Everyone needs a rich, delicious and simple pasta sauce recipe in their back pocket. I believe Arrabbiata is that sauce.
A few simple ingredients and a bit of simmering time and you have a flavourful, versatile sauce with a beautiful spicy kick.
It's one of Italy's best known pasta sauces and for good reason too.
I honestly think this sauce can hold its own against any other pasta sauce.
Meat sauces, creamy sauces, pesto sauces - I love them all!
But this simple sauce? Ahhh I dream about it.
Tossed together with fresh pasta, topped with a sprinkling of basil leaves and a few shavings of crumbly parmesan. Genuine pasta heaven.
📋 What do we need?
The main ingredients for a traditional Arrabbiata include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- San Marzano tinned tomatoes
- Chilli Flakes
There are lots of variations and editions out there. I like to also include:
- Tomato Puree (paste if you're in the USA)
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh Basil
📺 Watch how to make it
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
👩🍳PRO TIP This is a low & slow dish. Cook the onions slowly, then simmer the tomatoes nice and slowly for a thick, rich tomato pasta sauce.
Aside from the health benefits and traditional use of it in Arrabbiata sauce, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has a smooth, grassy, almost peppery flavour. The onions in arrabbiata are cooked slowly (sweated) in the EVOO to take on that extra flavour, which adds to the overall rich, smooth, flavour of the sauce.
San Marzano tomatoes are the gold standard for Arrabbiata sauce. They have a thicker flesh, less seeds, they're less watery, less acidic and they're sweeter than regular tinned tomatoes.
🍲 More recipes using tinned tomatoes
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Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe
- 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)
- 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.
- 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
- Serve with fresh pasta, cooked gnocchi or ravioli. I love to sprinkle on some basil leaves, black pepper and parmesan when serving.
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? Yes, you can make ahead, 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. Can I freeze Arrabbiata? Yes, 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 for 10 minutes longer.
- If halving, you will need to simmer for 10 minutes less.
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