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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.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

Sometimes it seems impossible to make a meal that pleases the whole family. 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 lvoes, 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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  • I make this at least once a month . Easy , fast and delicious . i switch it up sometimes and use a Chicken Sausage Ring ( with cheese , parsley or any type ) cut into 1″ pieces and made following directions given .

    • — Pete on September 8, 2023
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  • I’m not a cook by any stretch of the imagination and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make and how delicious it was. My husband absolutely loved it and described it as robust, flavorful and “mmm.” I followed the directions exactly except for using bow tie pasta since I couldn’t find orecchiette. I think shell shaped pasta would have been better to hold the meat. Thanks, Jenn, for giving me a confidence boost in my cooking abilities!

    • — Alicia White on August 27, 2023
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  • How do you think topping this recipe with a small amount of marinara sauce served on the side would work?

    • — Laura on August 9, 2023
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    • Hi Laura, I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you serve it on the side, you can use as much or as little as you’d like.

      • — Jenn on August 9, 2023
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  • My whole family loves this (even my 5 year old who doesn’t typically like pasta). It’s so nice to have an easy go-to meal for the middle of the week that my small children get excited about and so does my husband. Thank you!!

    • — Mimi on August 1, 2023
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  • I didn’t have all the ingredients, but I matched the best I could with egg noodles, bouillon and parmesan. Delicious!!

    • — Laura on July 26, 2023
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  • Apart from slight chille burn this is essentially flavourless. Given the raw ingredients there are a lot better recipes out there.

    • — Donovan on July 14, 2023
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  • Jenn, This is so quick and such a great dish! It makes me so happy to have dinner so quick and so so great.

    • — Nancy on July 1, 2023
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  • Made the recipe using broccolini and heirloom cherry tomatoes from local farmers’ market. Tossed in lemon zest and increased salt by additional 1/2 teaspoon. Delicious and will definitely make again.

    • — Vicki on June 11, 2023
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  • Perfect! Family loved it. This recipe is super easy and fast! It’s a keeper!

    • — carol lucchese on June 9, 2023
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  • I made this recipe on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Delicious!

    • — Elizabeth Kent on April 30, 2023
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  • Wonderful! I made a few substitutions as I did not have everything on hand. I used hot spicy Italian sausage that was not in casings. I used red cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes, and I used shaved parmesan cheese instead of pecorino romano. It was delicious! Amazed at how fast and easy it was to make it. I will make this again. Thank you! Once upon a chef is my “go-to” for any time I need a recipe!

    • — Lori Jones on April 26, 2023
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  • Super easy, fast and extremely delicious and satisfying! I followed the instructions precisely and it was outstanding! We devoured it! Thank you rockstar Chef Jenn!

    • — Tara on April 24, 2023
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  • Delicious! I didn’t use any oil when cooking the sausage. I also removed the sausage and squished it in paper towels to remove as much grease as possible. Dumped most of the grease out of the pan, added @a TBLS of oil and sautéed some onions per some other comments. Added the garlic and proceeded with the same directions. I also reserved some of the pasta water and added @a cup. Super easy weeknight dinner. (Even easier with some cooked sausage in the freezer 😁 I miss out on the brown bits in the pan, but save so much time it’s worth it.)

    • — Amy D on April 5, 2023
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    • This is my son’s favorite pasta dish thank you! Making it today for his birthday 🙂

      • — Anncy Rowe on May 10, 2023
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  • I printed this recipe off 5 Yrs ago and it ended up in my recipe file like I had made it before. I started preparing it tonight and realized I never made this before!
    Well let me tell you I don’t know what I was waiting for!! So yummy !!
    I used medium shell pasta cuz I was out of Orecchiette and only had 2 heads of fresh broccoli on hand. Next time will add more broccoli. I ended up with remainder of all ingredients in my Dutch oven and grated a good amount of cheese in then closed the lid and kept warm for about 5 minutes to soften the broccoli a touch more…
    Easy to pull together for a cool/dreary night in Michigan! Thanks Jen! ❤️😋

    • — Lisa on March 31, 2023
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  • Can I substitute baby green spinach instead of broccoli as this recipe is a big hit but I wanted to try some spinach that I have in refrigerator

    • — Patricia Laffan on March 21, 2023
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    • Sure – I’d love to hear how it turns out with spinach!

      • — Jenn on March 22, 2023
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      • This is a really great base for a recipe. Made it as is and it fell a little flat. I think next time I’ll reduce the amount of oil and add some onion. But overall it was good. My husband didn’t go back for nibbles from the pan so I know it needs some tweaking.

        • — Lacey on March 22, 2023
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      • It was fabulous as I just put the bag of baby spinach in @ end of cooking ( the secret recipe of orchiette pasta )

        • — Patricia Laffan on May 25, 2023
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        • Thanks for the follow-up, Patricia — I may have to give it a try!

          • — Jenn on May 25, 2023
          • Reply
  • Another hit from Chef Jen! I made it for the first time for a group of 6 friends. Super easy and was easy to do an hour in advance of their arrival (kept a lid on the pot off the heat and it stayed warm but did not dry out). Everyone loved it!

    • — Kelly on March 20, 2023
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  • Why brown the sausage in olive oil? Isn’t there enough fat in the sausage to brown it in its own fat?

    • — j on March 14, 2023
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    • Feel free to cut back on the oil and add more if necessary.

      • — Jenn on March 15, 2023
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  • This was super easy and very delicious!!

    • — Patty on March 4, 2023
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  • The 4 Tbsp of oil seems like a lot!! The first time I made this, I only added 2, and it was fine, but I’m not one to go off script. Anyone else finding this too oily?

    • — Sarah on February 23, 2023
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    • yes, I felt the 4 Tbsp. olive oil was too much also. Next time I will add 1-2 Tbsp.

      • — Kathryn on March 27, 2023
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  • This is a regular go to for me when I need to make something yummy, healthy ish, and quick for my family of boys. They all love it!! One of our favs for sure

    • — Barbara on February 15, 2023
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    • Tried it tonight and it was great. Next time I’ll add navy beans.

      • — Remo on March 3, 2023
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  • Made this during the Superbowl Halftime show for the 3rd time. Each time I make it, it takes better – without making any changes to the recipe at all except for using frozen broccoli instead of fresh.

    The chicken broth and butter at the end give it a rich flavor and the red pepper flakes give it just enough spice. I use fresh grated parmesan reggiano and put some additional red pepper flake on the table for anyone that needs more spice.

    Again, another perfect recipe!

    • — Virginia on February 13, 2023
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  • This was the perfect dish for a Superbowl party. Easy, quick to prepare and absolutely delicious. Was a big hit, thank you!

    • — Roni J. on February 13, 2023
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  • I recently tried this recipe, and it was just amazing. Buying the ingredients, cooking it, and dividing it up in portions to eat later was very easy and time saving.

    • — John on February 11, 2023
    • Reply

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