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Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

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This orecchiette pasta dish is packed with flavor and quick to make — and the whole family gobbles it up, broccoli and all.

Sometimes it seems impossible to make a meal the whole family loves. What one child happily eats, the other one is “not in the mood for.” But every once in a while, I come upon a recipe that everyone clamors for, like this orecchiette pasta dish adapted from Lidia’s Italian Table by Lidia Bastianich. Not only is it quick and easy to make — 25 minutes tops — but the whole family devours it, broccoli and all.

What you’ll need to make orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli

ingredients for orecchiette with sausage and broccoliOrecchiette is named for its shape, which resembles a small ear (the Italian word orecchiette means small ear). If you can’t find it, it’s fine to substitute another pasta, like farfalle or fusilli.

Italian sausage is a great ingredient to have on hand for weeknight dinners. Not only is it quick and easy to cook, but it’s also flavored with a variety of aromatics, herbs and spices, such as garlic and fennel, which add depth and complexity to pasta dishes without the need for a lot of additional seasoning. This makes it an easy and convenient way to add flavor to pasta dishes, such as baked ziti and lasagna. Buy bulk sausage, or sausage meat without the casing, if possible (it’s often easy to find around holiday season as it’s used in stuffing recipes). Otherwise, just squeeze the sausage meat out of the casing.

Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty, and pungent Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. It’s readily available in grated form in the cheese section of most large supermarkets but if you can’t find it, it’s fine to substitute Parmigiano Reggiano.

How to make orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli

Begin by cooking the pasta. 

boiling the orecchiette

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet and add the sausage.

cooking the sausage

Cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until the sausage starts to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.

adding the garlic

Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

cooking the sausage and garlic

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, broccoli, chicken broth, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

adding the broccoli

Stir in the butter until melted and simmer for a few minutes to reduce and concentrate the sauce.

stirring in the butter

Add the sausage and broccoli mixture to the drained pasta and toss well, along with half of the grated cheese.

tossing the orecchiette with the sausage and broccoli mixture and cheese

Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl or individual bowls and top with the remaining grated cheese.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

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Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

This orecchiette pasta dish is packed with flavor and quick to make — and the whole family gobbles it up, broccoli and all.

Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 30 Minutes


  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated pecorino Romano


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook, breaking apart with a spoon, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic; cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, chicken broth, broccoli, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan to release the flavorful brown bits, until the broccoli is tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted and simmer for a few minutes to reduce and concentrate the sauce.
  4. Drain the pasta well and place back in the pasta pot. Add the sausage and broccoli mixture, along with half of the cheese, and toss to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving platter or individual bowls and pass the remaining grated cheese at the table.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: This dish can be frozen for up to 3 months and reheated on the stovetop. If the dish has dried out a bit in the freezer, add a little water or broth while reheating. Just take care only to reheat it and not continue to cook it.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 624
  • Fat: 28 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 64 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 29 g
  • Sodium: 692 mg
  • Cholesterol: 51 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • We add Kalamata olives (pitted of course) which adds a nice salty tang against the creaminess of the pasta and butter.

    • — Dominic R on December 3, 2022
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  • My family absolutely love this meal! We have made it so many times I can’t even count. We always use sweet Italian sausage because we have little ones who can’t do spicey, but 100% follow the recipe making our own low-sodium chicken broth with better than bouillon.

    Rarely do we have left overs.

    • — Betty Jo on November 26, 2022
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  • Best version I’ve ever made! Love the one pan idea. They Butter was an unexpected ingredient but made the whole dish come together in a delicious glossy sauce!

    • — Mella on November 20, 2022
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  • I have made a similar recipe many times, but it’s a one pan skillet recipe, and you cook the orecchiette in the skillet along with the broth and sausage. Simpler to make, and the orecchiette soaks up all the juices.

