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Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers is an easy weeknight meal! Italian sausage cooks for a few hours in the slow cooker with bell peppers, onions, marinara and spices and they come out tender, juicy and full of flavor every time.
For serving, you can stuff the sausage and peppers in hoagie rolls or enjoy with pasta. We absolutely love Italian sausage cooked any way around here, especially in Tortellini Soup and Spicy Italian Sausage Dip.
Table of Contents
Why We Love this Recipe
Cooking Italian sausage in the slow cooker is super easy. The skins don’t burst and the meat just melts in your mouth. The sausages are incredibly tender and juicy and you still get a slight pop when you bite into them.
Crockpot Sausage and Peppers is one of my family’s favorite meals, and because it’s so simple, it’s one of mine, too!
Ingredients Needed for Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers
- Italian Sausage Links – these usually come in a package of 5 links or you can find them in the butcher’s case and buy as many as you need.
- Bell Peppers – I like to use 3 different colors for variety but you can use any color you like.
- Onion – a whole onion (any color), cut into strips.
- Seasonings – Dried oregano, basil, salt, pepper and a bay leaf.
- Marinara Sauce – A large jar of sauce or a batch of Homemade Marinara Sauce.
- Fresh Parsley or Basil – just for garnish.
- For Serving – Your choice of cooked pasta or hoagie rolls and fresh grated Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese for topping.
How to Make Sausage and Peppers
- Brown. Browning the sausages adds color, flavor and texture to the finished dish so I do recommend it. It helps if you’ve got a slow cooker that has a browning function like this one. You can brown your onions at the same time; just make sure that the sausage is touching the bottom of the pan in order to brown, nestling the sliced onions around them.
- Cook. Add sausage, onions, peppers, marinara and spices to the slow cooker and stir gently to combine, then cover and set your slow cooker to low for 4-5 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
- Serve immediately, or switch to the warm setting for up to 2 hours.
The key step to cooking sausages in your crock pot is browning the sausage first. Browning adds color to make them look prettier, seals in the juices to add texture and flavor and helps jumpstart the cooking process, ensuring that your sausages are cooked through.
While browning is a step that I highly recommend, you can skip it if you simply don’t have the time.
In the slow cooker, this recipe can take anywhere from 3-5 hours to cook, plus about 15 minutes of prep. If you don’t have that kind of time or you don’t own a slow cooker, you can cook it on the stovetop in about an hour.
Brown the sausage and sliced onions in a little olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot or dutch oven for about 6 minutes oven medium-high heat. Pour in the marinara and add sliced peppers and seasonings. Stir it all together and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes to an hour.
Italian Sausage is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
Sometimes onions and peppers don’t completely soften in the slow cooker, but when they are simmered in the crockpot with the marinara sauce, they do! They come out nice and soft with a slight texture that makes them a perfect topping.
While you technically can put frozen meat in your slow cooker, I don’t really recommend it. There is some time that the sausage will be at an unsafe temperature as it slowly cooks which could lead to harmful bacteria. So you do so at your own risk.
There are a few ways we serve this meal but our favorite is nestled in rolls for hearty sandwiches and topped with fresh Mozzarella or Parmesan. I usually serve a copycat Olive Garden Salad on the side and dinner is done. Here are some other ways we’ve served crockpot sausage and peppers:
- With pasta, like spaghetti or penne. Pour on lots of that luscious sauce and top with grated cheese and fresh basil or parsley.
- With garlic bread. Whip up some garlic bread, and make a sandwich out of it like we did with our Shredded Chicken Parmesan Sandwich.
- Baked in hoagie rolls. This is the way we usually serve this meal. Brush the insides of the rolls with butter and bake, open-faced, for a few minutes or until the bread is golden and a little crispy. Place sausages inside, top with sauce and cheese, then broil again until the cheese melts. Kind of like a meatball sub.
Storage and Reheating
Storage: Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Freezing: Fully cooked sausages and sauce can be frozen in a resealable freezer bag or airtight container for up to 6 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating.
Reheating: Reheat in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove.
- Mild or hot? You can use sweet Italian sausages or spicy ones.
- As long as you’ve got about 3 cups, or 24 ounces, you can use any kind of tomato based sauce you like. For a smoother sauce, try my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.
- This recipe calls for sausage links. It will not work with ground Italian sausage.
Italian Sausage Recipes
- Grilled Sausage and Peppers Foil Packets
- Italian Sausage & Tortellini Skillet
- Mini Sausage and Pepperoni Calzones
- Italian Sausage Meatballs
- Zucchini Stuffed Shells
- Sheet Pan Sausage and Veggies
- Spicy Italian Sausage Dip
- Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers
- 1 pound Italian Sausage links 5 links
- 3 bell peppers any color, seeded and cut into strips
- 1 medium red or white onion cut into strips
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups marinara sauce 1 (24-ounce) jar or 3 cups homemade
- Fresh minced parsley or basil for garnish
- For serving: Cooked pasta or hoagie rolls for serving, fresh grated Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Sear sausage 2-3 minutes on each side, (just until browned, they don’t need to be cooked through). (you can skip this step if you’re pressed for time, but it really adds a ton of flavor).
- Place sausage on the bottom of your slow cooker. Top with strips of bell pepper, garlic and onion. Sprinkle with seasonings. Pour marinara sauce over the top and gently stir. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours (recommended) or on high for 2-3 hours.
- For sandwiches: Toast hoagie rolls in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes or until charred around the edges but still soft. Place a sausage in each roll and top with peppers and sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top and broil for a few minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh herbs.
- For pasta: Cook your favorite pasta to al dente in heavily salted water. Drain. Serve pasta in individual plates or bowls topped with sausage, peppers and sauce. Serve with grated cheese and fresh herbs for topping.
- Nutritional information is approximate and figures 1 sausage per person plus peppers, onions and sauce for topping.
- This recipe can be doubled in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.
- Storage: Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezing: Fully cooked sausages and sauce can be frozen in resealable freezer bag or airtight container for up to 6 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Reheating: Reheat in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove.