This is the best and easiest spaghetti arrabiata recipe ever! A rich tomato sauce with fiery chilli and fresh basil, that’s perfect for any night of the week. Direct from my Italian Nonna’s kitchen to yours! Great served with indulgent vegan garlic bread.
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Italian heritage – although my English rose complexion may say otherwise, I do actually have Italian heritage through my dearly departed Italian Nonna. While we didn’t have all day to simmer this spaghetti arrabiata sauce like she used to, the essence of her rich tomato sauce runs throughout this recipe! Simmering for an hour intensifies the arrabiata sauce and really brings out the richness of the tomatoes, while levelling out the acidity. This is probably why I love to cook Italian food, and if you do too, check out our Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese, Carbonara and Vodka Sauce too.
- Simple and delicious – Italian food really allows us to deliver big flavour without complicating the process or the ingredients. While this spaghetti arrabiata is also known as ‘angry pasta sauce’, there’s no need to work up any stress while cooking this one! It needs just 6 ingredients and they can all easily be found at any supermarket.
- Simmer time – it really needs at least 1 hour to simmer. But that means you can just pop it on and then put your feet up or catch up with your latest Netflix binge, or watch some of our videos on Instagram…
- Traditional – spaghetti arrabiata, or should I say, arrabiata sauce, comes from the Lazio region in Rome. It is actually accidentally vegan, as it’s just sauce and pasta (as long as the pasta is egg free). We made this recipe the traditional way – a taste of Italy from wherever you are!
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Tinned tomatoes – we recommend tinned plum tomatoes for spaghetti arrabiata, as this is traditionally what is used. In addition (if you can find them), and if you don't mind spending a bit extra, grab some San Marzano tomatoes, which have an incredible flavour. Alternatively chopped tinned tomatoes would work too, but in this instance we wouldn’t recommend passata as it’s too silky smooth. Spaghetti arrabiata should have a chunky texture, it shouldn’t be smooth.
- Crushed red chilli – crushed dried chilli flakes are the classic choice for making a spaghetti arrabiata. Fresh chilli can also be used if you like.
- Fresh basil – fresh herbs, like basil, adds so much flavour to pasta dishes, especially ones with a tomato sauce. Fresh parsley also works well (which was my Nan’s preference) or you could use dried basil, if you’re in a pinch. Fresh basil is also great in our vegan cannelloni.
- Garlic – it wouldn’t be a spaghetti arrabiata if the pasta sauce didn’t include garlic! If you think 6 cloves sounds like a lot, then trust us, it’s what helps it to become the intense and delicious fiery pasta sauce that we know and love!
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this easy spaghetti arrabiata recipe.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making spaghetti arrabiata (a.k.a. angry spaghetti). The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Pour a good splash of olive oil into a large pot and bring up to a medium heat. Add the onion and gently cook for roughly 5 minutes until translucent and softened.
2. Pop in the garlic and dried chilli flakes. Stir for 1 minute.
3. Pour the tinned plum tomatoes into the pan. Stir well, and then bring up to the boil, and reduce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Now, grab a potato masher (stay with us!), or alternatively a wooden spoon, to carefully help the tomatoes to break down. Gently press down on the plum tomatoes with the masher until they break down.
5. Simmer for another 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the pot uncovered.
6. Add in the chopped basil, and stir well.
7. Just before the arrabiata sauce is ready, cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. It should take around 10 minutes. Once cooked, drain the spaghetti but don’t rinse it.
8. Season the sauce generously with salt and sugar (optional, but recommended). Finally, stir the cooked spaghetti through the arrabiata sauce until well coated.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- Adjust the spice – we used 2 teaspoons of chilli flakes because we think it's a great level of heat that isn’t too overpowering for most people. But use less or more depending on your taste. Spaghetti arrabiata should be spicy, after all.
- Don’t rinse the spaghetti – once cooked, don’t rinse the spaghetti. That’s because rinsing removes excess starch from the pasta which actually helps the sauce to cling to it. So, try to time it so that the spaghetti is ready at roughly the same time as the arrabiata sauce. However you can keep back some of the pasta water in case you want to loosen the sauce up a bit once the spaghetti has been added!
- Add sugar – sugar helps to cut through the acidity in tomatoes and really balances out tomato based sauces. Try adding a teaspoon of sugar to your arrabiata sauce at the same time as seasoning.
- Different pastas – we created this dish as a spaghetti arrabiata, but any other type of pasta works well with this sauce too. Simply cook your preferred pasta instead of spaghetti and follow the recipe as usual. Tagliatelle, penne and farfalle all work well.
‘Arrabiata’ is Italian for ‘angry’, so this tomato sauce is actually ‘angry’ or, in other words, because it’s spicy, it’s angry!
This dish is great with vegetables such as [garlicky mushrooms] or served with a side of [leeks and cabbage]. If you’re looking for a take on arrabiata with vegetables, try our pasta arrabiata which features mushrooms and broccoli in the sauce itself.
It’s best to just freeze the sauce, and not the spaghetti. We don’t recommend freezing spaghetti arrabiata in its entirety but you can make the sauce and freeze that in a container by itself. When you’d like it, just defrost and reheat it thoroughly, and then stir through the spaghetti. We find that pasta and spaghetti don’t freeze and reheat well – it can easily go mushy throughout that process.
Yes, it’s an accidentally vegan sauce! Of course, in restaurants, meat may be added and also egg pasta may be served with it. So, when buying spaghetti in the store, it’s always best to check. Dried spaghetti is almost always vegan though.
🍝 Serving suggestions
🇮🇹 More recipes to try
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- Olive oil
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic – minced
- 2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
- 800 g peeled plum tomatoes – canned
- 300 g dried spaghetti
- 0.5 cup fresh basil – torn or roughly chopped
- Salt – to taste
- 1 tsp sugar – optional
- Pour a good splash of olive oil into a large pot and bring up to a medium heat.Olive oil
- Add the onion and gently cook for roughly 5 minutes until translucent and softened.1 onion
- Pop in the garlic and dried chilli flakes. Stir for 1 minute.6 cloves garlic, 2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
- Pour the tinned plum tomatoes into the pan. Stir well, and then bring up to the boil, and reduce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.800 g peeled plum tomatoes
- Now, grab a potato masher, or alternatively a wooden spoon, to carefully help the tomatoes to break down. Gently mash the tomatoes until crushed.
- Simmer for another 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the pot uncovered.
- Just before the arrabiata sauce is ready, cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. It should take around 10 minutes. Once cooked, drain the spaghetti but don’t rinse it.300 g dried spaghetti
- Season the sauce generously with salt, sugar (optional, but recommended) and stir in the chopped fresh basil.Salt, 1 tsp sugar, 0.5 cup fresh basil
- Finally, stir the cooked spaghetti through the arrabiata sauce until well coated.
- Increase or decrease the amount of chilli flakes to your taste. The dish is moderately spicy with two teaspoons of chilli flakes.
- Sugar balances out the acidity of tomatoes, so we recommend adding it.
- Use San Mazarno tomatoes if you can find them, this is traditional.
- Fresh parsley can be used instead of fresh basil.
- If freezing, freeze only the arrabiata sauce and add spaghetti once defrosted and reheated.
- Keeps in the fridge for 4 days in an airtight container.