Italian Arrabbiata Sauce

This rich and hearty Arrabbiata sauce will add the perfect amount of dimension and spice to your favorite Italian recipes. It consists of simple, quality ingredients, simmered for several hours to perfection, and is absolutely delicious! 

A silver pan with arrabbiata sauce with a wooden spoon in it on a white counter with a gray napkin underneath.

If you love a little bit of spice, layers of flavor, and rich tomato sauce – you will love complimenting your favorite Italian dishes with this “angry” arrabbiata sauce. I was inspired to make this recipe after having Rao’s spicy arrabbiata sauce. It was so rich in flavor with a pleasant hint of spice – without being TOO spicy. 

As we do in my family when cooking Italian food – let’s put on some Frank Sinatra, grab a glass of red wine, and start preparing our Italian feast.

The Difference Between Arrabbiata and Marinara

“Arrabbiata” in Italian means angry. This tomato sauce is “angry” with spice from using red pepper flakes. But don’t let the word “spicy” scare you, it is very mild and gives a delicious dimension of flavor.

Marinara is different from arrabbiata by not being spicy. It is more of a sweet sauce with no red pepper flakes and lots of fresh herbs. 

Using San Marzano Tomatoes 

Using quality tomatoes is the most important step in homemade tomato sauce. I recommend using San Marzano tomatoes for any Italian recipes. They are not just a staple in my family’s recipes, but are considered to be the best tomatoes in the world to use in Italian dishes. These tomatoes are set apart from others because of their rich flavor and low acidity. They are also known to have a thicker consistency compared to other canned plum tomatoes. 

How to Make Arrabbiata Sauce – Step by Step

step by step photos showing how to make arrabbiata sauce.

  1. First, saute minced garlic in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil on LOW heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. 
  2. Then add tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Simmer sauce on LOW heat for 3 or more hours – stir often. 
  3. When sauce is finished stir in chopped basil and oregano. 

How to Thicken Arrabbiata Sauce

There are two key steps to thickening your sauce – both are included in this recipe. 
Simmer: Letting your sauce simmer for several hours will not only develop the most flavor but will naturally thicken the sauce. I recommend a low simmer for 3+ hours. 
Tomato pasta: Use a high-quality tomato paste to thicken tomato sauce while simmering. I use regular Italian tomato paste or Sun-dried Tomato Paste for another layer of flavor. 

Important Tips To Remember

  • Use San Marzano tomatoes for this recipe for authentic flavor, rich taste, and lower acidity. You can use the brand of your choice as long as it says “Product of Italy” on the back to ensure its authenticity. I recommend Cento.
  • Elevate your tomato sauce by using Sun-Dried Tomato Paste vs. regular paste. 
  • I only use around 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes in this recipe for a subtle level of spice. If you prefer more spice by all means you can up the amount of pepper flakes. 
  • Never cook sauce with herbs: this can result into a bitter and unpleasant flavor. Always add herbs at the very end for fresh herb flavor!
  • How to properly store sauce: allow sauce to completely cool then in a sealed container refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze. 

A silver pan with arrabbiata sauce with a wooden spoon in it on a white counter with a gray napkin underneath.

If you try this recipe or any other recipe, I would love to hear how you enjoyed it! Review and comment below and let me know your thoughts. Also share your pictures on instagram #asimplepalate - I love seeing your recipe creations! You can also follow me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK.

A silver pan with arrabbiata sauce with a wooden spoon in it on a white counter with a gray napkin underneath.

Italian Arrabbiata Sauce

Servings 6
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 10 mins

This rich and hearty Arrabbiata sauce will add the perfect amount of dimension and spice to your favorite Italian recipes. It consists of simple, quality ingredients, simmered for several hours to perfection, and is absolutely delicious! 

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: arrabbiata sauce, homemade tomato sauce, how to make arrabbiata sauce
Calories: 77 kcal
Author: A Simple Palate

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 28 oz. San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to desired level of spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (each) salt & black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (for dried basil, 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions

  1. In a pot on low heat, saute minced garlic in olive oil for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Be careful no to burn garlic. 

  2. Then add tomatoes, tomato pasta, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Stir and let simmer on low for 3 or more hours - stir every so often. 

  3. When sauce is finished and reduced, add basil and oregano. Adjust herbs, spice, and salt to desired taste. Serve and enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Important Tips To Remember

  • Use San Marzano tomatoes for this recipe for authentic flavor, rich taste, and lower acidity. You can use the brand of your choice as long as it says "Product of Italy" on the back to ensure its authenticity. I recommend Cento.
  • Elevate your tomato sauce by using Sun-Dried Tomato Paste vs. regular paste. 
  • I only use around 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes in this recipe for a subtle level of spice. If you prefer more spice by all means you can up the amount of pepper flakes. 
  • Never cook sauce with herbs: this can result into a bitter and unpleasant flavor. Always add herbs at the very end for fresh herb flavor!
  • How to properly store sauce: allow sauce to completely cool then in a sealed container refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze.
Nutrition Facts
Italian Arrabbiata Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 77 Calories from Fat 47
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5.2g 8%
Total Carbohydrates 7.8g 3%
Sugars 4.9g
Protein 1.8g 4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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