This spicy Italian Penne Arrabbiata is homemade in 20 minutes! It makes a great vegetarian dish, served with fresh parmesan, basil and parsley. 

We spent two weeks exploring Rome, Italy and Paris, France and I came home itching to make my own French and Italian dishes.  Like French Onion SoupCroque Monsieur, Shrimp Scampi, and Chicken Piccata!

A white plate full of Italian penne arrabbiata garnished with fresh parmesan cheese.

I first fell in love with Penne Arrabbiata when our family visited Italy and it was instantly one of my favorite dishes. It’s easy to win my heart when the dish is composed of pasta and a spicy tomato sauce. YUM.

Lauren Allen and family in front of the Coloseum in Italy.

Arrabbiata (or arrabiata) literally means “angry” in Italian, because the sauce in this dish is supposed to be “angry” spicy.  The Italian name for it is sugo all’arrabbiata and I was surprised to find that Americans often spell it wrong.  It’s supposed to be spelled with two b’s — arrabbiata, but it seems that most people are spelling it incorrectly with just one “b” — arrabiata.

Luckily, it’s delicious even spelled wrong!  And if you are worried about the heat, you can adapt the crushed red pepper measurements according to your tolerance for spice. Serve it with a green beans and warm crusty bread.

Arrabbiata Sauce (sugo all’arrabbiata):

This angry (spicy) Italian sauce is simple and elegant.  I love the fresh flavors mixed in with it–the fresh parsley, basil and parmesan. Those three fresh ingredients are a must for this dish! Oh, and don’t forget to use a fresh parmesan, NOT the pre-shredded stuff, please!

The ingredients needed to make Penne Arrabbiata.

How to make penne arrabbiata:

1. Cook pasta: penne or other desired pasta. Drain and set aside.

2. Make the arrabbiata sauce.  Add oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper to a skillet over medium heat and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the whole tomatoes, tomato paste, and simmer for 10 minutes before removing from heat and adding the fresh basil.

Two process photos for making the tomato sauce for penne arrabiatta.3. Add pasta and parmesan. Toss and enjoy.

Penne pasta tossed in arrabbiata sauce in a skillet.

Arrabbiata Variations:

  • Arrabbiata spaghetti: substitute spaghetti noodles.
  • Add meat: ground beef, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, sausage, meatballs
  • Add vegetables: grill desired vegetables (zucchini, pepper, onions, etc) in step 2, before adding tomatoes.

To Freeze:

Make the arrabbiata sauce and allow it to cool completely.  Store it in a freezer safe container for 2-3 months.  Reheat in a sauce pan on low heat.  Make noodles fresh for serving.


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A white plate full of Italian penne arrabbiata.
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 20 minutes
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  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes , depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (or 1 ½ cups fresh chopped tomatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 fresh basil leaves , chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino cheese), for topping
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley (finely chopped), for topping


  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, according to package instructions, until tender. 
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring for 30 seconds. 
  • Add tomatoes, crushing them roughly with the back of a wooden spoon, and tomato paste. 
  • Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add fresh chopped basil. 
  • When pasta is cooked, drain the water and add it to the sauce. Toss well. Taste and add more red pepper flakes or salt and pepper, if needed. 
  • Serve immediately topped with a generous portion of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.


  • Arrabbiata spaghetti: substitute spaghetti noodles.
  • Add meat: ground beef, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, sausage, meatballs
  • Add vegetables: grill desired vegetables (zucchini, pepper, onions, etc) in step 2, before adding tomatoes.
To Freeze: Make the arrabbiata sauce and allow it to cool completely.  Store it in a freezer safe container for 2-3 months.  Reheat in a sauce pan on low heat.  Make noodles fresh for serving.


Calories: 488kcalCarbohydrates: 76gProtein: 17gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 456mgPotassium: 617mgFiber: 5gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 840IUVitamin C: 22.4mgCalcium: 199mgIron: 3.4mg

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I first shared this recipe October 2016. Updated March 2020 with process photos.

Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

We LOVE this spicy Italian pasta that only takes 20 minutes to make! Penne Arrabbiata in a spicy tomato based sauce with fresh parmesan, basil and parsley.| Tastes Better From Scratch

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

4.99 from 162 votes (151 ratings without comment)

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  1. I love Italian food, so when this recipe popped up I thought “bonus!”, popped into the local shop to buy the ingredients, went home, and made it for supper.

    This dish is absolutely devine! I gave a bowl to my landlords mom who stays in the property as well. She came to me the following day wanting the recipe 🙂

    Easy to make!
    Absolutely delicious!

    I’ll definitely be making this more often!

  2. 5 stars
    Easy to make, fantastic flavor! I didn’t have penne so I used mezzi rigatoni. I also ended up using 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper to get the heat we like.
    Overall it was excellent!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve been making freezer meals for a week at a time, as my work schedule ends at 11pm and I just am not up to cooking at that hour.

    While I don’t mind eating the the same entree several days in a row, the vegetables and side dishes need to vary.

    This recipe hit it out of the park for me!

    Since I was going to freeze immediately, I used what was on hand, mostly dried herbs, I did have fresh parsley and thyme. I also added fresh garlic and a generous pinch of sugar. Delicious!

    I just started a pot of water to boil while changing to Jammie, a handful of pasta and zapped a bit of sauce. Perfect!

  4. 5 stars
    This is 100% my type of pasta recipe – a meatless recipe with simple ingredients that are allowed to shine. This seriously tastes SO GOOD. Because there are so few ingredients, make sure they’re fresh and the best you can get and you’ll knock it out of the park with this one!!

  5. So far, none of the online Italian-language recipes I’ve found include cheese. If they did, at least some would be added in the phase of incorporating the sauce with the pasta. Italians are funny about traditions of what gets cheese and what doesn’t; there’s nothing about Arrabiata that as far as I know would cross the cheese boundary (like, there’s no fish in it), so I don’t know why they don’t add cheese, but as far as I can tell they don’t. Curiously, for the not-very-different Amatriciana, they do add cheese.

    Oh, also, the Italian recipes seem to *always* involve parsley and *never* basil, which to me seems weird and I use basil because it’s tastier and I tend to have a lot of it from the garden (and not parsley).

  6. This is similar to your marinara recipe, but substituting a little spice for a little sweet. I love that marinara, and this recipe seems like a nice variation. Looking forward to trying it.

    1. For authentic penne arrabbiata, yes, you do. You can leave them out but the dish wont be spicy at all.

  7. A dad whose coming to terms with the kitchen was able to cook this beautifully wasn’t to challenging especially for a friday night

    1. That’s very flattering to hear. Thank you for sharing Bill–I’m glad you’re having success navigating your way around the kitchen! Hope you get to try more of my recipes soon 🙂

    1. 5 stars
      I know this is a very old comment, and that I can make any recipe with whatever changes I would like (or need) to make, but I’m wondering if anyone has tried this with garlic oil as a substitution.

      Thanks, Lauren, for an easy and mostly pantry friendly recipe!

  8. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I used a Corn &Rice Penne I found while shopping the other day and substituted Stewed Tomatoes for the Pealed Tomatoes and it was incredible! Everyone was amazed at how easy and tasty this dish is. It’s definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing…

  9. I’m so pleased I came across this recipe on Pinterest. It’s simple, quick and tastes absolutely wonderful. Thank you!