Sausage Mushroom Pasta with Italian sausage, creamy white Alfredo sauce, and a secret sweet ingredient is a hearty and comforting weeknight dinner for two. Serve it with a side salad for a complete meal.

Sausage Mushroom Pasta in cast iron pan with wooden spoon

When I’m not shooting food, I’m out capturing the streets and bridges of Pittsburgh which you can find over at City Life Adventures.

Because I shoot mostly in the evenings, sometimes I don’t have much time between making dinner and running out for golden hour and sunset.

As tempting as it is to throw a frozen pizza in the oven and call it a day, that won’t work every single night.

That’s when having quick dinner recipes come in handy like this creamy Sausage Mushroom Pasta.

It’s rigatoni pasta with sausage and Alfredo sauce plus an unexpected yet delightful secret ingredient that makes this Italian sausage alfredo better than most recipes you’ll find out there.

When you’ve been cooking for as long as I have, you memorize certain formulas, such as how to make homemade Alfredo sauce with my Alfredo mac and cheese.

With this knowledge, I can look at what I have on hand and come up with a hearty and comforting dinner in under an hour.

I’ve done other mushroom pasta recipes such as tomato mushroom pasta and butternut squash alfredo.

Here I made a homemade creamy Alfredo with sausage, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and…dried cherries.

Did I just say dried cherries? For mushroom sausage pasta?! Yes. Yes I did.

The fruit adds a nice pop of sweetness that balances all the richness from the meat and cream sauce. Seriously, don’t knock it before you try it!

I got the idea to add dried cherries from a local Pittsburgh restaurant. The chef made sausage stuffed mushrooms with a mushroom cauliflower puree and roasted mushrooms with dried cherries.

The flavor combination worked, so I got the idea to turn Italian sausage, button mushrooms, and dried cherries into the best mushroom sausage pasta you’ll ever make at home.

Serve it alongside green onion salad and small batch dinner rolls to make it a complete dinner for two.

White Button Mushrooms for cooking

Ingredients For Sausage Mushroom Pasta

To make your pasta with sausage and alfredo, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Pasta: I chose rigatoni because the grooves on the pasta hold the sauce more efficiently. You can also use penne or even medium shells, anything that will catch and hold the sauce.
  • Oil: Used to help cook your sausage
  • Italian sausage: Use sweet or mild, depending on your preference
  • Butter: Used to build the base of your Alfredo sauce
  • Onion and garlic: Aromatics to build your sauce
  • Mushrooms: I used basic button mushrooms, but you can also use cremini for a more meatier mushroom
  • Heavy whipping cream: Used to make the Alfredo sauce. No flour needed as the sauce thickens as the cream reduces. Do not substitute as you need the fat.
  • Dried cherries: Adds a pop of sweetness to balance the richness
  • Parmesan cheese: Use freshly shredded or grated, not the stuff in the green can
  • Basil: Adds some freshness

Which sausage should I buy?

When choosing which sausage to buy for rigatoni, look for Italian sausage.

Italian sausage is pork sausage already seasoned, usually with fennel and garlic. Sometimes chili pepper is added, turning it into hot Italian sausage.

You can often buy it ground in a package. However, if all you see are links, you can squeeze the meat out of the casings.

And if you find yourself with leftover sausage, make my sausage gravy recipe for 2 and serve over biscuits and gravy for two or mashed potatoes for two.

Close up of mushroom sausage pasta

Adding Dried Cherries To Dinner

You don’t often see dried cherries in dinner recipes, but they were a surprisingly nice touch with mushrooms and cream.

They add a small burst of sweetness, which helps balance out all of the savoriness. There’s a reason everyone says opposites attract!

Typically you would rehydrate dried cherries ahead of time, but I saved time and plumped them up by cooking them in the cream sauce.

I promise they taste good, but if you’re a bit skeptical you don’t have to add them.

Italian Sausage Alfredo with mushrooms and rigatoni in cast iron pan

How To Cook Sausage Mushroom Pasta

There are two parts to making your Alfredo pasta with sausage: cooking the pasta then making the sauce. Luckily you can do both at the same time!

Here’s how to make your mushroom sausage pasta:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Don’t add salt just yet because if you get distracted and the water reduces, it may become too salty. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add a handful of salt (preferably kosher but table salt works too) then the pasta. Cook until al dente.
  2. Cook sausage in large skillet until fully cooked.
  3. Cook mushrooms, onion, and garlic in melted butter until softened and browned.
  4. Stir in heavy cream and cherries then bring to a boil. Cook until thickened but still a little loose.
  5. Add Parmesan, basil, sausage, and pasta to sauce then serve.

Italian sausage Alfredo is best eaten when it’s made as the sauce will be absorbed the longer it sits. Refrigerate leftover pasta for up to 5 days.

Pasta with sausage and Alfredo sauce with wooden spoon in cast iron pan

Sausage Mushroom Pasta FAQ

How do I prevent the Alfredo sauce from becoming too thick?

If your Alfredo sauce gets too thick during cook, whisk in more cream to thin it out.

Can I use any type of mushrooms?

Yes. My go-tos are white button and cremini mushrooms, but you can use any variety you’d like, including shiitake and maitake.

Can I use whole milk instead of heavy cream for Alfredo sauce?

No. You need the fat from heavy cream. Otherwise your sauce won’t be rich and creamy

More Mushroom Recipes

Since you’ll have leftover mushrooms in the package, here are more mushroom recipe ideas:

Sausage Mushroom Pasta in cast iron pan with wooden spoon

Sausage Mushroom Pasta

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Sausage Mushroom Pasta with Italian sausage, creamy white Alfredo sauce, and a secret sweet ingredient is a hearty and comforting weeknight dinner for two.


  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) uncooked rigatoni pasta
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) ground Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup diced white or yellow onion
  • 4 large white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature (do not substitute)
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (fresh, not the green can)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a big
    handful of salt then add rigatoni. Cook as directed on the package until al dente, about 12-13 minutes. Drain into colander.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the sausage and cook until brown and no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.
  3. In the same skillet, add the butter and heat until melted., scraping up any brown bits left behind from the sausage.
  4. Add onion, mushrooms, and a big pinch of salt. Cook until
    softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the cream and dried cherries. Bring to a boil.
  6. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Leave the sauce a little loose because once you add the sausage and pasta, it'll absorb some of it.
  7. Stir in the cheese, basil, and cooked sausage. Taste and adjust for salt.
  8. Add the cooked rigatoni to the sauce and stir until coated.


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First published October 3, 2019