This Arrabbiata sauce is a spicy Italian pasta sauce made with canned tomatoes, onions, garlic and dried red chili flakes. Adding fresh cherry tomatoes and serving it over pasta makes a quick, nutritious meal with the robust flavours of the Italian countryside. An inexpensive vegetarian (or vegan) dish.
❤️ Why you'll love this spicy arrabbiata sauce with cherry tomatoes
- This Italian pasta sauce will take your regular pasta night to the next level! Spice things up on Italian night in your home!
- This arrabbiata sauce recipe uses common pantry ingredients that you probably have on hand--canned tomatoes, onions, garlic and dried chili flakes.
- It's an easy sauce to make and you can control the level of heat you like simply by using more or less dried chili flakes.
- Adding cherry tomatoes helps to balance the spiciness of this dish. Tiny warm tomatoes pop in your mouth!
🛒 Ingredients and substitutions
You'll find a complete list of ingredients with amounts in the recipe card below. But before we get to the full recipe for arrabbiata pasta sauce, here are a few notes about some of the key ingredients.
You'll find this sauce spelled both "arrabbiata" and "arrabiata". Arrabbiata with 2 "b's" is the correct spelling.
- tomatoes: canned San Marzano tomatoes have the best flavour! If you can find them, opt to pay a slightly higher price for them. It will make a difference!
- dried chili peppers: while you could use fresh red chili peppers in this recipe, they can sometimes be difficult to find, so I've used readily available dried red pepper flakes instead. These are what will bring the heat to your dish. I suggest using 1 tablespoon for a mild arrabbiata, 2 for one that will bring as slight sweat to your brow and 3 or more if you want a fiery hot, angry arrabbiata sauce!
- cherry tomatoes: fresh warm cherry tomatoes pop in your mouth and, along with the pasta, help to balance the spice level of this Italian pasta dish.
- basil: for that true Italian flavour!
- Parmesan cheese is an optional garnish. Omit it or replace it with dairy-free parmesan to keep this dish vegan.
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make this spicy Italian pasta sauce recipe perfectly. You'll find complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
You'll start by softening the chili flakes in olive oil over low heat to bring out their flavour. Next you'll sauté onions and then garlic. Once they've softened, all you have to do is add the tomatoes and let them simmer. Season this oh-so-delicious spicy pasta sauce with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil, then add fresh cherry tomatoes.
Serve with pasta (gluten-free, if necessary), more fresh basil and a sprinkling of regular or vegan Parmesan cheese if you'd like.
🔁 Possible Variations
Traditional arrabbiata sauce does not include cherry tomatoes. I like their fresh taste and the interest and texture they add to this meal.
While Arrabbiata sauce is used most often as a sauce for pasta, you can also use it to top pizza or flatbread. Try it with different pasta shapes, like fettuccine, penne, or fusilli. I like to use pasta shapes with lots of texture, like fusilli, because I find the sauce adheres well to all the curls and crevices.
👍🏼 Helpful Tips
This recipe makes almost 8 cups of sauce. It's easy to freeze in pint or quart-sized Mason jars for a quick dinner another day.
Arrabbiata is an Italian term that translates to "angry" in English. The "angry" refers to the spiciness of this red sauce.
Arrabbiata sauce comes from Rome and the Lazio region of Italy. It gives a bowl of pasta a spicy "kick!"
Arrabbiata sauce is basically marinara sauce with the addition of chili peppers to give it a punch.
San Marzano tomatoes are famous for their sweetness, their texture and their delicate acidity. They are a variety of plum tomatoes, originally only grown in the south of Italy, now grown in other areas around the world, maybe even in your garden! In several taste tests of canned tomatoes, these come out on top!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Create an Italian menu!
Start with this Rhubarb Bellini Prosecco Cocktail. Add Prosciutto with Melon and Mint for an appetizer, add a bowl of Tuscan Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing, enjoy this Arrabbiata Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes and Pasta, and finish off your meal with an Affogato Coffee!
⏰ Storage Instructions
To store: Arrabbiata sauce will last for up to a week when stored in a glass jar in the fridge.
To reheat: Reheat sauce over low to medium heat in a saucepan on your stovetop.
Freeze it: Freeze extra sauce in Mason jars for 3 months or more. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop.
🗒 More pasta recipes to try
- Sun-Dried Tomato Artichoke Penne Pasta
- Feta Tomato Pasta Bake
- Cheesy Tomato Gnocchi Bake
- Easy Vegetarian Pesto Gnocchi
When you make this recipe for spicy arrabbiata sauce with cherry tomatoes, please leave a comment and a rating below. I love hearing from you! Thanks in advance. Subscribe to my newsletter and receive new recipes delivered straight to your inbox once a week.
Arrabbiata Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes and Pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
- 1 - 2 tablespoons dried red chili flakes, (depending on how spicy you'd like it.)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 28 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese curls, optional, omit for vegan diet
- 4 cups gluten-free pasta
- Heat oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add the dried chili flakes and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add chopped onion and sauté until it begins to soften, then add the minced garlic to the pan. Stir for a minute or two.
- Add two cans of San Marzano Tomatoes. Stir and break them up with a spoon as they simmer.
- Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (optional) and stir.
- Add the salt and pepper and half the basil leaves to the sauce.
- Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until sauce has thickened.
- Add cherry tomatoes and let them simmer in the sauce until heated through, 3 - 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain.
- Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. To serve, combine drained pasta with arrabbiata sauce. Garnish with the remaining basil leaves and optional shaved Parmesan cheese.