This easy Italian Sausage Sandwich with peppers and onions is juicy, bold, and full of flavor, and comes together quickly on a sheet pan. It's the ultimate sausage on a bun recipe served with basil mayo and stringy provolone cheese.
If we could, we’d eat this Italian Sausage Sandwich every day – and most summer days we do. It’s a dish that’s on repeat in our house, sometimes served with different variations of sausage flavors, toppings, and condiments. But this sausage on a bun recipe, smothered in homemade basil aioli, has got to be our favorite yet.
Juicy, bold, and bursting with bright flavors, this Italian Sausage Sandwich recipe with peppers and onions is drizzled in basil aioli and roasted in the oven for a quick and easy crowd-pleasing lunch or weeknight dinner.
Italian sausage is typically made with pork that’s mixed with dried herbs and fennel seed or anise, which gives it a subtle licorice flavor. This quick and easy sheet pan sausage dinner recipe roasts for 30 minutes, allowing the flavors and juices to meld with the peppers and onions.
Once cooked, serve our Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions on a crispy bun topped with melted provolone cheese, then generously drizzled with the sweet and tangy basil aioli.
- Bell Peppers: Use sweet bell peppers, brightly colored with firm skin. We used red and green bell peppers as a nod to the colors on the Italian flag.
- Sweet Onion: The sweetness from these onions pairs well with Italian sausages, especially if using spicy sausages. If you can’t find sweet onions, any white or red onion will do.
- Italian Sausage: The fennel/anise seed provides a nice flavor pairing to the peppers and onions. Mild, spicy, and sweet Italian sausages will work well. They all have similar ingredients, but spicy Italian sausages add chili flakes and sweet Italian sausages add basil leaves to the mixture.
- Provolone Cheese: We prefer provolone cheese as it becomes creamy as it melts which brings an elevated texture and flavor to the sausages. If you can’t find provolone, try mild cheddar to give you the closest substitute in texture, or mozzarella, which will be similar in flavor but have a stringy texture.
- Mayonnaise: A simple mayonnaise is best. Avoid salad dressing-style mayonnaises as they can overpower the basil.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic. Choose bulbs that are firm or aren’t too dry. Grating the garlic ensures a strong flavor throughout the aioli.
- Basil: Always use fresh basil. Since the sauce is blended add the tender stems along with the leaves.
- Pickle Juice: Provides a tang to the sauce and a very mild pickle flavor adding depth to the aioli and sandwich. Use lemon juice or vinegar if you don't have pickle juice.
- Olive Oil: We use extra virgin for its robust flavor.
- Buns: Look for buns that are crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. If you have an Italian bakery near you, look for ciriola, which are pinched on each end resembling a flame.
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Recipe Steps: How to Make an Italian Sausage Sandwich with Peppers, Onions and Basil Aioli
1. Preheat the oven and season the veggies.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large mixing bowl, toss peppers and onions with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2. Prepare the sheetpan.
Arrange the sausages in the peppers and onions, nestling the links down to touch the surface of the pan. Roast on the lower middle rack for 30 minutes.
3. Slice the buns.
Slice the sausage buns in half lengthwise. Arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle with grated provolone cheese and set aside.
4. Make the basil aioli.
For the basil aioli, spoon the mayonnaise into a blender container. Add garlic, leaves, and tender stems of the basil, pickle juice, salt, and pepper. Blend for 20-30 seconds, until the basil is broken down and the sauce is green.
5. Toast the sausage buns.
Toast the buns for the final 5 minutes on the upper rack of the oven, until the cheese is melted and the edges of the buns are crisp.
6. Remove the sausages from the oven.
Remove the sausages and vegetables from the oven once they are caramelized and the sausages are cooked through (Internal temperature 160°F).
7. Assemble the sausage sandwich.
To serve, lay a sausage on the cheesy toasted bun. Top with roasted peppers and onions, then drizzle generously with basil aioli.
Remove the sausages from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. Bringing meat to room temperature ensures an even cook throughout.
- Spicy Italian Sausage Sandwich: Swap half the bell peppers for Italian chili peppers and/or use hot Italian sausage.
- Italian Sausage Burger: Remove the meat from the casings and form it into patties, then arrange and cook as you would the sausage.
- Gluten-Free: Ensure the sausages are gluten-free. Use gluten-free sausage buns or serve the sausages on a plate with mashed potatoes or quinoa.
- Kid-Friendly: Depending on the child, top the cheesy toasted bun with only the sausage and use plain mayonnaise.
Italian sausage is defined by the spices in its meat mixture. Most commercially available Italian sausages contain Italian herbs and spices, like oregano and basil, and fennel/anise seeds, which give them a distinct hint of licorice.
Caramelized onions and sauteed peppers are the most commonly used to top Italian sausage Sandwiches.
The most common Italian sausage flavors are mild, spicy, and sweet. They all use the same base of pork, fennel seeds, and Italian herbs and spices, but spicy Italian sausages contain chili flakes and sweet contains fresh basil.
Aioli is an emulsified sauce that uses garlic. Traditionally it only contains olive oil, garlic, and salt, but now refers to almost any garlicky emulsified sauce.
Historically, aioli is much different from mayonnaise, as it doesn’t contain eggs or any type of mustard. Now, however, aioli is often used to refer to any flavored mayonnaise-based sauce. Technically, aioli is any garlicky emulsified sauce.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Italian Sausage Sandwiches
- 1 large sweet onion halved and sliced crosswise
- 2 medium red bell peppers seeds and stem removed, sliced lengthwise
- 2 medium green bell peppers seeds and stem removed, sliced lengthwise
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 6 links Italian sausage to taste - mild, spicy, or sweet
- 6 sausage buns
- ½ cup grated provolone cheese
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 1 bunch fresh basil about 1 cup
- 2 tablespoon pickle juice
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 pinch black pepper freshly ground
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Clean and slice the onions and peppers.
- Place onions and peppers in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with ¾ teaspoon of salt and pepper. Toss to mix and transfer to a large baking sheet.
- Arrange the sausages in the peppers and onions, nestling the links down so they are touching the surface of the pan. Place in the oven, lower-middle rack, and cook for 30 minutes, turning sausages halfway through.
- For the basil aioli, spoon the mayonnaise into a blender container. Add garlic, leaves and tender stems of the basil, pickle juice, salt and pepper. Blend for 20-30 seconds, until the basil is broken down and the sauce is green. Transfer to a condiment bowl or squeeze bottle, then place in the fridge until serving.
- Slice the sausage buns lenghtwise and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the buns with grated provolone cheese and place in the top rack of the oven for the final 5 minutes of the sausages' cooking time, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the buns begin to brown. Place on a serving plate or board.
- To serve, place a sausage link on a cheesy toasted bun, arrange a generous portion of peppers and onions overtop and drizzle liberally with the basil aioli.
- Provolone cheese: use mozzarella or mild cheddar cheese.
- Pickle juice: use lemon juice, red wine vinegar, or white vinegar in equal amounts.
- Barbecue: heat the grill on high. Arrange the sausages on one side of the barbecue and the onions and peppers on the other side. Lower heat to medium. Cook the vegetables for about 8 minutes and the sausages for about 12 minutes.
- Air Fryer: the recipe will likely need to be halved in order to fit in an air fryer. Prepare as in the recipe but shorten the cooking time to about 15-20 minutes, or until the sausage is cooked through (160°F). Toast the buns for a minute or two after the sausages are cooked and removed from the air fryer.
- Stovetop: Heat a skillet on medium-high and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Once the oil begins to smoke add the sausages and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Add the peppers and onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and sausages are cooked through.