Easy homemade arrabiata sauce is a delicious spicy tomato sauce that is perfect served over pasta for a simple weeknight dinner.
Table of Contents
- Canned tomatoes. I used whole canned tomatoes but you can use crushed or chopped tomatoes too. Use San Marzano tomatoes if possible.
- Fresh garlic cloves.
- Extra-virgin olive oil.
- Red pepper flakes/chilli flakes.
- Salt and black pepper.
- Fresh basil. Other herbs like fresh parsley, oregano and thyme are also delicious with tomatoes.
How to make arrabiata sauce
Sauté the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pot/saucepan set over medium heat. Once fragrant, add the tomatoes. I squeeze the tomatoes to roughly crush them but you can give them a quick chop in a food processor too. I prefer arrabiata sauce to be slightly chunkier than Pomodoro sauce or marinara sauce so I don’t blend the tomatoes too finely. Fill each can half with water to rinse out any extra tomato juice in the cans then pour into the pot.
Add a generous pinch of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and a large handful of basil. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Simmer with the lid ajar for 30 minutes, stir with a wooden spoon regularly to prevent the source from catching and burning, until the sauce has reduced slightly. Season to taste (if the sauce is very acidic, balance with a teaspoon of sugar) then serve.
Can I make this ahead?
Yes, arrabiata sauce is a great sauce to make in advance. Cook the sauce as directed then allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container, mason jars or freezer bags. The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or canned using proper canning techniques. I love freezing this sauce for up to 4 months – especially handy once tomato season is over.
Serve the sauce over al dente pasta (penne, spaghetti, linguine or fusilli are our favorites) topped with fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese for an easy weeknight meal. The sauce is also delicious used with meatballs, fish or chicken and will make a great pizza sauce.
Arrabiata sauce and marinara sauce are very similar, arrabiata is slightly spicy and chunkier than marinara sauce.
While both sauces are tomato-based, arrabiata is a vegetarian sauce and bolognese is a meat sauce made with ground beef and often pork as well as a soffrito (onion, celery and carrot) to give extra flavor.
Arrabbiata means “Angry” in Italian – this refers to the spiciness of the arrabbiata sauce.
Easy Tomato Sauce Recipes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 56 oz (800g) whole canned tomatoes
- 1-2 tsp chilli flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 tsp sugar to taste
- handful fresh basil leaves
- Set a large pot/saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the olive oil then sauté the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, crushing them by hand before adding, then rinse out the cans with water and add to the pot.
- Add the chilli flakes, salt and pepper and a handful of fresh basil.
- Cover with the lid ajar and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon to prevent the sauce from catching and burning.
- Once the sauce has cooked, taste and adjust seasoning by adding a few teaspoons of sugar if necessary.