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Best Super Easy Penne…with a lot of garlic. A tried and true family favorite, make this on nights when you’re craving Italian, but also need something easy. Slow simmered red sauce with a lot of garlic, Italian herbs, rich olive oil, and spicy chicken sausage. Simmer this sauce low and slow, then toss in fresh penne pasta and top with plenty of cheese. This is a hearty, cozy pasta that comes together in minutes and is ideal for feeding plenty of family and friends. It’s delicious, looks pretty on any table, and everyone enjoys a GOOD penne pasta. Just add crusty bread…and maybe some wine and you’ll be good to go!

overhead photo of Best Super Easy Penne…with a lot of garlic with penne sauce in small skillet nest to pasta

Happy December twenty-sixth. Crazy that Christmas has come and gone and we’re now gearing up for the New Year. Hoping you all had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed time with family. Ours was just as chaotic and crazy as it is every year but perfect at the same time. Wouldn’t change a thing.

We had a snowy two days filled with plenty of cooking, good food, drinks, and many laughs. Nothing fancy, but all the things I love. In addition to the usual family members, we also had a very sweet little addition that made this Christmas incredibly special and blessed. More details to come, but it’s safe to say that my family had a very memorable Christmas!

I’m so excited to have the next few days to spend with everyone, and chill and catch up. But the thing about having family in town? It requires a lot of food. Like a lot. This is the time of year when I turn to my super easy, super simple, recipes. The ones I know will feed a crowd and that will be loved by all. Enter this penne pasta. It’s a recipe I adapted from a close family friend. Over the years I’ve tweaked it to make it more of my own, with just the slightest adjustments.

The best part? It is SO incredibly EASY! You can make it on the stove, in the Instant Pot, or in the slow cooker. Do what works for you.

garlic herb oil in large post before adding pasta

Here is how you make this Best Super Easy Penne…with a lot of garlic.

The key to this sauce? A lot of olive oil and a lot of garlic. If you hate garlic, I’m sorry to say that this recipe is probably not for you. But if you love garlic? This recipe is 100% for you.

When cooking on the stove or in the instant pot, start the sauce by slowly simmering the garlic, herbs, and olive oil together until the garlic is golden and caramelized. This is really important for the best flavor, so take your time when cooking the garlic and go low and slow with it. If you burn it, your sauce will not be nearly as good.

Note: when cooking the sauce in the slow cooker, just add everything to the slow cooker all at once, cover, and again, cook low and slow for several hours. Because you’re cooking the sauce for a long period of time, you can skip cooking the garlic in oil. 

Once the garlic has turned golden, add a couple of jars of your favorite marinara sauce (I love Rao’s Marinara) and spicy Italian chicken sausage. The spicy sausage adds an incredibly rich flavor to the sauce and pleases the meat-eaters in the family.

Then just slowly simmer the sauce over low heat, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. The longer the sauce simmers, the better the flavor. My tip? Make the sauce the night before you plan to serve, simmer a couple of hours, then chill overnight. The following day, place the sauce on the stove, simmer, then serve. This will give you truly the BEST penne sauce.

When ready to eat, simply cook up some penne pasta, spoon the sauce over the penne, and top with plenty of grated parmesan and fresh oregano. Toss it up, eat, and enjoy!

Simple and easy as that.

overhead close up photo of Best Super Easy Penne…with a lot of garlic

Want to make this vegetarian?

I often make this vegetarian by omitting the sausage from the recipe. When doing so, I always like to add additional crushed red pepper flakes for heat, herbs, and spices to make up for the lost flavor. I’ve listed out all the measurements in the notes section.

If you’d like to add protein, I would recommend crispy chickpeas. That will be so delicious!

Your sauce is oily you say?

GOOD it should be. This sauce is all about the oil and it’s whats makes this the best penne. Once the sauce and penne are combined everything comes together beautifully. And most importantly?

It tastes delicious! So an oily sauce is a good sauce. Please trust me.

I’ve already made this once this past week for the family. But I’m planning to make another batch for New Year Eve. I like to have this simmering away on the stove for people to enjoy throughout the day. Cold temperatures and outdoor activities mean that people are almost always looking for food. This is the perfect recipe to have warmed and ready to go. You really can’t beat it.

overhead close up photo of Best Super Easy Penne…with a lot of garlic with fork in serving bowl

If you make this Best Super Easy Penne…with A Lot of Garlic, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Best Super Easy Penne...with A Lot of Garlic

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories Per Serving: 399 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instructions

Stove Top

  • 1. In a large pot, combine the olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden and caramelized, 8-10 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and season with salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. It will seem as if the ingredients aren’t coming together, but don’t worry.
    2. Roll the sausage into tiny grape-size meatballs and place them in the sauce. Stir to combine. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook for at least 1 hour or up to all day, stirring every hour or so.
    3. When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne according to package directions until al dente. Drain and divide the hot pasta among plates, topping each with sauce, parmesan, and oregano. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the extra sauce. Enjoy!

