| |

Spaghetti Arrabbiata (Spicy Italian Pasta)

Spaghetti arrabbiata is an easy pasta recipe with a spicy tomato sauce. All you need is 20 minutes, a few basic pantry staples, and fresh basil for a flavorful weeknight meal.

Spaghetti arrabbiata is a classic Italian dish known as angry spaghetti. Although sometimes spelled arrabiata, the correct spelling is arrabbiata (with two b’s) which quite literally means angry in Italian. This refers to the red pepper flakes in the pasta sauce.

If you love spicy flavors, you’re going to love this easy recipe. Serve with garlic bread or Italian green bean salad for the perfect meal.

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti noodles – my personal preference for this particular dish, but feel free to use another type of pasta.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – choose a good quality olive oil for the most flavorful sauce.
  • White onion – to build the flavor of the sauce.
  • Garlic cloves – fresh garlic is best for this sauce as it requires a good amount.
  • Tomato paste – gives the pasta sauce a really concentrated tomato flavor and lots of umami notes.
  • San Marzano tomatoes – the base for this classic arrabbiata sauce. You want to use peeled whole tomatoes for this recipe. It gives the spicy marinara sauce a nice texture. 
  • Red chili flakes – this is what adds the spicy kick.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper – to taste.
  • Butter – I used vegan butter, but use unsalted butter if not dairy free. This adds a little more richness to the dish.
  • Fresh basil leaves – for garnish and extra flavor.

The full recipe can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Spaghetti Arrabbiata

Step 1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the noodles.

Step 2. Add the contents of the can of San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes into a medium bowl. Use your hands to squeeze the tomatoes until they burst open. Set aside.

Step 3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the minced garlic, chopped onion, and red chili flakes. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.

Step 4. Reduce to medium-low heat and add in the hand-crushed tomatoes along with the juice. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little. Add in the butter if using and season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.

Step 5. Transfer the al dente spaghetti to the skillet and use tongs to toss throughout the sauce. Add one or two tablespoons of the reserved pasta water if needed if the sauce appears to be a little too dry. Serve with fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese (optional).

Step 6. Store leftover spaghetti arrabbiata in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this spaghetti arrabbiata recipe using what you already have? Here are some ideas…

  • Make it gluten free – use your favorite gluten free pasta. I love this brand.
  • No spaghetti? – use any pasta of choice.
  • No white onion? – use red onion or shallot.
  • No red chili flakes? – you can also use cayenne pepper or fresh chili peppers.
  • No butter? – leave it out.
  • No fresh basil? ​- use other fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme.
  • Don’t like spicy food? – you can adjust the spice level by reducing the amount of chili flakes or omitting them completely.

Variations

  • Anchovy paste – this adds an extra boost of flavor to the sauce. Add 1 tablespoon at the same time as the tomato paste.
  • Fresh tomatoes – if you have any extra fresh cherry tomatoes lying around, you can add them to the sauce for another fresh element and more texture.
  • Protein – feel free to add a cooked protein such as ground beef to the dish to make it more filling.
  • Incorporate more vegetables – you can mix in zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash with the spaghetti pasta. I don’t recommend using all veggie noodles though because it would be way too mushy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between arrabbiata/arrabiata sauce and marinara?

Marinara has a sweeter flavor whereas arrabbiata is more of a spicy red sauce due to the addition of red chili flakes.

What is arrabbiata sauce made of?

Traditional sugo all’arrabbiata (arrabbiata sauce) is made using olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and either fresh or dried chilies. Some modern recipes like this one also include the addition of onion and fresh basil.

More Pasta Recipes

Spaghetti Arrabbiata (Spicy Italian Pasta)

5 from 1 vote
A bowl of homemade spaghetti arrabbiata with fresh basil leaves.
Spaghetti arrabbiata is an easy pasta recipe with a spicy tomato sauce. All you need is 20 minutes, a few basic pantry staples, and fresh basil for a flavorful weeknight meal.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Serving Size 4

Ingredients
 

  • 12 ounces spaghetti noodles
  • 28 oz can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon dairy free butter (optional) use regular if not dairy-free
  • fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the noodles.
  • Add the contents of the can of San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes into a medium bowl. Use your hands to squeeze the tomatoes until they burst open. Set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the minced garlic, chopped onion, and red chili flakes. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Reduce to medium-low heat and add in the hand-crushed tomatoes along with the juice. Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced some. Add in the butter if using and season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
  • Transfer the al dente spaghetti to the skillet and use tongs to toss throughout the sauce. Add one or two tablespoons of the reserved pasta water if needed if the sauce appears to be a little too dry. Serve with fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese (optional).
  • Store leftover spaghetti arrabbiata in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Notes

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Make it gluten free – use your favorite gluten free pasta. I love this brand.
No spaghetti? – use any pasta of choice.
No white onion? – use red onion or shallot.
No red chili flakes? – you can also use cayenne pepper or fresh chili peppers.
No butter? – leave it out.
No fresh basil? ​- use other fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme.
Don’t like spicy food? – you can adjust the spice level by reducing the amount of chili flakes or omitting them completely.
See blog post for variations.
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating