Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Sausage, peppers, and onions. This is one of those classic Italian American street-food, lunch cart dishes. I used to order them at a hole-in-the-wall lunch counter in Burbank, you know the type of place where the big loud guy behind the counter works fast and furious, takes your order (you better know what you want!) and barks it back to the guys on the line, and within minutes you have a huge bread roll in your hand holding more sausage, peppers, and onions than you think you can possibly eat. But eat you do, because they are so so good. And then you have a food coma for the rest of the afternoon, and you eat steamed broccoli for dinner because after that lunch, you just don’t need much for dinner. Yum.

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Sausage, Peppers, and Onions Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

You can use different colored bell peppers, or just stick with green. This recipe uses a combination of sweet and hot sausages, but if you want a milder dish, use only the sweet sausages and reduce the amount of chili pepper flakes in the recipe. (Likewise if you want it hotter, use hot sausages and/or bump up the amount of chili pepper flakes.)

Ingredients

  • 4 Italian sausage links (sweet, hot, or a couple of each)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into 2 to 3 inch long strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 2 to 3 inch long strips
  • 1 bell pepper of another color (yellow or orange or purple), sliced into strips 2-3 inches long
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced into slivers
  • 1 large sweet or yellow onion, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • 1 small (15 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp of dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup Marsala or red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Method

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1 Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan that has a lid. When the oil is hot, add the sausages and brown them slowly. If they sizzle and crackle too much, turn the heat down. You want a gentle browning, not a sear. Cook for several minutes, turning them occasionally so they brown on all sides. When the sausages are browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

2 Increase the heat to high and add the onions and peppers. Toss so they get coated with the oil in the pan and sear them as well as you can, stirring every so often. You want some blackening. Once the onions and peppers soften, sprinkle some salt on them. Once you get some searing on the onions and peppers, add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

3 Add the Marsala or red wine if you are using, and with a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan to release all the browned and blackened bits. Let the wine cook down by half.

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4 Add the tomatoes, oregano and red pepper flakes (if using) and stir well to combine. Add the sausages back in. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the peppers are soft the sausages are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Sausage, peppers and onions will keep in the fridge for several days.

Serve over polenta, or with penne pasta, or load up in a hoagie roll. Any leftover sauce makes a great sauce for pasta.

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63 Comments

  1. jonathan

    The Ubiquitous Sausage, Peppers and Onion Sub (hoagie? for shame!): The last bastion of every NY/NJ street fair or carnival. If you don’t get one, you haven’t embraced the entire experience. If you do get one, it’s quite likely you’ll end up paying for it later.

    (but what a way to go…;)

  2. Barbara Kimmel

    Try substituting one half bottle or can of beer for the wine. Also, I make this whole recipe on the grill. Veggies and garlic sautee in an aluminum pan while sausages grill on top rack (I poke them with a fork to let some of the fat drain). After veggies start to soften and brown (15-20 minutes)-add sausages, tomatoes and beer to pan. Cover with metal lid or aluminum foil and simmer on grill for 20-30 minutes on low.

    Great suggestions, thank you! ~Elise

  3. Mike

    I gave up pork years ago yet I’ve been staring at that picture for a solid five minutes now. I think there may be some drool on my keyboard. I’m going to have to see if I can find some chicken or turkey sausages this weekend and give this one a try…

    • Normi

      Hi Mike! I also gave up pork and beef a while ago, but I made this recipe with smoked turkey sausage and it was delicious! I also drooled on my keyboard when I saw the picture! I added sliced cooked potatoes and served with a plain salad, family loved it! no leftovers though.

  4. Val from PA

    One of the best sandwiches around!!! Of course, your recipe puts me to shame – I usually just use a jar of prepared tomato sauce. Will have to get off my lazy butt next time and try this one! Oh, and the pictures are fabulous… Wish I could make them come to life right now!

  5. Kalynskitchen

    I just made something very similar to this for a quick dinner a couple of nights ago, but just ate the sausage with peppers and onions piled on top, no bun. Yours looks delicious!

  6. Tina

    Oh my! I grew up eating this and still make it quite often. The only difference is that I use a lot of fresh basil instead of the oregano. That’s the way my very Sicilian mother made it. A suggestion for making a meal of it; Mom would sometimes saute sliced potatoes in with the peppers and onions. The tomato/wine sauce soaks in to the potatoes and makes them incredibly flavorful. We also make a variation of this using chicken broth instead of the tomatoes.

