This Creamy Sausage Gemelli Pasta recipe is a family favorite! Tender pasta, savory sausage, meaty mushrooms and fragrant thyme are all smothered in a decadent white wine cream sauce for an easy, comforting dinner you'll be proud to serve family and friends.
You won't hear a complaint about dinner when this Creamy Sausage Gemelli Pasta is on the menu. This family favorite pasta recipe is pure comfort food.
A warm bowl of this creamy pasta dish tastes like it's been simmering away all day on the stove. A velvety white wine cream sauce coats every nook and cranny of the gemelli pasta and is tossed with zesty Italian sausage, tender mushrooms and fresh thyme leaves. Add a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and this flavorful, crowd-pleasing dinner is served!
Why you'll love this recipe
➤ Easy, flavorful comfort food: This creamy pasta recipe is simple enough for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough for company.
➤ Restaurant quality meal: Small things elevate this recipe from average to outstanding like the spiral-shaped gemelli pasta and a white wine reduction that adds extra flavor to the smooth and creamy sauce.
➤ Make ahead: Yes, you can make pasta dishes ahead of time! Both the sauce and the pasta can be made in advance when you are running short on time. See make ahead instructions below in the Shortcuts and Substitutions section.
You can find everything you need for this gemelli pasta recipe in one trip to the grocery store.
A few ingredient notes:
Sausage: I used bulk mild Italian Sausage with the casings removed.
Mushrooms: My go-to mushrooms are baby bellas, but white button mushrooms or any variety of wild mushrooms will also work in this recipe.
Cream: The white wine cream sauce gets its flavor and texture from heavy cream. Don't be tempted to use milk instead. The result won't be the same.
Wine: Dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay work well.
Thyme: Fresh herbs give this pasta the best flavor and are worth buying for this recipe. Thyme and rosemary are my favorites for this pasta.
I usually start cooking the white wine cream sauce first so it has time to simmer and reduce before making the gemelli pasta.
Heat dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned but not fully cooked, breaking it up as you cook it.
Stir in the shallots and mushrooms and cook until vegetables are soft and sausage is cooked through.
Pour in wine and stir in bay leaf. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes.
It should look something like this. Meanwhile, while wine is reducing, make pasta according to package directions.
Stir in cream, thyme, crushed red pepper and nutmeg, if using. Cook for about 5-7 minutes to slightly thicken sauce.
Stir cooked pasta into sauce. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated Parmesan cheese and extra red pepper flakes.
Leftover gemelli can be refrigerated for up to three days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave over medium heat. Stir in a bit of milk or cream if needed during reheating to keep the sauce nice and creamy.
No need to break the bank here. Any dry white wine works well in a cream sauce. I like using either Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay but a crisp Pinot Gris or drier Pinot Grigio can work, too. Just be sure to choose a wine that you enjoy because the flavor of the reduced wine is infused in the sauce.
Pastas with a cream base do not always freeze well as the sauce may separate and become grainy so I don't recommend freezing this dish for later.
Expert tips for making Creamy Sausage Gemelli Pasta
✔︎ Cook pasta to al dente. You want tender pasta with just a bit of chew. This is important because the pasta continues to cook a bit in the pan as the sauce thickens.
✔︎ The easiest way to break up the sausage as it cooks is to use a meat masher. Works with all types of ground meats!
✔︎ The white wine can take up to 20 minutes to reduce so plan the rest of your meal accordingly. I start the sauce before the pasta so they are done at about the same time.
✔︎ Any type of dry white wine works for this recipe. I used Sauvignon Blanc but choose your favorite.
✔︎ Cook the sauce over medium heat for at least 5 minutes after you add the cream to thicken it. This is not a thick, Alfredo-type of sauce made with a flour roux, so know it will be naturally thinner but shouldn't be soupy.
✔︎ Want to add more veggies to this dish? Chopped spinach, kale or arugula would all work well.
✔︎ Serve crushed red pepper flakes on the side if you want to add spice to individual servings.
Substitutions and Shortcuts
✘ Make pasta up to two days ahead of time. Reserve ⅓ cup of pasta water in case you need to add it to the sauce when you make it. Cook pasta to al dente and drain well. Toss gemelli with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Cool completely before storing covered in refrigerator.
✘ Make the sauce up to two days ahead of time. Cool completely, place in a sealed container and refrigerate.
✘ Gently reheat any sauce made ahead of time on the stovetop before tossing with pasta. You may need to add reserved pasta water or milk if the sauce is too thick.
✘ Use a hot Italian sausage if you prefer more spice. Or a sweet Italian sausage for a slightly different flavor.
✘ Can't find gemelli pasta? Swap in fusilli instead. This creamy sausage pasta sauce will work with nearly any shape of pasta you have on hand, including linguine, gnocchi and ravioli.
✘ The white wine can be replaced with equal parts chicken or vegetable broth and reduced according to recipe directions.
✘ Don't have shallots? Use a small chopped onion instead.
✘ Fresh herbs give the best flavor, but you can also substitute dried herbs in a pinch.
✘ You can use half and half instead of heavy cream but the flavor won't be quite as rich and the sauce will be thinner. Milk doesn't give the same richness to the sauce and is not recommended.
✘ If you can, spring for the wedge of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and grate it (with a microplane grater) over each bowl of pasta for the perfect finishing touch.
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Creamy Sausage Gemelli Pasta
- 1 pound bulk mild Italian Sausage
- 2 small shallots, finely diced
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 12 ounces dry gemelli pasta, or any medium shape pasta
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
- Pinch nutmeg, optional
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned but not fully cooked, stirring to crumble. Add shallots and mushrooms and cook until shallots and mushrooms are soft and sausage is fully cooked.1 pound bulk mild Italian Sausage, 2 small shallots,, 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
- Add wine and bay leaf to pan with sausage, shallots and mushrooms, and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes1 ½ cups dry white wine, 1 bay leaf
- While wine is reducing, prepare pasta according to package directions, reserving ⅓ cup cooking liquid. Drain and set aside.12 ounces dry gemelli pasta,
- Add cream, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes and nutmeg to wine-sausage mixture in pan and stir to combine. Continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes to slightly thicken sauce. Add cooked pasta to the sausage sauce and stir until combined and heated through. If necessary, thin sauce with reserved cooking liquid, one tablespoon at a time.1 ¼ cups heavy cream, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes,, Pinch nutmeg,
- Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese and extra crushed red pepper flakes.Grated Parmesan cheese
- If you can't find gemelli, use fusilli (or any other medium shaped pasta) instead.
- You can use mild or hot Italian sausage.
- A dry white wine works best in this recipe. I used a Sauvignon Blanc.
- The white wine can be replaced with chicken or vegetable broth and reduced according to recipe directions.
- If you don't have shallots, you can use half of a small onion instead.
- Fresh rosemary also works well in place of the fresh thyme.
- Baby bella mushrooms were used to test this recipe but you can use whatever kind you prefer.
Storage:Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. This pasta does not freeze well as the cream sauce tends to separate and become a bit grainy after the freezing/defrosting process.
Make Ahead Suggestions:
- Make pasta up to two days ahead of time. Reserve ⅓ cup of pasta water in case you need to add it to the sauce when you make it. Cook pasta to al dente and drain well. Toss gemelli with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Cool completely before storing covered in refrigerator.
- Make the sauce up to two days ahead of time. Cool completely, place in a sealed container and refrigerate. Gently reheat on the stovetop before tossing with pasta. You may need to add the reserved pasta water or milk if the sauce is too thick.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.