Italian Arrabbiata Sauce (sugo all’arrabbiata)

This rich and hearty arrabbiata sauce will add the perfect amount of dimension and spice to your favorite Italian recipes. The sauce is made up of garlic, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes that are simmered to perfection and then topped with fresh herbs!

a pot with red arrabbiata tomato sauce in it with chopped herbs on top.

Compliment your favorite Italian dishes with this spicy tomato sauce! This rich arrabbiata sauce (also known as “sugo all’arrabbiata” in Italian) originated in Italy near the city of Rome. The main ingredients to this sauce are garlic, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes for spice.

The word “arrabbiata” in Italian actually means “angry” – this refers to the spiciness you get from the red pepper!

If you don’t do well with spice, you can adjust the flavor to your liking. I personally don’t enjoy spicy foods, but I love the slight zing to this sauce. It’s perfectly balanced with the sweet tomatoes and fresh herbs!

The Difference Between Arrabbiata and Marinara

I am a lover of both marinara and arrabbiata! But they are both slightly different.

These two sauces are both prepared with garlic, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. But marinara is sweeter in flavor versus arrabbiata which is meant to be spicier in flavor by using red pepper flakes in the sauce.

Ingredients You Need

You’ll need just a handful of pantry ingredients to make this recipe happen. Here’s the full list: canned San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, tomato paste, fresh basil, and fresh oregano.

ingredients for arrabbiata tomato sauce arranged on dark gray background.

Why We Recommend San Marzano Tomatoes 

San Marzano tomatoes first originated in Naples, Italy. 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 sauces!

These tomatoes are set apart from others because of their rich, sweet flavor and lower acidity. They are also known to have a thicker consistency compared to other canned plum tomatoes.

Be sure to use DOP-certified tomatoes – usually visible on the front or the back of the can. This is a protective seal that guarantees authenticity.

How to Make Arrabbiata Sauce – Step by Step

  • Sauté the minced garlic in oil for 30 seconds, stir constantly to avoid burning.
  • Then add tomatoes with the juices, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Simmer the sauce on LOW heat for 3 or more hours – stir often. 
  • When the sauce is finished stir in chopped basil and oregano. Then serve with your favorite Italian dish!

How to Thicken 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. 

Tips for Success

  • Use quality tomatoes: for authentic flavor, rich taste, and lower acidity use canned San Marzano tomatoes. 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.
  • Use quality tomato paste: Elevate your tomato sauce by using Sun-Dried Tomato Paste vs. regular paste. 
  • Adjust the level of spice: 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. 
  • Add herbs at very end: Cooking tomato sauce with herbs can result in an unpleasant bitter flavor. Always add herbs at the very end for fresh herb flavor! This rule goes for both dried and fresh herbs.

How to Store & Freeze Tomato Sauce

Store & keep fresh: Let sauce cool to room temperature then store in an airtight container or glass jars. Chill in refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. 

How to freeze: First, let the sauce cool to room temperature – then store in an airtight container or ziplock freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. 

wooden spoon stirring red arrabbiata tomato sauce in pan.

Italian Recipes to Make with This Sauce

If you tried this Italian Arrabbiata Sauce (sugo all’arrabbiata) recipe or any other recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK for more crave-worthy content.

a pot with red arrabbiata tomato sauce in it with chopped herbs on top.

Italian Arrabbiata Sauce (sugo all’arrabbiata)

5 from 2 votes

This rich and hearty arrabbiata sauce will add the perfect amount of dimension and spice to your favorite Italian recipes. The sauce is made up of garlic, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes that are simmered to perfection and then topped with fresh herbs!

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

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Tags: arrabbiata sauce, homemade tomato sauce, how to make arrabbiata sauce
Freezer Friendly: Yes
Calories: 77 kcal
Author: Bethany Kramer

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 5-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 28 oz. canned San Marzano tomatoes (with juices)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to desired level of spiciness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (each) salt & black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried basil)
  • 1-2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)

Instructions

  1. Sauté garlic: in a large pot, heat oil on LOW, and sauté minced garlic for 30-60 seconds. Stir constantly to avoid burning the garlic.

  2. Add tomatoes & simmer: Then add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Simmer on LOW heat for 3 or more hours – stir every so often. 

  3. For smooth sauce: when sauce is finished cooking, use a hand immersion-blender to puree. Or blend sauce in batches in a high-powered blender or food processor. Note: If you prefer a chunkier/thicker sauce (like I do), you can skip this step as the San Marzanos naturally break down while cooking.

  4. Add fresh herbs before serving: when sauce is finished add chopped basil and oregano, stir into sauce. Taste sauce, adjust level of heat if desired, then serve!

Notes

  • Use quality tomatoes: for authentic flavor, rich taste, and lower acidity use canned San Marzano tomatoes. 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.
  • Use quality tomato paste: Elevate your tomato sauce by using Sun-Dried Tomato Paste vs. regular paste. 
  • Adjust the level of spice: 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. 
  • Add herbs at very end: Cooking tomato sauce with herbs can result in an unpleasant bitter flavor. Always add herbs at the very end for fresh herb flavor! This rule goes for both dried and fresh herbs.
Nutrition Facts
Italian Arrabbiata Sauce (sugo all'arrabbiata)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 77 Calories from Fat 47
% Daily Value*
Fat 5.2g8%
Carbohydrates 7.8g3%
Sugar 4.9g5%
Protein 1.8g4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Bethany Kramer

Bethany Kramer is a home cook, recipe developer, and dog mom. She found a deep love for food and nutrition after learning to cook from her mom at eight years old. Since then she’s been developing and sharing recipes from her own kitchen that are bold in flavor and nourishing to the body!

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