  7. Melissa

    Mmmm, that looks SO good. I usually cook the peppers and onions separate because I like them with a little crunch left, then toss in an Italian frying pepper to the sauce for the flavor. But I have to say, this looks so good I’ll have to give it a try. Never thought of using Marsala wine either, always used red or white. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Mrs. L

    I happen to have red, orange and green bell peppers waiting to be used and this is a perfect way to use them. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Tracy

    We do spicy Italian sausage (sliced), onions, and green peppers. Usually have as seconds after pasta. Never in a roll, but with plenty of bread (the second utensil).

  10. BreAnne

    OMG that looks so good right now! I grew up on just the sausage and peppers. My grandma was Italian, dad 1/2, me a measly 1/4! But I embrace that 1/4! I have added onion over the years and *gasp* cook it in a wok! I don’t know it comes out so good that way and I can cook it all up in one pan. I’m definitely going to try this version, thanks!

  11. Vanessa

    This is not only a popular fixture/street food in NY/NJ but in PA as well, at least in NEPA. This is a meal that I grew up on and have tons of memories with. Often served at block parties, mom & pop owned restaurants, and most hoagie shops around here. My Mother made this a few times as a kid for us as well. I will definitely have to give this recipe a try. My mouth is literally watering from the pictures, could be because I’m pregnant or just because it’s that darn good.

  12. Carey

    Renee: Check out Aidells chicken sausage. Good stuff!

  13. Grace

    I grew up eating sausage & peppers and now my kids love it too! It is great to serve when the kids are having friends over, everyone loves it. It’s also a great dish when serving a crowd or if you need to bring a dish to a get together.

  14. Jessi

    I just made this and it was amazing. The recipe was easy to follow and it turned out great. No leftovers.

  15. Chandrika

    That is one of my favorite sandwich with sausage and pepper.I always make similar version of the sandwich, mostly prepare with spicy chicken sausage. I have never used wine in the reparation though. Wine sounds good to me. Next time, I will try to use the wine too.

    Thanks
    Chandrika

  16. Sharon

    When I was growing up, my Italian aunt and her husband would throw a Labor Day BBQ every year. They always served Italian sausage sandwiches. My uncle cooked the sausages on the grill and my aunt did the peppers and onions in her secret gravy (tomato sauce)! Last summer when my family came to visit I made made sausages with peppers and onios and we had a great time enjoying them again and reminiscing. I pre cooked the sausages the day before and my nephew finished them on the grill. I cheated and used my favorite jarred spaghetti sauce. Terrific!

  17. Dan

    My wife (whose Mom was born in Sicily and Father is “Ellis Island” Italian) swears by taking the casing off of the sausage.
    Also you may want to try a nice beer (Heineken and Yuengling are our preferred) just as this recipe utilizes wine.
    If you have no idea for sausage and peppers -this is a great recipe.

  18. Annie

    Thank you for this recipe!!! I always made the sandwitch without any tomatoes and thought it was delicious, but this, OMG!
    I had the leftovers with pasta like you suggested, so good!!

  19. charlie hilken

    Well, I made 50 mutton and Gloucester Old Spot sausages this morning and I and the missus ate four of them in my own version of Boston Baked Beans. Delicious. I make my sausages using hog casings, rusk and a hand-driven stainless steel mincer. Ever so easy but it don’t half make the old arm ache!

  20. Angela

    Growing up in CNY (central NY), I take my SOP seriously. Though I can’t get Buddha or Basilio sausage down here in NC, the housemade Italian sausage from Earth Fare did the trick. This was yummy and simple, though I did have trouble getting black on the veggies. Might be because I double the recipe and cooked it in a big Le Creuset. In any case, it was certainly DELICIOUS and is just as good – maybe better – day 2. Thanks, Elise!

  21. Jessica P.

    Elise – I have to ask, did your story refer to Pinocchio’s in Burbank, on Magnolia? I’m so curious! Best Italian lunch counter in the world!! :)

    Could be, it sounds familiar. It’s been a while. ~Elise

  22. EC Strickley

    Made this sausage dish for my husband Sunday night, knowing he loves hot links. Used both hot and sweet sausage since I prefer the sweet. What a hit it was! I put his on a hoagie with swiss cheese and mine went over penna pasta with parmesan cheese melted on top. WOW! This one is a definate keeper!

  23. Marita

    I made this for dinner last night using some really good chicken sausage and served it over homemade polenta, recipe also from this site. It was fantastic! I’ll definitely be making it again. And who knew polenta was so easy to make? I think I just found a new staple side-dish.
    Thanks for the wonderful recipes!

  24. Brett

    This was very good. I made some alterations, for one I used some beer and a bit of Southern Comfort (for sausages and brats you can’t use wine). Since I for some reason was out of red pepper flakes, I used some habanero salsa in addition to the crushed tomatoes and it turned out fantastic. The sauce it produced was awesome. Had it on a hoagie with some mustard, the hoagie couldnt handle and ended up eating with a knife and fork. Was delish..

    Wow, sounds great! ~Elise

  25. Carolyn

    Elise, this would work with veggie/vegan sausages too. Whether purchased or home made, the method would be the same- gentle frying initially, and then the braising that happens after the peppers and onions are caramelized. I love the recipes I have tried for veggie sausage, and I was thinking about a hoagie application, so here it is, thanks!

  26. Jen

    Thanks so much for this one. I made it using vegetarian soy italian sausages from Trader Joes and it turned out fabulous!

  27. Susan

    This is absolutely delicious! I am one of your lurkers who often copies your recipes for future reference. I made it this afternoon with chicken italian sausages and I could hardly wait until it finished cooking! Thanks for a great recipe…

  28. Dan

    The picture got me immediately. I had to make this dish. I used chicken spicy Italian sausage and it worked out great. Rich tomato flavor sounded good to me too, so I added a small can of tomato paste and browned it a little before adding the Marsala and crushed tomatoes. It turned out so well, I ate it from a bowl with neither bread nor pasta. Delicious – thanks!

  29. Miranda

    Looks wonderful. My husband loves sausage. I actually made my own the other day. It turned out great!

  30. steff

    Making this tonight with turkey sausages because I had them defrosted. This looks Evil good! :)

  31. Liz

    I was out of red wine and red pepper flakes. I substituted with what I had, vegetable stock and cayenne pepper. Turned out delish! Will surely be making it again.

  32. stephanie

    I use your recipes all the time, and several of them have made it into my regular rotation. But this time, I have to tell you, my VERY picky husband LOVED this. He said it was probably his favorite food now, and wants it again tonight (I made it last night). so thank you! I’m not usually big on sausage, but I loved it too. Its pretty tough to please both of us, but you did it! Oh yeah, and I had mine in a whole wheat tortilla because we ran out of buns-still delicious!

  33. Andrea

    This is a staple at our house too. I adore it. Yours looks fab. We usually use turkey based sausages due to some family member food preferences, and it is still delicious.

  34. Orrie Vela

    Made twice now and both times came out Delicious, used red wine ( the wine I had at the time )1/2 cup.
    Hoagie Bun, also added thin slice of Avocado the taste was awesome !!!!

  35. Erin M.

    Wow this was yet another awesome recipe from you! Thanks so much. I will definitely make this again sometime. It is the perfect compliment to a beer and a baseball game after work :]

  36. Mrs. L

    This was so good! My husband and I made sandwiches with the mixture and we loved it. It will be a dish we make quite often.

  37. alicia

    I followed the recipe exactly and didn’t have any wine ( wished I’d known about using a little beer) and it was absolutely delicious! I don’t care for sausages myself so I left them out of my sandwich and man oh man, my husband and I both loved it. Thank you!

  38. MC

    We tried this camping, though the recipe was simplified a little. Tried it with beer and made it up in a cast iron pot over an open flame under the stars. We brought the spices in a little baggie ahead of time. I can’t emphasize enough how good it was.

    This is why I love this site! A good mix of complex recipes as well as those you can make while camping and they are equally delicious.

  39. Rob

    Italian sausages and peppers is something I always take on camping trips. It is so fast and easy on a camp-stove with a good ole black skillet! A one pan meal. I usually remove the skins from the sausage and use fresh tomatoes (canned would be easier). With the un-skinned sausage, I usually brown the sausage a bit, breaking it up, then add onions and peppers, cook them down some, then finish with the tomatoes. Herbs and spices are always “to taste.” It’s always a hit! Have never used the wine or beer. I’m making it according to your recipe as I type this, except have no wine and am using the beer instead. Can’t wait! My mouth is watering now! I bet chicken livers would be good this way, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  40. David

    Wonderful!

    My wife and I followed your recipe (including the optional wine and pepper flakes), and we had it over polenta. It was truly wonderful, and we’ll be having it quite frequently.

    Thanks for the recipe, Elise.

  41. Cat

    Hey it’s snowing today and my car is terrible in the snow. Can I substitute the can of crushed tomatoes for a few diced tomatoes and some sauce?
    Thanks!

    Sure! ~Elise

  42. LC

    The dish came out as good as it looks in your photo. The only thing I’m going to change is to fry the sausage without the olive oil. The oil that seeps out of the sausage is more than enough to do the job and I don’t want to incorporate that oil into the dish. After draining the sausage oil, I would then add the olive oil to the same pan and proceed as instructed in your recipe. Thanks for an outstanding recipe and keeping it simple.

