You will fall in love with this delicious Chicken Sausage Pasta Bake with an easy to make homemade pasta sauce and gooey cheese. The lean chicken sausage is a great alternative to pork sausage that still packs flavor without the guilt!
If you love an all-in-one meal, then you will add this to your menu rotation every month. It’s kid and parent-friendly, and easy for those busy moms on the go.
Also included in this post is a Recipe Round-Up. I’ve joined a fun group of bloggers to put together a roundup of recipes on the first day of every month. This month we’re sharing easy weeknight pasta bake recipes.
Chicken Sausage Pasta Bake
This recipe was inspired by other sausage pasta dishes I have tried and seen over the years, but using my sons favorite local grocery store chicken sausage made it truly unique. I expected everyone to enjoy this dish when I first made it but was surprised that they all came back not just for seconds, but thirds!
You may, like me, adjust this recipe to suit your family preferences. If you aren’t watching fat and calories, you may want to add more cheese. If you prefer, you can even use a non-dairy cheese or gluten-free pasta. The possibilities are endless!
What Brand Chicken Sausage Should I Use?
You can use any of your favorite brands of chicken sausage in this recipe, if you prefer pork sausage or turkey sausage, those will work as well. Chicken sausage is just a bit healthier, so it’s the one I gravitate toward more often than not.
There are tons of great products out there now in chicken sausage. Some of my favorite brands available in most stores are Johnsonville, Al Fresco, Aidell’s, Applegate, and even Gilbert’s. I love the ground chicken sausage from my local Harmon’s grocery store, but you can often find great store brand sausages from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or other markets.
Can I Use Jarred Pasta Sauce?
Yes! Of course, you can definitely use a jar of pasta sauce you already have on hand if you prefer. I prefer to make my own fast and easy homemade sauce using canned tomatoes, basil, and a few spices. But if you already have a jar of sauce on hand and prefer, definitely grab it and substitute it for the fire-roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil.
Note: When using a jar of sauce rather than this homemade version, you may want to adjust the added salt in the recipe. Many jarred sauces are high in sodium and could leave you with an overly salty dish.
Can I Add Vegetables to my Chicken Sausage Pasta Bake?
This is another big resounding, yes! I love casseroles like this because they are a great way to add in some extra vegetables into the day. While this doesn’t have a ton of vegetables, it is the ideal recipe to add in bell peppers and mushrooms. You could also easily add in diced squash or zucchini, or spinach and it would compliment the flavors wonderfully.
If you have picky kids who don’t like a lot of vegetables, you can cook them and puree into the sauce. This is a great way to help you sneak in vegetables for good health. I personally love adding spinach, kale, and carrots to dishes by doing this method.
Can this Pasta Bake be Frozen?
You can freeze leftovers, or divide the cooked pasta, sauce, and cheese in half and make two casseroles in 9×9 or 8×8 pans, preferrable a metal pan for the frozen pasta bake. Bake one and freeze the second one.
Thaw the frozen pasta overnight in your refrigerator. Then top it with cheese and heat until the pasta is hot and the cheese is melted and browned.
Tip: Make sure to cover and label this casserole with the name, cooking information, and date it was prepared before putting into the freezer for future meals.
Other Great Pasta Dishes
We absolutely love pasta dishes like this in our house. It’s so easy to make in a hurry, and with great flavors like basil and garlic, you are always satisfied. If you are looking for more ideas for pasta to add to your meal rotation, then try my Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage, Pasta Carbonara, or my easy Pasta Puttanesca.
Another chicken sausage dish, you’ll enjoy is my Rotini Pasta in a Creamy Butternut Sauce. It includes chicken sausage and spinach, and turns out absolutely delicious.
These White Chicken Lasagna Rollups from Easy Dinner Ideas is another fun option.
Chicken Sausage Pasta Bake
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb ground chicken or turkey sausage
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 14.5 ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 lb dry penne pasta
- 1 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese
- ½ cup shredded Italian cheese blend
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken sausage and salt; cook until cooked through.
- Process tomatoes into a food processor until nearly smooth. Add to skillet along with fresh basil. Reduce heat to low and simmer.
- Cook penne according to packaging directions.
- Add half of the cooked pasta to 13x9 baking dish, add half of the sauce then sprinkle with half of the cheeses. Repeat with one more layer. Top with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
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Hi Barbara! I plan to make this for Christmas dinner for my brother who is a picky eater (he’s 47 but eats like a 4 year old). Can this be put together the day before, put in fridge overnight and baked the next day? Thank you and happy holidays!
Hi Denyse – I haven’t tried assembling it the day before, but it should work well. Make sure your noodles and sauce are room temperature before layering. It will need a little longer cook time. Let me know how it goes. Happy holidays!
Yum!!!! We love the Jalapeno Chicken Sausage -what a fun dish to use it in. All in one suppers are a favorite here.
Sounds like a great way to spice it up – thanks Carol!
Swapna Raghu Sanand
I too like this combination.
Oh my gosh, this looks amazing! I can't wait to make it, the husband will be thrilled. Sausage & pasta are two of his favorite foods. Thanks for the great recipe, Barbara!
Thanks so much for answering my questions Barbara! I am definately going to give this dish a try! 🙂
Tammie – thanks for visting my blog and your question about the recipe! I’ve corrected the recipe. I did use three cans tomatoes and no spinach. Jenny’s original recipe called for spinach and one large can and one small can tomatoes (I just used 3 small cans). I left the spinach out of mine because I didn’t have it and the kids might like it better. Thanks for helping me fix that!
The pasta dish looks so good, but I have a couple questions. In your ingredients it says 3-15oz. cans of tomatoes and doesn’t mention spinach. But then in the directions it says to add spinach and cook until it wilts down, and it says to add 2 cans of tomatoes to blend until smooth. I was just wondering which is the correct amount. Thanks!!
This sounds delicious! I had sausage with tortellini a few nights ago and it was fantastic. . . but you can’t beat heaps of melted cheese!
Looks and sounds like heaven to me. Love pasta bakes.
This looks like great comfort food, I do a lot of baked pasta dishes in the winter.
Oh, it looks so delicious and cheesy!
Looks absolutely scrumptious, Barbara!
Sausages and cheese always sound so good for pasta.
Have a wonderful season.
Pasta and cheese – a great combination and the sausage makes it perfect. Sounds so good on a winter night.
Barbara, looks great!
Pasta and sausage is a great combo and this looks great! I can believe that people asked for thirds on this -I would have too! 🙂