    • — Linda on November 12, 2022
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  • Made this last night and it was a hit with my picky boyfriend. I added mushrooms, doubled the cheese that I put in the pan, and used Ricotta Cavatelli instead of orecchiette. I also made Italian sausage from beef. It never even made it to a plate, he just stood over the pot eating it.

    • — Cari on November 3, 2022
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  • This was really good. The only change I made was to use half and half because that’s what I had in the fridge. Next time (and there will be a next time!), I’ll use hot Italian turkey sausage instead of pork and either reduce the amount of meat or double the broccoli – just for our personal preferences.

    • — Jennifer on October 31, 2022
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  • So flavorful! I know we will finish the leftovers. I used rigatoni because that’s what I had on hand. I’ll definitely make this again. It’s perfect for a weeknight because it’s easy and doesn’t take too long.

    • — GPB on October 30, 2022
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  • This was really tasty, I feel it could use a sauce, especially for reheating. This is a great make ahead to chow on during the week! Thank you for the tip saying to use water or oil when reheating.

    • — Julie on October 30, 2022
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  • Was a hit with the entire family, plus a few young girls. I’ll definitely put this into our rotation. Another winner!

    • — Laura on October 25, 2022
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  • This dish was exceptionally tasty! I used shell pasta as that is what I had on hand, and it was a hit with the whole family. We will certainly be putting it in the meal rotation.

    • — Carol on October 23, 2022
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  • My husband and I have been making variations of broccoli and spicy sausage pasta for years. Finally we found this recipe and it is perfection. Wonderful balance of flavors and textures. Delish!

    • — Eliza on October 20, 2022
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  • We love this recipe! I make it on a regular basis. I love that is comes together quickly with just a few ingredients and it is predictably delicious. My adult daughter makes it for her family too, and the kids love it.

    • — Wendy on October 14, 2022
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  • I will likely not use this recipe again. I raised an eyebrow when I saw butter added as an ingredient, so I decided to omit it. I should’ve questioned the chicken broth a lot more. It overpowers the dish, drawing away from the other flavors. Instead, I’d advise cooking the broccoli alongside the orecchiette until tender, then adding them both to the pan with a little bit of lefotver starchy pasta water. Then finishing with some grated parmesan.

    • — Sophia on October 5, 2022
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    • Wish I saw this before I started 🫣 the broth is definitely not my favorite part I’ll have to try it your way next time!

      • — Sheena on October 11, 2022
      • Reply
  • This was super easy, quick and delish! Definitely putting in the rotation as a regular!

    • — Amanda on October 3, 2022
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  • I made the grownup version of this recipe. Hot Italian sausage, broccoli rabe (thick stems blanched 1 minute, the upper portions in 2 inch pieces boiled 1 additional minute, then drained, cooled and gently squeezed of any additional water.) also a half tsp of anchovy paste added with the garlic. Extra minced garlic, yes. I added the broccoli rabe with the pasta (bow ties). It turned out hmm, hmm good!

    • — Jan on September 11, 2022
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  • Oh YES!!!! Made this for company this weekend and …as usual with your recipes … it was a WINNER!!! Served it with a salad and some crunchy bread with dipping oil flavored with your walnut basil pesto.
    It is a simple recipe with a restaurant worthy taste. My guests were practically licking their pasta bowls.

    • — Patti Burns on September 5, 2022
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  • Delicious! Thanks for the new recipe!

    • — Megan on August 22, 2022
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  • I’ve made this recipe exactly as written a few times – and it is bowl-licking good! I’ve also substituted quite a few green vegetables. Usually, it’s just 3 of us eating and I serve immediately after cooking. Today, I made it for a small gathering that’s not for several hours and I’m not sure if I should toss the pasta and cheese now, or leave the reduced mixture alone until right before, reheat, toss and serve. Crossing my fingers that you might see this soon, Jen!

    • — Angela on August 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Angela, I’m sorry I’m weighing in too late to help, but the good news is that you really can go either way here. Hope everyone ended up enjoying it!

