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Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

Arrabbiata sauce, a spicy Italian classic, is a versatile and dynamic addition to your culinary repertoire. Its heat comes from red pepper flakes, while fresh basil elevates the flavor. The beauty of this sauce is its simplicity, allowing each ingredient to shine. It is perfect for pasta dishes and can also be used as a dipping sauce or a base for pizza.

Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe
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Arrabbiata sauce is composed of commonly found ingredients. However, fresh basil leaves might not be readily available in all homes. When you visit your local supermarket, seek out the freshest basil leaves you can find, as they give the sauce its unique, aromatic character. Additionally, don't compromise on the quality of tomatoes. Choose canned whole tomatoes for the best results. The red pepper flakes are what provide the sauce's characteristic heat, so adjust the amount based on your preference.

Ingredients for Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

Butter: Butter adds a rich, creamy flavor to the sauce, enhancing its overall taste. If you prefer, you can substitute it with olive oil.

Red pepper flakes: These are the heart of the arrabbiata sauce, adding the 'angry' heat that the sauce is famous for.

Yellow Onion: The onion gives a sweet and savory depth to the sauce.

Garlic: Garlic lends an aromatic and slightly spicy flavor to the sauce.

Whole tomatoes: Whole tomatoes, especially when fresh, give the sauce a robust and hearty flavor. Canned tomatoes can be a good alternative.

Basil leaves: Fresh basil leaves add a burst of freshness to the sauce, balancing the heat from the red pepper flakes.

Salt: Seasoning the sauce with salt enhances all the other flavors.

Black Pepper: Black pepper lends a mild heat and a touch of complexity.

One reader, Agna Atkins says:

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This spicy arrabbiata sauce recipe is a game-changer! The perfect blend of heat and flavor. The aroma of garlic and basil is heavenly. It's so easy to make and tastes like it's straight from an Italian kitchen. I'm obsessed!

Agna Atkins

Key Techniques for Making Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

How to sauté the red pepper flakes: Heat the butter or olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until melted. Add the red pepper flakes and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

How to sauté the onions and garlic: Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until softened and translucent, stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes or until fragrant, stirring occasionally.

How to simmer the sauce: Continue cooking the sauce, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as you go, until the sauce reaches a low simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer.

How to thicken the sauce: Let the sauce continue to cook uncovered for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened and reached the desired consistency.

How to season the sauce: Stir in the basil, salt, and pepper. Taste the sauce, and season with any extra salt, pepper, and/or crushed red pepper flakes as needed.

How To Make Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

Arrabbiata sauce is s a spicy, tomato-based sauce with loads of basil and garlic. You can use it in pasta, sandwiches, pizzas, and even as a dipping sauce.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes



  • 3tbspbutter,or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tspred pepper flakes,crushed, or more/less to taste
  • 1small yellow,or red onion, finely diced
  • 6large cloves garlic,minced or pressed
  • 28ozwhole tomatoes,(2 cans), preferably San Marzano
  • ½cupfresh basil leaves,(1 packed), torn or roughly-chopped
  • 1tspsea salt
  • ½tspblack pepper,freshly-cracked


  1. Heat butter or olive oil 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. 

  2. Add onions 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.

  3. 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. 

  4. Then let the sauce continue to cook uncovered for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened and reached your desired consistency.

  5. 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.

  6. Serve immediately.  Or let the sauce cool and then refrigerate it in a sealed container for up to 4 days.


  • Calories: 61.07kcal
  • Fat: 4.61g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.78g
  • Trans Fat: 0.17g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 1.16g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.29g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.98g
  • Fiber: 2.09g
  • Sugar: 2.66g
  • Protein: 1.15g
  • Cholesterol: 11.45mg
  • Sodium: 256.20mg
  • Calcium: 44.44mg
  • Potassium: 216.30mg
  • Iron: 0.71mg
  • Vitamin A: 62.83µg
  • Vitamin C: 14.00mg

Crucial Technique Tip for Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

When making your arrabbiata sauce, it's important to remember that the heat level can be adjusted to your personal preference. The red pepper flakes are what give this sauce its characteristic heat. If you prefer a milder sauce, simply reduce the amount of pepper flakes. Conversely, if you like your sauce extra spicy, feel free to add more. Remember, it's easier to add heat than it is to take it away, so start with a smaller amount and add more to taste. Also, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or potato masher allows you to control the texture of your sauce. For a chunkier sauce, crush the tomatoes less. For a smoother sauce, continue crushing until you reach your desired consistency.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Arrabbiata Sauce

Prep ahead: Chop the onions and garlic in advance to save time during the cooking process.

