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Pasta Arrabiata is a classic! It’s healthy, easy to make, and the fiery tomato sauce will please all the spice lovers out there.

white bowl with traditional italian pasta arrabiata with crushed tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.

Pasta Arrabiata literally means “angry pasta” in Italian. Arrabiata sauce (sugo all’arrabbiata) is a spicy (angry) tomato sauce that’s made with plenty of olive oil, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and red pepper flakes to provide the heat. 

We all know I’m not the biggest spice fan on the planet, but I did really enjoy this recipe. It was a bit too hot for me, but I still ate it haha. If you want to try it but are worried about the spice level, I’d recommend halving the amount of red pepper flakes. It’ll still have some kick. 

Love tomato-based pasta sauces? Try my Easy Marinara Sauce or this Penne alla Vodka Recipe.

white bowl of vegetarian pasta arrabiata with grated parmesan

How to make Pasta Arrabiata (summary):

Start by heating the oil in a medium-sized pot, then adding the garlic and sautéing it for about a minute (careful it doesn’t burn). Add in the red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and sugar (if using). Simmer for 15 minutes and then toss with cooked penne. (Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below)

This is a very straightforward recipe. You basically simmer the sauce and that’s it. 🙂

close-up of easy pasta arrabiata in a white bowl with a fork

What kind of tomatoes to use in Pasta Arrabiata?

I used Mutti brand finely chopped tomatoes (2 x 13.5 fluid ounce cans) to make the simple Arrabiata sauce. Regular diced tomatoes are too big and watery, so I would avoid those. If you can’t find finely chopped tomatoes, your best bet is crushed tomatoes in my opinion. I’ve even seen some recipes use a combo of diced tomatoes and tomato paste, so that’s always an option. To reduce the sauce, you may need to cook it longer if you find the tomatoes are watery. The texture of my sauce is like a marinara – not too thick or thin.

What kind of pasta to use in Pasta Arrabiata?

I suggest penne, but any shape will work in a pinch. The little tubes are perfect for clinging onto that yummy sauce.

More tasty pasta recipes to try:

white bowl with penne and Italian arrabiata sauce with shaved parmesan

Have you ever made Penne Arrabiata at home? Is it something you’d order in a restaurant? Let me know if you have any questions about this recipe in the comments below. 

This easy Pasta Arrabiata is a traditional Italian pasta dish made of crushed tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. 
4.94 from 15 votes

Easy Pasta Arrabiata

Pasta Arrabiata is a classic! It's healthy, easy to make, and the fiery tomato sauce will please all the spice lovers out there.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 (13.5 fluid ounce) cans finely chopped tomatoes with juices (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) brown sugar optional
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces uncooked penne


  • Add the oil to a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and let it cook for a minute or so (watch it closely and don't let it brown).
  • Stir in the red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and sugar (if using, see note). Reduce the heat and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
  • While the sauce is simmering, boil a large, salted pot of water for your pasta. Cook it al dente according to package directions.
  • Season the sauce with salt & pepper as needed. I added a fair bit of salt. 
  • Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce (you can add a little pasta water too if you wish). Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


  • This recipe only contains a few ingredients, so make sure you're buying good quality tomatoes and olive oil for it. I used Mutti brand finely chopped tomatoes and Carapelli Oro Verde Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Please see the explanation in my post on what kind of tomatoes to use if you can't find the exact brand I used - it can make or break the recipe.
  • Wondering why there's sugar in here? It takes the acidic edge off the tomatoes and gives this recipe more of a restaurant-quality taste. You can omit it if you prefer.
  • You can add some fresh chopped/torn basil a few minutes prior to serving if you wish.
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.


Calories: 344kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 286mg, Potassium: 505mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 372IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 75mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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  1. 5 stars
    Totally delicious, I went heavy on the chilli as I do like it spicy. Also so so easy to make. Mutti tomatoes are a must, the difference on taste is unreal.

  2. 5 stars
    This is a great, quick sauce, as written.
    I have experimented with a few changes/additions over time.
    -Use Pomi Finely Chopped Tomatoes (no Mutti in my store)
    -Instead of red pepper flakes, I use Fly By Jin chili crisps (about a teaspoon and 1/2)
    -Add a squeeze of tomato paste
    -Simmer for at least an hour with a Romano cheese rind (I keep them in the freezer when we grate a wedge)
    -Add basil and small cubes of smoked Gouda about 10 minutes before eating. (they don’t melt completely, but are nice and gooey)

  3. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! It was very easy to follow and turned out great even when making it for the first time. At first we thought we had excess sauce but after adding the pasta it turned out to be the perfect amount. We used the crushed tomatoes instead of finely chopped and it turned out to be perfect.

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it, Miranda! 😀 Thank you for your 5-star review – it’s much appreciated.

  4. 5 stars
    I got hooked on this from a local Italian restaurant. Now that I’ve found this recipe I have it all the time at a fraction of the cost. Love this recipe. Although I add more chili flakes because I love it very spicy.

  5. 5 stars
    This is the first dish I’ve cooked by myself and my friends and I enjoyed it. So good, I couldn’t believe I made it. What I love about this recipe is it’s simplicity. Definitely a recipe I’m carrying along with me.