Spaghetti arrabbiata is a quick weeknight pantry pasta full of spicy tomato flavor!
Have you ever tried arrabbiata sauce? It's a spicy Italian tomato sauce, with plenty of flavor from red pepper flakes and garlic.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- 🗄 Pantry-Friendly: This pasta uses all of the staple pantry ingredients, like canned tomatoes, capers, olives, and red pepper flakes. It's easily customizable, so you can skip a trip to the grocery store!
- 🌶️ Spicy and Tangy: Despite being quick and easy, the sauce boasts a ton of flavor! The tomatoes add a nice tang, balanced out by aromatics and anchovies (which can be omitted if you're vegan or vegetarian).
- 💪🏽 Highly Adaptable: I'm big on flexibility when it comes to recipes, and this arrabbiata sauce is no different. Out of capers? Just used up your olives? Head to the ingredients section to see options for swaps and substitutions.
- The dish's name, "Arrabbiata," translates to "angry" in Italian, referring to the fiery and intense heat from the chili flakes.
- Arrabbiata is sometimes spelled as "arrabiata"; some sources say this is a misspelling, but others note it's a different dialect. Either way, the official spelling of the sauce appears to be Arrabbiata.
- This dish appears to have been invented in Rome in the 20th century.
- Traditionally, the dish needs only oil, garlic, chili peppers, tomato, and sometimes pecorino cheese. Here, I've added a few additional ingredients to bolster the flavor to my liking -- but there's something to be said about how delicious and simple the original version is!
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- Garlic: Garlic is an important ingredient here to give this tomato sauce lots of allium flavor.
- Shallot: I use one shallot just to add a bit of sweetness to the sauce.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Use as much or as little as you like -- but keep in mind, this sauce is supposed to be spicy! Because dried chili flakes differ from brand to brand, I recommend starting with ½ teaspoon. I personally use 1 teaspoon, which offers a kick in every bite without being overly spicy. You can also sub in fresh chili, too.
- Olives and Capers: I love the brininess of olives and capers paired with the tangy tomatoes. This addition leans more towards a puttanesca vibe, but I'm for it. If you don't have olives or capers, or you want to keep things simple, you can feel free to omit these!
- Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes: If you choose a more minimalist version of this dish, I highly recommend looking for high-quality whole peeled tomatoes. It really makes a difference. My favorites are Bianco diNapoli, Cento, and Mutti.
- Spaghetti: You will want to choose a dried spaghetti here. Penne is also another great option for this dish.
- Basil: I love adding a bit of brightness with fresh basil. Parsley works, too.
- Anchovies: I add 2 anchovies to the sauce for umami. Feel free to omit these if you're vegan or vegetarian.
- Pecorino-Romano Cheese: Pecorino is the traditional cheese topping for this dish. If you're vegan, you can easily omit this -- it's still delicious!
How to Make Spaghetti Arrabbiata
Heat your oil in a skillet or dutch oven. Add the anchovies (if using), garlic, shallot, and red pepper flakes. Saute for 3-4 minutes until you start smelling those delicious aromatics and the garlic and shallot soften. Add the olives and capers, and saute over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomato sauce, add a pinch of salt, and simmer everything for 10 minutes. Stir in your al dente spaghetti, tossing to combine. You can loosen the sauce with a bit of pasta water if needed.
Garnish with a bit of basil and cheese (if using). Enjoy!
Leftover spaghetti arrabbiata will last 3 to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also make the sauce a day ahead, then toss it with the pasta just before serving.
When reheating leftovers, you may need to loosen the sauce with a bit of water.
More Pasta Ideas
- Creamy Salmon Pasta (No Cream)
- Mafaldine Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage
- Calabrian Chili Pasta with Tomato and Garlic
- Kale Pasta Sauce (Joshua McFadden’s Recipe)
Absolutely! You can omit the anchovies and/or the pecorino romano cheese to make a vegan/vegetarian version.
Yes, for sure! Fresh tomatoes will add a whole new level of brightness to the dish. I might recommend adding a tablespoon of tomato paste with the fresh tomatoes to give it a bit more body and tang.
If the sauce has simmered for at least 15 minutes already, I recommend adding a tablespoon or two of unsalted butter to round out the flavor.
Did you try this recipe? I would love to hear your feedback! Be sure to rate the recipe and leave a comment below.
For even more cozy recipes, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.Happy eating! Love, Karishma
Spaghetti Arrabbiata Recipe
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 filets anchovies, optional; omit for vegan version
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 shallots, finely minced
- ½ - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup pitted olives, drained, rinsed, and chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
- 14 ounces whole peeled tomatoes
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade; or parsley
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, optional; omit for vegan version
- 6 ounces dried spaghetti, or penne
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Saute the aromatics: Meanwhile, set a large skillet or dutch oven with olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the anchovies, garlic, shallot, and red pepper flakes. Saute for 3-4 minutes until the garlic and shallot soften and smell fragrant, and the anchovies begin to dissolve.Note: I like to help break up the anchovies with a wooden spoon until they completely disintegrate into the sauce.3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 filets anchovies, 4 garlic cloves, 1 shallots, ½ - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Add the olives and capers, and saute over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until they begin to smell briny.¼ cup pitted olives, 1 ½ tablespoons capers
- Simmer the sauce: Stir in the whole peeled tomatoes, crushing them slightly with the back of the spoon (they will continue to break down as the sauce simmers). Simmer for 10 minutes over medium low heat until it thickens slightly, the tomatoes break down, and it tastes tangy but not too acidic. Season the sauce with salt as desired, noting that the capers, olives, and anchovies will add a good amount of salinity.14 ounces whole peeled tomatoes, Salt
- Cook the pasta: While the sauce cooks, salt the water, then add the pasta and cook until al dente (according to your package instructions). Reserve ½ cup of pasta water.6 ounces dried spaghetti
- Finish the dish: Transfer the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine. Season again as needed.Note: If the sauce feels too thick, you can loosen it by adding a little pasta water and reducing the sauce over medium-low heat until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Serve: Divide the pasta amongst serving bowls and garnish with basil and cheese (if using). Serve hot.¼ cup fresh basil, ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese