Slow Cooker Meatball Subs

These Slow Cooker Meatball Subs are extra tender and flavorful thanks to a low and slow simmer in marinara sauce.

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I think I just fell in love with my slow cooker again. These slow cooker meatball subs are so incredibly tender, flavorful, and just all-around decadent thanks to that low and slow simmer in marinara sauce. It’s magical! And the best part is that this recipe makes a pretty big batch, so you can freeze half for later (use them in subs or on pasta)! Cook once, eat twice. 🙌

Overhead view of slow cooker meatball subs lined up in a row.

Do I Have to Use a Slow Cooker?

You don’t have to use a slow cooker to make these amazing homemade meatball subs, but I’m telling you right now that you want to. That low and slow simmer in the sauce makes the most incredibly tender and flavorful meatballs you’ll ever eat. If you don’t have a slow cooker, follow the cooking instructions for my basic homemade meatballs, then pile them into your buns, top with cheese, and bake till the cheese is melted.

What Kind of Sauce to Use

I tested this recipe with the most basic, inexpensive, generic marinara sauce I could find at the grocery store to make sure they were still totally delicious even if you can’t spring for an expensive sauce. But feel free to use your favorite store-bought or homemade marinara sauce for these meatballs. You’ll need 3 cups of sauce, in total.

Freeze Half for Later!

This recipe makes about 24 hefty meatballs so if you use three meatballs per sub you’ll get 8 sandwiches. If that’s a little too much for your household to eat within a few days, go ahead and freeze half of the meatballs and sauce to use on pasta or more subs later! You can reheat the frozen sauce and meatballs in the microwave or in a saucepot over low heat.

P.S. We reheated the assembled meatball subs from the photos in the air fryer the next day and they were BOMB! We air fried at 350°F for about five minutes for the most delicious leftovers ever.

Side view of a meatball sub on a plate with the baking dish in the background.
Side view of a meatball sub on a plate with the baking dish in the background.

Slow Cooker Meatball Subs

These Slow Cooker Meatball Subs are extra tender and flavorful thanks to a low and slow simmer in marinara sauce.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $19.43 recipe / $2.43 each
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 subs
Calories 506kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs $0.32
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan $0.88
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 2 large eggs $0.39
  • 1/4 cup milk $0.05
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage $4.99
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (90% lean or higher) $6.99

Subs

  • 8 buns or rolls $3.50
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella $0.62

Instructions

  • Lightly whisk two large eggs in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the Italian sausage and ground beef to a large bowl with the whisked egg, breadcrumb mixture, and milk Use your hands to mix the ingredients together. Avoid overmixing the meat.
  • Divide and shape the meat into 24 meatballs, about 3 Tbps each. The easiest way to do this is to first divide the meat mixture into four equal portions, then divide each of those in half to make eight equal portions. Finally, divide each of the 8 portions of meat into thirds and shape them into balls to make 24 meatballs.
  • Place half of the meatballs in the bottom of a slow cooker in a single layer and cover with half of the marinara sauce. Add the rest of the meatballs then top with the remaining sauce.
  • Cook the meatballs on high for three hours or low for six hours.
  • After cooking, use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the meatballs has reached 165°F. Give the meatballs and sauce a good stir to remix the sauce (there will be some fat pooling on the surface).
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the buns on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, then pile three meatballs into each bun. Spoon some of the extra sauce over each one. Top each sub with a little shredded cheese.
  • Bake the meatball subs in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the buns are toasty. Enjoy hot!

Nutrition

Serving: 1sub | Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 31g | Sodium: 943mg | Fiber: 2g
Close up side view of slow cooker meatball subs lined up and garnished with parsley.

How to Make Slow Cooker Meatball Subs – Step by Step Photos

egg and breadcrumb mixture

Lightly whisk two large eggs in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated Parmesan, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Pre-mixing these ingredients helps them incorporate more evenly into the meat without having to overmix the meat.

Meatball ingredients in a bowl

Add the whisked egg, breadcrumb mixture, ¼ cup milk, 1 lb. Italian sausage, and 1 lb. ground beef to a bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together.

Shaped meatballs one held in a hand.

Divide and shape the meat mixture into 24 meatballs. The easiest way to divide the mixture evenly is to first divide it into four equal portions. Divide each of those in half to make eight equal-sized pieces. Finally, dive each of the eight sections into three meatballs.

Sauce being poured over the meatballs in the slow cooker.

Add half of the meatballs to the slow cooker in a single layer, then cover with half of the marinara sauce. Add the rest of the meatballs in a second layer and pour the remaining sauce over top, making sure all the meatballs are covered in sauce.

