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Sausage and Bean Casserole

Sausage and Bean Casserole

Sausage and bean casserole is something between being a traditional casserole and chili. It’s not broth-y and soup-like as chili is but it has so many of the same flavors. Sweet Italian sausage, red beans, onion, tomato paste, brown sugar and seasonings simmered together and topped is fresh bread crumbs is the gist of this one pot meal. 

About the Ingredients

Sweet Italian Sausage – 1 pound

Onion and Garlic – 1 onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic

Beans – I used red kidney beans because that’s what I keep in the pantry but you could also use cannelloni beans or a combination of the two.

Chicken Stock – one 14oz can

Tomato Paste – only 2 tablespoons. I like to save leftovers from the can in silicone ice cube trays in the freezer. That way when a recipe calls for just a small amount (as they often do) I don’t waste an entire can.

Seasonings – 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a bay leaf, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

White bread – to make fresh bread crumbs. I like to use leftover hamburger or hot dog buns for this. 3 slices of bread or 2 buns should be plenty.

Recipe Substitutions & Variations

If you want to add a little extra vegetable kick to this dish try adding escarole or spinach. Add it just after the 5 minute simmer, right before the bread crumbs go on top. The greens will have plenty of heat to soften without over cooking. 

Like things a little spicy? The recipe already calls for some red pepper flakes but for extra heat you could switch up the sweet Italian sausage for spicy sausage. Or maybe go half and half?!

bread crumb topping on sausage and bean casserole in a dutch oven.

How to Make Sausage and Bean Casserole

Begin by slicing the raw sausage and dicing the onion. Slicing raw sausage can be a messy job so don’t worry about perfection – roughly sliced is good enough. Sauté the meat and onion in a dutch oven for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. 

Pour in the chicken broth, stir in the tomato paste, brown sugar, bay leaf, beans, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat and let simmer for another 5 minutes. 

While the casserole simmers, put the white bread in a food processor and pulse it until coarsely ground. Add the crumbs on top of the casserole, spray with cooking spray and bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes or until golden on top. 

sausage and bean casserole plated

FAQ’s and Expert Tips

Can I use store bought bread crumbs? Yes. They are much finer in texture so they won’t absorb as much liquid as the fresh bread but they will definitely still brown and give you that little bit of crunchiness on top. 

I don’t have a dutch oven. What should I make this casserole in? Prepare the casserole in a large sauté pan or pot. Just before topping it with breadcrumbs, transfer everything to a casserole dish (such as a 9×13) sprayed with cooking spray. Then proceed to top with bread crumbs and bake.

Can I make this ahead time? Yes. This dish saves well in the refrigerator and like a good chili even gets a little more flavorful. The crumbs can loose some of their crunchiness though so I would assemble the entire dish but leave off the bread crumbs. When you’re ready to serve it, warm the whole thing in the oven, then top it with the bread crumbs and toast for about another 10 minutes.

sausage and bean casserole cooked in a dutch oven.

The Recipe for Sausage and Bean Casserole

The recipe is attached below for easy downloading and printing.  If you test it out be sure to leave a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you thought. Enjoy!

Sausage and Bean Casserole

Sausage and Bean Casserole

A fast, hearty, one dish dinner that is surprisingly delicious. The sweetness of the sausage and the brown sugar combined with the crunchy breadcrumb topping is what this recipe is all about. Adding the beans gives this recipe the extra fullness needed to make it a one dish meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 4 people


  • Dutch Oven


  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage sliced into rings
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 14 oz chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 cans kidney beans or other white bean 16oz / can, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 slices of bread sandwich bread


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and coat with oil. Sauté the onion and sausage together until the onion is soft and the sausage is browned, about 7 minutes.
    1 onion, 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.
    2 tsp minced garlic
  • Pour in the chicken stock, brown sugar, tomato paste, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir everything to combine well.
    14 oz chicken stock, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp tomato paste, ½ tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper
  • Add the beans and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
    3 cans kidney beans or other white bean, 1 bay leaf
  • While the pot simmers, place the bread slices in a food processor and pulse until a coarse crumble forms.
    3 slices of bread sandwich bread
  • Remove the lid from the pot and discard the bay leaf. Top the sausage and beans with the bread crumbs and spray with cooking spray. Place in the hot oven for 10-15 minutes or until top starts to brown.
Keyword one dish, sausage

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