Use canned tomatoes: Opt for canned whole tomatoes instead of fresh ones to skip the step of peeling and dicing, saving time and effort.

One-pot cooking: Consider using a large, deep sauté pan to both cook and simmer the sauce, reducing the number of dishes to clean later.

Double batch: Make a larger quantity of the arrabbiata sauce and freeze the extra portions for future use, saving time on meal prep in the long run.

Organized workspace: Before starting, ensure all ingredients and tools are readily accessible to streamline the cooking process.

Efficient chopping: Utilize a food processor to quickly chop the onions, garlic, and basil, saving time and effort.

Substitute Ingredients For Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

  • butter - Substitute with olive oil: Olive oil can add a rich and smooth texture to the sauce, similar to butter, while also adding a hint of fruity flavor.
  • red pepper flakes - Substitute with cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper can provide the same level of heat and spiciness to the arrabbiata sauce, enhancing its flavor profile.
  • yellow onion - Substitute with white onion: White onion can be used as a substitute for yellow onion, providing a slightly milder flavor while still adding a savory base to the sauce.
  • garlic - Substitute with shallots: Shallots can offer a similar pungent and sweet flavor to the sauce, complementing the other ingredients and adding depth to the overall taste.
  • whole tomatoes - Substitute with canned crushed tomatoes: Canned crushed tomatoes can be used as a convenient substitute for whole tomatoes, providing a smooth and thick base for the arrabbiata sauce.
  • fresh basil leaves - Substitute with dried basil: Dried basil can be used as a substitute for fresh basil leaves, offering a concentrated flavor and aroma to the sauce, though in a slightly different form.
  • sea salt - Substitute with kosher salt: Kosher salt can be used as a substitute for sea salt, providing a similar level of salinity to the arrabbiata sauce.
  • black pepper - Substitute with crushed red pepper: Crushed red pepper can add a spicy kick to the sauce, similar to black pepper, while also enhancing its overall flavor.

How to Beautifully Present Arrabbiata Sauce

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting this spicy arrabbiata sauce, focus on creating a visually appealing plate. Use a large, flat plate to showcase the vibrant red color of the sauce. Ensure that the sauce is spread evenly and garnish with a sprinkle of freshly chopped basil leaves for a pop of color.

  2. Incorporate artistic drizzling: Utilize a squeeze bottle to create an artistic drizzle of olive oil around the edge of the plate. This not only adds a touch of elegance but also enhances the flavor of the dish.

  3. Garnish with precision: Carefully place a few whole basil leaves on top of the sauce, ensuring they are evenly spaced and visually appealing. This adds a touch of freshness and sophistication to the presentation.

  4. Consider the serving vessel: Opt for a classic, elegant serving vessel such as a white porcelain dish or a rustic ceramic bowl to complement the bold flavors of the arrabbiata sauce.

  5. Attention to detail: Pay close attention to the cleanliness of the plate edges and any spills. A clean presentation is essential for impressing the discerning palates of Michelin-starred culinary professionals.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Arrabbiata Sauce

  • saucepan: A deep cooking pan with a long handle, used for making sauces and heating liquids.
  • wooden spoon: A kitchen utensil with a long handle and a rounded head, used for stirring and mixing ingredients.
  • potato masher: A tool with a grid of wires or blades used to mash cooked vegetables or fruits.
  • sauté pan: A wide, flat-bottomed pan with relatively tall sides, used for sautéing, searing, and frying foods.

