Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Smoked Mozzarella

Turkey sausage is rather lean. If you use regular pork sausage, cook it up first, then discard the rendered fat and use the residual fat in the pan to cook the onions and garlic.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 14-ounce cans crushed tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 pound Italian turkey sausage, bulk or cut into 1/2-inch slices*
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 pound fusilli pasta
  • Salt
  • 3 ounces smoked Mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

*If you put the sausage in the freezer first for a half hour, it will be easier to slice.


1 Sauté onions and garlic: Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.


2 Add tomatoes and sausage: Add the tomatoes to the pan (if using canned whole tomatoes shred them with your fingers as you add them to the pan). Include the juices.

Add the sausage and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.

pasta-sausage-smoked-mozz-method-2 pasta-sausage-smoked-mozz-method-3

3 Cook the pasta: While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a teaspoon and a half of salt for every quart of water.

Cook the pasta according to pasta package instructions, until al dente, or cooked through, but still a bit firm. Drain the water from the pasta.

Combine the pasta and the sauce in a large serving bowl.

4 Add smoked mozzarella and Parmesan: Stir in the cubed smoked mozzarella cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese has softened and is a bit melty. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


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  • Mike

    I made this a few days ago and it was great. I was tempted to just use regular mozzarella but used the smoked instead and I’m glad I did. The smoked mozzarella adds so much flavor to this dish.


  • Karen

    Just made this last weekend and it is delicious!! Leftovers are just as good.


  • Elise Lafosse

    This dish is fantastic. I love the smoked mozzarella in it. I have made it twice now and I am so in love with it we seem to be having it now once a week. It’s great having a new pasta recipe as I usually serve pasta once a week. Thank you Elise once again! Elise Lafosse from West Hartford, CT


  • Ophelia

    Oh. My. Goodness. I made this for dinner tonight and it is amazing. My husband is working late tonight and I need to exercise self control so there is some left for him when he gets home!

    I would have never thought to put these flavors together, but this will enter the regular rotation in my house. Thanks, Elise!


  • Purvis

    I’ve never had smoked mozzarella before. By itself, it tasted a bit strong–more like “smoke” than “smoked.” But the amount that’s in this recipe is just enough to take it to the next level. We LOVED it. I didn’t have turkey Italian sausage on hand, so I used smoked turkey sausage from the deli aisle instead. Still great. And easy.


  • Lisa

    This is fabulous. I used petite diced tomatoes instead – It is a keeper!


  • Nardhelain

    Made this for dinner tonight – yummy! I had a pound of bulk hot Italian pork sausage to use up, so I left out the red pepper, and I used a 28 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes I had in my pantry. They were perfect in this dish.


  • Scott

    I made this last night and it was fantastic. I had never tried making tomato sauce like this before and it was surprisingly easy. Could probably stand to simmer a bit longer and thicken up even more, but the taste was perfect. I had a bag of pizzeria cheese (shredded mozzarella, smoked provolone, and parmesan) in the fridge, so I went with that. The leftovers look better than what we ate, partly because after I made our bowls, I mixed the rest of the noodles into the sauce and let them simmer together, soaking up some of the runniness in the sauce.

    What I love about turkey recipes is that I rarely notice I’m eating the turkey version of whatever it was. It just tastes great and has little to no fat/grease to mess with.

    If I did this again, I might try searing the sausages whole first (or maybe grilling over charcoal/wood) and then chopping and adding them to the sauce halfway through.


  • Lou

    Jennie-o makes a good Italian turkey sausage which is super easy to find and still delicious! Wish I could have found smoked mozzarella because the recipe just is not the same without it. Still delicious, easy, filling and well received by all who ate it! My personal preference is extra garlic and a little basil! Thank you Elise! You are amazing and have not failed me once:) thank you for making such delicious and well thought out recipes and giving us regular cooks the ability to create something great

    • Elise Bauer

      You’re welcome Lou! I’m so glad you made the recipe work for you, even without the smoked mozz.

