Arrabiata sauce is a classic Italian tomato sauce recipe with a spicy kick! Here’s how to make it at home.

Arrabiata Sauce

Need a great Italian pasta sauce? Try Arrabiata Sauce! This spicy, garlicky tomato sauce is an Italian favorite for good reason: the simple flavors make any pasta taste incredible. When it comes to tomato sauce, this is most often the one we reach for. Make arrabiata sauce at home and you can customize the heat level to taste. Here’s how to whip up this recipe at home!

Ingredients in arrabiata sauce

Arrabiata sauce is an Italian tomato-based sauce made with onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Arrabiata means “angry” in Italian, which gives a hint to the heat level in the dish! The sauce originated in Rome and the surrounding region in Italy, where it’s become a favorite since it’s invention in the 1950’s. Arrabiata is similar to a marinara sauce, but red pepper flakes give it a unique spicy flair. Here’s what you’ll need for a great arrabiata sauce:

  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Crushed canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
Arrabiata Sauce

For the tomatoes

The type of canned tomatoes you use can make or break this arrabiata sauce recipe: so pay close attention when you’re at the store! Here’s what to know:

  • Find San Marzano tomatoes if possible. San Marzano tomatoes are an Italian variety of tomato (not a brand). They have the best sweet, developed flavor straight out of the can. This type has become easy to find at American grocery stores, near the other canned tomatoes.
  • Or, use fire roasted tomatoes. These tomatoes are cooked over an open flame, and also have a sweet flavor right from the can.
  • Buy crushed canned tomatoes. Don’t opt for diced: the texture won’t be quite right.
  • If you can’t find them, improvise. If you use a different type of tomatoes, take a taste of the flavor out of the can. If it is very bitter, add ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar to taste.

How spicy is this arrabiata sauce recipe?

This arrabiata sauce recipe makes a moderately spicy sauce, using 28 ounces tomatoes and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. The heat is easily perceptible, but it’s not so much that it makes you sweat. If you love heat and want something spicier, you can customize the heat level to your liking by adding additional red pepper flakes.

Cooking for kids or people with low spice tolerance? When you add the canned tomatoes, divide the sauce into two pans and add the red pepper flakes to one half (using half the amount specified in the recipe). It’s an easy way to customize the sauce.

Arrabiata Sauce

How to serve arrabiata sauce

Arrabiata sauce works in a variety of ways: of course, the simplest is just to combine with long pasta noodles! Here are some ideas for serving:

  • Swirl into 8 to 12 ounces spaghetti, bucatini, or other long noodles
  • Stir into penne with 2 to 4 ounces goat cheese for a creamy pasta
  • Add burrata cheese on top for Burrata Pasta
  • Use in baked pasta like Stuffed Shells or Baked Rigatoni (scaled to 1.5 times the recipe)
  • Add to pizza instead of pizza sauce for a spicy Margherita Pizza

More Italian pasta sauce recipes

Looking for more Italian pasta ideas? Here are a few more ideas to get you started:

This arrabiata sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Arrabiata Sauce

Arrabiata Sauce

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 ½ cups 1x


Arrabiata sauce is a classic Italian tomato sauce recipe with a spicy kick! Here’s how to make it at home.


  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (½ cup finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes**
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Finely chop the onion. Mince the garlic.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes, and fresh ground black pepper and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer on low heat, partially covered with a lid, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days. If serving with pasta, it makes enough for approximately 8 to 12 ounces pasta.Β 


*San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of Italian tomatoes with a sweet flavor. You can also use fire roasted tomatoes for a similar flavor, or look for any best quality canned tomatoes. If using other types of tomatoes, take a taste of the flavor out of the can: if it is very bitter, add ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar to taste.

**This level of red pepper flakes makes a moderately spicy sauce. Customize the heat level if you prefer a spicier sauce.Β 

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Arrabiata sauce, arrabiata sauce recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Delicious! Quick and easy.
    No more need to buy a pre made sauce!
    I added a sweet pepper too. And thinking would be great if added hot peppers like a Anaheim or Hungarian peppers if you like the heat. πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