Storing and Freezing Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

  • Let the arrabbiata sauce cool completely to room temperature before storing or freezing.
  • To store in the refrigerator, transfer the cooled sauce to an airtight container or jar. It will keep well in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze the arrabbiata sauce:
    • Portion the sauce into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags, leaving some headspace for expansion during freezing.
    • Label the containers or bags with the date and amount of sauce.
    • Place the containers or bags in the freezer, laying them flat for easier storage.
    • Frozen arrabbiata sauce will maintain its best quality for up to 3-4 months.
  • To thaw frozen sauce, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight. Alternatively, you can thaw it in the microwave using the defrost setting.
  • Reheat the thawed sauce in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it's heated through and simmering. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, or additional red pepper flakes if needed.
  • If the sauce appears too thick after thawing and reheating, you can thin it out with a little water or pasta cooking water until it reaches your desired consistency.

How To Reheat Leftover Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

  • Stovetop method: Transfer the leftover arrabbiata sauce to a saucepan and reheat it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired temperature. This method allows you to control the heat and ensure the sauce is evenly warmed without burning or drying out. If the sauce seems too thick, you can add a splash of water or pasta cooking water to thin it out.

  • Microwave method: Place the desired amount of arrabbiata sauce in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel or a microwave-safe lid. Heat the sauce in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until it is heated through. Be careful when removing the bowl from the microwave, as it may be hot.

  • Oven method: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Transfer the leftover arrabbiata sauce to an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Place the dish in the preheated oven and heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through. This method is particularly useful if you are reheating a large quantity of sauce or if you want to keep it warm for an extended period.

  • Sous vide method: If you have a sous vide precision cooker, you can use it to reheat your arrabbiata sauce without any risk of overcooking or drying out. Place the sauce in a vacuum-sealed bag or a resealable plastic bag with the air removed. Set your sous vide cooker to 165°F (74°C) and submerge the bag in the water bath. Heat the sauce for about 30 minutes, or until it reaches the desired temperature.

  • Pasta method: Cook your pasta according to the package instructions until it is al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. In a large skillet, combine the cooked pasta and the desired amount of leftover arrabbiata sauce over medium heat. Toss the pasta and sauce together, adding some of the reserved cooking water if needed to thin out the sauce and help it coat the pasta evenly. Heat the pasta and sauce until warmed through, then serve immediately.

Interesting Fact About Arrabbiata Sauce

The arrabbiata sauce is a classic Italian spicy tomato sauce that gets its heat from red pepper flakes. It is a versatile sauce that can be used in a variety of dishes, such as pasta, pizza, or as a dipping sauce for bread.

Is Making Arrabbiata Sauce at Home Cost-Effective?

The cost-effectiveness of this spicy arrabbiata sauce recipe is quite high. The ingredients are simple and affordable, making it a budget-friendly option for households. The use of basic pantry staples like butter, garlic, and canned tomatoes keeps the cost low. The addition of fresh basil adds a touch of freshness without breaking the bank. Overall, this recipe is a solid 9 in terms of cost-effectiveness. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $10, making it an economical choice for a flavorful meal.

Is Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Healthy or Unhealthy?

The spicy arrabbiata sauce recipe is relatively healthy, as it primarily consists of whole tomatoes, onions, garlic, and fresh basil. These ingredients are nutrient-dense and provide various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The use of whole tomatoes instead of processed tomato sauce ensures that the recipe retains more of its natural nutrients. Additionally, garlic and onions have been linked to numerous health benefits, such as boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation.

