This chicken arrabiata pasta recipe is an elevated weeknight meal that's fantastic for spice lovers out there! The homemade spicy tomato sauce is richly flavored and totally irresistible.
If you like pasta with a kick, give this Spicy Italian Sausage Gnocchi a go next.
This post is sponsored by our long-term partner DeLallo – thank you for supporting the brands that keep Salt & Lavender cooking! I only work with brands whose products I love. All opinions are my own.
Why you'll love it
When you use a handful of good-quality everyday ingredients, it's simple to infuse so much flavor in this pasta arrabiata with chicken. I'm a big fan of using DeLallo's products in this simple weeknight dinner. They've been crafting incredibly delicious Italian and Mediterranean gourmet and specialty foods since 1950, and they're a family-owned business, so you know it's good!
Using rotisserie chicken is a simple shortcut for adding protein to this dish, and tender chicken pairs so well with the spicy tomato sauce from scratch and sauce-hugging pappardelle ribbons. The homemade arrabiata sauce is mostly hands-off to make, so you can build up flavors effortlessly.
What is arrabiata?
- It's a classic Italian tomato sauce with a key feature: it's spicy! "Pasta arrabiata" literally means "angry pasta" in Italian, a humorous way to describe the fiery taste of the sauce.
What you'll need
- Olive oil - use a good olive oil from Italy for the base of the sauce. I like DeLallo's Private Reserve EVOO.
- Onion - I like to use sweet (Vidalia) onions best, but yellow or white will work too
- Garlic - we're using plenty to infuse loads of savory, garlicky goodness
- Passata - DeLallo's Passata is a rich purée made with handpicked sweet Italian plum tomatoes
- Crushed red pepper flakes - to give the arrabiata sauce its signature heat!
- Pasta - we're using DeLallo's Egg Pappardelle. These pasta ribbons are golden in color and hold the arrabiata sauce perfectly. I just love how they come in convenient portion-sized nests as well.
- Chicken - using rotisserie or leftover chicken is hassle free
- Fresh basil - it's a classic to add to tomato-based pasta recipes for a burst of freshness and flavor
- Parmesan - freshly grated parmesan takes this dish to the next level
What is passata?
- It's a bit thicker than canned tomato sauce and slightly thinner than crushed tomatoes. It's strained to remove seeds and skins too. The result is velvety with intensely rich tomato flavor.
- DeLallo's rustic passata is ideal for sauces like this since it has fantastic body to it and a great consistency!
How to make chicken arrabiata pasta
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a large pot or braiser, sauté the onion in olive oil until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add in the passata and crushed red pepper flakes. Let it start to bubble, cover it with a lid slightly ajar, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil a large salted pot of water, and cook the pappardelle until al dente. Add the chicken to the sauce, letting it warm through. Generously season with salt & pepper, and toss the sauce with the drained pasta and chopped fresh basil. Top with plenty of freshly grated parmesan!
- Stirring the pasta a few times while cooking it ensures it won't stick to the bottom of the pot, especially within the first 1-2 minutes of cooking time.
- Make sure you taste the sauce and season it with enough salt to bring out the flavors prior to serving.
- If your local grocer doesn't stock DeLallo products, you can easily order them to your door nationwide from their website. They have everything from charcuterie to olives and antipasti!
Substitutions and variations
- Try adding shrimp instead of chicken to the sauce. You can use raw shrimp and add them in towards the end of cooking time as they will cook very quickly in the sauce.
- Leave the chicken out to make it vegetarian.
- The sauce is fairly spicy, so reduce the amount of crushed red pepper flakes for a more gentle heat if you prefer.
- Use additional fresh herbs or a pinch of Italian seasoning for a more herby flavor.
- We love the way the sauce coats the ribbons of pappardelle, but feel free to swap with another pasta! Penne is a classic to serve with arrabiata sauce.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will last 3-4 days in the fridge, but be mindful that the cooked pasta will soak up the sauce the longer it sits. If you anticipate that you'll have leftovers, I recommend storing the sauce separately from the pasta and simply boiling up some fresh pasta when you're heating up the sauce.
- This sauce can be frozen, but I would freeze it without the chicken if you're planning on freezing the entire batch. Cooked chicken tends to dry out quite easily when reheating, so I would add it later on.
If you have any questions about this arrabiata recipe with chicken, let me know in the comments below! You can also tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you made it.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 24 ounces DeLallo Passata Tomato Purée
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 8.8 ounces DeLallo Egg Pappardelle
- 2 cups cooked chicken I used rotisserie
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 large handful fresh basil sliced/torn
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste
- Add the olive oil to a pot, braiser, or deep skillet and sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes over medium heat.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add in the passata and crushed red pepper flakes and give it a good stir. Once it starts to bubble, cover the pot with the lid slightly open and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally (it should be bubbling gently).
- Meanwhile, boil a generously salted pot of water for the pappardelle. Cook it al dente according to package directions.
- Add the chicken to the sauce and let it warm through for a few minutes.
- Season the sauce with salt & pepper (I am fairly generous with the salt) and stir in the fresh basil. Drain the pasta and toss until coated (add a splash of the hot pasta water prior to draining it to thin the sauce if needed). Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- The sauce is fairly spicy! Halve the red pepper flakes for a more gentle heat.