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Penne all’Arrabbiata (penne with arrabbiata sauce) means “furious” or “angry,” which refers to the spiciness of this sauce. The bite from the garlic and the spiciness of the red pepper flakes turns a very simple tomato sauce into a pasta dinner that demands attention and makes your taste buds sit up straight. This pasta is very popular in Rome, and we all love it in restaurants, but you can make it at home in 30 minutes!

Try serving this with Sautéed Escarole, Mixed Lettuce Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette, or Sautéed Broccoli Rabe.

Plate with Penne all’Arrabbiata next to a yellow fork.

FAQs

Does arrabbiata sauce have meat in it?

Sometimes the arrabbiata sauce is made with some type of meat, like pork sausage, ground beef, or pancetta, but this one is vegetarian — even vegan if you skip the optional cheese. And you may also see some versions with other pungent ingredients like capers or black olives. These additions are wonderful — feel free to experiment! 

What does Penne all’Arrabbiata taste like?

Arrabbiata pasta sauce is spicy thanks to the red pepper flakes and garlic, but not overpowering because of the sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes. 

What is the difference between Penne all’Arrabbiata and marinara or red sauce?

Usually, red sauce is on the milder side, whereas Penne all’Arrabbiata is usually spicy. Often they have similar Italian seasonings, though I like to keep all’Arrabbiata on the simpler side and add dried basil and oregano to my basic tomato sauce. In marinara sauce, I like to keep the garlic cloves so they impart a milder garlicky flavor and add a touch of sugar to balance out the acidity.

Steaming serving bowl of Penne all’Arrabbiata.

Penne all’Arrabbiata: This 30-minute pasta with a spicy tomato based sauce is assertively flavored with garlic and red pepper flakes, and so simple to pull together for a hearty weeknight dinner.

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Penne with Arrabbiata Sauce Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Red pepper flakes – You can add more than the suggested ½ teaspoon if you like your sauce spicier.
  • Crushed tomatoes – I like to use crushed tomato in puree for extra body in the sauce.
  • Pasta – Most of the time, this robust sauce is served with chunky, tubular pasta. Penne is probably the most popular noodle for Pasta all’Arrabbiata, but you can also think about rigatoni or ziti. And there is no reason you can’t serve this sauce with a long, skinny pasta, like spaghetti, linguine, bucatini, or fettuccine.
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan – This sauce is sometimes served with cheese, sometimes without, which keeps it vegan. You can certainly offer Parmesan or Pecorino Romano for sprinkling if you like. My family likes cheese on all of their tomato-based pastas.

How to Make Penne all’Arrabbiata

  1. Make the sauce: Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in the oil. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally for 15 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
Stirring tomato sauce with wood spoon in red pot.
  1. Cook the pasta. Drain the pasta.
Cooking penne or ziti in boiling water and draining.
  1. Toss to combine: Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Toss to combine and cook for another 2 minutes so that the sauce gets absorbed by the pasta as it finishes cooking.
  2. Garnish and serve: Add the parsley, toss to combine, then transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot with cheese on the side for sprinkling, if desired.
Sprinkling Parmesan over Penne all’Arrabbiata in bowl.

What to Serve With Penne all’Arrabbiata

Chopped Winter Salad

How to Sauté Spinach

3 Great and Really Simple Green Salads

Woman sprinkling parmesan cheese onto Penne all’Arrabbiata.

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Penne all’Arrabbiata

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 People
This 30-minute pasta with a spicy tomato-based sauce is assertively flavored with garlic and red pepper flakes. It's so simple to pull together for a hearty weeknight dinner.

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • Kosher salt and freshy ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 pound pasta (such as penne or ziti)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a large deep skillet, combine the oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is light golden (don’t let it get actually browned). Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally for 15 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss to combine and cook for another 2 minutes so that the sauce gets absorbed by the pasta as it finishes cooking. Add the parsley, toss to combine, then transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot. Pass the cheese on the side for sprinkling if desired.

Notes

Sometimes, arrabbiata sauce is made with some type of meat, like pork sausage, ground beef, or pancetta, but this one is vegetarian — even vegan if you skip the optional cheese. And you may also see some versions with other pungent ingredients like capers or black olives. These additions are wonderful — feel free to experiment! 

Nutrition

Calories: 388kcal, Carbohydrates: 63g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Sodium: 101mg, Potassium: 411mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 618IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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