Caramelized Onion and Sausage Pasta

This simple pasta dish is incredibly satisfying and full of flavor despite its short list of ingredients. Made with crumbled Italian sausage and caramelized onions, the two combine to coat the pasta with the perfect blend of sweetness, salt and spice that carries through in every bite.

Caramelized Onion and Sausage Pasta

Caramelized Onion and Sausage Pasta

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Sweet caramelized onions and bits of Italian sausage combine with spiral-cut pasta to make a flavorful and incredibly satisfying main dish.


  • 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casing
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 10 ounces spiral-cut pasta (rotini, fusilli)
  • 2 to 3 large onions (2 lbs total), peeled and thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sugar


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté until nicely browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage into very small pieces as it cooks, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat and stir in the butter until melted.
  3. Separate the onion slices into rings and add them to the pan. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times during the process.
  4. Put a large pot of salted water on for the pasta.
  5. Remove the cover from the onions, raise the heat to medium and season them lightly with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.
  6. Continue cooking the onions for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently and loosening any browned bits that may accumulate on the bottom of the pan.
  7. If you find the onions are sticking to the pan, add a tablespoon or two of water to keep them moist.
  8. The onions are done when they've turned a rich, golden color and have a marmalade-like consistency. Reduce the heat to low, add the reserved sausage, combine well and set aside to keep warm.
  9. Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions. Add the caramelized onion and sausage mixture along with 1 or 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil and combine well. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  10. Plate individual servings and serve immediately.