Arrabiata Pasta

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My version of a classic Arrabiata Pasta recipe includes a spicy homemade tomato sauce made with red chili pepper flakes, fragrant garlic and fresh basil. This zesty sauce is tossed with tender fusilli pasta for an easy and satisfying dinner that’s ready in just 30 minutes. Top with grated parmesan cheese for the perfect garnish!

arrabiata pasta in a deep dish serving plate wit a silver fork by the side

What is Arrabiata Pasta

Arrabiata Pasta is a popular Italian recipe that features a sauce made with spicy red chili peppers and tomatoes. In fact, the word “arrabiata” means angry in Italian, which refers to the bold spiciness of the dish.

So if you’re looking to add a bit of heat to your next pasta night, this recipe is exactly what you need.

The vegetarian tomato, chili pepper, garlic and basil sauce is combined with al dente fusilli pasta, which is my favorite pasta to use because of how wonderfully it holds the sauce.

You can substitute with other types of pasta, but be sure they are hearty pasta such as penne or rigatoni.

Why This Recipe Works

While arrabiata pasta recipe is very easy to prepare, the homemade tomato sauce really makes it a special dish. Buying a jar of sauce might be the easiest route but it just won’t have the same amazing flavor. And even with a scratch-made sauce this recipe only requires 30 minutes!

The arrabiata sauce is made with a fresh tomato puree simmered to perfection with a handful of classic bold spices. Red chili flakes add the kick of spiciness you crave, and the amount included can be adjusted to taste.

Of course, you could cut the spice a bit by topping the pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese – your choice of dairy or dairy-free for a completely vegan recipe.

Ingredients You Need

  • Pasta: I use fusilli pasta in my recipe. However, as mentioned above, you certainly can swap with whatever hearty pasta you like. Traditional arrabiata is made with penne, but you can even use macaroni, rigatoni, ziti or shell pasta.
  • Tomatoes: A sauce made from scratch with a fresh tomato puree base is the real star of this dish. You’ll want ripe tomatoes to make the puree using a food processor or blender.
  • Spices and seasonings: Garlic, basil and red chili peppers add great spicy, earthy flavor to the sauce. Use your choice of chopped fresh red chili peppers (chilies) or crushed red pepper chili flakes. The fresh peppers will have a bit more heat to them than the dried flakes. You even can use simple red chili powder if fresh chiles or red chili flakes aren’t available.
  • Make your own chilli flakes: I did not have fresh red chilies on hand, so I ground some dried Kashmiri red chilies to get chili flakes. This also gave a nice red color to the arrabiata sauce.

Variations

  • I always recommend using fresh tomatoes to make the puree. However, if you don’t have enough tomatoes feel free to make a mixture using half fresh tomatoes and half store bought puree or canned tomatoes (whole or crushed). Or, you can use all canned tomatoes without any fresh produce in a pinch.
  • The puree is made in a food processor, and is blended until smooth. If you want a chunkier sauce, save some of the tomato (fresh or canned) to chop and add at the end.
  • For a healthier dish you can use whole wheat or your preferred gluten-free pasta.
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Arrabiata Pasta

Cook Pasta

1. Heat 4 cups of water together with ½ teaspoon salt in a pot. Bring the water to a boil.

water in a pan

2. Then add 2 cups fusilli pasta (175 grams). You can add penne, rigatoni, ziti, shell or macaroni pasta instead.

fusilli pasta in water in the pan

3. On a medium to high heat, cook until the pasta is al dente or cook it completely, based on your preference.

cooking pasta in a pan

4. In a colander, drain the pasta and set aside.

cooked pasta in a colander to make arrabiata pasta recipe

Make Tomato Puree

5. Peel and roughly chop 2 large tomatoes (220 grams). Add them in a blender or a food chopper or processor.

TIP: Try to use tomatoes which are ripe, red and less tangy. Extremely sour tasting tomatoes will make the sauce taste very tangy.

chopped tomatoes in a food processor

6. Without adding any water, blend to a smooth puree. Set aside. If using canned tomato puree, include 1 cup of it.

tomatoes puree in a food processor

Make Arrabiata Sauce

7. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet or pan on a low or medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic. Sauté for some seconds. There is no need to brown garlic.

chopped garlic in oil in a pan

8. Then add 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried crushed red pepper (chili flakes). Stir and mix in the oil. You can reduce or increase the amount of crushed red pepper depending on your spice and heat tolerance.