Instant pot

  • In the instant pot, combine the olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, and red pepper flakes. Set the instant pot to sauté and cook until the garlic is golden and caramelized, 5 minutes. Stir in the marinara sauce and season with salt and black pepper. It will seem as if the ingredients aren’t coming together, but don’t worry.
    2. Roll the sausage into tiny grape-sized meatballs and place them in the sauce. Stir to combine.. Cover and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
    3. Finish as directed above.

Slow Cooker

  • 1. In the slow cooker, combine the olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, red pepper flakes, marinara sauce and season with salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. It will seem as if the ingredients aren’t coming together, but don’t worry.
    2. Roll the sausage into tiny grape-size meatballs and place them in the sauce. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 
    3. Finish as directed above.

Notes

If Your Sauce Is Oily: It's probably just right! This sauce is all about the oil and it's meant to be oily. Once the sauce is tossed with the pasta, everything comes together perfectly. If you feel like the sausage has released more oil than you'd like, you can scoop away excess oil using a large spoon or 1/4 cup measure. 
To Make Vegetarian: omit the sausage and instead add, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.   
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  1. 5 stars
    Made this for family dinner tonight at my parents’ and it was a huge hit! At the very end before serving I whisked the sauce to get the oil to combine into the marinara sauce. Loved the red pepper flakes to add the spice; all the flavors were beautiful. So easy and will definitely be making again!

  2. This is in your half baked harvest cookbook (mrs. mooney’s penne). I should’ve trusted my instincts to know 2 cups of olive oil is way too much. I noticed you changed the recipe to 1/2 the oil and double the marinara. Makes more sense but I could kick myself for wasting two cups of good olive oil.
    Not sure how your original recipe ever made the cut for your cookbook.

    1. Hi Susie! That is usually how it is made with 2 cups of olive oil! I am sorry if it felt like a waste and I am glad you like this one as well! Please let me know if there is anything I can help with! xTieghan

    1. Hey Natalia,
      Yes ground beef would work. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe tonight and it was a hit! The only thing I wouldn’t do next time is add salt to the sauce. There was plenty of salt in the Italian sausages so it was not needed in the end.

  4. 5 stars
    Really good! Quick to put together and then just simmers. I cut the recipe in half – it makes alot! Also food processor is a life savor for mincing so much garlic.

  5. I am confused about two recipes…this one and Mrs Mooneys. They seem so similar yet one is 1 cup oil and 48 oz marinara, the other is 2 cups oil and 24 oz marinara. I assume both are accurately recorded so what is the difference necessitating 2 different recipes?

    1. Hey Nancy, you need 2 (24 ounce) jars marinara sauce and 1 cup olive oil oil for this recipe. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious! I was craving restaurant-quality pasta during this time and this recipe was just that!!!

  7. Hey there! This looks delicious and I can’t wait to make it! I was wondering if it works to freeze any left over/extra sauce? Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    Oh. My. Gosh. This is the most delicious thing I have eaten. I was skeptical by how much garlic went into it but trust the recipe – it was amazing. We licked the bowls clean. I only had one jar of marinara so added a 28oz can whole tomatoes and let them cook down a bit before adding in the sausage. Also made with it the No Knead Bread recipe from the HBH cookbook.

    1. Thank you so much Helen!! I am so glad this turned out so well for you! Thank you for trying it! And trusting the recipe haha! xTieghan

    1. Hi Rush,
      Yes you can use whatever you have on hand! I hope you love the recipe. Please let me know if you have any other questions. xTieghan

  9. 5 stars
    Made this in my Instant Pot today and it was amazing! I’ve made a lot of pasta sauces, both from scratch and using jarred sauces in a similar fashion to this recipe, but this by far the best way I’ve made it. I absolutely LOVE garlic and taking that extra step to sauté all those cloves with the dried herbs and olive oil made the biggest difference. Also loved the addition of the spicy Italian sausage! I am obsessed with all your recipes and they always turn out so good!

  10. Excited to make this tonight! I was hoping to do the crockpot method but I’ve started it too late in the day, it says to cook on low for 6-8 hours, could I cook it on high for 3-4 hours instead?

    1. Hey Erica! Yes, cooking on high should be great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan

  11. 5 stars
    I’m on day 3 of this sauce and it just keeps getting yummier!!! I pre made the sauce then made with penne day 2. I made with zoodles tonight and I honestly loved it just as much! Plus I don’t feel as bad if I have bread. Lol such a good EASY recipe!