However, there are a few aspects of the recipe that could be improved to make it even healthier:

  • Reduce the amount of butter or replace it with a healthier alternative like olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fats and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Decrease the amount of salt to lower the sodium content. The recipe can still be flavorful with the use of herbs and spices.
  • Add more vegetables to the sauce, such as carrots, bell peppers, or zucchini, to increase the fiber content and provide additional nutrients.
  • Use fresh red pepper flakes instead of dried ones, as they contain more vitamin C and have a brighter flavor.
  • Opt for organic ingredients whenever possible to minimize exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Editor's Opinion on This Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe

This arrabbiata sauce recipe is a classic and flavorful addition to any Italian dish. The combination of red pepper flakes, garlic, and tomatoes creates a rich and spicy flavor profile that is sure to impress. The addition of fresh basil adds a pop of freshness to the sauce. The cooking process allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a delicious and aromatic sauce. This recipe is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from pasta to pizza. It's a must-try for anyone who loves a little heat in their meals.

Enhance Your Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Bread: A warm and crispy garlic bread would be the perfect accompaniment to soak up the delicious arrabbiata sauce.
Grilled Vegetables: A colorful and flavorful assortment of grilled vegetables would complement the spicy arrabbiata sauce beautifully.
Tiramisu: Finish off the meal with a decadent tiramisu for a sweet and satisfying dessert.
Caesar Salad: A classic Caesar salad with a creamy dressing and crunchy croutons would provide a refreshing contrast to the spicy arrabbiata sauce.
Lemon Sorbet: Cool down after the spicy arrabbiata sauce with a refreshing and tangy lemon sorbet.

Similar Recipes to Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

Spicy Chicken Curry: This flavorful and aromatic curry is perfect for those who love a little heat in their meals. The combination of spices and tender chicken will leave you wanting more.
Mango Salsa: This refreshing and tangy salsa is the perfect accompaniment to any dish. The sweetness of the mango combined with the heat of the jalapenos creates a perfect balance of flavors.
Creamy Mushroom Risotto: Indulge in this rich and creamy risotto that is packed with earthy mushroom flavors. It's the ultimate comfort food that will leave you feeling satisfied and content.
Roasted Vegetable Salad: This vibrant and colorful salad is bursting with the flavors of roasted vegetables. It's a healthy and delicious option for a light meal or as a side dish to complement any main course.
Banana Bread Pudding: Satisfy your sweet tooth with this decadent and comforting banana bread pudding. It's a delightful dessert that is perfect for any occasion.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce

Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a delicious mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. The perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Bruschetta: Elevate your appetizer game with classic bruschetta, featuring toasted baguette slices topped with a flavorful mixture of tomatoes, basil, and balsamic glaze. A refreshing and satisfying start to any meal.
Tiramisu: Indulge in a classic Italian dessert that layers coffee-soaked ladyfingers with a rich mascarpone cream, and dusted with cocoa powder for a decadent finish.
Panna Cotta: Treat yourself to a silky-smooth Italian dessert made with sweetened cream and gelatin, then topped with a vibrant fruit compote for a refreshing contrast.

Why trust this Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe:

This recipe is a tried and true classic, perfected over years of experience in the kitchen. The combination of butter, garlic, and tomatoes creates a rich and flavorful base, while the addition of red pepper flakes adds a delightful kick. The use of fresh basil leaves elevates the dish with its aromatic and earthy notes. Our commitment to quality ingredients and precise instructions ensures that this arrabbiata sauce will turn out perfectly every time, making it a reliable and delicious choice for any home cook.

Want to share your thoughts on this Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe? Head over to the Recipe Sharing section of our forum and join the discussion!
Can I use olive oil instead of butter?
Yes, you can definitely use olive oil instead of butter for a healthier option. It will also add a delicious flavor to the arrabbiata sauce.
Can I use canned diced tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes?
Absolutely! Canned diced tomatoes can be used as a substitute for whole tomatoes. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly to achieve the desired consistency.
How can I make the arrabbiata sauce less spicy?
To make the arrabbiata sauce less spicy, you can reduce the amount of red pepper flakes used in the recipe. Start with a smaller amount and gradually add more to reach your preferred level of spiciness.
Can I freeze the arrabbiata sauce?
Yes, you can freeze the arrabbiata sauce for future use. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Can I use dried basil instead of fresh basil?
While fresh basil is recommended for the best flavor, you can use dried basil as a substitute. Keep in mind that the flavor intensity may differ, so adjust the quantity to taste.

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