Pasta arrabbiata

30 min.
Awaken your taste buds with pasta arrabbiata, a fiery Italian staple that blends sweet tomatoes with a bold red chilli kick. Twirl al dente linguine on your fork, each strand generously coated in a spicy tomato sauce, and experience the sharp sensation from mature cheese and fresh parsley on top. Quick to prepare and packed with flavours, this recipe serves up a simple yet unforgettable taste of Italy, making it the perfect weeknight dinner that packs a punch!


4 servings

To serve


Questions about pasta arrabbiata

Discover the rich flavours of Italy with our pasta arrabbiata recipe. Our answers to the most common questions will guide you to create this spicy dish, so keep reading below!
Can I choose a different pasta shape for pasta arrabbiata?

Yes, you can use various pasta shapes in pasta arrabbiata. Our recipe calls for linguine, which works well with the sauce, but penne arrabbiata is also a classic version. Feel free to select any pasta shape you have on hand or prefer. Whether you opt for a short pasta type like fusilli or a long one like spaghetti, ensure it has a shape that can easily hold the delicious sauce.

How should I store leftover pasta arrabbiata?

Place your leftover pasta arrabbiata after it has cooled in an airtight container and refrigerate. It stays good for 3–4 days. If you store the sauce separately, reheat it in a pan over medium heat for about 6–8 minutes until hot, then mix with freshly cooked pasta. If you have already mixed the pasta with the sauce, reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a bit of water or extra tomato sauce to prevent the pasta from drying out.

Can I freeze pasta arrabbiata?

We do not recommend freezing pasta and sauce that have already been mixed, as pasta softens after freezing. If you want to freeze the sauce separately, cool it first, then put it in a freezer-safe container with a lid and freeze for 4–6 months. When you are ready to eat it, thaw it in the fridge overnight, reheat it, and then mix it with freshly cooked pasta.

What is the best way to cook pasta for pasta arrabbiata?

To achieve perfect al dente pasta, boil it in thoroughly salted water. Stir occasionally and check for doneness a few minutes early; check the packaging for the preparation time. It should be tender yet firm with a bit of resistance in the bite. Save some pasta water before you drain it. After cooking, combine the pasta with the sauce, adding some pasta water if you need to thicken it. Serve the pasta immediately for the best taste and consistency.

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Tips: Perfecting your pasta arrabbiata

Learn how to make pasta arrabbiata just as an Italian chef would prepare it for you in a sunny trattoria in Italy. Keep reading below for our best tips!

Choose high-quality tomatoes

For a true pasta arrabbiata, use top-notch canned cherry tomatoes. Their balanced sweetness and acidity are key to the sauce's rich, authentic taste. San Marzano tomatoes are ideal for their sweetness and thick flesh, but if you cannot get it, any canned cherry tomato will do.

Get the right sauce consistency

A good sauce should be thick enough to cling to the pasta, providing a well-balanced flavour without being too dense. If the sauce is too watery, it can make the dish taste bland and cause the sauce to pool at the bottom of the plate. Conversely, an overly thick sauce can overwhelm the pasta. The perfect sauce consistency is achieved through careful simmering, allowing the sauce to reduce slowly and thicken to a velvety texture while intensifying the flavour.

Add water to thin a thick sauce or extend the cooking time for a watery one. If it is still too thin, thicken it by adding some pasta water containing starches released from the pasta, or add a bit of tomato paste.

Balancing the acidity of the sauce

If your sauce is too acidic, stir in a bit of sugar. Start with the teaspoon that is already part of the recipe and add more to taste. A good rule of thumb is ½ teaspoon sugar for every 400 g of canned tomato. The sugar's sweetness will help counteract the acidity and bring a balanced flavour to your sauce. As a start, choose sweeter, high-quality canned cherry tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes are naturally sweet and less acidic, making them a great choice.

Adjust the spiciness of the sauce

Chillies vary in heat intensity. Red chillies provide a balanced warmth, but you can experiment with milder jalapeños or fiery habaneros. Always handle chillies with care and wash your hands after cutting them to avoid irritation. Chillies not only add heat but also enhance the sauce's flavour, pairing well with the sweet tomatoes for a full-bodied and satisfying taste.

Try our scrumptious pasta arrabbiata recipe

Pasta arrabbiata is a fiery Italian classic celebrated for its bold and spicy tomato sauce. Derived from “arrabbiato,” which means “angry” in Italian, this dish features a signature spicy flavour, with chilli mingling deliciously with bold tomatoes. It showcases classic Italian flavours, including fresh basil, aromatic garlic, and sharp, flavourful mature cheese topped with fresh parsley.

Fiery tomato sauce with red chilli

The star of arrabbiata is the bright tomato sauce made from garlic, red chilli peppers, and tomatoes; all simmered to a perfect blend of zest and heat. The sauce's signature spice level can be adjusted by varying the amount of red chilli, with the option to remove the seeds for a milder taste.

Choosing the right tomatoes is crucial for a vibrant and thick sauce that clings to each strand of pasta. Sweet, canned cherry tomatoes lay the foundation for this spicy tomato sauce, and a touch of sugar helps gather the flavours and create the perfect combination of sweet, rich, and bold.

Enjoy an Italian staple – perfect for a weeknight dinner

Italian food is a hit with everyone, kids and adults alike. If you are having people over or are looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner for yourself, this pasta arrabbiata is what you are looking for. It has everything you love, from Italian cuisine, from al dente pasta and bold tomato to fresh basil and savoury cheese.

If you are serving a larger meal, serve some delicious sides with your pasta. Counter the spice with sides that cool the palate. A crisp salad dressed in a tangy vinaigrette or a selection of roasted vegetables yields a sweet or refreshing note. A classic is also simple toasted bread or cheesy garlic bread.

Try a few other Italian staples, such as classic pasta carbonara, ravioli with cream cheese filling, or spaghetti aglio e olio.

Add your own touch

Pasta arrabbiata's simple but bold tomato sauce is the ideal canvas for experimenting with different flavours. You can add grilled or sautéed chicken pieces, which complement the spicy, tomato-rich sauce with their mild, lean flavour. Beef meatballs make a robust addition, soaking up the sauce's vibrant flavours and adding a satisfying chewiness to each bite.

Adding sautéed or roasted red peppers introduces a sweet, slightly smoky counterpoint that balances the sauce’s heat, while their soft, silky texture contrasts pleasingly against the pasta.

To top off the dish, a generous sprinkle of fresh, grated Parmesan cheese, in addition to the grated, mature cheese, enriches the flavour with its salty, nutty undertones.

Tasty. Yummy. Good!

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