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10 of the Best Italian Sausage Recipes I’ve Ever Seen

If you’re like most of us fitness folk, you eat a lot of lean protein like chicken, fish, and low-fat beef.

As much as you may like sausage, it doesn’t make the cut because it’s just way too fatty.

This is fine if you’re following a high-fat diet, but if you’re not, well, tough luck.

Or is there actually a way to make it work?

Well, as you’ll see with these recipes, you can make meals with sausage that are also “diet friendly.”

For example, you can include small amounts of sausage to add a lot of flavor (but not a lot of calories) to various dishes like pasta, vegetables, and other proteins.

Italian sausage works particularly well for this because it’s more heavily flavored than most other kinds. You can also choose from pork, turkey, chicken, or beef Italian sausages, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

So, if you want a fast and filling “go-to” meal that you can make in batches, try the Herby Lentil & Sausage Soup. If you’re in the mood for a traditional Italian dish, the Rigatoni with Sausage & Peas in Vodka Sauce is more your thing. And if you want a simple “meat and potatoes” kind of dinner, you’ll like the Italian Sausage Skillet with Vegetables.

Enjoy!

Rigatoni with Sausage & Peas in Vodka Sauce

Picture courtesy of Cooking with Nonna

This is a great standby recipe no matter how you make it. It’ll be easier if you use a jar of vodka tomato sauce. But you can cook it the traditional way with from-scratch sauce and even homemade Italian sausage. There’s a real Italian grandma’s recipe for sausage on the same site. To really get Cooking with Nonna, pick up the cookbook for over 100 more classic Italian recipes like sausage and peppers, stuffed shells, and of course spaghetti with meatballs.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced 1/4”

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casing removing

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup vodka

1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp. salt

1 bag (10 oz.) frozen peas, thawed

1 cup heavy cream

1 lb. rigatoni pasta

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 594

Protein: 28 grams

Carbs: 62 grams

Fat: 22 grams

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Broccoli Rabe & Turkey Sausage Lasagne

ground-italian-sausage-recipe

Picture courtesy of EatingWell

This is like a gourmet version of spinach and sausage lasagna. Yet as much as it seems fancier, it’s also more nutritious. You can make it even leaner by opting for fat-free ricotta. This easy Italian recipe also simplifies the process of cooking marinara sauce from scratch. After the broccoli rabe is wilted, the crushed tomatoes and other ingredients can be added to the same pot. Then the sauce is layered into the lasagna and baked to perfection.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 lb. Italian turkey sausage, hot or sweet, casings removed

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped garlic

12 cups chopped broccoli rabe, tough stems removed

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup red wine

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 can (14 oz.) no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1 Tbsp. capers, rinsed

1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese

1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) grated Parmesan

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (1 box), divided

1 cup (about 4 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 386

Protein: 29 grams

Carbs: 34 grams

Fat: 15 grams

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Herby Lentil & Sausage Soup

ground-sweet-italian-sausage-recipes

Picture courtesy of Cooking Light

This hearty soup pairs together two awesome kinds of protein. Start by browning either chicken, turkey, or pork Italian sausage in a heavy stockpot. Then instead of pasta or beans, this Italian soup uses lentils which add plant-based protein. Altogether it makes a delicious and super filling low-calorie meal.

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup chopped carrot

2/3 cup chopped celery

8 oz. sweet pork Italian sausage, casings removed

6 cups unsalted chicken stock

1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils

6 sprigs fresh thyme

3 bay leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

9 oz. fresh baby spinach

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 303

Protein: 18 grams

Carbs: 30 grams

Fat: 13 grams

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Spicy Sausage & Spinach Skillet Pasta

italian-sausage-pasta-recipes

Picture courtesy of Simple Healthy Kitchen

Instead of cooking pasta in a separate pot of boiling water, you can simmer it in the same pan as your protein. This healthy pasta recipe can be made in a single skillet. Once the hot Italian sausage is browned in a large skillet, add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth so the noodles can cook in the pan with the lid on. Stir in cheese and spinach at the end, and serve.