Lid being placed on the slow cooker.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for three hours or low for six hours.

Slow cooked meatballs in the slow cooker.

After cooking, use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the meatballs has reached 165°F. You’ll see some fat pooling on the surface, but don’t worry, that deliciousness will be stirred right back into the sauce.

Finished slow cooker meatballs in the slow cooker.

Stir the meatballs in the sauce to make sure everything is evenly combined. These meatballs can now be used in subs or even on a plate of pasta!

Meatballs in subs in a baking dish.

To make the meatball subs, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place your buns on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Fill each bun with three meatballs and spoon some of the sauce over top.

Shredded mozzarella on the meatball subs.

Top each sub with a little shredded mozzarella.

Baked meatball subs in the baking dish.

Bake the meatball subs in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the buns are toasty.

Overhead view of baked meatball subs garnished with parsley.

Enjoy the meatballs hot! I garnished with chopped parsley for some color, but the parsley isn’t needed for flavor. :)

Side view of a meatball sub on a plate with the baking dish in the back.

TRY THESE OTHER MEATBALL RECIPES:

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Sausage and Vegetable Skillet

This super fast and easy Sausage and Vegetable Skillet is the ultimate busy-day meal and is perfect for meal prep!

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I’ve been obsessed with this super simple Sausage and Vegetable Skillet lately, making it at least once per week. There’s no chopping, it only takes a few ingredients, it’s super filling, packed with color and flavor, and it makes the perfect meal prep! Plus, it’s quite flexible and can take a lot of different random substitutions and add-ins!

skillet full of sausage and vegetables from above

What’s in the Sausage and Vegetable Skillet?

This meal is a result of me scavenging my fridge and freezer for whatever I had left and tossing it all into a skillet. And wouldn’t you know, it tasted great! The skillet basically includes some sort of seasoned meat (in this case sausage), frozen cauliflower, frozen peppers and onions, frozen kale, and your favorite seasoning.

What Kind of Meat to Use

It’s important to use some sort of pre-seasoned meat for this skillet for maximum flavor. In the photos here, I’ve used Italian sausage, but you could also use chorizo, or I’ve even used some leftover Chili Rubbed Pulled Pork. If you do plan to try this with a plain ground meat (turkey, chicken, pork, beef) you’ll want to add seasoning to the meat as it cooks as well as seasoning the skillet at the end.

What Else Can I Add?

You can experiment with adding other frozen vegetables, like broccoli, corn, peas, green beans, etc. Or try adding in some beans or roasted potatoes to bulk it up a bit. Another way to bulk this up is to increase the vegetables (you might want to increase the seasoning if you do so).

Extra toppings are always fun, like a fried egg, avocado, sour cream, cheese, salsa, or any other sauce or dressing that you like. But me? I keep it simple and just eat it as-is!

How to Serve Sausage and Vegetables

I’ve been eating this dish just the way it is straight out of the skillet, but if you want to bulk it up even more you can serve it over rice or mashed potatoes. A little Garlic Bread would also be awesome with this meal!

Sausage and Vegetables in glass meal prep containers.
Sausage and Vegetables in glass meal prep containers.

Sausage and Vegetable Skillet

This super fast and easy Sausage and Vegetable Skillet is the ultimate busy-day meal and is perfect for meal prep!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Meal Prep
Cuisine American
Total Cost $8.91 recipe / $2.23 serving
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.25 cups each
Calories 484kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage $5.99
  • 1/2 lb. frozen cauliflower florets $1.00
  • 1/2 lb. frozen peppers and onions $1.00
  • 1/4 lb. frozen kale $0.83
  • ½ tsp seasoning salt or seasoning blend (or to taste) $0.05

Instructions

  • Add the cooking oil and sausage to a skillet. Cook the sausage over medium heat until brown and crispy.
  • Add the cauliflower, peppers and onions, and kale to the skillet with the sausage. Continue to stir and cook until the vegetables are heated through.
  • Add a liberal amount (or to taste) of your favorite seasoning salt or seasoning blend and stir to combine. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cups | Calories: 484kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 40g | Sodium: 1178mg | Fiber: 5g
Side view of sausage and vegetables in the skillet, close up.

How to Make Sausage and Vegetable Skillet – Step by Step Photos

Browned sausage in a skillet.

Add a tablespoon of cooking oil to a skillet and add the Italian sausage (or whatever seasoned meat you prefer). Cook the sausage until it is brown and crispy.

Frozen vegetables added to the skillet.

