Chicken Sausage Quinoa Skillet (aka Our Fave Back-Pocket Weeknight Dinner!)

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE SALES LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY FULL DISCLAIMER POLICY FOR DETAILS.
A back pocket recipe for super-busy weeknights, this Italian Chicken Sausage and Quinoa Skillet is a flavorful, super satisfying, 2-minute dinner. It's loaded with feel-good ingredients, like quinoa, shredded kale, bell peppers, baby portobello mushrooms, & Italian chicken sausage. It's all topped with melty mozzarella & simmers quickly in spicy arrabbiata sauce. A quick & easy, one-skillet meal perfect for when you need something simple & filling!

Meal prep friendly & easily customizable to use whatever ingredients you have on hand. Vegetarian & vegan options provided.

An overhead shot of a finished Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet fills a large black cast iron skillet that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. Melted fresh mozzarella tops the skillet dinner with crushed red chili flakes, thinly sliced basil, and grated parmesan used for garnish. A small wooden pinch bowl filled with crushed red chili flakes and loose fresh basil leaves surround the skillet. A blue and white plaid linen napkin is tied around the skillet handle and a wooden serving spoon rests inside of the skillet.

My Trusted Italian Chicken Sausage and Quinoa Skillet for a Quick & Oh-So-Good Dinner!

You know those busy nights after a long day when you’re not sure what to make for dinner but know you need something like, NOW? This Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet is made for those moments. It has everything – loads of veggies, plenty of protein, & balanced carbs – to make you feel satisfied & ready to unwind after a long day.

This chicken sausage and quinoa skillet mixes loads of fresh veggies like kale, sliced bell peppers, & baby portobello mushrooms into one satisfying skillet meal with fluffy quinoa, Italian sausage, & a spicy arrabbiata sauce topped with mozzarella cheese. The whole deal takes about 20 minutes to throw together, but it’s so darn satisfying.

I lovingly refer to it as a ‘back-pocket dinner’ since it’s super satisfying & you can throw it together with ingredients you have on hand. But the beauty of a chicken sausage quinoa skillet is how flexible every ingredient is – it’s all about using what you’ve got in your fridge! Swap spinach for kale, tofu for sausage, or use up that leftover bit of marinara instead of arrabbiata sauce. No big deal! There are so many different ways to create this skillet & I encourage you to make it your own.

We originally shared this Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet recipe here on PWWB way back in 2017. We’re revisiting it today, updating it with clearer instructions & improved photography (scroll to the bottom of this post for a throwback! 🙈), because it’s a recipe that’s stood the test of time here at the PWWB House. It’s truly, honestly a meal that’s in our weekly rotation very regularly – Chris & I turn to it whenever we need something quick & delicious.

Chicken Sausage Quinoa Skillet Recipe Highlights

We’ve been making this Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet for years because it’s…

  • SIMPLE YET SATISFYING. A super simple, 20-minute dinner can still be amazingly filling! This chicken sausage quinoa skillet is packed with fresh veggies, hearty grains, & plenty of flavor. It’s both quick & delicious.
  • ENDLESSLY VERSATILE. Swap in your favorite veggies & sauce or change a few ingredients to make this recipe vegan. It can truly be whatever you want it to be!
  • WEEKNIGHT-FRIENDLY. Make a chicken sausage quinoa skillet on busy weeknights when you’re short on time & don’t have the energy to wash more than a few dishes. It’s that easy.

This is the perfect recipe to have in your back pocket. ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make this Italian Chicken Sausage and Quinoa Skillet, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

*Fun PWWB Fact!

This is the recipe that inspired PWWB’s Mise en Place Meal Prep! “Mise en place” (French for “everything in its place”) is all about the prep work required for cooking a particular dish. It’s the heart of every professional kitchen. Slicing, dicing, & measuring out ingredients in advance keeps every restaurant organized & makes it way easier to cook when it’s time for service. Home cooks can use the same approach – it’s a weeknight cooking game-changer! Read more about Mise en Place Meal Prep.

Key Ingredients for an Italian Chicken Sausage and Quinoa Skillet

The ingredients in this recipe are fridge & pantry staples that you likely have on hand during the week. No need to run out to the grocery store – just use what you have & sub in any other related ingredients if you need to. The flexibility & versatility of this recipe makes it super weeknight-friendly! 

