Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

This delicious sauce is perfectly spicy and hearty. Not only does it come together easily, you probably already have all the ingredients needed to make and serve it tonight. You can use this sauce to make shakshuka, eggplant parmesan, lasagna, or spread it onto a hoagie with a heavy handful of provolone cheese for a delicious meatball sub. It’s also good served over pasta, on pizzas, or as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks.

The name comes from the Italian name of sugo all'arrabbiata, and arrabbiata translates to “angry” in English. This “angry'' sauce is aptly named as it contains quite a bit of crushed red pepper flakes and is sure to satisfy any spicy palette. This dish is the perfect way to use those deliciously juicy, ripe end-of-summer San Marzano tomatoes.

Make a huge batch of this sauce, can, and freeze it for a taste of summer all through the fall and winter. See how to freeze and store it in our tips section below the recipe.

“The spicy arrabbiata sauce was a very simple yet flavorful pasta sauce. With a minimal amount of chopping and stirring, preparation was a breeze. It would be easy to scale the recipe up for a crowd or cut it in half for 2 to 4 servings.” — Diana Rattray

arrabbiata sauce with basil garnish/tester image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste 

  • 2 medium shallots, finely diced

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

  • Salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Arrabbiata Sauce ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    Crushed red pepper in a pan with butter

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  3. Add the shallot and continue to sauté until they turn translucent, about 2 minutes. 

    Shallot and crushed red pepper in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  4. Add the garlic and tomato paste, stirring continuously until fragrant and well combined, about 1 minute.

    Garlic and tomato paste with the shallot mixture in the pan

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  5. Add the tomatoes, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.

    Arrabbiata Sauce ingredients cooking in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes, or to desired consistency. 

    Arrabbiata Sauce cooking in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  7. Stir in the fresh basil, and adjust the seasoning with salt and more pepper flakes, if desired. Serve over pasta or as suggested above.

    Arrabbiata Sauce in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

Tip

This recipe calls for 1 to 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes, but you can always use more or less depending on your spice tolerance. Remember, if you’re planning to make the sauce for the purpose of freezing to use later, the spice level will grow slightly over time so keep that in mind when cooking. 

Recipe Variations

  • For a dairy-free, vegan arrabbiata, replace the butter with olive oil.
  • For less heat, replace the dried crushed red pepper flakes with slightly milder crushed Calabrian chile peppers, to taste.
  • For more basil flavor, add a large sprig of basil along with the tomatoes and remove it when the sauce is done.
  • Add 1 pound of cooked and drained ground beef or ground turkey along with the tomatoes.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Refrigerate leftover sauce in a covered container within 2 hours and eat within 3 to 4 days.
  • Frozen sauce will last in the freezer for about 6 months. If you are freezing your sauce, make sure to leave some room at the top to account for swelling. This will help prevent your canned sauce from bursting. Thaw in the fridge a day or two before you want to use it, then heat on the stovetop on medium until warm through. Serve over pasta, on pizzas, or as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks.

Is arrabbiata best with a specific pasta?

Arrabbiata is a tomato sauce that can go with many types of pasta. Tubular pasta shapes, such as rigatoni, penne, and ziti, are often paired with arrabbiata sauce, but it is also delicious tossed with long pasta, such as spaghetti or capellini.

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