This creamy sausage and wine pasta sauce could not be easier to make or more delicious and it’s ready in just 25 minutes from start to finish! Inspired by “Pasta alla Norcina” from the Umbria region of Italy (and also with what I had in my fridge when I made it), this version skips using expensive hard-to-find Italian truffles so anyone anywhere can make it. And believe me, you won’t miss them because each heavenly bite stands up all on its own. Not only does this creamy sausage and wine sauce satisfy every craving for creamy pasta, but it does it without being heavy. As always you can find step-by-step recipe photos below, plus a video in the recipe card.
Why This Recipe Works
- I’ve used a simple and delicious Italian Norcia salsiccia (pork sausage) that’s made with a little garlic, salt, black pepper, and paprika. The Norcia butchers who raise the famous black belted pigs (Cinta Senese maiale) have been famous for over 2,000 years because of their delicious prosciutto and sausage-making skills and the quality of the meat from this special breed of pigs. This is not the fennel-laced, spicy Italian sausage that probably comes to mind when you think “Italian sausage”. Instead, it’s a fresh mild sausage that relies on the quality of the pork made from happily-raised, slow-growing, free-roaming black pigs. In this pasta recipe, the pork lends its delicious flavor to the base of this creamy pasta sauce, but also equally takes on the flavors of garlic, cream, and wine that the sauce is made of.
- Chewy artisanal bronze-drawn pasta adds flavor and texture that’s superior to regular commercial brands which mostly use Teflon dies to extrude the pasta. For this recipe, we chose a rigatoni from one of our favorite pasta makers in Italy, Cavalier Guiseppi Cocco from the Abruzzo region (where L’s family is from). It’s made from what some consider to be the best hard wheat in the world which is imported from Arizona, USA to Italy (yes, really). Artisanal pasta like this better absorbs and holds onto sauces and is incredibly chewy and downright delicious. But this sauce is so bonkers good that you can use whatever pasta you already love and is available to you.
- As always, adding a little starchy pasta cooking water to the sauce towards the end of cooking helps revitalize the cream soaked up by the sausage and helps bind the grated cheese tossed in right at the very end before serving. This results in a super delicious, perfectly glossy, smooth, and lighter, yet still creamy pasta sauce.
Why We Love This Creamy Sausage & Wine Pasta Recipe
- It’s the easiest creamy pasta recipe we make
- It’s ready in 25 minutes from start to finish
- It’s a restaurant-quality pasta dish that anyone can make and get impressive results
- Artisanal bronze-drawn pasta adds a delicious texture and taste
- Wine intensifies the flavor of the sauce and brings out the flavor of the sausage
- Heavy cream adds a silky richness to the sauce
- Kiddos love this pasta (everyone loves this pasta♡)
- The ingredients are versatile (you can use dry white wine, dry red wine, or even Marsala)
- Perfect for anyone who loves Fettuccini Alfredo but wants a lighter-feeling pasta
This Creamy Pasta Sauce is Versatile — (Here Are a Few Easy Substitutions You Can Make)
White wine is typically used to deglaze the pan in this sauce, but I’ve also substituted dry red wine, and even dry Marsala and they’re all super delicious and produce similar taste results. Just use what you have or what you like to drink. Also, authentic pasta alla Norcina contains shaved truffles, but we’re not using them for this recipe. Do not use truffle oil as a replacement because it tastes nothing like real truffles and could ruin or overpower this delicious delicate cream sauce.
I’ve added fresh basil leaves to perfume the sauce (which is not in a real Norcina sauce but it’s delicious). Use them or don’t. I also add a tiny amount of finely chopped carrots which adds a slightly nutty sweetness to the sauce (these are also not found in a real Norcina sauce). You get the idea here — this sausage cream sauce is versatile as long as you stick with the basic ratios of cream to cheese and starchy pasta cooking water to build the sauce. This recipe is really delicious exactly as is, but don’t be afraid to make it your own using whatever you’ve got.
Almost Alla Norcina Pasta (Pasta w/Creamy Sausage and Wine Sauce) Ingredients
There are just a handful of ingredients in this creamy pasta dish and I will always recommend using the highest quality ingredients which will always give you the best results. However, if you don’t have access to Italian Norcia salsiccia, substitute your favorite fatty mild pork sausage (like sweet bratwurst meat squeezed from its casing), or make your own.
