Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce)

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Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce) or Sugo all’arrabiata in Italian, is made with sweet San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Ready in under 30 minutes!

Serve with a simple salad and crusty bread to make a complete meal. 

Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce) serving dish and plate with spicy pasta sauce.
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More Italian recipes you will love Authentic Italian Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Recipe, Amatriciana Sauce with Pasta (Bucatini), Pasta Carbonara (no cream), and Broccoli Pasta with Sausage Recipe.

Best Arrabbiata Sauce

Spaghetti Arrabbiata is a quick, simple, and delicious pasta cooked in a lip-smacking spicy tomato sauce. It’s the perfect pasta recipe with a spicy twist. A must-try pasta recipe.

The literal translation of sugo all’arrabbiata is” the angry sauce”! The hotness from the red chili flakes might make your face red to look mad, or angry.

This is the best Arrabbiata sauce. You can adjust the spice level to make this a tomato-based sauce the whole family will love.

close up of the Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce) in a blue and white serving bowl red serving dish with pasta in the background.

Simple Ingredients

Making this classic Italian pasta dish only takes a few essential ingredients. You likely have everything in your pantry to make this tonight.

ingredient shot for recipe
  • Spaghetti or pasta of choice, read why Cheap vs. Expensive Pasta (Why Pasta Quality Matters!)
  • Cloves garlic
  • Red pepper flakes or fresh hot peppers (add more or less depending on personal taste)
  • San Marzano Tomatoes, whole
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Fresh basil (you can also use fresh Italian parsley)
  • Optional- Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese or parmesan cheese for topping

See the recipe card for quantities.

How to Make Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce) with Step-by-Step Photos

process for how to make Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce)- adding chili and garlic to the oil.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, whole chili peppers, or chili pepper flakes, and heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
process for how to make Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce)- sauce cooking in pan

  1. Add the canned tomatoes. Crush the whole tomatoes with the side of a wooden spoon. You can also break them up before adding them to the pan. Cook on low for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens—season with a pinch of salt. 
  2. Bring water to a boil in a 6 qt. pot. Season with salt. Add the spaghetti and give it a quick stir with your favorite pasta tool. 
process for how to make Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce)- mixing pasta in pan with the spicy sauce

Drain the spaghetti when cooked to al dente according to package instructions, drain, and toss quickly in the saucepan. toss the Spaghetti Arrabiata Pasta for 3 to 4 minutes until the spaghetti is well coated with the pasta sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and serve garnished with fresh basil and cheese, if desired. Serve hot!

Best Pasta for Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

A long pasta shape is traditionally served with arrabbiata sauce (the most popular spicy spaghetti). You can use your favorite pasta shape and change depending on your preference. Try it with whole-wheat spaghetti!

Short pasta varieties like penne also work with this simple pasta sauce recipe.

What Canned Tomatoes Are Best for Arrabiata Sauce

For this recipe, we use the best canned tomatoes we can find. Picked at the peak of ripeness and properly packaged, the good canned tomatoes are perfect for this classic Italian tomato sauce recipe.

Don’t use a brand that uses a lot of citric acids to preserve freshness- or it can make the sauce acidic. Add a teaspoon of sugar if you end up with a little acidic sauce.

I like to use whole tomatoes, such as San Marzano. Whole tomatoes are less processed since they aren’t diced or crushed by a machine. Use the best quality tomatoes for this easy homemade tomato sauce, and you will use this sauce on and with everything. Try it with Easy Italian Style Nachos (sheet pan).

Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce) on a plate with a fork in it.

Canned Tomato Brands I Recommend

You can use whole peeled, crushed, petite diced, or a mix! You can use a variety of Italian tomatoes or locally sourced ones in the area where you live. Quality is the canned tomatoes is the secret ingredient to the best arrabbiata sauce recipe. You can find most of these at your local grocery store or order here:

If you want to read more in-depth about canned tomatoes, the NY Times published a great article.

*contains affiliate links

close up of the Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce) in a blue and white serving bowl.

Variations

If this is your first time making the arrabbiata sauce- try it the traditional Italian way. You can try these versions the next time.