  • Kelly

    My husband said this was the best thing I have ever made and to definetelly keep this recipe. I had a few change just because I couldn’t find the ingrediates or I was using what I had on hand. I used two cans of diced tomatoes instead of whole because they were in my cubbard. I couldn’t find smoked Mozzerella so I used 8 oz Hoffman hickory smoked swiss and cheddar

    I used mild italian sausage and served it with penne pasta. So Good! I am so happy I found this site. Every receipe is a winner. I visit the site every week for ideas for dinner. Thank you so much for putting these amazing recipes out there for all of us aspiring cooks.

  • Corinna

    I made this last night. My family loved it!
    I didn’t have smoked mozzarella cheese, but I had regular mozzarella and liquid smoke. I used a few drops of the smoke and it worked very well.
    The only other change I made was instead of red pepper flakes, I used one red chili seeded and deveined and chopped finely and sauteed with the onion and garlic.
    It made a huge amount and will make great left overs for several days. (I already had a bowl for breakfast!)
    Thank you!!!!!!!

  • Debbie

    I made this recipe last night. Since I didn’t have all the ingredients, I made a few adjustments. I used Cajun sausage instead of Italian turkey sausage and I only had fresh Mozzarella cheese and it wasn’t smoked. I also used butterfly pasta since I ran out of fusilli.

    Despite the modifications, the recipe was fabulous. My husband asked me to make this one again. We both love spicy food so the Cajun sausage worked well.

    Thank you for sharing these recipes. Sometimes I forget my manners. I make recipes I find on blogs like yours and then forget to return to let you know how it came out. I know I can always count on you. It seems that every recipe of yours that I’ve made …has been wonderful and so tasty.

    Thank you,

  • Jessica

    I made this last night and it was sooooooo good!! Hubby said it was one of the ‘better’ dishes I’ve made (he was careful, since the night before I made the sweet and sour chicken from your site, and he said that was AMAZING). One thing though, I don’t know if that cheese is super strong, but both our stomach’s were gurgling/upset for hours after eating!

  • Friday

    Sounds good. But, this is a very basic sauce. No salt or oregano or sugar or anything?

    No, all the seasoning should be in the sausage. ~Elise

  • Arcey

    Made this for a pot luck the other night and it was quite good — a big hit! I used brown rice penne pasta from Trader Joe’s because one of the group is allergic to wheat. It was just fine using the alternate pasta.

    I used pork Italian sausage, added some oregano, fresh basil, and fresh tomatoes to the sauce, as well as the canned tomatoes, and it turned out great. I would say to use a whole pound of pasta, rather than 3/4 of a pound.

    Rather than slicing the sausage before cooking, I’d suggest cooking them whole, browning on all sides (doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through), then removing from the pan and sauteeing the onions, garlic, etc. without washing the pan, using a little more oil, and the fat and browned bits from the sausage. It’s easy to slice the sausage when it’s been cooked before slicing, and cuts out one step in the above recipe.

    I don’t usually like smoked mozzarella, but it was perfect in this recipe — I guess the amount was just right to give it a deepness of flavor, without overpowering the dish.

    I’ll definitely make this again. It was easy and very tasty! Thanks again for another great recipe idea.

  • Amy

    Just made this over the weekend and am finishing up the leftovers. Loved it! I couldn’t find any smoked mozzarella at my grocery store, so picked up some smoked gouda at the deli counter. I enjoyed it; but would really like to try it with smoked mozzarella…do you know if this can normally be found in the grocery store, and if so, which brand? Thanks!

  • Kristin

    My work makes a smoked mozzarella pasta salad that also includes spinach, sundried tomatoes, garlic, and penne pasta. There is some mayo to bind it all together as it is more of a pasta salad, but I bet a hot version substituting with a cream sauce would work wonders.

  • Beatriz

    Hi Elise,
    I played around with lots of smoked cheeses in the last two years (smoked swiss, smoked provolone, smoked mozzarella, smoked white and Longhorn cheddar, smoked fontina) so I could find out which one I liked most for smoky mac’n’cheese. Well, about $5 worth of smoked white cheddar was my favorite. And you’re right, the flavor goes a long way so I mix it with Sharp White Cheddar. I love your blog recipes. Thank you so much for all your hard work and amazing photos!

  • sara

    I like to do a very similar pasta with sausage (we like turkey sausage, but also really like the hot italian sausage we can get locally– next time I’ll use half and half!) and fresh mozzarella boccocine, but I’ve never tried it with smoked mozzarella! I love smoked mozzarella on pizza so I’m sure it’d be great here.

  • mantha

    Lettuce and avocado sounds nice to go with this — I was thinking something green with a little bitter zing to it might go well too, like broccoli rabe.

    You are right about the smoked mozzarella — it is quite strong and a little goes a good way for flavor. But it’s a great addition to a dish like this. I think the leftovers might make a cold pasta salad, as well as being heated up.

  • Mary Van Dyke

    Yummy! I am can’t wait to try this out! Your smoked mozzarella description sounds wonderful! What kind of salad who you pair with this for the health nuts? An Italian, or. . ?

    With almost every meal we have a simple fresh lettuce salad with avocado and an olive oil and Meyer lemon dressing. ~Elise

  • Carolyn

    Hi Elise,

    Just FYI that Rumiano (based out of Crescent City but packaged in Willows) makes and sells smoked mozz. I was lucky to find some a few weeks ago at the Grocery Outlet, of all places, but they also sell at some Sacramento-based farmers’ markets.

    Recipe sounds delicious and practical for weekend dinners, thanks!

  • Kathy - Panini Happy

    Thanks for the link, Elise! Your flavor description is just right – like a mozzarella version of Gouda. Similar smokiness, but melts much better. :-)

  • [email protected]

    Sausage and smoked Mozzarella has to go in the food-pairing Hall of Fame, along with bacon and eggs, chocolate and peanut butter, melon and prosciutto.

    We live in a place were good turkey sausage is hard to come by, so we make our own with ground turkey and an Italian sausage spice mix. Easy. Reasonably healthful. Delicious with smoked Mozzarella

  • Jessica

    When you buy the sausage, is it the kind that is raw (imagining brats) or pre-cooked, ready to eat (the fancy gourmet kind you see)?

    Raw. ~Elise

  • Erin

    This looks delicious, and I can’t wait to try it!

    One question, though. I am highly sensitive to peppers (bordering on allergic) and am therefore hesitant about the red pepper flakes – will it drastically change the flavor if I eliminate them? Do you have any suggestions for a replacement/alternative to the red pepper flakes?

    I would just keep them out. Though make sure that chili pepper flakes are not an ingredient in the sausage that you get. “Hot” or spicy Italian sausage may have chili in it. ~Elise

  • Violet Smith

    Hi Elise,

    I always enjoy reading your Simply Recipes.
    For the pasta with turkey sausage and smoked mozzarella, do you think substituting a tiny bit of liquid smoke which I have on hand now in combination with the mozzarella would be okay? I may try it since that’s what I have on hand along with all the other ingredients, except also ground beef versus turkey sausage. Just wondering what your take was on the liquid smoke. I bought it once for something else and haven’t really used it since.


    Violet Smith

    We just used liquid smoke yesterday in a recipe, love it. It’s just a distillation of the smoke from smoking hickory. You could try it, just a little little bit, if you wanted to in this recipe. Let us know how it works out for you if you do. ~Elise

  • lorie

    Is the sausage precooked? It looks absolutely delish!

    Like regular Italian pork sausage, the turkey sausage is raw. ~Elise

  • My Simple Food

    I’ve never heard of smoked mozarella. Interesting. How did the overall dish taste like?

    Smokey, cheesey, sausagey pasta. ~Elise