Chicken sausage quinoa skillet ingredients arranged on a creamy white textured surface: varied sizes of glass meal prep containers are filled with cooked quinoa, thinly sliced baby portobello mushrooms, finely shredded. kale, diced red bell pepper, and diced yellow onion. A blue and white plaid linen napkin rests alongside the open meal prep containers.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

Here at the PWWB house, we like to use the following ingredients for making our chicken sausage quinoa skillets:

  • Chicken sausage – Spinach & feta & spicy Italian are my fave types of chicken sausage to have in the fridge. Use fully-cooked sausage links & thinly slice them for cooking.
  • Veggies – My favorites are red & yellow bell peppers, onion, & baby bella mushrooms, but feel free to use whatever you prefer. Green bell peppers would also work here, as would any other kind of mushroom.
  • Kale – For best results, remove the kale from the stem & finely chop or shred it before cooking. You can also use any other leafy green like spinach, swiss chard, arugula, etc.
  • Quinoa – One of my favorite grains since it’s super filling & has the best light & fluffy texture. Hearty quinoa is part of what makes this skillet super satisfying! For even easier meal prep, cook the quinoa in advance.
  • Pasta sauce – I prefer a spicy arrabbiata sauce in this skillet, but you can also use a more mild marinara or whatever tomato sauce you love most. Straight outta the jar is perfect!
  • Cheese – Cheese is optional, but I love the extra coziness it adds to the dish. Add fresh mozzarella on top of the chicken quinoa skillet & let it melt into gooey perfection, then add some grated parmesan for serving. Skip or sub with a plant-based cheese if you’re keeping things dairy-free.
  • A few other essentialsCrushed red pepper flakes add an extra kick both in the dish & for serving. A garnish of fresh basil creates a burst of freshness in this Italian-inspired skillet.

Meal Prep Tips

This is already a pretty quick recipe, but prepping a few components in advance cuts down on the time it takes to make this Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet at dinnertime. Cook the quinoa & cut the bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, & kale in advance so everything is ready to go when it’s time to start cooking dinner. Once you’re cooking, it takes about 20 minutes, tops! (Check the Recipe Notes, below, for full meal prep guidance.)

How to Cook Perfect Quinoa Every Single Time

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains, but it can be a bit temperamental. Undercook it & it’s a crunchy mess. Overcook it & it’s a mushy disaster. But when cooked perfectly, quinoa is a light & fluffy plant-based protein powerhouse. Unlike other grains, it’s considered a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids – meaning every bite will fill you up!

My 4-step method for cooking perfect quinoa on the stovetop:

  1. Boil: Place the quinoa, water, & a generous pinch of salt in a saucepan. Stir to combine, then bring it all to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Simmer: As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, crank the heat down to low, creating a low simmer in the pot. Cover with a lid & let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Steam: Once everything finishes simmering, remove the pot from the heat & let it steam for 5-10 minutes more with the lid on.
  4. Fluff: Uncover the pot & use a fork to fluff up the quinoa until it’s light & fluffy.

A few other tips for perfectly cooked quinoa:

  • Quinoa triples in volume as it cooks! Keep this in mind when considering how much quinoa you need. For example, 1 cup of dried quinoa will yield 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
  • Quinoa is best cooked with a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio. So for every 1 cup of quinoa, use 2 cups of water. My stove runs a little bit hot, so I always add in another small splash of extra water.
  • Cooked quinoa will store in the fridge for up to a week, making it incredibly meal-prep friendly. Make the quinoa ahead of time & your Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet will come together even faster.

How to Make this Easy Chicken Sausage Quinoa Skillet

With the quinoa cooked & the veggies prepped, this quick & simple skillet comes together in about 20 minutes – whipping up a hearty, healthy meal has never been easier!

How to make Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet, Step 1 & 2: cook the aromatics & brown the sausage and mushrooms. A large black cast iron skillet sits atop a creamy white textured surface and is filled with softened onion and bell peppers, browned Italian chicken sausage and baby portobello mushrooms. A wooden spoon used for stirring rests inside of the skillet and a blue and white plaid linen napkin is wrapped around the skillet handle.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

Cook the aromatics. Start by sautéing some onion, bell peppers, & chili flakes in a little olive oil, allowing the veggies to cook until they start to soften & turn translucent. These flavors are the base of the chicken sausage quinoa skillet!

2

Brown the sausage & mushrooms. Add sliced Italian chicken sausage & baby bella mushrooms to the skillet, cooking until they start to brown. Why? ⇢ Browning is a sign that all the best flavor is developing! This step is a balance between stirring occasionally to prevent burning & also letting everything be to allow for more browning. Don’t sweat it, but keep an eye on it! The onions & bell peppers will keep cooking during this step too until they’re super soft & full of flavor.