      • — Jenn on August 9, 2022
      • Reply
  • We did this with gnocchi & added mushrooms. It turned out so well! Yummy.

    • — Ashlee on July 14, 2022
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  • PS if you like veal it is amazing with orecchiette. 😋

    • — Apryl on June 20, 2022
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  • Has anyone done this recipe with beef broth? I bought two boxes of stock and I opened one and realized I opened beef and not chicken then opened the other and realized I didn’t buy one of each I only bought beef. DOH🤦🏻‍♀️ I’d make posole with it but it’s too hot so I need an alternative.

    • — Apryl on June 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Oh wow. This was so yummy! The family loved it. My kids (8 and 6) had seconds! Tasty and different from other pasta dishes we make! Definitely will make again and again. Thanks for another winner, Jenn!

    • — Kelly (familyfeast.ca on Instagram) on May 16, 2022
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    • Sorry! Forgot to rate it last time. Making again tonight. Can’t wait to dig in!

      • — Kelly (familyfeast.ca on insta) on October 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • I can’t believe how much my family loved this recipe. I wanted to make it since I do love me some butter sauce and broccoli. But family wolfed down the whole pot in less than 30min with my son saying it’s the best thing I ever made. Thanks for sharing your amazing recipes Jenn!

    • — Susan on May 16, 2022
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  • I love this recipe, it’s very tasty. The broccoli tastes lovely mixed with the other ingredients

    • — Maura Doyle on May 12, 2022
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  • This quickly became a regular dinner in our rotation. My entire family devours it.

    • — Brittany on April 24, 2022
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  • This is a fantastically easy recipe to throw together. Because there are so few ingredients, each has quite an impact on the final product. It calls for sweet or spicy Italian sausage — We used spicy Italian sausage from the butcher and it was good, but I think the sweet Italian sausage would’ve added a little more flavor impact. Still, this was tasty and we plan on making it again, so it’s a win.

    • — Joseph on April 24, 2022
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  • This recipe is easy and delicious! Great for a busy weeknight. The whole family enjoyed it.

    • — Greta on March 14, 2022
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  • Used Deer breakfast sausage. Came out delicious. My husbands new favorite

    • — Mary on March 10, 2022
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  • When my son was younger, this was his favorite dish. I saw him recently and made this, he loved it!

    • — LindaS on March 10, 2022
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    • My daughter gave me this recipe in 2020. I think it’s the best thing I make. Comes out great everytime!

      • — Hoanne on June 30, 2022
      • Reply
  • Another awesome dish!

    So many of these recipes are in my browser favorites! LOL

    • — MMM on February 23, 2022
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  • My family LOVES this! Made a couple additions to go with broccoli: added 2 Tbsp FRESH (diced) Basil along with 1/2 cup diced sweet tomatoes! (For the little guy who doesn’t like all of the stuff, just made him Orechette with sausage, basil, Romano and a dab of butter.)

    • — Mommy on February 15, 2022
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  • This is delicious and easy to make!!
    My kids ate it all!!

    • — I.S. on January 31, 2022
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  • Hi Jenn,
    Had this for dinner tonight, it was so delicious that going forward I will always be sure to have the sausage and broccoli on hand. I used frozen broccoli which I always try to have a bag in my freezer—it worked perfectly, and will make it again soon. Another great recipe from Jenn—thanks!

    • — Mary on January 27, 2022
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  • Another great recipe from Jenn! This was a hit, everyone loved. Really flavourful. I used a pound of rapini instead of the broccoli.

    • — Krys on January 23, 2022
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  • Very tasty easy recipe. The alterations I made I don’t think significantly altered the dish so I still feel comfortable giving the original recipe 5 stars. Made this with chickpea pasta, doubled the red pepper since hubby likes spice and used grated Parmesan cheese. Fantastic quick meal.

    • — Cindy on January 20, 2022
    • Reply

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