Skip to Content

Spicy Penne Arrabiata

Penne Arrabiata is one of THE classic Italian tomato sauce based recipes, featuring a healthy kick of chilli this recipe is a real winner.

Porttrait image of penne arrabiata served on a black plate with a garnish of basil and Parmesan cheese

Angry Pasta!

Pasta arrabiata translates to being just that, angry… I assume this is due to the hit of chilli.

Chilli really is the defining feature of a good arrabiata sauce, and regular visitors will know that I love a bit of spice.

In Italy this is often made with “generic” spicy chillies that are hung out in the sun to dry. Of course, that does not mean that you cannot make this recipe.

In my testing, I find dried cayenne chilli flakes the most satisfying. But chilli is a real personal thing so choose based on your tolerance to fiery stuff.

If you like your pasta in tomato sauce “sans chilli” then you should try my pasta puttanesca recipe or even this tomato tuna pasta!

Portrait close up image of penne arrabiata with a garnish of basil and Parmesan cheese

What Pasta to Use.

For me, this dish screams for penne or rigatoni pasta, it offers plenty of places for the sauce to hide.

This gives a good hit of tomato and chilli in every bite!

If long pasta is your thing then you could serve this with bucatini. I use it in another classic pasta in tomato sauce from the Lazio region, bucatini all amatriciana.

Whatever pasta you use, you need to season your cooking water appropriately.

That means a lot more salt than most people think and it really does make a difference to the overall flavour of pasta dishes.

I use 1 tablespoon of course sea salt to 3-4 litres of water!

Square image of penne arrabiata served on a black plate with a garnish of basil and Parmesan cheese
Yield: 2 Servings

Penne Arrabiata Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Penne arrabiata is a classic quick spicy pasta recipe from the Lazio region of Italy that tastes divine!


  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 100 g Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 150 ml Tomato Passata
  • 1/2 Tsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes
  • 200 g Dried Penne
  • Salt to Taste


  1. Dice the onion into a 2-3mm dice.
  2. Chop the garlic as finely as you can.
  3. Heat the cooking oil in a pan over a medium heat.
  4. Add the onions and cook until softened without colouring for 5-6 minutes
  5. Add in the garlic and chilli flakes then cook for a further minute.
  6. Now pour in the tomato passata and add the thyme, oregano and brown sugar.
  7. Test the sauce for seasoning and add salt as required.
  8. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium to low heat.
  9. Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil.
  10. Cut a cross in the base of the tomatoes and plunge into the boiling water for 60 seconds.
  11. Remove and place in a bowl of cold water.
  12. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds less than it says on the packet.
  13. Peel the tomatoes, deseed them and cut the flesh into a 1-2cm dice.
  14. Add the chopped tomato flesh to the tomato sauce and stir.
  15. Drain the pasta reserving a little (25-50ml) of the cooking water and add it to the tomato sauce.
  16. Stir to coat and serve.


I like to add freshly shredded basil and Parmesan cheese to the top of this recipe when served.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 284Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 313mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 8g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Portrait close up image of a lemon and blueberry muffin in blue silicon muffin case on a white backdrop
Crumble Topped Lemon and Blueberry Muffins
Portrait close up image of sticky crispy chilli beef with fried carrots being held in chopsticks
Sticky Crispy Chilli Beef Fakeaway


Monday 25th of June 2018

How much brown sugar do we add?

Brian Jones

Monday 25th of June 2018

Sorry Chelcie, it is just a pinch so half a teaspoon.. If your passata is sweetened omit the sugar :)


Wednesday 7th of February 2018

Awesome recipe. Can we share the recipe on our cafe's FB page after giving you credit please ?

Brian Jones

Wednesday 7th of February 2018

Thank you, you are welcome to drop a link to the recipe on your page but you are not permitted to copy and paste the recipe and take the picture.


Wednesday 25th of May 2016

You keep making me jealous with all this tomato harvest talk!

Brian Jones

Sunday 5th of June 2016

It's all fun and games until you have to harvest 5kg a day and have to preserve them ;)

Mary (The Godmother @ Goodie Godmother)

Tuesday 24th of May 2016

Next pasta night I hope I remember to make this! Pasta is such a comfort food for me, and my garden basil is very happy this year and I want to find all sorts of new recipes to use it! I have 3 plants, I call them the "basil bunch"...

Brian Jones

Sunday 5th of June 2016

I hope you enjoy it Paige, it is super simple but really tasty... Basil is my arch nemesis in the garden and I get a modicum of success but nowhere near what I would like :(

Paige @ Where Latin Meets Lagniappe

Wednesday 18th of May 2016

I am ALWAYS on the lookout for super easy weeknight meals, and this one looks perfect :) Can't wait to try it with all the seasonal tomatoes!!

Brian Jones

Sunday 5th of June 2016

Thanks Paige, quick, easy and simple... My lazy day food :)