Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole is a rich and hearty dish straight from the south of France, perfect for autumn when the weather turns cooler. Thick herby sausages and flavoursome beans in a seasoned tomato sauce create the most comforting casserole! It’s delicious served with crusty bread.
Sausage Casserole In The Slow Cooker
Slow cooker sausage casserole is inspired by the classic french recipe cassoulet. This rustic one pot meal is named after the type of large earthenware dish in which it is cooked.
Cassoulets originate from the Languedoc region of Southern France, that we had the pleasure of visiting a few years ago. They are typically made from cuts of meat or sausages, pulses and vegetables. It’s then gently simmered in stock and wine, with herbs that intensify the flavours beautifully.
Naturally after sampling the dish in France I had to make a version for the slow cooker!
Ingredients In Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole
Here’s what you need to make it.
Sausages – The star attraction! I opt for Toulouse style sausages to keep it as authentic as possible. These contain herbs, red wine and garlic. I also add pork lardons for extra flavour.
Beans – White beans are often used in French casseroles as they are widely grown across France. In my recipe I use Haricot and Butter beans (also known as Lima beans) as they have a mellow creamy flavour which compliments the tomatoes and herbs in the sauce.
Vegetables – Use onion, carrot and celery to create a sweet, earthy undertone in the sauce which is familiar across French and Italian recipes.
Herbs – Add dried thyme, bay leaves and freshly chopped parsley for a full herby flavour. This is the usual combination of herbs found in Bouquet Garni. This garnish is widely used to season many types of French stews (like Coq au Vin) and casseroles.
Sauce – I use canned chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and white wine for a flavoursome sauce. This is seasoned with stock, pepper, garlic, paprika and a little sugar to balance any acidity from the tomatoes.
How To Make It
Here is how to make a delicious Sausage Casserole in the Slow Cooker.
- Dice the vegetables – Finely dice the carrots, onion and celery. Add them to the slow cooker with the minced garlic, parsely and thyme.
- Brown the sausages – Cook the sausages in a large frying pan in a little oil over a medium heat for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add the pork lardons and cook until they are golden at the edges and the sausages are a deeper colour. Add everything to the slow cooker.
- Reduce the wine – In the same pan the meat was cooked in, drain away any excess fat released and return to the pan to the heat. Add the wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
- Make the sauce – Add the reduced wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, chicken stock, (stock cube dissolved in hot water), paprika and sugar to the slow cooker.
- Add the beans – Pour in the beans and bay leaves.
- Stir gently – Combine and submerge the bay in the sauce. Cook for 6-8 hours on low.
The flavour and texture of a slow cooker sausage and bean casserole can be easily altered to suit your taste. Some ideas of ways to vary the recipe are:
Type of sausage – I use Toulouse sausages as they are highly seasoned. However, Leek and Herb sausages make a good substitution. Cumberland sausages are also delicious and give a wonderful pepperiness to the dish!
Pulses – Beans are great in the slow cooker as they soften over the cooking time without losing their shape. They also act as natural sauce thickeners as they release starch as they cook.
White beans are typical in French stews, however borlotti, cannolini or kidney beans are also delicious.
Vegetables – If you would like to add extra vegetables to the casserole green beans make a lovely addition, and chunks of red or yellow pepper bring a delicate sweetness to the sauce.
Sausage casserole is a one pot meal and contains meat, vegetables and beans so you don’t need to serve too much with it.
I opt for thick slices of crusty bread which are perfect for mopping up that delicious sauce at the end!
As an alternative, creamy mashed potatoes also work well with the dish.
Tips For Making Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole
- Brown the sausages – Browning the outside of sausages not only makes them look more appetising, but also kick-starts the Maillard reaction – adding lots of flavour you don’t want to miss out on! It also firms the skin of the sausages so they are less likely to fall apart during cooking.
- Adding salt – I recommend only adding salt at the end of cooking time, if required. The recipe uses processed meat (sausages) and so some seasoning will have already been added, and the stock and pork lardons also contain salt.
- Dice the vegetables – Finely dice the vegetables so that they blend into the sauce with the beans. Pieces of 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) are the ideal size.
If you have time, turn the slow cooker up to the high setting, then lift and twist the lid to leave a small gap. This will allow excess moisture to evaporate – around 20 minutes should be enough. Check the dish regularly to ensure the sauce does not reduce too much.
Alternatively, make a cornflour slurry with a tablespoon of cornflour and water or liquid from the sauce, add this to the casserole and stir through.
Slow cooker Sausage Casserole can be frozen in airtight bags or containers for up to three months or kept refrigerated for up to three days.
Browning sausages before putting them into the slow cooker makes them look more appealing. It also kick-starts the Maillard reaction, adding lots of flavour and caramelisation. Sausages placed into a slow cooker raw will cook, but remain very soft and pale.
Any kind of meat sausage can be used for for sausage casserole, although it’s better to use a herby full-flavoured sausage. This ensures they are not overpowered by the flavours in the sauce.
Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole
- 12 sausages Toulouse style or other herby type of sausage
- 100 g (3.5 oz) pork lardons
- 200 g (7 oz) haricot beans tinned
- 200 g (7 oz) butter beans tinned
- 1 onion white, diced
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 2 celery sticks diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 400 g (14 oz) chopped tomatoes
- 200 ml (1 cups) white wine
- 150 ml (0.5 cups) water hot water for the stock cube
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 4 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tsp parsley fresh, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt optional- to taste
- ¼ tsp black pepper finely ground
- 1 tbsp oil
- Dice the carrots, celery and onion into small chunks 1/2 cm across. Add these to the slow cooker with the minced garlic, thyme and parsley.
- Cook the sausages in a large frying pan in the oil over a medium heat until lightly browned on the outside (1-2 minutes). Add the pork lardons and cook until they are golden at the edges and the sausages are a deeper colour (1-2 minutes). Transfer the sausages and lardons to the slow cooker.
- In the same pan the meat was cooked in, drain away any excess fat released and return the pan to the heat. Add the wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes on a medium high setting to evaporate the alcohol.
- Pour the reduced wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, chicken stock, (stock cube dissolved in hot water), sugar, paprika and pepper into the slow cooker.
- Add the beans and bay leaves then stir gently to combine and ensure the bay is submerged in the sauce. Cook for 6-8 hours on low.
- At the end of the cooking time stir well and taste, add some salt if required.