Serves 4

Ingredients

12 oz. hot Italian chicken sausage, casing removed

1/4 cup green onions, chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup Rotel (or more diced tomatoes)

1/2 cup low-fat milk

8 oz. rotini pasta

1 cup (about 4 oz.) shredded mozzarella

1 cup fresh spinach

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 440

Protein: 32 grams

Carbs: 39 grams

Fat: 17 grams

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Italian Sausage Skillet with Vegetables

recipe-using-hot-italian-sausage

Picture courtesy of Well Plated

You don’t need much more than Italian sausage and fresh veggies to make a nutrient-dense meal. The prep might take a while since there are multiple things to chop, but it’s all easy work without any special knife skills required. Once it’s all ready to go, the veggies are roasted in the skillet over low heat, and then the sausage can be cooked in the same pan.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3/4 lb. baby red potatoes, quartered

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2” pieces

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided

4 sweet or spicy Italian sausage links (about 1 lb.), sliced

1 tsp. ground oregano

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, quartered

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 small bunch green onions, chopped and divided

1 pint whole grape tomatoes

1 cup peas, fresh or frozen

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 223

Protein: 12 grams

Carbs: 31 grams

Fat: 7 grams

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Cheesy Sausage Quiche

baked-italian-sausage-recipe

Picture courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction

How can quiche with sausage and cheese only have 140 calories per slice? This one is crustless, so there’s no extra fat or carbs holding the healthy filling together. It’s just eggs, milk, some veggies, and most importantly that tasty Italian sausage to add protein and flavor.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 large eggs

3 egg whites

3/4 cup milk

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup shredded cheddar (or another cheese)

6 oz. Italian sausage, cooked

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, roasted and chopped

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 187

Protein: 14 grams

Carbs: 5 grams

Fat: 13 grams

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Chicken Sausage Calzone

italian-sausage-sandwich-recipe

Picture courtesy of EatingWell

Most calzones are like eating a whole pizza. They might seem smaller, but they have just as much dough and cheese – if not more. When you try your hand at them, you can choose to stuff your homemade calzones with a mix of healthy ingredients like spinach and Italian chicken sausage, so there’s less cheese. And wrap it all in a whole-wheat pizza dough for even higher nutrient density.

Serves 5

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

6 oz. Italian chicken sausage, casings removed

4 cups baby spinach

1 cup (about 4 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella

2/3 cup part-skim ricotta

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. whole-wheat pizza dough

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 415

Protein: 23 grams

Carbs: 40 grams

Fat: 20 grams

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Butternut Squash Brown Rice Bake with Sausage & Apples

homemade-sweet-italian-sausage-recipe

Picture courtesy of Domesticate Me

This awesome savory pie is perfect for fall with butternut squash and apples. Those flavors work great in this sweet Italian sausage recipe, especially with fresh sage and thyme. If you’re using dried herbs instead, cut everything by a third, so a teaspoon of dried sage replaces one tablespoon fresh.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup short-grain brown rice

4 cups cubed butternut squash (about 1/2 large)

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 large apple, diced small

1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage (about 6 leaves)

1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

1/2 tsp. salt

3 links sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

1 cup (about 4 oz.) grated creamy Fontina

1/4 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup (about 1 oz.) grated Parmesan

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 409

Protein: 27 grams

Carbs: 31 grams

Fat: 21 grams

GET THE RECIPE

Spicy Sausage Pasta Bake

italian-sausage-casserole

Picture courtesy of All She Cooks

This is an easy casserole dish to throw together, and even though there’s no careful prep for you to do, the result tastes a lot like lasagna. For this Italian sausage pasta bake, mix together tomato puree, egg, and cheese. Then stir in cooked pasta and sausage, dump into the casserole pan, and bake.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 cups bow-tie pasta

1 lb. ground Italian pork sausage

2 cups tomato puree

1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta)

1 large egg

1/2 cup (about 2 oz.) grated Parmesan

1 cup (about 4 oz.) shredded mozzarella, divided

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. red pepper

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 492

Protein: 34 grams

Carbs: 34 grams

Fat: 24 grams

GET THE RECIPE

Homemade Spicy Italian Vegan Sausage

healthy-italian-sausage-recipe

Picture courtesy of One Green Planet

To make homemade sausage, you need a meat grinder. But that’s only if you’re using meat. This vegan sausage recipe relies on a mix of mushrooms and black-eyed peas to make a savory protein. And there’s also tons of seasonings, plus onions, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes, to nail that Italian sausage flavor.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Spice Mix:

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. crushed fennel seeds

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. oregano

1/8 tsp. allspice

Vegan Sausage:

4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp. sun-dried tomato paste

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1 tsp. xanthan gum

3 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce

Few drops of liquid smoke (optional)

Nutrition Facts (per Serving)

Calories: 270

Protein: 13 grams

Carbs: 42 grams

Fat: 7 grams

GET THE RECIPE

What’s your take on these Italian sausage recipes? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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