My incredibly easy arrabbiata sauce couldn’t be more simple to make, and it’s a delicious way to add a spicy kick to your weeknight dinners.
Made with basic pantry staples, you can have this spicy tomato sauce with penne pasta or the pasta shape of your choice in less than 30 minutes with minimal effort — and it doubles as a delectable dipping sauce, too. When it comes to traditional sauces, this simple homemade tomato sauce will definitely add some pizzazz to your pasta nights!
Creating delicious meals in your kitchen can be time-consuming and tedious, but with my arrabbiata sauce, you can have dinner on the table without all the muss and fuss — and it’s faster than ordering takeout!
The best thing about this quick and spicy arrabbiata sauce recipe is the simple ingredients used to create it. I will admit that arrabbiata sauce, along with classic marinara sauce, are two of my favorite pasta dishes.
My classic arrabbiata sauce (Sugo all’ arrabbiata in Italian), is made with sweet San Marzano tomatoes, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, and flakes from red peppers. The literal translation from Italian is “angry sauce,” and that name comes from the heat in the sauce from the red pepper flakes.
I like heat — but in moderation. So my sauce is moderately disturbed rather than angry…lol.
Ingredients to make Penne Arrabbiata
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make my Arrabiata Sauce with Penne. In Chef Speak this is called the “Mise en Place” which translates to “Everything in its Place”.
Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
Make sure to get San Marzano Tomatoes if at all possible, and as a note, San Marzano Tomatoes will never come crushed, only as whole tomatoes in juice. If they’re crushed they’re not San Marzano!
The other ingredients needed are good quality red chili flakes (that are fresh, not something that’s been in your spice drawer for a year or longer), extra virgin olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, tomato paste, fresh basil and fresh Italian parsley. You also want to make sure you have grated Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese to serve with the dish.
How to make this simple pasta sauce recipe
Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet (or large saucepan) over medium heat. Add the fresh chopped garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to the hot oil.
Let them cook for about 30 seconds. This will toast the red pepper flakes creating more depth of flavor in the sauce.
Add the whole tomatoes and tomato paste to the pan. Use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the whole tomatoes (you can also crush them by hand before adding them to the pan).
For a chunkier sauce, leave some of the tomato pieces larger.
Bring the sauce to a simmer over low heat, then cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. Remove the arrabbiata sauce from the heat and add the fresh chopped basil. Mix well.
When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain the water, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water to add to the spicy sauce.
Add the water and the pasta to the sauce, mixing into the sauce, and coating all the pasta. Taste and reseason taste with salt and black pepper as needed.
I think it has enough heat as is, but if you’re fan of heat, feel free to add a little cayenne pepper to the sauce.
If you like olives and capers in your sauce, you’ll want to try my puttanesca sauce.
Serve the pasta with lots of grated Romano or parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley. Store the leftover sauce and pasta in an airtight container separately, if possible.
Even if you’re not a spicy food lover, my arrabbiata recipe is sure to please.
FAQ’s About Homemade Arrabbiata Sauce
The word arrabbiata means “Angry” in Italian. Because of the crushed red pepper, the capillaries in your face expand, and your face gets red, which could be interpreted as being angry, or red in the face.
But don’t worry, this sauce isn’t that spicy and won’t have you looking too angry!
Both are classical tomato sauces and use basically the same ingredients, starting with fresh tomatoes or canned San Marzano tomatoes. They are both quick-cooked sauces that keep their bright red color.
The major difference comes in the seasoning. Arrabbiata sauce includes red pepper flakes, while marinara sauce has dried oregano as the main seasoning (though sometimes red pepper flakes are incorporated, as well). Both sauces should be cooked no longer than 30 minutes.
This simple sauce has surprising layers of flavor, from lots of garlic, fresh basil, and spicy red pepper flakes to the simultaneously sweet and savory tomatoes.