Add ½ lb. frozen cauliflower florets, ½ lb. frozen bell peppers and onions, and ¼ lb. frozen kale to the skillet. You don’t have to measure these exactly, just estimate based on the weight of the bag (if it’s a 12 oz. bag, estimate ⅔ of the bag to get ½ lb.).

Cooked vegetables and sausage in the skillet.

Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are heated through. Don’t overcook the vegetables.

Seasoning being sprinkled over the skillet.

Then just add a liberal amount of your favorite seasoning blend. I’m using Tony Chachere’s here, but you can use just about any seasoning blend. I tend to use seasoning blends that already contain salt, but if yours doesn’t, just keep in mind that you’ll want to add some salt to help make the flavors in the skillet pot.

Finished sausage and vegetable skillet.

And that’s it! The skillet is done! The fat and seasoning from the sausage adds a ton of flavor and richness to the entire skillet, and then the added seasoning at the end adds a final layer of flavor. It’s simple, but SO GOOD.

Sausage and vegetable skillet in glass meal prep containers.

And now my lunches for the next few days are done! :)

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Easy Homemade Meatballs

These easy homemade meatballs are freezer-friendly and versatile. Keep a batch in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners later!

The post Easy Homemade Meatballs appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love meatballs and have several recipes for fun meatball recipe variations on the website already, but I wanted to have one good basic and easy homemade meatball recipe that could be used in several different meals. That way you can keep a batch of these tasty meatballs in your freezer and use them in different quick weeknight meals later. I’m all about making things easy and uncomplicated!

A plate full of spaghetti and meatballs with a fork twirling the pasta

This homemade meatball recipe is super simple, pared-down, and basic for when you need something fast, easy, and uncomplicated. The other advantage to keeping these meatballs simple is that it makes them more versatile! Because the flavor profile is simple, you can pair these meatballs with a variety of sauces and meals.

And as always, I’ve got a couple of upgrade options for you below if you do want to take these meatballs up a notch and make something a little fancier.

Why Do Meatballs Have Egg and Breadcrumbs?

Egg and breadcrumbs are added to meatballs to help hold together, and the combination helps give the meatballs a slightly more tender texture. While I have made some meatballs without eggs and breadcrumbs in the past (see my Beef Kofta Meatballs), they don’t hold together quite as well and the meat has a more firm texture, similar to that of a hamburger.

If you need to replace the egg or breadcrumbs for dietary reasons, you can experiment with using a flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbsp water) for the egg, and using oatmeal, rice, or crushed gluten-free crackers in place of the breadcrumbs.

Can I Use Different Meat?

Yes, meatballs work great with several different types of ground meat. Just keep in mind that different types of ground meat contain different amounts of fat and moisture, so substituting the meat can change the texture and flavor of the meatballs.

The recipe below uses Italian sausage, which has a ton of herbs and spices already in the meat. Because of that, the meatballs only needed a small amount of extra seasoning added. So if you substitute the Italian sausage with a different type of ground meat, make sure to increase the seasoning in the meatballs accordingly.

How to Use Homemade Meatballs

There’s nothing easier or more satisfying than a plate of spaghetti with red sauce and meatballs, but that’s not the only way to eat meatballs! Here are some other things you can do with homemade meatballs:

  • Make meabtall subs (hoagie rolls, red sauce, meatballs, mozzarella)
  • Add the meatballs to a soup (they’d be great in Minestrone)
  • Use them in place of plain beef in Stroganoff
  • Serve on top of mashed potatoes with a brown gravy
  • Toss with pesto and serve on veggie noodles
  • Stuff inside of a calzone or slice and use to top a pizza
  • Add to a bowl meal (rice, veggies, any sauce)
  • Add to baked pasta (like Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti)

What Else Can I Add?

If you want to take your meatballs up a notch and make them a little fancier, there are several things you can add. Try adding some fresh minced onion or garlic for an extra punch of flavor. Or try using some flavor add-ins like crumbled bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, or fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano). You can also try swapping out the milk for a different flavored liquid, like broth or even some of your red sauce. And I’m always a fan of adding a pinch of crushed red pepper to just about anything!

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with a spoon holding two meatballs
Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with a spoon holding two meatballs

Easy Homemade Meatballs

These easy homemade meatballs are freezer-friendly and versatile. Keep a batch in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners later!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $10.92 recipe / $1.37 serving
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 about 5 meatballs each
Calories 418kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs $0.32
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan $0.88
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.03
  • 2 large eggs $0.42
  • 1/4 cup whole milk $0.11
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage $3.00
  • 1 lb. ground beef $5.99

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk the two eggs.
  • Add the breadcrumb mixture, eggs, milk, Italian sausage, and ground beef to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined. Avoid over mixing the meat.
  • Let the meatball mixture rest for five minutes to allow the breadcrumbs time to soften. Divide and shape the meat into about 40 meatballs, approximately 2 Tbsp in volume each.

