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Italian Sausage Zucchini Orzo

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This Italian Sausage Zucchini Orzo recipe is easy to make in one pot with a zesty tomato-basil sauce.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic recipe to whip up for Valentine’s tomorrow, a low-fuss recipe for entertaining friends, or just a simple weeknight recipe to sneak a few extra veggies into your toddler (life lately around here!), this one-pot pasta is here for it all. ♡

This recipe is easy to make with traditional or plant-based sausage, or whatever other protein you might love best (beef, chicken, turkey, etc). Then the sausage simmers with orzo and veggies in a tomato basil sauce until the pasta is perfectly al dente, and finishes with a splash of cream and lots of freshly-grated Parmesan. The tomato sauce is nice and garlicky and has the perfect amount of kick to keep things interesting. And if you feel like adding some extra cheese, this orzo is also absolutely heavenly served with a side of creamy ricotta or burrata.

Best of all, this recipe comes together in just around 35 minutes with minimal chopping and only 1 pot to wash. So whenever that next pasta craving hits, I hope you’ll give it a try!

One Pot Orzo Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this one pot pasta recipe:

  • Orzo: Feel free to use either traditional (semolina) or whole wheat orzo, whichever you prefer.
  • Italian sausage: I love making this recipe with a good spicy Italian sausage, but mild or sweet Italian sausage will be delicious too. Or you’re welcome to use your favorite plant-based Italian sausage.
  • Onion and garlic: These will serve as our base aromatics for the pasta sauce.
  • Zucchini: I love adding in a diced zucchini for some extra veg, but feel free to add in any other pasta-friendly veggies you love in its place.
  • Greens: Fresh spinach or kale wilts in nicely at the end to add in some extra greens.
  • Tomato sauce: Be sure to purchase puréed tomato sauce or passata, and not marinara sauce.
  • Beef or chicken stock: I prefer this recipe made with beef stock, but chicken or veggie stock will work well to.
  • Heavy cream: I love adding in a splash of heavy cream to make the sauce slightly creamy, but you’re welcome to add more cream if you prefer.
  • Parmesan: We will stir some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese into the pasta, as well as sprinkle extra on top.
  • Fresh basil: I love adding lots of fresh basil to this recipe.
  • Seasonings: Finally, we will season the pasta with crushed red pepper flakes (feel free to add more for a spicier sauce), fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Recipe Variations

Here are a few variations you’re welcome to try with this recipe:

  • Use a different protein: As I mentioned above, feel free to sub in plant-based Italian sausage if you prefer. Or you’re welcome to use ground beef, chicken, or turkey in place of the Italian sausage.
  • Use different veggies: Asparagus, bell pepper, broccolini, eggplant, green beans, peas or yellow squash could work in place of the zucchini. (Just make adjustments as needed for the proper cooking times.)
  • Make it gluten-free: Use your favorite gluten-free orzo (or similarly-sized pasta) to make this recipe gluten-free.
  • Make it spicier/milder: I like to double the amount of crushed red pepper flakes used to make this pasta extra spicy, or you could omit them entirely to make the pasta completely mild.
  • Add cheese: This pasta would also be delicious served with a scoop of ricotta or burrata cheese.

More One Pot Recipes

Looking for more one-pot recipes to try? Here are a few of our faves:

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Italian Sausage Zucchini Orzo

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 16 reviews
  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings 1x


This Italian Sausage Zucchini Orzo recipe is easy to make in one pot with a zesty tomato-basil sauce.


  • 1 pound Italian sausage (spicy, mild or sweet)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups beef or chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 3 ounces (about 2 large handfuls) fresh baby spinach
  • fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper


  1. Cook the sausage and veggies. Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, using a wooden spoon to break up and stir the sausage occasionally as it cooks. Stir in the onion, zucchini, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and continue cooking for 5 to 6 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened.
  2. Simmer. Add the orzo, tomato sauce, beef (or chicken) stock and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the sauce reaches a simmer, stirring the pasta frequently so that it does not stick and burn on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low or whatever temperature is needed to maintain a low simmer. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the orzo is al dente. The sauce will become fairly thick, but if you believe it needs more liquid, just add in more stock as needed to finish cooking the pasta.
  3. Add the final ingredients. Stir in the heavy cream, basil, Parmesan and baby spinach until the spinach begins to wilt.
  4. Season. Taste and season with salt, pepper and/or additional basil if needed.
  5. Serve. Serve warm, garnished with lots of freshly-grated Parmesan, and enjoy!

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22 comments on “Italian Sausage Zucchini Orzo”

  1. A question, mor than a comment: This sounds great and would love to try it tomorrow, but no orzo in the house and won’t have time to shop. I do have orecchiette. Any thoughts on trying that? A little extra cook time, I’m sure. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. Delicious! So quick and easy too

  3. This was phenomenal! Will be making on the regular. Flavorful, nice texture. Added some ground beef with the sausage, and substituted jasmine rice. Thank you!

  4. Ali always knows what she’s doing but my expectations for this recipe were not insane and wow it was amazing! So flavorful and filling, will definitely make again. Only had milk so I just added a little butter with it. Deeelish!

  5. This received rave reviews from even the pickiest of eaters around our table. (Even the ones who usually don’t do zucchini!!) Thanks for another great recipe, Ali. Our family loves your food so much!

  6. Made this and loved it. It was quick and easy, but looked and tasted like it took more time. (leftovers were delish the next day too)

  7. This is very flavorful, quick and easy! I used ground turkey instead of sausage. Will definitely make again.

  8. Made this for dinner and the whole family loved it! So tasty!

  9. This was incredible! First dish in a while that made me excited about cooking and eating dinner. The whole family loved it. Great flavor, and an easy weeknight meal!

  10. Toddler approved! Quick, easy, delicious!

  11. Absolutely, delicious! Will be making this again and again

  12. This was SO good. This was the first time I cooked pasta in the sauce, was a bit skeptical but it turned out great. My kiddos said, “This should be in a restaurant!” Thank you Ali! :)

  13. This was outstanding! I figured I would love it, but not too sure about the hubs, as he is not such a fan of zucchini. (Which is wrong on every level… ) But he loved it too! Will be in my regular rotation. Quick, easy, easy cleanup and delish. Winner! Thanks!

  14. My friends absolutely loved this recipe. It turned out so well. Introduced people to Orzo, who never had it before. Truly a winning dish

  15. Delicious and so easy to make! I will definitely be adding this into our rotation.

  16. I just recently started cooking and this is totally my favorite recipe I’ve made so far. Quick and easy once the veggies are sliced – spicy, creamy and so so good!

  17. So good! We skipped the cream, and it was still delicious.

  18. Absolute game changer for cold/stormy nights. One can only have so much chili in a season lol. I made everything per the recipe but added 1 tsp of baking soda after I added the tomato sauce just to cut the acidity. 10/10 thank you!

  19. Great recipe! I’m new to orzo. This is an easy to follow recipe, and it’s so delicious when it all comes together. Seems flexible enough to be altered subtly with repeated preparations. Thanks!

  20. This was so flavorful and absolutely delish. Will definitely add to my dinner rotation! Thanks for this recipe.

  21. Spot on! Quick, easy and so flavorful.