Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

6 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is an easy weeknight dinner made in 30 minutes! Simple Italian pasta dish with lots of flavor that everyone will love.

You can’t go wrong with easy, quick Pasta Recipes made with a few ingredients that taste amazing. This pasta dish joins other winning dinner ideas like Baked Spaghetti!

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli in bowl


You may have seen this southern Italian dish made with broccoli rabe. Also known as rapini, broccoli rabe has a similar taste and bitterness as mustard greens. To make Orecchiette with Sausage more family friendly, this recipe uses broccoli instead. Not only is broccoli easier for kids to love, it also cooks in half the time so this dish is ready in about 25 minutes.

This is a simple, classic Italian recipe perfect for beginners. Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is a rustic dish using a handful of ingredients to make a flavorful dish without any complicated steps. For newer home cooks, this recipe is great to show how little techniques, like using pasta water, make a big impact on a dish.

If you have never reserved pasta water for sauce, now is the time to start! Pasta water adds a silkiness to the sauce and the starches act as a thickener, giving you a silky thick garlic sauce. Start with about an ⅛ cup pasta water and add by tablespoons until you get the consistency you like.


What is Orecchiette?

The type of pasta makes a difference in this dish too. Orecchiette means small ear in Italian and that’s what these curved pasta shells resemble. The slight indent is almost like a bowl, perfect for scooping up the sausage crumbles, cheese, and garlic in the delicious sauce. Always cook pasta just below al dente so they can finish cooking in the sauce without getting mushy.

What to serve with this pasta?

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is an easy, complete meal in under 30 minutes. If you want to add side dishes to your dinner, Dinner Rolls and a garden salad are perfect and quick to make. For a restaurant-style dinner, top your salad with this Olive Garden Dressing Copycat and start with a bowl of Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli in pot


    • Sausage: Use other types of sausage, like turkey sausage or chicken sausage, instead of pork. You can also use other ground meat with a tablespoon or two Italian seasoning blend for flavor.
    • Spicy: Substitute hot Italian sausage for the sweet Italian sausage and increase to a ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes for a spicier pasta dish.
    • Chicken Broth: To give the light sauce in Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli more depth and flavor, deglaze your pan with chicken broth or white wine.
    • Pasta: Use any pasta you like with this dish, but the ones with indents or groves to collect the light sauce are best. Try other shaped pasta like farfalle, fusilli, or conchiglie (shells), or tube pastas like rigatoni or ziti.
    • Veggies: Try this dish with other veggies like kale, spinach, red peppers, or broccolini. Either replace the broccoli or just use half the broccoli and another vegetable.
    • Broccoli Rabe: To make Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, you will need to blanch the broccoli rabe first to remove some of the bitterness. Broccoli rabe should cook about twice as long as broccoli, the longer it cooks the more mellow it will taste.



  • Serve: Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours before you need to store it.
  • Store: Cool the pasta dish completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze: Once the pasta has cooled down, place in a sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop, adding 1 tablespoons olive oil if the sauce is too dry.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli in pot

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Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is an easy weeknight dinner made in 30 minutes! Simple Italian pasta dish with lots of flavor that everyone will love.
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American-Italian, Italian
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 1 pound Sweet Italian sausage , removed from casings
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


  • Cook pasta one minute shy of the directions then drain BUT save ½ cup of the pasta water.
  • Add olive oil to the pot with sausage and cook for about 5-6 minutes, breaking it apart as you cook it until browned.
  • Add broccoli, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to pot and cook for 5-6 minutes, until broccoli has softened.
  • Add drained pasta to the pot, stir well to combine and add in pasta water, parmesan cheese, stirring until it makes a light sauce.


Calories: 612kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 697mg | Potassium: 474mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 286IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 2mg

Orecchiete with Sausage and Broccoli collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. I just made this for the first time and Holly Smoke’s so very yummy! The simplicity of it was my favorite, I only added one thing and that was grilled onions. The whole family approves. Thanks.?

  2. Pasta is delicious…. I added some pasta sauce, muenster, taco and american cheese, a little heavy whipping cream annnnd cajun seasoning … Its a good hearty dinner if you add all the cheese !!! Will make again?

  3. Perfectly simple and delicious dinner. We used organic broccoli fresh from the grocery store and bulk italian sausage – the flavor was amazing.