Oven Cooking Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet about one inch apart from each other.
  • Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a pot of red sauce and simmer for five more minutes in the sauce. If not using a red sauce, add an additional 3-5 minutes to the bake time, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Stove Top Cooking Instructions

  • Add a tablespoon of cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, swirl the oil to coat the surface of the skillet. Add half of the meatballs to the skillet.
  • Cook the meatballs, turning every couple of minutes, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Repeat with the second batch of meatballs.
  • Transfer the cooked meatballs to a pot of red sauce and simmer for a few minutes more before serving.

Freezing instructions

  • You can freeze the meatballs either cooked or uncooked. I prefer freezing them already cooked so they can go straight from the freezer into a pot of red sauce and then just simmer until heated through. Cooked meatballs should be completely cooled before placing in a gallon-sized freezer bag and transferred to the freezer.
  • To freeze uncooked meatballs, place the raw meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze on the baking sheet until solid (1-2 hours) before transferring to a gallon-sized freezer bag for longer storage. Thaw completely before cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 5meatballs | Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 33g | Sodium: 691mg | Fiber: 1g
Side view of meatballs on a plate of spaghetti with red sauce

How to Make Homemade Meatballs – Step by Step Photos

egg and breadcrumb mixture

Lightly whisk two large eggs in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated Parmesan, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp Italian seasoning, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Pre-mixing these ingredients helps them incorporate more evenly into the meat without having to overmix the meat.

Meatball ingredients in a bowl

Add the whisked egg, breadcrumb mixture, ¼ cup milk, 1 lb. Italian sausage, and 1 lb. ground beef to a bowl.

meatball mixture in a bowl

Let the meatball mixture sit for five minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb some of the moisture.

shaped meatball held in a hand over the bowl

Divide and shape the meatball mixture into about 40 meatballs, 2 Tbsp each. I have small hands, so this may actually look bigger than they were. I used a 2 Tbsp measuring cup to portion the meat.

Meatballs on a baking sheet ready to bake

To bake the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet with about one inch between each.

baked meatballs on the baking sheet

Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned, then transfer to a pot of red sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. If not using a red sauce, bake for 3-5 minutes longer, or until cooked through.

Meatballs cooked in a skillet

To cook the meatballs in a skillet, heat one tablespoon cooking oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, swirl to coat the skillet in oil, then add the meatballs. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until browned on all sides and cooked through.

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce

Whether you cook your meatballs in the oven or on the stove top, finishing them off with a brief simmer in red sauce adds an extra dose of flavor and helps keep the meatballs nice and tender.

Meatballs in a freezer bag

To freeze the cooked meatballs, cool them completely in the refrigerator first, then place them in a freezer bag and transfer to the freezer for longer storage (about 3 months). Once frozen they can be dropped straight from the freezer into a pot of red sauce and simmered until heated through.

Meatballs in a pot of red sauce with spaghetti and herbs on the sides

Try These Other Meatball Recipes:

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Baked Spaghetti

Pasta is on our dinner menu almost every single week. We are always mixing it up, but we have our favorites. My boys love Spaghetti and Meatballs, what kid doesn’t? They also love Baked Spaghetti, especially when garlic bread is served on the sid…

Pasta is on our dinner menu almost every single week. We are always mixing it up, but we have our favorites. My boys love Spaghetti and Meatballs, what kid doesn’t? They also love Baked Spaghetti, especially when garlic bread is served on the side. It is a regular dinner at our house! This baked spaghetti…

The post Baked Spaghetti appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Lasagna Soup

When it comes to weeknight meals, it doesn’t get any better than Lasagna Soup. It has all the same ingredients and flavors of classic lasagna without the layering and baking! This one pot meal is favorite at our house and I think you will love it…

When it comes to weeknight meals, it doesn’t get any better than Lasagna Soup. It has all the same ingredients and flavors of classic lasagna without the layering and baking! This one pot meal is favorite at our house and I think you will love it too. I really enjoy one-pot recipes. It not only…

The post Lasagna Soup appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage

A few simple add-ins make this Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage a level up from your usual weeknight spaghetti dinner.