  • Shortcut- garlic powder, chili powder, and onion powder. I never use them, but if you have them on hand and want to save time, you can add that instead of fresh or whole variety.
  • Make it a meaty spaghetti sauce by adding ground beef or pork, similar to Classic Italian Ragu Recipe (Meat Sauce).
  • Peppers- although not traditional, you can add some small diced orange peppers or green peppers.
  • Onion- You can add half of a medium onion, diced, to this recipe if you like. You will cook it for about 8 minutes in the extra virgin olive oil before adding the garlic and other ingredients.
  • Fresh Herbs – add a couple of bay leaves while the sauce is simmering.
  • Extra Spicy- Add a touch of hot sauce to really send you through the rough with this spicy sauce!
close up of the Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce) in a blue and white serving bowl.

Top tips

FAQs

What’s the difference between marinara and arrabbiata sauce?

The main difference between marinara sauce and arrabbiata sauce is the spice level. Traditional Italian red sauce does not have any hot peppers. Arrabbiata sauce has plenty of spice!

What does arrabbiatta sauce taste like?

Arrabbiata sauce tastes similar to a classic Italian tomato sauce, with chili flakes, red chili peppers, or dried chilis to kick it up a notch and add spice. You can use this spicy tomato sauce for pasta, meats, and fish.

Can you make arrabbiata sauce with fresh tomatoes?

You can make arrabbiata sauce using fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. Use about 500 grams of fresh tomatoes, finely chopped, and add them when you add the canned tomatoes to this recipe. Enjoy!

What is Arrabbiata Sauce

A classic Roman pasta dish, spaghetti all’arrabbiata is enjoyed in all regions of Italy. It is a spicy version ofthe Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce Recipe (Sugo al Pomodoro). Arrabbiata means ‘angry’ in Italian, referring to the sauce made with tomatoes and hot red chili peppers that pack a spicy punch.

You will also love- Italian Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe (Tomato Cream), Marinara Sauce Recipe, and Spaghetti alla Nerano Recipe.

What to Serve with Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce)

Serve spicy arrabbiata sauce with pasta or meat, fish, or fresh crusty bread.

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Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce)

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5 from 3 reviews

Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce) or Sugo all’arrabiata in Italian, is made with sweet San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Ready in under 30 minutes!

  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb spaghetti or pasta of choice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or whole chili pepper
  • 128 oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes, whole
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 8 leaves of fresh basil, torn (can also use fresh Italian parsley)
  • Optional- Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese or parmesan cheese for topping

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, whole chili peppers, or chili pepper flakes, and heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  2. Add the canned tomatoes. Crush the whole tomatoes with the side of a wooden spoon. You can also break them up before adding them to the pan. Cook on low for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens—season with a pinch of salt. 
  3. Bring water to a boil in a 6 qt. pot. Season with salt. Add the spaghetti and give it a quick stir with your favorite pasta tool
  4. Drain the spaghetti when cooked to al dente according to package instructions, drain, and toss quickly in the saucepan. toss the Spaghetti Arrabiata Pasta for 3 to 4 minutes until the spaghetti is well coated with the pasta sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and serve garnished with fresh basil and cheese, if desired. Serve hot!

Notes

Cook Pasta Perfectly. Make sure to salt the water to flavor the pasta from the inside out. Only cook until al dente. Read:  How Long to Boil Spaghetti Pasta Perfectly Every Time

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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6 Comments

  1. I made this last night. The kids are silently around the table (always a great sign). Even the picky eaters enjoyed it! I will definitely make it again. It’s so much better than anything store-bought.






  2. Excellent recipe just like my Nona’s (Cefalu, Sicily). I used Calabrian chili peppers, Sicilian sweet Basil (fresh from my garden), Parmesan Reggiano from Parma and Cento’s San Marzano tomatoes. What could go wrong? I made some homemade and oven baked Sicilian style meat balls (with raisins) to serve on the side. I used bronze cut Ronzoni Bucatini pasta.






    1. Your meal sounds like a dream right now! I am happy you loved the arrabbiata sauce- It’s a favorite. I tone down the spice level for my children, and they love it too!