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Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 -8 servings 1x


This Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce recipe is super-simple to make, calls for just 6 main ingredients, and is guaranteed to kick your pasta nights up a delicious notch.


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or butter)
  • 24 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes*
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn or roughly-chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper


  1. Heat olive oil or butter in a large saucepan (or deep sauté pan) over medium-high heat until melted. Add crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until softened and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes or until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Add in the tomatoes and stir to combine.
  2. Continue cooking the sauce, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon (or potato masher) as you go, until the sauce reaches a low simmer. Reduce heat to medium to maintain a steady simmer. Then let the sauce continue to cook uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened** and reached your desired consistency.
  3. Stir in the basil, salt and pepper. Then taste the sauce, and season with any extra salt, pepper and/or crushed red pepper flakes as needed.
  4. Serve immediately. Or let the sauce cool and then refrigerate it in a sealed container for up to 4 days.


Batch Size: This arrabbiata recipe makes a pretty large batch (which will yield a nice saucy pasta, if tossed with a 1-lb box of pasta which has been cooked according to package instructions).  So if you are cooking less pasta, or if you prefer a less-saucy pasta, feel free to halve the recipe.

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: I like to add 4 teaspoons (or more!) crushed red pepper flakes to this recipe, which definitely gives it a noticeable kick.  But if you are sensitive to heat, I would start with 1 or 2 teaspoons and you can always add more later.

Consistency: If the sauce accidentally thickens too much to your liking, you can thin it out with water (ideally some starchy pasta water) — either in the pan of sauce itself, or you can add the water directly to the pasta once it has been mixed with the sauce.