Last updated on October 29, 2023

Pasta all'Arrabbiata 🍝🌶️ Traditional Italian recipe

Gianni from All Italian - Author
Gianni from All Italian

Tomatoes, abundant hot pepper, a sprig of parsley and optionally Pecorino cheese. Pasta all'Arrabbiata is popular because it is one of the easiest and fastest pasta dishes to make. We share the original recipe as they make it in Rome: healthy, spicy and delicious

A short video of our Arrabbiata sauce recipe. Below we explain all steps in detail.

Arrabbiata is the name of a pasta sauce with a particularly spicy taste, which belongs to the culinary tradition of Central Italy. Pasta all'Arrabbiata has been present in cookbooks on the cuisine of Rome since the 1950s.

Pasta all'Arrabbiata is the classic Italian pasta that we often prepare at lunch, because it is quick to make (it takes about 25 minutes) and because you need few ingredients.

What «Arrabbiata» means

In Italian arrabbiato or arrabbiata literally means angry.
In the language of Central Italy, and especially in Romanesco, the dialect spoken in Rome, arrabbiato indicates a highly accentuated characteristic. It is an adjective that can refer to many different things, even a plate of pasta.

This is the case with the spicy hot Pasta all'Arrabbiata, which according to the original recipe should be very spicy, or "angry".

Learning Italian 🇮🇹

The correct name of the recipe is Pasta all'arrabbiata.

Many websites misspell the name of the recipe: Pasta arrabbiata, without «all'». In Italian it means «arrabbiata» is the pasta, while «arrabbiata» is the sauce.

Another detail: in Italian we quite often use double consonants. «Arrabbiata» in Italian contains 2 "r" and 2 "b". That's why it's «Arrabbiata» and not «Arrabiata».

The Italian words we use on this page:

🔊 Arrabbiato (literally) Angry
🔊 Peperoncino Red hot pepper
🔊 Buttare la pasta Put the pasta (into the boiling water)

Pasta all'Arrabbiata 🍝🌶️ Original Italian recipe

(21) reviews

  • 👩‍🍳 Easy
  • 25 min preparation
  • 🤗 Guaranteed result

The pasta all'Arrabbiata recipe is very easy to make. For an excellent pasta sauce, just follow our tips: we make the recipe step by step.


Ingredients to make arrabbiata




Ingredient image Ingredient name Cups Grams Ounces
penne Penne Rigate 11.29 oz 320 g
peeled-tomatoes Peeled tomatoes 14.1 oz 400 g
garlic Garlic 1 cloves
pepper-red Chilli pepper 2 peppers
parsley Parsley 1 sprigs
olive-oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 teaspoons
salt Salt 1 pinch

The Arrabbiata pasta sauce contains ingredients commonly used in Roman cuisine: tomatoes, chili pepper, parsley and Pecorino cheese.

  • Tomatoes

    The classic Arrabbiata recipe uses whole peeled tomatoes, cut into large chunks. Many recommend using fresh tomatoes; but it's not always easy to find fresh and juicy tomatoes.

    An alternative is to use canned peeled tomatoes: in our recipe we include the variety San Marzano tomatoes, a D.O.P. of high quality produced in the area of Nocera, and which you will also find outside Italy.

  • Hot pepper, fresh or dried

    Dried red chili pepper is usually hotter than fresh pepper: but not always, so in both cases you can use more than one chili in the Arrabbiata sauce.

    We recommend using fresh chilies if you have them. Dried chili pepper adds a different flavor to the sauce; it's a matter of taste, we at All Italian much prefer the taste of Arrabbiata with fresh hot pepper.

  • Pecorino Romano DOP

    To complete the recipe, add a large amount of Pecorino Romano DOP to the pasta all'Arrabbiata. Pecorino cheese is one of the symbols of Rome's cuisine; even though the main producer of Pecorino is not the Lazio region, but Sardinia, where the sheep are raised.

    Pecorino appears in many other Italian recipes and pasta sauces: it is one of the main ingredients of Amatriciana and Carbonara.

  • Parsley

    A classic addition to tomato sauce on pasta (and on Italian pizza) is basil.
    Parsley is an ingredient of Roman cuisine, used in Arrabbiata, and also in aglio olio e peperoncino pasta. Like basil, parsley should be added at the end of the preparation, before serving: fresh and not cooked with the sauce.

    If you experiment with different Italian herbs, you will find that they can significantly change the final taste of the sauce.

  • Garlic or onion

    The original Arrabbiata recipe from Roman cuisine contains garlic; which, however, has a very strong taste and is not loved by everyone. Garlic has a strong flavor that goes well with the hot pepper in the tomato sauce.

    If you use garlic, it should be removed immediately before adding the tomato: it only serves to flavor the oil. Furthermore, the garlic should not be chopped, but left in cloves: otherwise the Arrabbiata sauce will have a garlic taste that is too dominant.

👉 The most common mistakes when you make the Arrabbiata pasta sauce:

  • The sauce dries out during cooking

    In our recipe we prepare the Arrabbiata sauce while we cook the pasta. To cook both simultaneously, you will need to be a bit handy in calculating the cooking times of both the sauce and the pasta.

    The sauce is ready before the pasta, and you should keep it warm over a low heat. In this step, the tomato gradually loses water, making the sauce dry.
    To avoid this, occasionally add to the sauce a little pasta water: this is ideal for keeping the sauce diluted.

