Smoked Sausage Ragù and Parmesan Polenta

5 from 3 votes
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Smoked Sausage Ragù is a simple way to add some smoked flavor to your next ragù sauce. Serve over creamy polenta and pair it with some delicious red wine and you’ve got yourself an awesome dinner.  

A bowl of smoked sausage ragu over creamy polenta

There are several ways to incorporate some smoke flavor to your favorite Italian dishes, like a rich ragù sauce, without having to go through the effort of smoking your tomatoes and making everything from scratch. One simple way to add some subtle, yet delicious, flavor is to simply smoke some bulk Italian sausage and add it to your favorite tomato based sauce.

Though I will be the first to preach that it’s so ridiculously worth the effort to make a smoked marinara sauce (including smoking your tomatoes), but we’ll get into that on another day. Perhaps you’re busy and don’t have the time? I get it!

a bowl of smoked sausage ragu over polenta

What is a Ragù?

Ragù is a chunky Italian pasta sauce made with meat and tomatoes. It is very similar to a bolognese sauce. Traditionally, these sauces are paired with pasta. Today we are serving it over a creamy parmesan polenta.

What is Polenta?

Polenta is a coarse ground cornmeal, boiled and served as a porridge. Polenta is traditional to Northern Italy, but is very similar to the Southern US dish grits. The only difference being that polenta is made with yellow corn, while grits are made with white corn or hominy.

two servings of polenta and smoked sausage ragu on a wooden tabletop

How to Smoke Sausage for Ragù

  1. Start with some bulk Italian sausage and break it up into quarter size pieces and lay them out on a baking sheet. You can also use sausage links and just remove the casings and break up the pieces into the same size. Bulk Hot Italian Sausage
  2. Smoke them at 225 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for about an hour, just to get some flavor infusion.
  3. Then transfer the smoked sausage to your ragu sauce and let the sausage and tomato flavors incorporate together.
  4. Serve the Smoked Sausage Ragu over the creamy polenta and garnish with additional parmesan cheese and some fresh basil.

How to Make Creamy Polenta

The length of time it will take you to cook your polenta will depend on the grind of cornmeal you use. Make sure to refer to your cornmeal package for their specific instructions.

  1. Bring 4 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Slowly add polenta and cook, stirring constantly until all liquid is absorbed.
  3. Then, reduce heat to low and continue stirring occasionally until it has achieved the desired consistency.
  4. Take it off the heat and add in butter and cheese.
Pot of polenta on the stove

Other Italian Inspired Recipes

I travel all over Italy and love coming home inspired by some of these regional favorites.

Wine Pairing for Smoked Sausage Ragù with Polenta

Zinfandel and Petite Sirah tend to be some of my favorites with this dish. Something with a nice richness (but not overly tannic) works well with the smoky sausage and the depth of the tomatoes.

If you like this recipe we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes. 

We adapted this recipe from Pedroncelli Winery to allow for the smoked sausage, and a more creamy and savory polenta (this is based on my preference, you can use whatever recipe or method you wish for your polenta).

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bowls of ragu
5 from 3 votes

Smoked Sausage Ragù and Parmesan Polenta

A simple way to add smoked flavor to ragù sauce, and served over some creamy polenta. Recipe adapted by Pedroncelli Winery.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


For the Smoked Sausage:

  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, broken up into quarter-sized pieces , (or the equivalent weight using sausage links, with casings removed)

For the Ragu:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, (We love the flavor of the canned San Marzano)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Polenta:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups polenta, (also known as corn grits or cornmeal)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan, loosely packed, plus more for garnish


To Smoke the Sausage:

  • Preheat smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Smoke: Place sausage spread out on a large foil-lined cookie sheet in small quarter-sized clumps. Smoke for 60 minutes and remove. Look for a darker color on the exterior while still moist (we’re not worried about cooking to a perfect temperature here because it will continue cooking in the sauce).

For the Ragu and Polenta:

  • Sauté: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Add the smoked sausage and the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until integrated and thickened (about 40 minutes). Finish by adding the basil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Boil: When sauce is halfway ready, bring 4 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly add polenta and cook, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to low. Continue stirring occasionally until desired consistency (I like a very creamy texture) around 15-20 minutes (*see notes on polenta exceptions).
  • Combine: Remove from heat and add butter, parmesan, and additional salt, and stir together. Serve by ladling a large spoonful of the polenta into a serving dish then add the smoked sausage ragu, and top with additional parmesan cheese if desired.


*The length of time it will take you to cook your polenta will depend on the grind of cornmeal you use. Make sure to refer to your cornmeal package for their specific instructions.


Calories: 768kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1811mg | Potassium: 712mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 304mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Comfort Food, Italian, smoked meat
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 768
Keyword: sausage ragu with polenta, smoked sausage ragu, smoked sausage recipe
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. I love wines from Dry Creek Valley and will have to seek these out! That dish looks amazing. I’ve only recently started making polenta at home and I’m loving the smoked sausage ragu you made to go with polenta!

  2. 5 stars
    wow! this just blew my mind!
    first off, this recipe is going to be pinned into one of my pinterest boards, and next. i honestly wonder why we’ve never thrown some sausage in our smoker and cooked it that way instead of the oven? now i want to experiment and see what other dishes will take on a smoke flavor. perhaps i could smoke some nuts to be used in cookies?
    thank you for the wonderful inspo!

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you Mary-may I share your version on our website? I like the smoke factor in the sausages and the changes you made in the polenta recipe. Let me know and thanks also for your kind words and review of our wines.

  4. Oooh, that sounds so delicious!! A great gluten-free comfort food idea! I love how you do creative things with flavors like smoky!