This arrabbiata sauce recipe is a spicy Italian pasta sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, and red chili flakes, so easy to make and adjust to your spice level preference. This is my extra spicy version!
We're cooking up a spicy Italian pasta sauce in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. I hope you're in the mood for pasta!
Italian cuisine isn't known for being spicy, though they do have a number of spicy dishes to offer the spicy food lover. The Calabrian region is well known for their love of chili peppers, with many dishes incorporating them for spicy effect.
This particular recipe is a Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce that comes from Rome and the Lazio region of Italy, and it's perfect for those who enjoy a bit of kick with their pasta.
What is Arrabbiata Sauce?
Arrabbiata sauce is a spicy Italian tomato sauce for pasta that gets it kick from the inclusion of crushed red pepper flakes, hence the name "arrabbiata", which translates to "angry" or "enraged".
It is usually served with a good helping of al dente pasta of choice. This is my version of the recipe, with the addition of fresh chopped chili peppers (peperoncino), which is not traditional, and some extra spicy chili flakes. And a few splashes of hot sauce, of course.
I've seen the recipe spelled in different ways online, including 'arrabiata sauce' or 'arabbiata sauce', though 'arrabbiata sauce' is the correct way.
I hope you enjoy it, my spicy food loving friends!
Let's talk about how to make arrabbiata sauce, shall we?
Arrabbiata Sauce Ingredients
- Olive Oil. For cooking, and for serving, if desired. I love a good extra virgin olive oil drizzled over my pasta.
- Chili Peppers. This is optional, and not a traditional ingredient, but great for making an extra spicy version. I recommend Calabrian chilies or Fresno peppers)
- Garlic. Use as much garlic as you'd like! I love garlic.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes. This is what traditionally makes arrabbiata sauce "spicy".
- Tomatoes. You can use fresh or canned. San Marzano tomatoes are great, though you can use others - see the recipe notes. I'm using a mix of canned diced tomatoes and fresh cherry tomatoes.
- Salt and Cracked Black Pepper. To taste.
- For Serving. Cooked pasta noodles, fresh chopped basil, extra red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan or romano cheese
How to Make Arrabbiata Sauce - the Recipe Method
Cook the Onion and Peppers. Heat the olive oil in a large pan to medium heat. Add the onion and peppers (if using peppers). Cook for 5 minutes to soften.
Garlic and Chili Flakes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Tomatoes and Simmer. Add the diced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, breaking apart the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as needed, until the tomato sauce has broken down and thickened to your preference.
Serve it Up. Stir in the fresh chopped basil. Taste and adjust for salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Serve with pasta!
Boom! Done! Your spicy arrabbiata sauce is ready to serve. Did you make yours extra spicy, the way we like it? Yes? Then I'll be right over! I hope you love it as much as I do.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Saucier Arrabbiata Sauce. If you'd like a thinner, more "saucy" sauce, add in an extra 14-ounce can of diced peeled tomatoes or tomato sauce when you add the tomatoes. You can also use tomato paste with a bit of water, to your preference. You can easily scale up this recipe for a larger crowd.
- Pasta Water Tip. Before you drain the pasta for the dish, stir 1/4 to 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water from boiling your pasta into the spicy sauce to loosen it up, if desired. The starches add flavor and add body.
- Optional Extras for Spicy Food Lovers. I enjoy adding hot soppressata to my pasta (added when I cook the onions and peppers), as well as hot sauce. Makes it extra spicy.
- Make it Ahead. I enjoy making big batches of arrabbiata sauce so I can use it through the week, or to freeze it for quick and easy meals. It will last a week in the refrigerator in a sealed container, or several months in the freezer.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my spicy arrabbiata sauce recipe. Let me know if you make it and what pasta you've chosen for serving. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Fra Diavolo Sauce
- Spicy Penne Arrabbiata
- Shrimp Fra Diavolo
- Bucatini all Amatriciana
- Rasta Pasta
- Italian Stuffed Peppers
- Italian Giardiniera
- Sausage and Peppers
- Pepper and Egg Sandwich
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1-2 spicy peppers of choice chopped (optional, for extra spicy - I recommend Calabrian chili or Fresno pepper)
- 4 cloves garlic crushed (or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes or more to taste for extra spicy
- 3 14- ounce cans diced tomatoes San Marzano tomatoes are great, though you can use others - see the recipe notes - add 1 more can for saucier arrabbiata sauce
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- For Serving: Cooked pasta noodles, fresh chopped basil, extra red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan or romano cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan to medium heat.
- Add the onion and peppers (if using peppers). Cook for 5 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Add the diced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, breaking apart the tomatoes as needed, until the tomato sauce has broken down and thickened to your preference.
- Stir in the fresh chopped basil. Taste and adjust for salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Serve with pasta!