The post Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m all about making sure the last little odds and ends of ingredients in my fridge or freezer get used up. So this week, instead of making just another batch of plain pasta and red sauce, I jazzed it up with a little leftover heavy cream, the last of a bag of spinach, and some Italian sausage instead of ground beef. Simple swaps and add-ins make this Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage a level up from your usual weeknight pasta!

Overhead view of a pan full of Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage with a spoon in the side

What’s in the Creamy Tomato Sauce?

This red sauce is basically the same as the sauce for my Baked Ziti, which is super rich and tomatoey. To calm the acidity a bit and make it extra lush, I added a little heavy cream. The addition of the cream is absolutely magic.

Can I Substitute the Heavy Cream?

I sometimes melt a little cream cheese into my pasta sauces, which creates a creamy and tangy finish, so that’s one option (use 2-4 ounces). The other option is to just leave it out and keep it as a basic red sauce. You do not want to use milk or another lower-fat dairy product because the combination of the heat and the acid from the tomatoes will likely cause it to curdle. Another reason why the heavy cream is magic.

Can I Use a Different Pasta?

Absolutely! Since the pasta is cooked separately, unlike one pot pastas, you can use any type or shape of pasta that you like. And you don’t have to worry too much about measuring, just use approximately half of a one pound package.

What Other Vegetables Can I Use?

I think kale would be especially good with this combo, but since it’s quite a bit more sturdy than spinach you’ll want to sauté it in the skillet for a couple of minutes (after the sausage is browned) to soften it up. You could also try tossing in some thawed frozen broccoli florets.

A bowl full of Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage with garlic bread and a fork
Pictured with Homemade Garlic Bread.
front view of a bowl full of creamy tomato pasta with sausage, a bit lifted on the fork

Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage

A few simple add-ins make this Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage a level up from your usual weeknight spaghetti dinner.
Total Cost $5.75 recipe / $1.44 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 542.08kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (hot, mild or sweet) $2.25
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste $0.10
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes $0.85
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend $0.10
  • 1/2 cup water $0.00
  • 1/2 lb. pasta* $1.25
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream $0.19
  • 4 oz. fresh spinach $0.85

Instructions

  • Add the Italian sausage to a deep skillet or pot and cook over medium heat, breaking it up into pieces as it cooks. Mince two cloves of garlic, add it to the browned sausage, and sauté for 1 minute more.
  • Next, add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and water. Stir to combine and dissolve the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer. Once simmering, place a tilted lid on top (to allow steam to escape while blocking splatter) and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes, depending on the variety). Drain the pasta in a colander.
  • After the pasta has cooked and the sauce has simmered a while, stir the heavy cream into the pasta sauce. Add the fresh spinach and stir it into the sauce just until wilted.
  • Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

*I used corkscrew pasta, or cavatappi, but you can use any shape you like.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 542.08kcal | Carbohydrates: 61.88g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 23.78g | Sodium: 843.95mg | Fiber: 6.55g
Close up side view of a skillet full of creamy tomato pasta with sausage

How to Make Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage – Step by Step Photos

Browned sausage and garlic in the skillet

Add ½ lb. Italian sausage (mild, hot, or sweet) to a deep skillet or pot and cook over medium heat until browned, breaking it up into pieces as you go. Mince two cloves of garlic, add them to the browned sausage and sauté for one minute more.

Tomatoes and herbs added to browned sausage

Add 2 Tbsp tomato paste, one 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, and ½ cup water. Stir to combine and dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Plate a tilted lid on top (so that steam can escape but it shields splattering sauce) and let the sauce come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.

Cooked cavatappi pasta in a colander

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add ½ lb. pasta (I used cavatappi) and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander.

Cream being stirred into the sauce

After the sauce has simmered a while (the length of time it takes to cook the pasta), stir in ⅓ cup heavy cream. MAGIC!

fresh spinach added to the sauce

Next, add about 4oz. fresh spinach (half of an 8oz. bag) and stir it in until wilted.

drained pasta added to the sauce

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.

Finished creamy tomato pasta with sausage in the skillet

Done and done!

front view of a bowl full of creamy tomato pasta with sausage, a bit lifted on the fork

I served it with some of my Homemade Garlic Bread because that crispy garlicky goodness is perfect with red sauce!

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Oven Roasted Autumn Medley

Years ago I made Nature’s Candy, which was a deliciously sweet and savory oven roasted side dish that was so good I’d almost call it a dessert. Well, I decided to take that amazing flavor combination and turn it into a sheet pan dinner. I added some sweet Italian sausage, a red onion for a […]

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Years ago I made Nature’s Candy, which was a deliciously sweet and savory oven roasted side dish that was so good I’d almost call it a dessert. Well, I decided to take that amazing flavor combination and turn it into a sheet pan dinner. I added some sweet Italian sausage, a red onion for a slightly more savory twist, and a few more fall-inspired herbs. This Oven Roasted Autumn Medley has all the best flavors of the season in one sheet pan!