3

Simmer the skillet. Stir some shredded kale, quinoa, & tomato sauce into the skillet. The kale will begin to wilt & the tomato sauce will slowly start to bubble. Simmering is a sign that all the flavors are starting to come together! This should only take a few minutes. Finish the chicken sausage quinoa skillet off with shredded mozzarella cheese, allowing it to melt on top. 

& that’s it! Everything is ready to serve out of one skillet – quick & easy! I like to serve the Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet in a bowl with freshly chopped basil, chili flakes, & a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. The perfect weeknight meal!

An overhead shot of a finished Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet fills a large black cast iron skillet that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. Melted fresh mozzarella tops the skillet dinner with crushed red chili flakes, thinly sliced basil, and grated parmesan used for garnish. A small wooden pinch bowl filled with crushed red chili flakes and loose fresh basil leaves surround the skillet. A blue and white plaid linen napkin is tied around the skillet handle and a wooden serving spoon rests inside of the skillet.

Chicken Sausage Quinoa Skillet Easy Variations & Other Tips

I love how incredibly versatile this recipe is. You can make it into whatever kind of skillet you want! Here are a couple of easy variations to try:

  • Alternate proteins – Use your favorite type of fully cooked sausage or grab plant-based “sausages” to try instead! These meatless alternatives are much easier to find in most grocery stores than they used to be. You can also use a different plant-based protein like tofu or seitan & simply sauté it the same way as you’d prepare animal protein sausages.
  • Alternate grains – Brown rice, farro, & orzo would all be great substitutes for quinoa here. You’ll lose an extra dose of protein from the quinoa if you leave it out, but no big deal – if you keep the sausages or a sausage sub, it’s still a hearty meal.
  • Alternative veggies – There are endless options of veggies to use here! Zucchini or leftover butternut squash are both great substitutes for bell peppers. If you hate mushrooms, leave them out & double down on other veggies. & any other leafy green besides kale would work great here, especially spinach or arugula.
  • Alternative cheesiness – Swap mozzarella with goat cheese or brie for an extra-creamy & gooey skillet.

🌿 For a vegetarian skillet, feel free to omit the Italian sausages or swap them with plant-based sausages, tofu, seitan, or any other plant-based protein! If you don’t replace the sausages here, keep the quinoa to get the protein you need.

🌿 For a vegan skillet, skip or swap the sausage & cheese. A vegan cheese substitute would be great here as long as it’s easily meltable.

A side angle shot of a lack serving bowl filled with a portion of chicken sausage and quinoa skillet sits a top a creamy white textured surface with a silver spoons resting inside of the bowl. A small wooden pinch bowl filled with crushed red chili flakes and loose fresh basil leaves surround the bowl.

I cannot wait for you to try this 20-Minute Chicken & Quinoa Skillet ASAP. It is truly a favorite & the perfect meal to keep in your back pocket when you want simple, fast, & super flavorful! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Love quick & easy weeknight dinners? You’re in the right place! 🙌🏼 Be sure to try our Crispy Black Bean Tacos, Sweet & Sour Pork Stir Fry, Easy Hummus Bowls, or Sheet Pan Chicken Carnitas next. Happy cooking! ♡

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
An overhead shot of a finished Italian chicken sausage and quinoa skillet fills a large black cast iron skillet that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. Melted fresh mozzarella tops the skillet dinner with crushed red chili flakes, thinly sliced basil, and grated parmesan used for garnish. A small wooden pinch bowl filled with crushed red chili flakes and loose fresh basil leaves surround the skillet. A blue and white plaid linen napkin is tied around the skillet handle and a wooden serving spoon rests inside of the skillet.

20-Minute Italian Chicken Sausage Quinoa Skillet (aka Our Fave Back-Pocket Weeknight Dinner!)

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop, Skillet Recipe
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This Italian Chicken Sausage and Quinoa Skillet is my back pocket recipe for super busy weeknights. It’s loaded with feel-good ingredients, like quinoa, shredded kale, bell peppers, baby portobello mushrooms, & Italian chicken sausage. Simmer quickly in spicy arrabbiata sauce & top with melty mozzarella for an irresistibly cheesy finish! A quick & easy, super satisfying, 20-minute one-skillet dinner.

