeate the sauce. This will turn even the most unremarkable ragu into something memorable. In addition, the texture of the sausage transforms into something completely different and, in my opinion, completely wonderful. The only catch (yes, there's always a catch) is that you have to wait an hour and a half to eat. Hey, you can spend the time making a nice salad, and maybe some garlic bread. But no matter what you serve with this Italian sausage spaghetti, I really hope you make it soon. Enjoy!

Italian Sausage Spaghetti
Italian Sausage Spaghetti. Chef John

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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 4 (6 ounce) sweet Italian sausage links

  • ¼ cup white wine

  • 1 (32 ounce) jar marinara sauce

  • 1 ½ cups water

  • 1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti

  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, or to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Transfer sausage links into the hot pot. Cover with a lid and cook until beautifully browned and just barely cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. You can increase the heat a little if you like, but make sure the oil does not smoke. Turn off the heat and remove sausages to a plate to cool completely.

  2. While the sausages are cooling, add wine to the same pot over medium-high heat. As it comes up to a simmer, stir the caramelized bits on the bottom of a pan with a spoon or spatula. Simmer until it reduces by about half, 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Add marinara sauce. Pour water into the jar of pasta sauce, seal, and shake to rinse out the jar. Pour that liquid into the pot and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to low.

  4. Slice each fully cooled sausage into 4 pieces. Transfer sausage and any accumulated juices into the simmering sauce. Stir and increase heat to just between low and medium-low. Cook at a gentle, steady simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Taste and adjust seasonings. Skim about 1/2 of the fat from the surface, and continue to cook until reduced and thick, about 30 minutes longer.

  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until almost tender yet firm to the bite, 10 to 11 minutes. Drain spaghetti and transfer it directly into the pot of hot sauce. Mix until thoroughly combined. Cover with the lid and let sit for 1 minute so the pasta can absorb some of the sauce.

  6. Evenly divide pasta onto 4 plates and top each serving with 4 pieces sausage. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley.


Chef's Notes:

You can use spicy or mild sausage links. Just make sure the sausage you use has enough fat that you can see it through the casings.

You can use 3 tablespoons water mixed with 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, in place of the wine, but the wine really adds better flavor to the sauce.

If the sauce is too thick, toss another splash of water in.

I use a thick, #12 spaghetti, but any spaghetti or pasta will work, as long as you cook it in generously salted water.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

1336 Calories
65g Fat
123g Carbs
58g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 1336
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 65g 83%
Saturated Fat 22g 109%
Cholesterol 119mg 40%
Sodium 3325mg 145%
Total Carbohydrate 123g 45%
Dietary Fiber 10g 35%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 58g
Vitamin C 7mg 36%
Calcium 229mg 18%
Iron 8mg 46%
Potassium 1557mg 33%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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