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Saucy Sausage and Lemon Pasta (Sausage al Lemone)

When it comes to weeknight dinners, convenience and flavour are essential. This saucy sausage and lemon pasta offers the best of both worlds, combining the robust, savoury flavours of sausage with the bright, refreshing zest of lemon. This dish is quick and easy to prepare and incredibly satisfying. The Paccheri pasta, with its large tubes, perfectly captures the rich, creamy sauce, ensuring every bite is a delight.

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There is something profoundly satisfying about a hearty pasta dish. This saucy sausage and lemon pasta recipe combines robust flavours, a creamy sauce, and the zesty brightness of lemon. Whether you’re feeding a hungry family or hosting a dinner party, this dish brings together simplicity and gourmet taste in a way that’s sure to impress.

What is Paccheri Pasta?

Paccheri is a large, tubular pasta originating from the Campania region of Italy. Known for its substantial size, Paccheri is often used in hearty, saucy dishes that can fill the pasta tubes, creating a delightful burst of flavour with every bite. The name “Paccheri” is derived from the Neapolitan word “pacchero,” meaning “slap,” which is said to describe the sound the pasta makes when mixed with sauce. Paccheri’s size and shape make it perfect for absorbing and holding onto sauces, making it an excellent choice for this saucy sausage and lemon pasta dish.

The Importance of Cooking Pasta Al Dente

“Al dente” is an Italian term that means “to the tooth.” When pasta is cooked al dente, it should be firm to the bite, providing a slight resistance without being crunchy. This texture is preferred for several reasons:

  • Texture and Mouthfeel: Al dente pasta provides a pleasant chewiness that contrasts nicely with the sauce, enhancing the overall eating experience.
  • Flavour Absorption: Al dente pasta has a slightly porous surface that allows it to absorb and hold onto the sauce better, ensuring every bite is flavourful.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Cooking pasta al dente has a lower glycemic index compared to overcooked pasta, which can help in maintaining more stable blood sugar levels.
  • Integrity: Pasta that is cooked al dente maintains its shape and structure, preventing it from becoming mushy or falling apart when mixed with the sauce.
  • To achieve al dente perfection, cook the pasta for a couple of minutes less than the package instructions suggest, as it will continue to cook when mixed with the hot sauce.
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Ingredient Replacements for Saucy Sausage and Lemon Pasta

Flexibility in ingredients allows for various dietary preferences and ingredient availability. Here are some substitutions:

  • Paccheri Pasta: Can be replaced with rigatoni, penne, or any other tubular pasta that can hold sauce well.
  • Sausages: You can substitute chicken, turkey, or vegetarian sausages. For a spicier kick, chorizo works well.
  • Shallots/Brown Onion: For a different flavor profile, substitute with leeks, red onions, or spring onions.
  • Fennel Seeds: Anise seeds or caraway seeds can be used if fennel seeds are unavailable.
  • Lemon: Lime can be used for a different citrus twist.
  • Chilli Flakes: Fresh chilli or a pinch of cayenne pepper can be used to add heat.
  • Parmesan: Pecorino Romano, Grana Padano, or a vegan parmesan substitute can be used.
  • Crème Fraîche/Double Cream: Greek yoghurt, sour cream, or a dairy-free cream can be substituted.
  • Parsley: Basil, cilantro, or dill can provide a different but complementary flavour.
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Enjoyed This Saucy Sausage and Lemon Pasta?

If you made this saucy sausage and lemon pasta, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so I can see what you come up with.

Looking for more interesting pasta inspiration?

Chipotle Mushroom Pappardelle

Air Fryer Pumpkin Gnocchi Bake

Marry Me Tortellini Soup


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this pasta dish ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the sausage and sauce ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for up to two days. Cook the pasta fresh and combine it with the reheated sauce just before serving to maintain the best texture.

What if I don’t have Paccheri pasta?

You can use other large pasta shapes like rigatoni, penne, or even pappardelle. The key is to use pasta that can hold onto the sauce well.

How do I store leftovers?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat gently on the stove with a splash of water or broth to loosen the sauce.

Can I freeze this pasta dish?

It’s best to freeze the sauce separately from the pasta. When you’re ready to serve, cook the pasta fresh. The sauce can be frozen for up to three months.

Why is my sauce too thick or too thin?

If the sauce is too thick, add more reserved pasta water or a bit of broth until you reach the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, let it simmer a bit longer to reduce and thicken.

Can I make this dish dairy-free?

Yes, use a dairy-free cream and vegan Parmesan substitute. Ensure the sausages used are also dairy-free.

How can I make this dish spicier?

Add more chilli flakes, fresh chopped chillies, or a splash of hot sauce to increase the heat.

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Saucy Sausage and Lemon Pasta (Sausage al Lemone)

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: <30 mins
  • Yield: 3 - 4 portions


This saucy sausage and lemon pasta combines the robust, savoury flavours of sausage with the bright, refreshing zest of lemon for the perfect weeknight dinner.


  • 250g Dry Paccheri pasta (or your favourite pasta shape)
  • 400g sausages or sausage meat
  • 2 shallots or 1 small brown onion
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 large lemon
  • 12 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 300 ml pasta water
  • 70 g Parmesan
  • 60 ml Crème fraîche or double cream
  • 15 g parsley



  1. Place a large stainless or carbon steel sauté pan over a high heat. The pan is ready to cook when water flicked onto the surface skitters and dances in droplets across the surface.
  2. Lower the heat a touch and add a drizzle of cooking oil to the frying pan.
  3. Remove the sausages from their skins, and tip them into the heated frying pan. Use a wooden spatula to break up the sausage into crumbles, and get a nice golden brown sear on the sausage meat, stirring occasionally to allow the meat to sear well. This will take about 10-12 minutes and build flavour into our sauce.
  4. While the sausage cooks, gather the remaining ingredients, wash and chop the parsley, dice the shallot/onion finely, and peel and slice the garlic. Bring a pot of water to a boil in preparation for the pasta. Use less water than directed to create a very starchy water, which we will use to thicken and bind the sauce.
  5. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the shallot and fennel seeds to the pan with the sausage, and cook until the shallot softens about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Tip the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.
  7. Zest the lemon into the pan, add the chilli flakes, and add the sliced garlic. Stir until the garlic softens (1 min or so), then squeeze the lemon juice into the pan.
  8. Once very al dente, drain the pasta (it will finish cooking in the sauce), reserving about 500ml of starchy pasta water.
  9. Tip the drained pasta into the sausage pan. Add 200ml of pasta water, the crème fraîche, and the parmesan. Keep the pan on a low heat to melt the cheese, tossing the pasta to bring the sauce together. Add more pasta water as needed until the sauce comes together, coating the pasta in a creamy, glossy layer.
  10. Season to taste, adding more lemon juice if needed, then sprinkle in the freshly chopped parsley and serve.
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 20-25 mins
  • Category: Mains
  • Cuisine: Italian
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