Originally posted 9-26-2013, updated 10-5-2020.

Oven Roasted Autumn Medley on a plate with mashed potatoes and a black fork on the side

How to Serve Oven Roasted Autumn Medley

I served this sheet pan mix with a side of mashed potatoes, but you could also serve the roasted sausage and vegetables over a bed of greens for a fall-inspired salad. Or just serve it on its own with a nice piece of crusty bread and some butter on the side. :)

Can I Use a Different Sausage?

Yes, if you don’t like or can’t get sweet Italian sausage, you can use a maple or apple flavored turkey sausage in its place. Any type of sausage with those fall vibes will work great!

Other Vegetable Options

This dish is also pretty flexible when it comes to the vegetables. You can swap out the sweet potato or just add some butternut squash, acorn squash, or pumpkin. All of those hard, slightly sweet winter squashes work great. Carrots, with their subtle sweetness, are another great option!

Tips for Roasting Vegetables

One of the goals when roasting vegetables in the oven is to get that nice caramelization on the edges. The caramelized edges are sweeter and have a deep, intense flavor. To get this nice browning action, make sure your vegetables are not too crowded on the baking sheet. They should be in a single layer. If the vegetables are piled too high on top of each other the steam will get trapped and the vegetables will essentially steam in their juices instead of getting that nice caramelization. 

So, if you decide to double this recipe, make sure to use two sheet pans!

side view of a fork picking up some oven roasted autumn medley from the plate

 
Oven roasted autumn medley on a plate with mashed potatoes and a black fork

Oven Roasted Autumn Medley

This Oven Roasted Autumn Medley is an herb-infused, sweet and savory sheet pan dinner with sausage, apples, sweet potatoes and more.
Total Cost $4.38 recipe / $2.19 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 671.2kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion $0.44
  • 1 lb. sweet potato $1.07
  • 2 apples $0.76
  • 8 oz. sweet Italian sausage $1.40
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 tsp dried basil $0.10
  • 1 tsp dried sage $0.10
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional) $0.11

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Core and dice the apples into 1-inch pieces. Peel and dice the sweet potato and red onion into 1-inch pieces.
  • Place the chopped apples, onions, sweet potatoes, and Italian sausage links on a large 9x13-inch baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over top, then add the basil, sage, rosemary, salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Toss until everything is well coated in oil and herbs.
  • Transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the baking sheet and use tongs to transfer the sausage to a cutting board. Slice the sausage into medallions, then add them back to the baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the oven.
  • Roast the autumn medley for another 20 minutes, or until it reaches your desired level of browning. Top with chopped parsley for garnish after roasting, then serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 671.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 77.65g | Protein: 23.05g | Fat: 32.4g | Sodium: 1746.95mg | Fiber: 13g

A forkful of Oven Roasted Autumn Medley held close to the camera

 

How to Make Oven Roasted Autumn Medley – Step by Step Photos

Oven roasted autumn medley ingredients on the sheet pan, whole

For this recipe I used two sweet Italian sausage links, one sweet potato (about 1 lb.), two apples, one red onion, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried sage, 1 tsp dried rosemary, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Diced apples, sweet potatoes, and sausage being seasoned with herbs

Core and dice the apples, peel and dice the sweet potato, and peel and dice the red onion (all 1-inch pieces). Place the apple, sweet potato, onion, and sausage links on a large sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil, then sprinkle the herbs and spices over top (basil, sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper). 

autumn medley ready to roast on the sheet pan

Toss to coat everything really well in oil and herbs. Make sure everything is spread out on the sheet pan as evenly as possible.

Half-roasted autumn medley with sliced sausage.

Roast the autumn medley for 20 minutes, then remove it from the oven. The sausage will be about half-cooked at this point, but firm enough to slice into medallions. Carefully remove the sausage with tongs to a cutting board, slice, then return the slices to the sheet pan. Return the sheet pan to the oven.

Finished oven roasted autumn medley on the sheet pan

Roast the autumn medley for another 20 minutes, or until it achieves the level of browning that you like. Top with a tablespoon of chopped parsley, if desired (just for garnish). 

Oven roasted autumn medley on a plate with mashed potatoes and a black fork

Serve immediately and enjoy! This mix also works great for meal prep!