The beauty of this skillet dinner is the fact that it’s super flexible. Feel free to freestyle based on your preferences or to use ingredients you already have on hand. Refer to the Recipe Notes, below, for suggested simple substitutions + ingredient swaps & meal prep guidance. Vegetarian & vegan options provided, too!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium red or orange bell peppers, deseeded & diced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chili flake
  • 12 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fully-cooked Italian chicken sausage links, thinly sliced (or flavor of choice)
  • 2 cups finely shredded kale
  • 2 cups jarred tomato-based pasta sauce of choice (marinara, Arrabiata, etc.)
  • optional: 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: crushed red chili flakes, thinly sliced basil, grated parmesan, etc

Instructions

PREP:

  • Cook the quinoa: Add 2/3 cup dry quinoa and 1 1/3 cup water or stock to a small saucepan with a lid. Season with a generous pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil (uncovered) over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low or medium-low, bringing the quinoa to a slow simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat & let stand (covered) for 5 minutes. Uncover & fluff with a fork. Set aside, or store in an individual airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

20-Minute Quinoa Skillet Assembly:

  1. Cook the aromatics: Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add in the onion, pepper, chili flakes, & & season with a pinch or two of kosher salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until softened & translucent.
  2. Brown the sausage and mushrooms: Add sliced chicken sausage & sliced baby portobello mushrooms to the skillet, stirring to combine. Cook for 5-7 minutes until nicely browned, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, but the sausage & mushrooms will brown faster if you leave them be – this is where the flavor happens, be patient!
  3. Simmer the skillet: Once the sausage & mushrooms are nicely browned, stir the shredded kale, quinoa, & tomato sauce into the sillet. Cook until the kale begins to wilt & the sauce begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. If using, place the cheese over top the skillet & allow it to melt, about 2 minutes longer.
  4. Serve the chicken sausage & quinoa skillet in bowls, topped with freshly chopped basil, additional chili flake, & a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, as desired. Enjoy!


Notes

  • Common substitutions: The beauty of this quinoa skillet dinner is the fact that it’s very flexible. You can really throw it together with whatever you have on hand in your fridge & pantry. A few common substitutions:
    • Use whatever sausage you like most, or grab plant-based sausages or plant-based protein substitute for a vegetarian/vegan meal.
    • Swap one or both of the bell peppers with squash, such as zucchini or leftover roasted butternut squash.
    • Hate mushrooms? Leave them out & double down on peppers & onions.
    • Hate kale? Swap it out with another leafy green, such as arugula or spinach.
    • Hate quinoa? Swap it out with your preferred grain of choice, such as cooked brown rice, farro, or orzo.
    • Use whatever jarred tomato sauce you love most – marinara, Arrabiata, etc.
    • Omit cheese altogether for a dairy-free meal, or swap mozzarella with goat cheese or brie for an extra creamy skillet.
  • Storage & Reheating: Leftovers from your chicken sausage quinoa skillet will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
  • Meal prep: If you’d like to do just a little prep in advance to help cut down on the active prep time when you make your Chicken Sausage & Quinoa Skillet, there are a couple of different routes you can go:
    • 15-Minute Meal Prep: Chop the veggies & greens you’ll need for your skillet. Dice a yellow onion. Deseed & dice 2 bell peppers. Thinly slice 12 ounces baby portobello mushrooms. Destem & finely shred 5-6 leaves kale, yielding about 2 cups shredded. Store the chopped veggies in individual airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
    • 20-Minute Meal Prep: Cook the quinoa according to Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (5 minutes active prep)

Keywords: skillet dinner recipe, quinoa recipe, quick & easy dinner recipe

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

Topics

Sign up for our newsletter

Leave a Rating & Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. 9.11.22
    Sue said:

    Duuuuuuuude.
    I happened upon this in a desperate attempt to use up hot Italian sausage that I overbought and do a hail Mary fridge cleanse. I used what I had on hand for veggies, which was onion peppers arugula and zucchini- I drained the sausage and what little grease was left I used in place of oil (diet life)- I LOVE how this tastes so good you’d think it was bad for you. I’ve made it twice since Wednesday!
    I’m using the basis of this recipe to figure out how much veggies I can pack into one meal 🙂 today was a bear foot long zucchini, 3 peppers, and 1 massive container of spinach. This is such a brilliantly versatile recipe and I love it! Thank you so much!

    • 9.12.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Sue! We couldn’t agree more, it’s the perfect recipe to use up what you have on hand & we’re SO glad you are enjoying it! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment, it means so much!

  2. 2.18.22
    Lauren Hobson said:

    Made this tonight and added aspragus. It was so good and even my picky eater enjoyed it. She asked me to make it again! Easy and full of flavor! For sure will be making again

  3. 10.3.17

    simple, easy, tjs meals are my JAM. and this is certainly happening in my kitchen asap !!

    • 10.5.17
      jess said:

      ooooh, let me know how it goes, e!!! it’s honestly hard not to love!