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Easy Pasta Arrabbiata Sauce (spicy tomato)

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Emilie Pullar
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 - 3 people


This simple flavoursome pasta arrabbiata will become a staple recipe in your house, I know it.


200 grams dried pasta or 300 grams fresh

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (see notes)

2 x 400 gram cans whole tomatoes

3 basil sprigs

1.5 teaspoons sugar

Parmesan and flat leaf parsley to serve


  1. Put oil and garlic into a cold fry pan and heat gently over a medium - low heat. This gives the oil a chance to infuse with the garlic flavour.
  2. Bring to a gentle sizzle (should be about 4-5 mins).
  3. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for a further 30 seconds (the garlic should be gently sizzling and not be browned so adjust heat as you need).
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, using a wooden spoon or potato masher to break them up. I use about 1/2 cup of water to slosh around in the cans to get all the additional tomato out.
  5. Turn the heat up if you need to bring to a gentle simmer then add the basil sprigs, sugar and a couple of big pinches of salt. Simmer very gently for 15 minutes.
  6. In the mean time boil your pasta in a pot of well salted boiling water, reserving a cup of pasta water before draining.
  7. Season the sauce to taste, discard the basil and then add the cooked pasta straight in with 1/4 cup of pasta water.
  8. Let it gently bubble away for 1 - 2 minutes, adding more pasta water if you need.
  9. Serve with LOTS of freshly grated parmesan and chopped flat leaf parsley.
  10. This is a simple sauce so don't be afraid to season liberally.


Yield - If you know my recipes you know I love things VERY saucy. This sauce can probably stretch to 3 or maybe even 4. Add extra pasta accordingly. 100 grams dried per person or 150 grams fresh.

Red pepper flakes (also known as chilli flakes) - I used 3/4 teaspoon. It really depends on your personal preference. You could start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more.

Tomatoes - This is a very simple recipe so the quality of your canned tomatoes will make a huge difference here. Use Italian whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) if you can.

Seasoning - The make or break of a simple sauce? Seasoning. This comes in the sauce and properly salting your pasta water. See notes above on the water, it's SO important.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Vegetarian
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian