clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Arrabbiata sauce with penne pasta in a skillet

20-Minute Homemade Arrabbiata Sauce

  • Author: Emilie Raffa
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 23
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Pasta Sauce
  • Method: Stove-Top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This spicy, homemade arrabbiata sauce is made with 6 simple ingredients: canned tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes (to lighten and brighten the sauce), garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes and parsley. It only takes 20 minutes to cook! Feel free to enhance this dish with non-traditional ingredients including chopped onions, shallots, fresh basil leaves and/or bay leaf.


  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 tsp– 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes, plus more to taste (see Notes below) 
  • (1) 794 g (28 oz can) whole-peeled plum tomatoes in purée, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand OR pre-made/frozen pomodoro sauce as a base (see Notes below).
  • 320 g (2 cups) fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 453 g (1 lb.) penne pasta or fresh homemade pasta

Notes, Tips & Substitutions

  • Instead of dried red pepper flakes, you can use (1) fresh chili pepper, halved and seeds removed or a dollop of Calabrian chili paste. 
  • Using already crushed canned tomatoes makes this sauce come together fast. However, the quality is often lacking (even the “good” brands). Use whole-peeled plum tomatoes instead, and crush them yourself. To do so: remove the tomatoes from the can (leave the juice behind- it’s messy) and roughly chop them on a cutting board. Add the tomatoes and the reserved juice to your sauce. This will take less than 1 minute.
  • Use a wide 12-inch pan or braiser (instead of a high sided pot). The sauce will reduce faster.
  • Use pre-made/frozen sauce as your base. I like my pomodoro sauce with fresh tomatoes. Just add red pepper flakes and parsley to make it arrabbiata.
  • Add sugar. If your canned tomatoes are very acidic, a pinch of sugar will balance out the flavors.


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it’s al dente. Meanwhile, make the arrabbiata sauce.
  2. In a large 12-inch pan or braiser, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. Sauté briefly, stirring with a wooden spoon, to gently infuse the olive oil, about 1 minute or so. Do not brown the garlic. The sauce will taste bitter.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and fresh cherry tomatoes to the pan. Season with salt. Increase the heat to medium high and cook for 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Taste and correct with salt and/or sugar if the tomatoes are too acidic. Note: if using a high-sided pan, the sauce will take a little longer to reduce.
  4. To serve, add the pasta directly to the arrabbiata sauce. Mix well to combine. Shower with chopped fresh parsley. 


  • Make it ahead. Arrabbiata sauce can be chilled in an airtight container, up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Freeze up to 3 months.

Keywords: arrabbiata, pasta, sauce, easy, recipe, Italian, penne, authentic, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes