rigatoni tossed into a creamy marsala pan sauce with spicy italian sausage & mushrooms, cozy enough for a date night at home & easy enough to throw together for a spontaneous weeknight dinner with friends | pasta recipe | creamy marsala pasta sauce | easy pasta recipe | date night recipe | date night idea

Marsala Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage & Mushrooms

  • Author: Jess Larson | Plays Well With Butter
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4 1x
  • Category: Pasta recipes, Main dishes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian



  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage links (or mild, as desired)
  • 8 ounces dried rigatoni or short pasta of choice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 12 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • heaping ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup dry marsala wine
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: grated parmesan or pecorino romano, finely chopped basil or parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, etc.


  1. Roast the sausage: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil for easy clean-up. Place the sausage links on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the oven to bake off for 10 minutes. The sausage may not be fully cooked through at this point – that’s totally fine. Remove from the oven & allow to rest for 1-2 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, thinly slice the sausage on a bias and set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta: Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, according to package directions until al dente. Use a liquid measuring cup to reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside (do not rinse the pasta!!!).
  3. Sweat the onion: Meanwhile, begin cooking the marsala pan sauce. Add the olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in the onion, stirring to combine. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened & translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic & chili flake. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Brown the sausage: Add the sliced sausage from Step 1 to the skillet, arranging the slices in such a way that they cover the bottom of the skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes, until browned, before flipping to brown the opposite side. Add mushrooms & walnuts on top of sausage. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, until the sausage is browned, the mushrooms have softened slightly, & the walnuts are toasty.
  5. Deglaze & make the marsala pan sauce: Slowly pour the marsala into the skillet, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that may have formed on the bottom of the skillet. Bring the sauce up to a simmer to reduce slightly. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in the heavy cream & sprinkle in the grated parmesan. Reduce the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer to reduce slightly.
  6. Assemble the marsala pasta: Add the pasta into the skillet with the marsala pan sauce. Toss to combine well – the sauce should evenly coat the pasta. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if the marsala sauce needs to loosen up a little; add in an extra handful of parmesan if the sauce needs to tighten up a little. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, allowing the pasta to meld with & absorb some of the sauce.
  7. Serve immediately: Portion into individual pasta bowls, topping with extra parmesan, chopped herbs, &/or a sprinkling of crushed red pepper as desired. Enjoy!


  • Not a fan of spicy? No worries! Simply swap out spicy sausage with mild or sweet Italian sausage & omit chili flake.
  • 10-minute meal prep: All of the prep time involved in this recipe is chopping veggies. Chop all the veggies in advance, storing individually in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. At dinnertime all you have to do is get cookin’ – seriously so easy!:
    • Dice 1 medium yellow onion
    • Wash & slice 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms

Keywords: pasta marsala, pasta recipes, Italian recipes, comfort food recipes