  43. nixternal

    Tonight is my second time making this dish. The first time the family absolutely loved it. The first time however I didn’t do the crushed tomatoes and it was still amazing. Tonight I am adding the crushed tomatoes and trying that. Last time I threw it over a bed of pasta and tonight we are going to try it on some italian bread. Right now it smells so good :) Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  44. Yeni

    Tried with ostrich sausage. Delish! So lean but not tough or chewy. The sauce compliment it beautifully.

  45. Zina

    Thank you! great recipe! It was amazing. I dont like bell peppers so I didnt use those. Also I used Moscato instead. Great. This was my first dish that I made. I dont cook and my boyfriend is out of town;he usually cooks. I took a picture and sent it to him.

    Atlanta Diva

  46. trevor c

    Do you have to remove the skin on the bell peppers? When I blister mine and remove the skin the peppers never look vibrant. is leaving the skin on and eating ok?

    We do not peel the skin of the peppers for this recipe. ~Elise

  47. Justin

    I was wondering if honey would be a good addition if I’m going for a sweeter taste. And how much I should use. I’m using sweet Italian turkey sausage and vine sweet mini peppers. And I like sausage with honey. But I’m still getting use to making home made things so I like to have someone opinion.

  48. Shirl

    This is delicious! I have made it twice now. It is a staple during the summer garden months as I have plenty of peppers, onions and tomatoes on hand. Thank you for posting your recipes and pictures they all look yummy!

  49. Karissa

    I’m pregnant. I wanted something great to eat. So I found this and ran to the store. I used stewed tomatoes instead of crushed. I took pictures of each step I did to make these. Just 9 more minutes and I’ll be in heaven eating these. I also will be posting how I made these on my youtube with you link and directions!

  50. diane

    I am having a commumion party and I will be preparing the food myself. This is a perfect dish to serve. My question is, can I prepare this and freeze it? I plan to cook the week prior to the party. Will it still be good?

    I haven’t tried freezing this. If you do, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  51. Becca

    Wow!! I made this for Super Sunday (the Superbowl) today & I wish I had doubled the recipe.. there’s not a drop left! Even my notoriously picky 19 yo DS said it was “amazing” & asked me to make more tonight! Thank you so much Elise for posting this winning recipe! :-)

  52. Marjorie Hansen

    I’ve always heard about the very East Coast traditional sausage & peppers, but had never tried it before. I had all the ingrediants for the recipe-and finally tried it. It was SO good! Thank you for posting it way back when. I was glad to see a recipe for it here, I’ve always liked whatever recipe I’ve found here

  53. merd

    I like to serve this in a bowl by itself or even over some of these whole wheat/flax seed noodles by alDente in a little olive oil. After the sausage skins soften along with the veggies, I slice them into little coins and let them sit in the sauce on low for a bit. Seriously… this is a handed down from the grandparents favorite. Biggest problem for me is it tastes sooo good that I end up eating way too much in one sitting.

  54. Justin

    If you really want to gild the lily, take your penne off the heat a minute early. Put a tablespoon or two of the pasta water into the Marsala sauce. Drain the rest and toss the penne into the simmering sauce for the final minute. That’s the secret.

  55. Vinny Marino

    Never thought I could handle this, because I have GERD. My wife says she loves this from the fair every year. I resisted cuz I didn’t wan to try it for two years (yes I do the cooking). Wanted to surprise her so pulled this recipe up on th IPad and cooked this. I thought it was sooooo good. I only ate one small piece of the sausage and a lt of the sauce. It was soooo good. So far, I am ok, will see what he night burns. Ths was so god I am going to cook extra sauce and pepper/onions next time and reheat with garlic seared shrimp. I see his easy very quick and cheap recipe resurfacing with other meats too.

  56. Joey

    This has been my go-to sausage and peppers recipe for at least a year now. I find you tend to have a little bit extra peppers-n-onions leftover, but they mix great in with an omelet the next day!

    Anyway, seriously the best rendition of the basic recipe we all get too used to. I always add the wine, and have found even Marsala works nicely! I’d like to try adding mushrooms in– maybe for the future.

    5 stars, all types of pork sausage have worked well, too!

  57. Rosemarie

    This dish looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it. My question to you is if I wanted to add potatoes to the dish, at what point would I toss them in the mix? Thank you!

    • Elise

      Hi Rosemarie, I would cook the potatoes separately, and then serve the sausage and peppers over them or on the side.

  58. Jenna

    Hi There – Planning to make this tonight!! Question – with the red wine what kind would you suggest? And what would that add to the flavor?? If we did beer, what kind would you recommend (IPA, Stout, etc…)??

    Thanks in advance!

  59. wendy

    Ive cooked this twice now, very good recipe. Thank you for sharing :) Did eat on a hoagie with spicey mustard!

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