TIP: Instead of crushed red pepper (chili flakes), you can also add ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne or red chilli powder (which is basically powdered dry red chillies and not the Mexican chilli powder).

crushed red chili flakes in pan

9. Next add the prepared tomato puree.

tomato puree in the pan

10. Add salt as needed.

salt added to tomato puree in the pan

11. Combine and mix well.

mixing tomato puree mixture in pan

12. Cover the pan with its lid.

pan covered with lid

13. On a low heat, simmer the sauce for about 10 to 12 minutes until the raw flavor and taste of tomatoes goes away.

Add some water (about ¼ cup) if the tomato puree starts sticking to the pan. When you see some oil specks on the sauce, this means that the tomato puree is cooked.

simmering the arrabiata sauce in the pan

Make Pasta Arrabiata

14. Add ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. You can also add ¼ teaspoon sugar.

If the tomatoes are too tangy, then only add sugar. Mix very well. You can add sugar as required depending on the tanginess of tomatoes.

oregano and  black pepper added to pan

15. Add the cooked pasta to your sauce.

cooked pasta added to arrabiata sauce in pan

16. Combine and mix very well, so that the sauce coats the pasta evenly.

mixing pasta with arrabiata sauce in pan

17. Switch off the heat and add 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves. Mix again. You can add more basil if you like.

basil leaves added to pasta arrabbiata in pan

Serving Suggestions

Serving your sauce fresh on pasta is always best, however the sauce can be made in bulk and stored in the fridge. This is a great way to preserve fresh tomatoes that may otherwise go bad.

Have a lot of fresh tomatoes on hand? Use the puree method on as many tomatoes as you like and then store extra puree in the fridge to use the next time you make this sauce or any tomato puree based sauce.

Arrabiatta pasta is best served garnished with some vegetarian freshly grated parmesan cheese, however, any grated cheese works. Keep it dairy-free by using a vegan parmesan cheese.

pasta arrabiata in a deep dish on a red bordered white napkin

Tips + FAQs

How do I make this arrabiatta pasta recipe more or less spicy?

As-is this recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of red chili flakes, which makes a fairly spicy dish. Add an extra teaspoon to kick up the spiciness. Or reduce the amount to just 1 teaspoon (or less) to make a milder version.

How should I garnish the pasta dish?

Sprinkle on some freshly grated parmesan cheese (vegetarian) for an authentic Italian dish. You also can use your favorite vegan plant-based parmesan cheese for a totally dairy-free recipe. I also like to add some slivers of fresh basil for a pop of flavor and color.

What should I serve with arrabiatta pasta?

Enjoy spicy hot pasta with Cheese Garlic Bread or a simple vegetarian soup. It is also great to serve with a refreshing salad. And don’t forget the Tiramisu for dessert!

Can this recipe be doubled?

Yes, it is easy to double this pasta recipe. The original recipe is for 3 servings, but simply double the ingredients to prepare up to 6 portions.

How should I store leftovers?

It’s best to store the sauce by itself in the fridge, and I personally like to make fresh pasta each time I enjoy. However, the combined pasta with sauce is also quite delicious to enjoy as leftovers. Let the sauce and/or pasta cool completely before putting in an airtight container, and keep in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days.

More Pasta Recipes To Try!

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arrabiata pasta in a deep dish serving plate wit a silver fork by the side

Arrabiata Pasta Recipe

5 from 5 votes
My version of a classic Arrabiata Pasta recipe includes a spicy homemade arrabiata sauce made with red chili pepper flakes, fragrant garlic and fresh basil. This zesty sauce is tossed with tender fusilli pasta for an easy and satisfying dinner that's ready in just 30 minutes.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Cuisine Italian, World
Course: Main Course
Diet: Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

For cooking pasta

  • 2 cups fusilli pasta – 175 grams or penne or rigatoni
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt or add as required

For arrabiata sauce

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes – 220 grams or 2 large tomatoes or 2 cups chopped tomatoes or 1 cup tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic – 5 grams
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes or add as required, swap with ½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano or add as required
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves or 3 to 4 basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder or add as required
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar – optional
  • ¼ cup water – optional
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese (vegetarian) or choice of cheese – optional

Instructions

Cooking pasta

  • Heat water together with salt in a pot. Bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the fusilli pasta. Opt for penne pasta or rigatoni if you do not have fusilli pasta.
  • On a medium to high heat, cook until the pasta is al dente or cook until softened, based on your preference.
  • In a colander or strainer, strain the pasta and set aside.

Making arrabiata sauce

  • Peel and roughly chop tomatoes. Transfer them to a blender or a food chopper or processor.
  • Without adding any water, blend or process to a smooth puree. Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a pan or skillet. Add finely chopped garlic. Sauté garlic for some seconds.
  • Add the crushed red chili flakes and mix with the oil and garlic. You can reduce or increase the quantity of red chili flakes as needed. Instead or red chili flakes, you can also add ½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne.
  • Next, add the tomato puree. Add salt as per taste and mix well. Cover the pan with its lid.
  • On a low heat simmer the arrabiata sauce for 10 to 12 minutes until the raw flavor and taste of tomatoes goes away. Add some water (about ¼ cup) if the tomato puree starts sticking to the pan.
  • When you see some oil specks on the sauce, this means that the arrabiata sauce is cooked.
  • Add dried oregano, ground black pepper. You can also add ¼ teaspoon sugar. If the tomatoes are too tangy, then only add sugar. Mix again. You can add sugar as needed depending on the tanginess of tomatoes.

Making arrabiata pasta

  • Add the cooked pasta and mix very well, so that the sauce coats the pasta evenly.
  • Switch off the heat and add 1 teaspoon chopped basil leaves. Gently mix again.

Serving suggestions

  • Serve in a bowl or a deep dish garnished with grated vegetarian parmesan cheese and a few basil sprigs. You can top with your preferred cheese if you do not have parmesan cheese.
  • Enjoy spicy hot arrabiata pasta with cheese garlic bread or a simple garlic bread. It is also great to serve with a refreshing salad or a soup by the side.

Storage and Leftovers

  • It’s best to store the sauce by itself in the fridge, and I personally like to make fresh pasta each time. However, the combined pasta with sauce is also quite delicious to enjoy as leftovers.
  • Let the sauce and/or pasta cool completely before putting in an airtight container, and keep in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days.

Notes

  • Pasta: I have used fusilli pasta in my recipe. You can swap with whatever hearty noodles, spaghetti or pasta you like. Traditionally arrabiata is made with penne, but you can even use rigatoni, ziti, macaroni or shell pasta. For a healthier dish you can use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta. 
  • Tomatoes: You can use canned tomato puree and also canned tomatoes if you do not have fresh tomatoes. 
  • Spices and seasonings: Opt to include either chopped fresh red chili peppers (chilies) or crushed red pepper chili flakes. The fresh peppers will have a bit more heat to them than the dried flakes. You even can use simple cayenne or red chili powder if fresh chiles or red chili flakes aren’t available.
  • Make your own chilli flakes: I did not have fresh red chilies on hand, so I ground some dried Kashmiri red chilies to get chili flakes. This also gave a nice red color to the arrabiata sauce.
  • Spiciness: As-is this recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of red chili flakes, which makes a fairly spicy dish. Add an extra teaspoon to kick up the spiciness. Or reduce the amount to just 1 teaspoon (or less) to make a milder version.
  • Scaling: It is easy to double this pasta recipe. The original recipe is for 3 servings, but simply double the ingredients to prepare up to 6 portions.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Arrabiata Pasta Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 350 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 2mg1%
Sodium 485mg21%
Potassium 275mg8%
Carbohydrates 48g16%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 1288IU26%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 14mg17%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 2mg13%
Vitamin K 19µg18%
Calcium 71mg7%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 16µg4%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 19mg5%
Phosphorus 53mg5%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This arrabiata pasta recipe post from the blog archives (December 2016) has been republished and updated on 17 May 2021.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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9 Comments

  1. Goodness this is my favourite website for recipies…the tomatoes are simmering lets see how this turns out!

  2. Cooked it today. Have put a few more chilly flakes. It was hot!! The sweetness of tomato balanced it well. Took me only 20mins to prepare.

  3. this is my fav pasta. never knew it was this easy! will cook and come back to give feedback. thanks in advance!

    1. thanks maneesha. this is a fav pasta at home too. do try and let me know how it goes for you.

      1. All recipes are superb. Healthy and easy to make it. Really loved it. Without using artificial flavours, it makes really tasty. And your way of describing also very good.5 stars