I’ve told you before that my Aunt Mary is an incredible Italian cook. 99% of my extended family is from Ohio, so twice a year we’d pack up our maroon Aerostar with 2 adults, 3 kids, 5 pieces of luggage, and a cockapoo to visit everyone, and one of our favorite stops was Aunt Mary’s. She’d have a platter of Italian cookies waiting for us on the table, plus a vat of sausage and peppers bubbling in her homemade sauce on the stove. She’s been making them for as long as I remember, and the recipe was passed down from her mother, Rose, and likely Rose’s mother too!
I recently had a craving for Aunt Mary’s sausage and peppers that just wouldn’t quit then remembered once upon a time my Mom wrote down the recipe, so I took a look, and turns out, it is perfect for the crock pot! Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers is browned Italian sausages layered in a crock pot with seared onions, peppers, garlic, tomato sauce, and crushed tomatoes, then cooked low and slow all day long – until the sausages are nearly fall-apart tender and the sauce is like silk. I’m telling you, there is absolutely nothing better than the taste of this mouthwatering Italian dish!
Tips for Making Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers:
- Technically you don’t need to brown the sausages before placing in the crock pot, but the caramelization gives the dish a delicious depth of flavor. Plus Aunt Mary always did it so we should too.
- This recipe freezes beautifully! Aunt Mary always sent us home with tupperwares full of sausage and peppers that we would freeze and ration out bit by bit to savor in between visits. To freeze, cool the sausage and peppers completely then transfer into Ziplock freezer bags and freeze flat. Thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat in a pot on the stove over low.
- We used to stuff Aunt Mary’s sausages into hard rolls smothered with sauce, but I now I serve my sausage and peppers on top of gluten-free pasta. Rolls, pasta, on a fork straight outta the crock pot – it’s not going to matter how you eat the sausages and peppers – just that you do!
How to Make this Recipe:
Start with 3lbs Sweet Italian Sausages. Sweet sausages aren’t actually sweet, rather they’re mild compared to the spiciness of hot Italian sausages. I used Johnsonville because they’re gluten-free, and delicious, but if you can find locally-made sausage that’s gluten-free (if you need it,) that’s going to give you the most authentic-tasting results.
Slice the sausages in half, or into thirds if they’re really long.
Next, brown the sausages in two or three batches, for 1-2 minutes on all four sides, or until golden brown. The sausages don’t need to be cooked through, just have a nice golden brown glow.
Transfer the sausages to a 6-quart crock pot.
In the fat leftover from the sausages add 2 sliced yellow onions, season with salt and pepper, then saute until they begin to soften and turn golden brown. Then, scoop them on top of the sausages in the crock pot.
Next add 2 large or 3 small sliced bell peppers (the color combo is up to you) then season with salt and pepper and saute until the peppers are crisp tender. Add 4 cloves minced garlic then saute for another minute, and then add the mixture on top of the onions in the crock pot.
Next add 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional) plus a 28oz can tomato sauce, 28oz can crushed tomatoes, and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Mix everything up then cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until the sausages are very tender.
I MEAN. You HAVE to taste this!!
Saucy, so much flavor, yet incredibly simple, this is a recipe you will make again and again and again. It’s a huge crowd pleaser and, as my Aunt Mary knows, is great when company is coming over. People can eat whenever and however much they want, then keep coming back for more (which they definitely will.) Enjoy!
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Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers
Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers are perfect for game day, a cozy supper at home, or any night you’re craving an Italian feast! Serve over pasta, or with provolone and crusty rolls.
- 3lbs gluten-free Sweet Italian Sausage links, cut in half, or thirds if large (I used Johnsonville brand)
- salt and pepper
- 2 yellow onions, cut in half then sliced
- 3 small or 2 large green bell peppers, sliced (can mix different colors if you like!)
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon (or more) red chili pepper flakes
- 28oz can gluten-free tomato sauce
- 28oz can gluten-free crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup gluten-free chicken broth
- Drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat (6/10 on the heat scale.) Add half or a third of the sausages (depending on how big your skillet is,) then brown for a minute or two on all four sides, or until golden brown, then transfer to a 6-quart crock pot (sausage does not need to be cooked all the way through.) Repeat with remaining sausage then add to crock pot.
- Turn heat up to medium-high then add onions to skillet, season with salt and pepper, then saute until just beginning to become tender, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the crock pot.
- Add bell peppers to skillet, season with salt and pepper, then saute until crisp tender, 4-5 minutes, adding a drizzle more oil if necessary to keep peppers from burning. Add garlic then saute for 1 more minute, and then transfer peppers and garlic to crock pot.
- Add red chili pepper flakes, a little pit of salt and pepper, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and chicken broth to crock pot then cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until sausages are very tender. Serve over pasta or inside rolls with provolone cheese on top.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.