White Beans and Sausage

White cannellini beans with Italian sausage in a plum tomato sauce.

  • Yield: Serves 4-8


  • 1 lb dried cannellini beans
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 black peppercorns


  • 4 15-ounce cans cannellini beans


  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3-4 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup tomato purée
  • Salt (about 2 teaspoons) and freshly ground black pepper


Preparing dry beans if using

1 Rinse the dry beans under cold running water, removing any stones you may find. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with at least a couple of inches with cold water. Soak for at least 4 hours. (To do a quick soak, you can pour boiling water over the beans and cover by a couple of inches, and just soak for one hour instead of four.)

2 Drain the beans. Return the beans to the pot and add 3 quarts of water to the pot. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, the sage leaves, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 3 teaspoons kosher salt, and the peppercorns. Cover, bring to a simmer on medium heat, and simmer beans for one hour. Lower the heat so that the beans are barely simmering. Cook for an additional 1-2 hours, or until beans are just tender. Note that the fresher the beans the shorter the cooking time, the older the beans the longer the cooking time. Remove from heat and let cool in cooking liquid. Set aside 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the rest from the beans.

Preparing canned beans if using

Taste the liquid in the cans of beans. If it tastes good (and it should), drain the beans and reserve 1/2 a cup of the bean liquid. If the liquid doesn't taste good (which may happen if the can has been sitting around too long), discard the liquid and use 1/2 cup of water instead of the bean liquid in the next step.

Preparing the beans and sausage

3 Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Remove sausages from their casings (if the sausage has come in casings), and fry on the skillet until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Do not stir that much and do not crowd the pan, or the sausage won't brown well. Add the reserved bean cooking (or can) liquid, 4 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

white-beans-sausage-1.jpg white-beans-sausage-2.jpg
white-beans-sausage-3.jpg white-beans-sausage-4.jpg

4 Add the reserved beans and tomato purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer a few minutes longer, stirring gently, until sausage is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Be careful not to break up the beans.

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  • noel

    Very flavorful added onions to round it out.

  • Val

    I made this last night and it was delish! Very flavorful and also super easy!

  • Katie

    I just made this and loved it! I used 4 cans of cannellini beans – I rinsed them, and then heated them up on the stove, simmering in some chicken broth, with garlic, dried sage, olive oil, and salt & pepper.

    I made the rest of the recipe as you suggested, but only put 1 tsp of salt in the sausage/tomato mixture, since I was using canned beans. I used a pretty big pinch of red pepper flakes, as i like spicy.

    Thanks for the great recipe, as usual!

  • Ashley

    Not as good as I thought it would be and hubby even said bland. Good thing I only made a half recipe.

  • Weiwen

    Tried this over spaghetti squash – it was good.

  • Mary

    Thanks – this is delicious. My husband hates pasta & I needed something quick with the few ingredients that I had on hand. This looked great and tastes even better.

  • purvis

    Mmm…. I used canned butter beans, simmered them in chicken broth with the “beans” ingredients, except the sage was dried.

    Then I used 28 oz of smoked beef sausage, cut it into pieces, and followed the rest of the recipe as written. By itself, it was great (even better over the next two days), but as usual, my husband made it even better by adding the following: sprinkle of allspice, generous squirt of fresh lemon, salt, generous sprinkle of tabasco sauce. I ate this for three days straight and was sad when it was gone. :(

  • Susan

    Thanks for the inspiration! This was terrific; made it with a little less EVOO and added extra veggies (red sweet peppers with the onion and garlic and torn/chopped spinach during the last five minutes of simmering). It was a wonderful supper. I’m always inspired by your recipes and marvel at the photographs.

  • Elise

    Hi Janet – you can heat the canned beans (after you rinse them first) with the olive oil, sage, and garlic. You’ll have to improvise.

  • Janet

    So do we skip #2 altoghther? Then how do we have lefteover Bean sauce? Then do we just add the ingredients to the can beans? Someone please answer because I want to make this dish!

  • Veronica

    I just made this dish this past weekend and my children really enjoyed it. I had all the ingredients on hand so it was very quick. Even quicker if I cook the beans ahead of time and just keep them in the freezer until ready to make.

  • Chef JP

    A very delicious recipe packed with the soul of french bistro food. Thanks.

  • Erin

    I have made so many of your recipes, and this one was just the latest success. I threw in some mushrooms too, and soon I was actually looking forward to colder weather, as long as I had this dish to comfort me! Thanks for all of your excellent recipes – you help make this grad student’s life tastier.

  • can

    This is very similiar to a typical Turkish dish. We make it with onions but no sage and usually with pastrami slices or sometimes with sujuk/spicy sausage.
    Beans with pastrami (or bean with sujuk) served usually with pickle and rice.
    Thanks for sharing and bon appetite.

  • Sondra

    I actually just made a very similar dish using chicken breast instead of sausage. It was fantastic…the best part was sopping up the tomato sauce and leftover bits with some crusty italian bread! Hey…if you eliminate the pasta you need to get a hearty dose of carbs from somewhere, right?! Keep the great ideas coming- this is my primary source for comfort foods in the Fall and Winter! THANKS!

  • cristi

    This reminds me of a Cuban stew my grandmother would make for our Sunday dinners. It was also tomato based, except she used garbanzos and instead of italian sausage, she used chorizo.

    It was great to dump on white rice.

  • Susan

    I make something very similar to this and it’s so delicious and filling. If you like brocolli rabe, saute trimmed, chopped rabe after the sausage and before you add the tomatoes and other ingredients (you will some chicken broth, wine, or water too). Once the rabe is nearly cooked to your liking, add in the remaining ingredients. The bitterness of the rabe is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the tomatoes and sausage. Sometimes I use hot sausage instead of the sweet, for a change, but omit the red pepper flake. I use canned beans and add them at the very end.
    Great with crusty bread on a cold day..

  • barbara

    I’ve been eating beans this way over winter as an alternative to meat. We have the left overs for breakfast, piled on toast with cheese and popped under the grill.

  • Mel

    This sounds awesome! I have some italian sausage in the fridge that i was trying to figure out what to do with, so tihs is perfect.

    just one questoin, if you use canned beans, should you just sautee them in olive oil, garlic, sage etc or just literally skip that step altogether?

  • Mosley

    The only thing I would add to this to make it batter would be some Bacom Crumbs. But thats just me. I am also lazy so I would get my beans from a can.

    I will try to make this and blog about it soon. I will be adding bacon. ;)

  • Katerina

    This looks really good! I love white beans in pasta sauce. I made a very similar but vegeterian version of this dish recently
    I totally agree though that if you need to you should totally use canned beans.

  • lydia

    And you can take this dish and toss it, like a sauce, with spaghetti or spaghetti squash, for the ultimate comfort food!