The post Oven Roasted Autumn Medley appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Classic Baked Ziti

As soon as the weather turns cool, I grab the cozy sweaters and start cooking the comfort food, like this Classic Baked Ziti. It’s rich and gooey with its layers of pasta, homemade red sauce with Italian sausage, and three types of melty cheese. Total comfort in a bowl. And the best part is that […]

The post Classic Baked Ziti appeared first on Budget Bytes.

As soon as the weather turns cool, I grab the cozy sweaters and start cooking the comfort food, like this Classic Baked Ziti. It’s rich and gooey with its layers of pasta, homemade red sauce with Italian sausage, and three types of melty cheese. Total comfort in a bowl. And the best part is that Baked Ziti is not fussy. You don’t have to worry about delicate sheet pasta or getting your layers perfect. It’s freeform, messy goodness at its best!

Classic Baked Ziti with Sausage

Overhead view of a wooden spoon scooping baked ziti out of the corner of a white casserole dish

Can I Use a Different Pasta Shape?

If you can’t find ziti (a smooth, tubular shaped pasta), you can substitute penne or rigatoni in this recipe. Rigatoni is the most similar to ziti, the only difference being that it has a ridges and is slightly shorter and wider. 

Can I Add Vegetables to Baked Ziti?

Yes! I almost always add extra vegetables to whatever I’m cooking, but today I decided to go with the classic form of Baked Ziti. If I were to add vegetables, I would probably add some fresh spinach into the sauce and stir until it is wilted. Or, roast some broccoli, zucchini, or eggplant, and then toss that into the sauce. 

Can I Substitute the Sausage?

The Italian sausage adds a lot of flavor to this dish, but there are still a few options for substituting the sausage. You can use ground beef, turkey, or chicken, but you’ll probably want to double the Italian seasoning blend to make up for the herbs that are found in Italian sausage. You can also use a vegetarian Italian sausage alternative, or substitute with a pound of chopped mushrooms.

Front view of a wooden spoon lifting a scoopful of Baked Ziti from the casserole dish

What Should I Serve with Baked Ziti?

Homemade Garlic Bread is awesome with baked ziti, but if you want some vegetables on the side I would go with something like Oven Roasted Frozen Broccoli, or do a simple side salad of mixed greens with Italian dressing, and whatever vegetables you have in your fridge (tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, etc.). 

How Long Does This Last?

This Baked Ziti will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. I highly suggest dividing the leftovers into single servings so they cool quickly in the refrigerator. This recipe makes 8 large servings, so once the servings are cooled completely in the refrigerator, you can transfer a few to the freezer for longer storage. Then each serving is just a quick microwave away from being a filling last-minute dinner!

 

Classic Baked Ziti

Like a freeform lasagna, this Baked Ziti has layers of pasta, homemade red sauce with Italian sausage, and three types of melty cheese!

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (sweet, mild, or hot) ($3.49)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.27)
  • 3 oz. tomato paste ($0.27)
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes ($1.00)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend ($0.30)
  • 1/2 cup water ($0.00)
  • 1 lb. ziti ($1.67)
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt (for pasta water) ($0.05)
  • 15 oz. ricotta ($1.69)
  • 1 cup Italian cheese blend* ($1.15)
  • freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella ($2.29)
  • 1 handful chopped parsley (optional, for garnish) ($0.20)
  1. Brown the sausage in a large skillet or pot over medium heat, until it's brown and crispy on the edges (pork sausage contains a lot of fat, so I didn't add any extra to the skillet).

  2. While the sausage is browning, finely dice the onion. Add the onion to the skillet once the sausage has browned, and continue to sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent.

  3. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and 1/2 cup water to the skillet with the sausage and stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet and allow it to come up to a simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat down and allow it to continue to simmer while you cook the ziti. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers.

  4. After getting the sauce started, begin the ziti. Bring a large pot of water with 1/2 Tbsp salt to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the ziti, and let it continue to boil until the ziti is tender (about 7-8 minutes). Drain the ziti in a colander. Shake the colander a bit to shake excess water out of the pasta.

  5. While the pasta and sauce are cooking, prepare the cheese filling. Add the ricotta, Italian cheese blend, and some freshly cracked black pepper (about 10 cranks of a pepper mill) to a bowl and stir to combine. Begin to preheat the oven to 350ºF.

  6. After draining the ziti, return it to the pot and add 1 cup of the red sauce. Stir to coat the cooked pasta in sauce.

  7. Pour half of the ziti to a 9×13" baking dish. Add half of the ricotta mixture on top of the ziti in small dollops. Finally, spoon half of the red sauce and sausage over the pasta and ricotta. It's okay if the ingredients don't cover in a solid layer. Repeat these layers with the second half of the pasta, ricotta mixture, and sauce. Finally, top with 2 cups shredded mozzarella.