- rigatoni pasta (sub penne, or favorite pasta)
- Italian Norcia sausage (sub favorite sweet sausage or make your own) *see recipe notes
- quality dry white wine (sub dry red wine, or Marsala wine)
- shallot (sub onion)
- heavy cream
- Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese (sub Grana Padano or Parmesan)
- garlic cloves
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh basil leaves (optional)
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- finely chopped chives for garnish (optional but recommended)
- freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
How to Make Creamy Rigatoni Pasta with Sausage & Wine Sauce (Almost Alla Norcina)
This is one of the easiest pasta dishes we make and it’s ready in 20 minutes from start to finish (30 if you’re a little slower with your prep work). Plus, it’s going to taste better than a lot of restaurant pasta you’ve been overpaying for. I usually start heating the pasta water about 5 minutes into cooking time which allows the sausage cream sauce to be ready in just about the time it takes these artisanal rigatoni noodles to cook up perfectly al dente.
- Boil the pasta water. While you’re working on making the sauce, bring a pot of lightly salted pasta water to a boil. Do not salt it “like the sea” (that’s bad advice). Instead, salt it just enough to taste it and it flavors the pasta well but doesn’t make our finished sauce too salty later on when we add some of this starchy water to the sausage cream sauce.
- Build the sauce base. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet set over medium-high heat, add the smashed garlic and shallots, and cook until fragrant and shallots are just tender but not browned (about 2 minutes). Add the chopped carrots and cook until just tender (about 2 more minutes) and reduce the heat to medium. Add the sausage pinching it off into small pieces as you go. Season with a little salt and add 3 basil leaves (if using) and cook the meat for about 5 to 6 minutes or until completely cooked through. Increase the heat once more to medium-high and continue cooking the sausage until lightly browned (about 4 minutes). *At this stage when the meat goes from just being cooked through, to slightly browned, it will start to sizzle more and sound different. This browning (building the fond) helps add a lot of flavor to the sauce when you deglaze the pan with wine in the next step.
- Deglaze the pan with wine. With the heat on medium-high, add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan (the fond) and stir to incorporate it. Set a timer for 3 minutes and cook until the wine has evaporated and the meat and the pan look glossy.
- Add the heavy cream. Add the cream and 3 fresh basil leaves to the sausage mixture, stir to combine, and cook for 3 minutes, or until it looks like the sausage has soaked up most (or all) of the cream. At this point, your pasta should be just about cooked through and the starchy cooking water is ready to be added.
- Finish the cream sauce. During the last 3 minutes of pasta cooking time, remove about 3/4 cup of starchy cooking water to a heatproof glass. Add about 1/4 cup to the sausage cream mixture and stir to incorporate it. You’ll notice the cream magically reappears and the sauce looks glossy from binding the starches to the fat in the cream. Add more starchy water as needed to reach desired consistency stirring and cooking just until it looks glossy and smooth (not goopy or thick, nor watery). Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings (adding salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste), but remember you’ll be adding grated cheese in the next step which also has salt in it.
- Strain the pasta and assemble the pasta. Add the strained pasta directly to the sauce and toss everything quickly to combine. Turn off the heat, add the grated cheese, and diced chives (if using), and toss well. Serve immediately, and Enjoy!
How to Make Creamy Sausage & Wine Pasta (Almost all Norcina) step-by-step recipe photos
A Few More Delicious Pasta Dishes
If you love pasta as much as we do, we’ve added a few of our tried and true family favorites for you to try below.
- Anniversary Pasta (Spicy Shrimp Tomato-Alfredo Sauce w/Rigatoni)
- Italian Duck Ragù with Bigoli (Bigoli al Ragù d’Anatra)
- Classic Lasagna Bolognese (authentic Italian recipe)
- Italian Speck & Asparagus Lasagna (w/Asparagus Béchamel & Zucchini Crema)
- Shrimp Fettuccini Alfredo Pasta Recipe (w/Parmigiano Cream Sauce)
- Baked Ziti with Ragù (from Scratch)
- 15-Minute Shrimp Pasta w/Garganelli (the Italian Way)
- Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Cook Pasta Like A Roman)
- Tagliatelle al Ragù (Northern Italian Beef Ragù w/Pasta)
- Cajun Style Royal Red Shrimp Pasta for One (or a crowd)
- Triple Shrimp Trighetto Pasta (Creamy Shrimp Pasta)
- Abruzzese Almost-Bolognese (Lasagna al Ragù w/Porcini Béchamel)