Pasta alla Norcina

This Pasta all Norcina is next level in pasta dishes. Each ingredient comes together to form a perfect, comforting, indulgent dish, a celebration of rustic Italian cuisine.

Pasta alla Norcina in a skillet.

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Why You Will Love This Recipe

This is another dish that will surprise you. The ingredients are readily available, and the technique used to make this dish is basic. Yet, the flavor of this dish is restaurant quality. Also, the entire dish comes together in less than an hour, prep included.

Furthermore, there are no jarred sauces and no ingredients pumped full of preservatives or additives. Just real ingredients making a fabulous dish that looks amazing and tastes even better.

The mushrooms infuse a wonderful earthiness, the Italian sausage adds a delicate spice and texture, and the olive oil, heavy cream, and white wine bring a silky smoothness and acidity.

We tried a couple of different pasta types, and while you can use whatever your favorite is, we found that a slightly heavier pasta with ridges works best, so the sauce clings well.

If you want to raise eyebrows and impress your friends and family, try this recipe. If you want bread to accompany this dish, check out our Easy No Knead Overnight Focaccia Bread or our Easy Homemade Garlic Bread. For a side salad, you could go with a Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Salad, Arugula Fennel Salad, or our Tomato Cucumber Feta Salad.

Ingredients Needed

The main ingredients for this dish are decent pasta, baby bella mushrooms (Crimini), and Italian sausage. Other ingredients are standard aromatics and liquids found in various sauces. Please see the Variations section regarding pasta. For a full list of ingredients and amounts, see the recipe card.

Ingredients needed to make Pasta alla Norcina.

How To Make Pasta alla Norcina

As this dish comes together quickly, I recommend doing all your prep work first. Dicing the onion and mushrooms, grating the Romano cheese, and mincing your garlic will make preparing this dish a breeze.

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it starts to boil, add a teaspoon of salt.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil has heated up, add the Italian sausage. Break it into large pieces and allow it to brown on one side.
Ground sausage in olive oil in a skillet.
Broken up sausage in olive oil in a skillet.
  • Break up the sausage and continue to cook until no pink remains. Add the diced mushrooms and cook for approximately five minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until the onions have softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Browned Italian sausage and diced baby bella mushrooms cooking in a skillet.
Adding garlic to Pasta alla Norcina sauce ingredients.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until almost al dente. After adding the pasta to the water, increase the heat of the Italian sausage back to medium high heat and add the white wine. Deglaze the pan and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan (fond). Reduce to medium and reduce the wine by half. Add the creme and nutmeg and bring it to a low simmer while stirring.
White wine being added to Italian sausage in a skillet.
Adding heavy cream to the Pasta alla Norcina sauce.
  • Once simmering, reduce to low and occasionally stir. When the pasta has reached almost al dente, add the pasta to the sauce and mix well to combine and coat.
Pasta alla Norcina sauce simmering in a skillet.
Adding pasta to a Pasta alla Norcina sauce in a skillet.
  • Increase the heat to medium and continue to mix. Add reserved pasta water to the dish to loosen the sauce. Continue to cook and stir until pasta is al dente. Remove from the heat and add the Pecorino Romano cheese, reserving about 1/4 cup for garnish. Mix well to combine. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Pasta alla Norcina in a skillet.
Pasta alla Norcina in a skillet.
  • Remove from the heat, garnish with remaining Romano cheese and chopped parsley, and serve!
Pasta alla Norcina in a dark bowl with bread and parsley in the background.
Pasta alla Norcina using Fidanzati Capresi pasta.
Pasta alla Norcina in a dark bowl with bread and parsley in the background.
Pasta alla Norcina using Pacchero pasta.


While this recipe is versatile regarding pasta choice, opting for a larger, tubular pasta with ridges, such as rigatoni or penne, allows the sauce to cling better, enhancing every bite with the perfect mix of sauce and pasta.

When browning the sausage, resist the urge to stir it too soon. Letting it sit undisturbed on the pan for a few minutes allows it to develop a nice, caramelized crust, adding depth to the dish’s flavor profile.

The step of deglazing with white wine is crucial. It not only helps lift the fond (the browned bits) from the bottom of the pan, adding richness to the sauce, but the acidity of the wine also balances the creaminess of the sauce. Choose a wine that you enjoy drinking, as its flavor will be prominent in the dish. Optionally, if you do not want to use wine, substitute with vegetable stock.

After adding the heavy cream and nutmeg, bring your sauce to a low simmer rather than a boil. This gentle cooking method ensures the sauce thickens without separating or becoming grainy.

Don’t discard the pasta water. The starchy water is a key ingredient for adjusting the sauce’s consistency. Add it gradually to achieve the perfect silky texture that beautifully coats your pasta. Add a bit more for a thinner sauce and a bit less for a thick sauce.

For the best flavor and texture, use freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Pre-grated cheeses often contain anti-caking agents that can affect the smoothness of your sauce.


For a vegetarian version, substitute the Italian sausage with a plant-based sausage or increase the amount of mushrooms for added body. You can also add zucchini or eggplant for extra texture and flavor.

While mild Italian sausage is traditional, you can experiment with other proteins. Try spicy Italian sausage for more heat, ground turkey for a leaner option, or pancetta for a deeper flavor.

Pecorino Romano adds a sharp, salty flavor, but you can experiment with other hard cheeses. Parmesan will offer a nuttier taste, while Asiago provides a milder, creamier texture.

Baby Bella mushrooms give a rich earthiness, but feel free to use a mix of wild mushrooms for varied textures and a more complex flavor profile.

Adding red pepper flakes with the garlic can kick up the spice level for those who enjoy a bit of heat.

For a rosé-like sauce, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste along with the heavy cream, creating a rich and flavorful creamy tomato variation.


Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Pasta alla Norcina is best enjoyed fresh, but you can prepare some components ahead of time to save on cooking time. You can dice the mushrooms, onions, and garlic and store them in the fridge. The sausage can also be browned in advance. However, for the best texture and flavor, it’s recommended to cook the pasta and combine it with the sauce just before serving. If you need to reheat, add a splash of pasta water or cream to help the sauce regain its creamy consistency.

What can I use if I don’t have white wine?

White wine adds acidity and depth to the sauce, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can substitute it with chicken or vegetable broth. For added acidity, you can also add a squeeze of lemon juice. While the flavor profile will slightly change, these substitutes can work well in a pinch.

Is there a way to make this dish lower in fat?

Yes, you can make a lighter version of Pasta alla Norcina. Substitute the heavy cream with half-and-half or even whole milk to reduce the fat content. For the sausage, look for a leaner variety or consider using turkey sausage. Keep in mind that these substitutions will alter the richness and texture of the dish, but it will still be delicious.

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Pasta alla Norcina in a skillet.

Pasta alla Norcina Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Main Dish, pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 918kcal


  • 1 lb Mild Italian Sausage
  • 1 lb Pasta large tubular type
  • 8 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms diced
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Onion diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup White Wine
  • 1 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Pasta Water
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt for pasta water
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • Parsley chopped, optional


  • Dice the onion and mushrooms. Grate the Pecorino Romano cheese. Mince the garlic.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add 1 tsp of kosher salt to the water.
    1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Italian sausage, breaking it into pieces. Cook until browned on one side, then stir and continue cooking until no pink remains.
    1/4 cup Olive Oil, 1 lb Mild Italian Sausage
  • Add the diced mushrooms to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the onions, and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
    8 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms, 1/2 Onion, 2 cloves Garlic
  • Add pasta to boiling water and cook until almost al dente.
    1 lb Pasta
  • Meanwhile, pour the white wine into the skillet to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium and let the wine reduce by half.
    1/2 cup White Wine
  • Stir in the heavy cream and nutmeg, bringing to a low simmer. Simmer gently to thicken slightly.
    1 1/2 cup Heavy Cream, 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • Add the almost al dente pasta to the skillet, mixing well to combine with the sauce. Gradually add reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
    1 cup Pasta Water
  • Cook, stirring, until the pasta is fully al dente and the sauce coats the pasta nicely.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in the Pecorino Romano cheese, reserving some for garnish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    1 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper
  • Garnish with the remaining cheese and chopped parsley before serving.


Cool the pasta completely and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, gently warm on the stove over low heat, adding a splash of water or cream to revive the sauce’s consistency.


Calories: 918kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 1167mg | Potassium: 632mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 944IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 260mg | Iron: 2mg

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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