Chicken Sausage Pasta with Lemon Garlic Sauce is a simple to make 1-pot recipe requiring just 30 minutes. A bright and fresh, easy 1-pot meal option.
It's chicken sausage pasta day, which means a big happy pile of steamy, twirly, saucy spaghetti piled high with Italian chicken sausage. The whole situation is surrounded by roasted burst tomatoes, wilted greens, grated parmesan cheese and a pinch of red pepper flakes and lemon zest.
Why is the combo of pasta + chicken sausage so good, actually?
I mean in this case, it could be because browned chicken sausage and burst tomatoes give just the right amount of healthy to the pan, or it could be the heavy-handed garlic and zested lemon making the house smell like a restaurant, or it could be the silky smooth lemon cream sauce speckled with red pepper flakes and grated parmesan just bringing out the best of everything.
Or, it could be because it's pasta. Pasta doesn't let us down! Period.
A few important things to review before making this recipe:
First of all, can you ever go wrong with fully cooked Italian chicken sausage? Hint: no. It's an incredibly under-utilized ingredient in the "quick dinner" recipe world (see sheet pan Italian sausage hoagies).
Second of all, don't skip on this recipe just because your family isn't into tomatoes or spinach. Leave them out OR sub in your favorite veggies.
- Olive Oil
- Italian Chicken Sausage (fully cooked)
- Grape Tomatoes
- Whole Milk
- Thin Spaghetti (recommended)
- Baby Spinach
- Parmesan Cheese
- Italian Seasoning
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Salt and Pepper
See recipe card for quantities.
Step 1: Roast tomatoes and chicken sausage. Set oven to 425. On a sheet foil or parchment covered sheet pan, add sausage and tomatoes. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes.
Step 2: Prepare the pasta and sauce. In a large skillet coated in olive oil, caramelize the onions. Add minced garlic to the skillet. Pour in milk and water and bring to a boil. Drop in spaghetti and reduce heat. Cook until pasta is al dente.
Step 3: Add roasted tomatoes, spinach and chicken sausage to the skillet. Continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed. If liquid reduces before pasta is fully cooked, add additional whole milk.
Step 4: Finish the Lemon Garlic Pasta. Add lemon zest and grated parmesan cheese. Stir until heated. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Hint: If the completed dish tastes "bland," add additional salt and pepper. A heavy handed dash or five of hot sauce tastes delicious as well!
Chicken Sausage - this recipe also works well chicken (breast or thighs) or shrimp. You can also try different flavors of chicken sausage. Something garlic-y would be great!
Tomatoes and Spinach - vegetables can be switched out depending on what you have available in your fridge or omitted all together.
Whole Milk - I tested this recipe with almond and skim milk. With both, the result was a very thin sauce instead of the creamy sauce created by the original recipe. I don’t recommend using any substitutions.
Spicy - add additional chili pepper flakes while cooking to up the spice factor in this recipe.
Gluten-Free - the spaghetti can be swapped out for your favorite gluten-free option to make this recipe GF.
Vegetarian - the chicken sausage can be omitted or switched out for a plant-based sausage option to make this recipe comply with a vegetarian diet.
Kid-Friendly - My boys struggle when their food is “mixed up.” For this reason, I often set aside some roasted chicken sausage, and do not add it back into the skillet with the spaghetti noodles. I serve the spaghetti noodles with lemon sauce (sans veggies) with the sausage on the side. Sometimes I add fresh carrots or cucumbers to their plates so they still get some vegetables.
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Make sure to use an airtight container or cover tightly with plastic wrap.
TO REHEAT: Pour leftover into a large skillet over medium-heat. Add ¼ cup whole milk. Stir frequently. Add additional liquid as needed. Once pasta is warmed through, serve immediately.
💭 Top Tip
Since the creamy lemon sauce does not contain a lot of ingredients, quality is important. Purchasing a fresh garlic bulb and mincing OR using Dorot Crushed Garlic Cubes is recommended. Skip on the stuff from the tube or pre-minced jarred garlic.
This is a 1-pot meal, so serving it solo would be just fine! If you want to add in some extra veggies I think it would pair really well with this Easy Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.
I tested this recipe with an Instant Pot, and it took longer than the original version. This recipe is so simple, that I recommend just following the cooking instructions as written.
Chicken sausage is a healthier option than pork or beef sausage. It is made from lean white meat meaning it has less sodium and fat. However, all sausage is processed and contains too much salt and too many additives to be considered a health food.
Lemon Garlic Pasta with Chicken Sausage is a simple to make 1-pot recipe requiring just 30 minutes. A quick and tasty dinner option that's perfect for busy weeknights.
- 3 Tbs olive oil, divided
- 12 oz. Italian chicken sausage, fully cooked and diced into ¼" rounds
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
- Salt/Pepper- to taste
- ½ onion, diced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 8 oz thin spaghetti
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 handfuls baby spinach
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- zest of 1 lemon
- OPTIONAL - *** hot sauce
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and arrange tomatoes and sliced sausage in a single layer. Drizzle the tomatoes with about ½ tablespoon of olive oil and season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast the tomatoes and sausage in the oven until the tomatoes are tender and the sausage is golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
- While the sausage and tomatoes are roasting, add 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the diced onions. Once onions begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes, add the garlic. Cook garlic and onions for an additional minute, or until garlic is fragrant. Add water, and milk. Cover and bring to a boil.
- When water is at a full boil, add spaghetti and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Allow spaghetti to cook until al dente (see package directions for cook time), stirring occasionally.
- Remove lid from skillet. Stir in spinach, tomatoes, sausage, salt and pepper. Stir constantly until liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove skillet from the heat.
- Add lemon zest and parmesan cheese into the skillet. Stir until fully combined, about 1 minute.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
TOPPINGS: add a few healthy dashes of hot sauce as a fun topping. I like to do this on individual plates so everyone can control their own spice level.
- Chicken sausage can be swapped for another protein like chicken or shrimp.
- Vegetables are customizable. Use what you have or eliminate them all together.
- Thin spaghetti works best with this recipe.
Keywords: chicken sausage, pasta, spaghetti