Penne Arrabiata - A fiery Italian tomato sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and garlic, tossed together with penne pasta.
It's rich and comforting. Plus it's naturally vegetarian!
The absolute most important thing about this recipe is the sauce. Arrabbiata sauce, made the traditional way, with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, chilli and San Marzano tomatoes.
This is a rich and spicy sauce, and it's pretty simple to make too!
Once you've got the sauce, you can add any type of cooked pasta you like to it.
I love it with fresh tagliatelle or pappardelle when I'm in the mood for long pasta.
For short pasta, penne is the most popular way to go, but of course, you can replace with any short pasta you like.
📋 Sauce ingredients
The main ingredients for a traditional Arrabiata sauce include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- San Marzano tinned tomatoes
- Chilli Flakes
📺 Watch how to make the sauce
Note - this video shows the arrabbiata sauce with long pasta, but you you just need to add the cooked penne to the sauce in the same way.
👩🍳PRO TIP This is a low & slow sauce. Cook the onions slowly, then simmer the tomatoes nice and slowly for a thick, rich tomato pasta sauce.
Once that spicy arrabbiata sauce is ready, stir in cooked penne pasta.
Serve topped with black pepper, chilli flakes, basil leaves and parmesan (or for vegetarian, use vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese).
🍽️ What to serve it with
🍲 More delicious pasta recipes
Stay updated with new recipes!
Subscribe to the newsletter to hear when I post a new recipe. I’m also on YouTube (new videos every week) and Instagram (behind-the-scenes stories & beautiful food photos).
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion - peeled and finely diced
- 4 fat cloves of garlic - peeled and minced
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (red pepper flakes) - – add more if you like it really spicy
- 4 x 400g (4 x 14oz) cans San Marzano tomatoes - *see note 1
- 1 tbsp tomato puree (paste for USA)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- A good handful (about 10g) fresh basil leaves - roughly chopped (or 1 tsp dried basil)
- 400 g (14 oz) Penne Pasta
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsps parmesan cheese (or vegetarian Italian style hard cheese for vegetarian)
- A good handful (about 10g) fresh basil leaves
- Start by making the arrabbiata sauce. Add the oil to a large saucepan and heat over a low-medium heat.3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Add the chopped onions to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are very soft (they shouldn’t be browned though).1 small onion
- Add the garlic and chill flakes and cook for a further 2 minutes.4 fat cloves of garlic, 1 tsp chilli flakes (red pepper flakes)
- Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and pepper and stir together.4 x 400g (4 x 14oz) cans San Marzano tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree (paste for USA), ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper
- Turn up the heat to medium and bring to a gentle simmer. Then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 45-50 minutes, until thickened. Stir occasionally and break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as you stir.
- About 15 minutes before the sauce is ready, cook the pasta. Add the pasta to a large pan of boiling salted water.400 g (14 oz) Penne Pasta
- Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 11 minutes for al dente pasta (or 12-13 minutes if you like it a little softer).
- Drain the pasta in a colander and place the drained pasta back in the pan.
- Coming back to the sauce, stir in the basil and give the sauce a taste. Add a little more salt and pepper if you like.A good handful (about 10g) fresh basil leaves
- Pour the sauce over the pasta in the pasta pan and stir together to coat the pasta in the sauce.
- Serve topped with a sprinkling of black pepper, grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves.basil leaves, black pepper and parmesan when serving.¼ tsp black pepper, 2 tbsps parmesan cheese (or vegetarian Italian style hard cheese for vegetarian), A good handful (about 10g) fresh basil leaves
Secret Tip: I found Sainsbury's Italian plum tomatoes were actually very close in taste (when doing a blind raw taste test at home). I didn't need the extra sugar when using that brand (I wasn't paid by them to say that, it's purely my opinion).
Can I make it ahead? I wouldn't recommend making the whole dish ahead, but you can make the sauce ahead. Make the sauce, then cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Reheat in a pan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until piping hot - about 6-8 minutes. Once hot, add in your cooked pasta. Can I freeze it? I wouldn't recommend freezing the whole dish, with the pasta in, but you can make the sauce ahead and freeze it. Make the sauce, then cool, pour into a freezer-proof container and seal with a lid. Then freeze.
Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat as per the reheat instructions above. How to scale up or down Double or halve the recipe using the same ingredient ratios.
- If doubling you will need to simmer the arrabbiata sauce for 10 minutes longer.
- If halving, you will need to simmer the arrabbiata sauce for 10 minutes less.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.