  8. Cover the baking dish with foil, making sure it's slightly tented so that it doesn't touch or stick to the melted cheese. Transfer the covered casserole to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

  9. After baking for 20 minutes, remove the foil, and turn the oven on to broil (keep the casserole on the middle rack, about 10-12 inches from the broiler). Broil for 5 minutes, or just until the cheese is slightly browned. Keep a close eye on the baked ziti as it broils, because broilers can vary in intensity. Top with chopped parsley, if desired, then serve.

*In place of Italian cheese blend you can use a mix of mozzarella and Parmesan.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

A white plate with baked ziti, garlic bread, and a black fork.

 

How to Make Baked Ziti – Step by Step Photos

Browned Italian sausage in a skillet

Begin by browning 1 pound Italian sausage in a skillet until it is brown and crispy on the edges. Pork sausage has quite a bit of fat in it on its own, so I didn’t add any extra to the skillet.

Diced onion added to the skillet with the sausage

While the sausage is browning, finely dice a yellow onion. Add it to the skillet with the browned sausage and continue to sauté for a few minutes more, or until the onion is soft and translucent.

Crushed tomatoes being poured into the skillet, with sausage, onions, tomato paste, and Italian seasoning

Add 3 oz. tomato paste (half of a 6 oz. can – don’t forget to freeze the rest of the can!), 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend, one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine, place a lid on the skillet, and let it come up to a simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat down to low and let it continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, while you begin cooking the ziti.

Boiled ziti in a pot of water with a wooden spoon

Once the sauce is simmering away, begin cooking the ziti. Bring a large pot of water with 1/2 Tbsp salt to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add 1 lb. ziti. Continue to boil the ziti until tender, then drain in a colander. Shake the colander a bit to shake out the excess water.

Ricotta, Italian cheese, and black pepper in a bowl

While the ziti is boiling and the sauce is simmering, make the ricotta cheese blend. Add 15 oz. ricotta, 1 cup Italian cheese blend, and some freshly cracked black pepper to a bowl. Stir to combine. Also begin to preheat the oven to 350ºF at the time.

Sauce being added to cooked ziti in the pot.

After draining the ziti, return it to the pot and add 1 cup of the red sauce. Stir to coat the ziti in the sauce.

First layers of pasta, cheese, and sauce in the casserole dish

Pour half of the sauce coated ziti into a 9×13″ casserole dish. Add half of the ricotta mixture on top of the ziti in small dollops, then add half of the red sauce on top. Don’t worry if the layers don’t cover each other in a solid layer. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

Second layers of pasta, ricotta, and sauce, and final layer of mozzarella

Repeat with a second layer of pasta, ricotta mixture, and sauce, then top with 2 cups shredded mozzarella.

Baked ziti with melted cheese and foil peeled back

Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Make sure the foil is slightly tented so it doesn’t touch the cheese and stick when it melts.

Broiled baked ziti with browned cheese on top

After baking for 20 minutes, remove the foil, turn the oven to broil, and return the casserole to the oven (keep it on the middle rack, about 10-12 inches from the broiler). Broil for about 5 minutes, or just until the cheese is browned on top. Keep a close eye as it broils because broilers can vary in intensity.

Finished baked ziti casserole topped with chopped parsley and a wooden spoon on the side

Garnish with a little chopped parsley, if desired, then serve!

Overhead view of a spoon just beginning to dig into the baked ziti casserole

The post Classic Baked Ziti appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is such a comfort food classic! The meatballs are made from ground beef and Italian sausage, served with a sauce with mushrooms, onions, basil, and Parmesan. Dig in! Continue reading “Spaghetti and Meatballs” »

Spaghetti and meatballs is such a comfort food classic! The meatballs are made from ground beef and Italian sausage, served with a sauce with mushrooms, onions, basil, and Parmesan. Dig in!

Continue reading "Spaghetti and Meatballs" »

Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Such a satisfying combo! Italian sausages cooked with bell peppers, sweet onions, crushed tomatoes, and garlic. Served on a hoagie roll or over pasta or polenta. Continue reading “Sausage, Peppers, and Onions” »

Such a satisfying combo! Italian sausages cooked with bell peppers, sweet onions, crushed tomatoes, and garlic. Served on a hoagie roll or over pasta or polenta.

Continue reading "Sausage, Peppers, and Onions" »