    👉 The cooking water contains starch, which makes our sauce creamy.

  • The sauce is too spicy

    To be called Arrabbiata, it must be very spicy. In our recipe we use 2 pieces of peppers for 400g of sauce: not too much, not too little. Some versions of this recipe contain 3, which in our opinion may be too much.

    Eating a sauce that is too spicy is certainly not pleasant: with experience you will also be able to determine how spicy the sauce is, to your taste.


  1. Prepare the tomatoes

    Pour the contents of the peeled tomatoes into a bowl and cut them into large pieces. The classic Arrabbiata contains quite large pieces tomatoes, so you don't have to reduce them to a pulp.

    Prepare also the water for the pasta: it is better to cook pasta in enough water; even if the general indication is sufficient 1 quart / 1 liter of water for every 3.5 oz / 100 g of pasta.

    Turn on the heat under the pot. Also check out our recipe to cooking pasta al dente.

  2. Saute the garlic

    Pour a little olive oil into a pan: you don't need much to make Arrabbiata sauce. Naturally, the more oil you add, the thicker the tomato sauce will become, but we always recommend not to overdo it.

    If using garlic, add a whole clove; if you don't like the taste of garlic, you can also use half chopped white onion.

    👉 Add the chili peppers, cut into small pieces.

    Saute the garlic in olive oil over low heat for a few minutes.

    Saute the garlic
    Two tablespoons of olive oil and a clove of peeled garlic - from our pasta cookbook

  3. Add the tomatoes

    Pour the tomato into the pan, add a pinch of salt and mix well. Let the sauce cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally while you wait for the pasta water to boil.

    While the tomato is cooking, it is best to cover the pan with a lid.

    Add the tomatoes

  4. Cook the pasta

    After 10 minutes the sauce is hot and the water starts to boil.

    Pour in the salt and when the water starts to boil again, pour in the pasta.

    While the pasta is cooking, let the sauce cook over low heat.

    Is the sauce getting a bit dry? Dilute it with a little salted water from the pasta pot.

    👉 Don't forget to remove the garlic.

    Cook the pasta
    In our pasta cookbook we show you the preparation of Italian recipes such as pasta all'Arrabbiata step by step

  5. Drain the pasta and combine it with the sauce

    The cooking time of the pasta is indicated on the packaging; we Italians don't have much faith, however, because it's hard to predict exactly when the pasta will be al dente. We recommend checking the cooking status of the pasta from time to time.

    When the pasta is ready, it is time to drain. You can use a colander, or a slotted spoon to pour the pasta directly into the pan with the sauce.

    Mix the pasta with the sauce for a minute, to combine them well.

    Drain the pasta and combine it with the sauce

  6. Serving

    Only two ingredients are missing for serving, which must be added fresh: a few leaves of parsley and a generously grated Pecorino Romano.

Your Pasta all'Arrabbiata is ready. Buon appetito! 🍝

Mezze penne with Arrabbiata sauce
The «mezze penne rigate all’Arrabbiata» that we have prepared for our pasta cookbook

Did you like it? Rate this recipe

In the restaurant in Italy, when you finish eating, the waiter will ask: 🔊 andava tutto bene? (was everything fine?)

Recipe rating Italian translation
🔊Abbastanza buono
🔊Non molto buono
🔊Non buono
Placeholder image

Types of pasta that in Italy we eat with Arrabbiata sauce

The iconic kind of pasta that goes with the Arrabbiata sauce is Penne: Penne all'Arrabbiata.

Though as we mentioned on the All Italian page dedicated to Penne, Italians just don't like Penne Lisce. So unless it's artisanal pasta, everyone in Italy will recommend using Penne Rigate, the kind with the ridges.

The other type of pasta that is very popular and traditional with Arrabbiata sauce is spaghetti.

A plate spaghetti all'Arrabbiata
A plate of spaghetti all'Arrabbiata. You can see the fresh parsley leaves, which should be added at the end of cooking. Foto: Giovanni JL

Origin of the Arrabbiata pasta sauce

The recipe of Pasta all'Arrabbiata is part of Rome's culinary tradition. The name was first used in the 1970s: for example in the manual Roma in Cucina by Luigi Carnacina and Vincenzo Buonassisi, published 1975.

Typical of Roman cuisine is the use of clove of garlic in the sauce, which must be removed before the end of cooking the sauce. Garlic and red hot pepper are a classic combination: as in spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, oil and chili pepper).

👉 Although even in Italy, especially in the North, some prefer to replace garlic with onion, which gives the dish a softer taste.

Pasta all'Arrabbiata is still popular throughout Italy and is part of the Italian culture. It has also become part of the Italian cinema: for example, this is an excerpt from the comedy film 7 chili in 7 giorni, featuring two famous Italian comedians, Renato Pozzetto and Carlo Verdone, scold each other for having prepared the Arrabbiata without the chili pepper.

A scene from the 1986 Italian film 7 chili in 7 giorni

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Over All Italian

Hi! We are Italian expats and have been living abroad for years, currently in the Netherlands. Wherever we go, we carry part of our tradition with us. And we often notice that Italy, its heritage and its lifestyle, are very popular.
Now that we understand a little better the culture of the countries we live in, we want to offer an account with original content about our home country.
We are also writing this blog to practice English, so you will find our writing a little «creative» at times. Grazie mille!