Sausage and Shells is an easy pasta dinner that comes together in one pan. Serve with salad and garlic bread for a hearty meal the whole family will love.
This post was originally published on January 3, 2019, and has been fully updated.
Skillet sausage and pasta
This sausage and shells skillet meal is full of savory sausage, rich marinara sauce, and plenty of cheese. It's not only comforting and delicious - it's made in one pan which saves time and clean-up.
With just a handful of ingredients - some pantry staples combined with a couple of fresh items - you can have a family-pleasing meal on the table with little fuss.
On busy nights, save time by preparing a green salad while the pasta cooks.
For pasta lovers, be sure to try Sun-Dried Tomato Ravioli which comes together in 10 minutes with just three ingredients!
- Pasta - I use medium shells in this recipe - small shells also work fine. Any short pasta with nooks for capturing the sauce is ideal.
- Pork sausage - Either sweet or spicy Italian sausage - or a combination of both - can be used. Chicken or turkey sausage can be substituted if preferred. If using links, be sure to remove the casing before cooking.
- Marinara sauce - Grab your favorite go-to jarred sauce. Use a good quality sauce since it's one of the main ingredients in this dish. I used Rao's marinara sauce for this recipe.
- Mozzarella - I like bite-sized fresh mozzarella "pearls". You can also use a block of mozzarella that's been cut into small cubes.
- Seasonings - Dried oregano and dried basil complement the flavors of the marinara sauce.
- Onions - Sweet yellow onions, red onions, or shallots can all be used.
See the recipe card for complete instructions and ingredient amounts.
- Brown the sausage in a large covered skillet. This will take 8-10 minutes. Then, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the drippings in the skillet.
- Add the onions to the skillet and cook until soft and translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
- Add the marinara sauce and water. Stir in the pasta. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes until the pasta is cooked, stirring occasionally.
- Add the sausage back to the pan along with the mozzarella. Stir to incorporate. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
To make ahead of time, prepare according to the recipe's directions but stop before adding the mozzarella. Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1-2 days.
When ready to eat, bring the casserole to room temperature. Stir in the mozzarella cheese. Cover and heat in a 375-degree oven until warm throughout.
One Pan Sausage and Shells
- 16 ounces bulk Italian pork sausage (for links, remove the casings)
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 24 ounces marinara sauce
- 1 ½ cups water
- 8 ounces medium shells (uncooked)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls (or a block of mozzarella, cubed)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until brown and cooked throughout, breaking the sausage apart as it cooks. This will take 8-10 minutes. Remove the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the drippings in the pan.
- Add the diced onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook for another minute.
- Stir in the pasta sauce, water, and uncooked pasta. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked.
- Add the sausage back to the pan along with the mozzarella cheese. Stir to incorporate. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve directly from the skillet, family-style.
- To make ahead of time, prepare according to the recipe's directions but stop before adding the mozzarella. Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1-2 days. When ready to eat, bring the casserole to room temperature. Stir in the mozzarella cheese. Cover and heat in a 375-degree oven until warm throughout.
Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary depending upon the exact amounts and specific ingredients used.