Penne Arrabbiata
Penne Arrabbiata
5 from 2 votes
Penne arrabbiata is a traditional Italian recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. A quick penne pasta dish packed with garlic and chilli flavour that is ideal for a delicious midweek dinner.
Penne Arrabbiata

Outside of Italy, not many people have heard of penne arrabbiata, but this pasta recipe is truly one for the books. It really is such a simple dinner idea that is guaranteed to be a hit at the table.

I adore pasta and so do all my kids. So, I love to recreate all sorts of varying pasta recipes such as my chicken pasta recipe to my tuna pasta bake recipe to my chicken spaghetti recipe.

This recipe really is one of the simplest pasta recipes out there as you can probably tell by the minimum amount of ingredients used. It doesn’t take a culinary genius to put this dish together, but it really tastes delicious.

Penne arrabbiata is a recipe that originates from Rome, in the Lazio region of Italy. I have kept it simple and authentic, so to keep it true to its roots.

‘Arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’ in Italian, and the name of this recipe refers to the spiciness of the sauce. One of the reasons I chose this recipe is because spice is very much loved in my household as you can probably tell by my abundance of Indian recipes.

However, as the spice isn’t for everyone the spice levels can easily be adjusted by reducing the quantity of chilli flakes.

Tomatoes come in many varieties, but San Marzano tomatoes are commonly used in Italy. They have fewer seeds, more sugar and acid, and less moisture than other tomato varieties.

Their low moisture content makes them ideal for cooking pasta sauces. The flavour of the tomatoes intensifies with heat, resulting in a rich and flavourful sauce.

Authentic San Marzano tomatoes can be difficult to come by at times. The D.O.P. symbol will help you to identify them, and the certified product will be labelled as San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerin. So, if you are planning on using San Marzano tomatoes, make sure they are actually San Marzano tomatoes!

Make sure that when you are shopping keep in mind that San Marzano tomatoes will always be whole, not chopped crushed, or puréed. They will also only come in cans and if they are packaged in any other way, they are not genuine San Marzano tomatoes.

As authentic San Marzano tomatoes aren’t always easy to come by you can simply use any canned tomatoes. Stick to plum tomatoes as they will help reproduce that sweetness that will balance out the fiery heat from the chilli peppers.

Despite the chilli pepper being the main ingredient in this recipe, there is no specific variety that needs to be used. A good suggestion is the Calabrian chilli pepper which will add just enough fiery heat without completely burning the tongue.

My recipe uses dried chilli flakes because fresh chillies can add a slightly fruity flavour. Dried chillies help to add an earthy spiciness that perfectly complements the sweetness of the tomatoes.

It is obvious from the recipe title that this pasta uses penne pasta. Penne pasta is a cylinder-shaped pasta with angled edges on either side. Its chunky diameter and ridges make this great for holding the thick tomato sauce.

You could change the pasta shape to something else, such as fusilli pasta, instead if that’s what you have on hand. This dish really is so simple, but that doesn’t stop it from being able to hold its own on the dinner table.

Dinner will be ready in a jiffy with this recipe. Serve with a side of fresh green salad and let the whole family enjoy it.

What Ingredients to Use & Why

Today, we’re talking about a classic dish that’s perfect for spicing up your life a little bit – Penne Arrabbiata. This dish packs a punch with its bold flavours and simple ingredients.

So, let’s take a closer look at these fabulous components and why they make my taste buds do a happy dance. We’ll also discuss some alternatives if you’re feeling adventurous. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Penne Pasta: My mighty base for this dish is none other than the penne pasta. With its tube-like shape, it’s perfect for holding onto that delicious sauce we’re about to create. Plus, who doesn’t love a good pasta dish? You could also try rigatoni or fusilli if you want to change things up – they’ll do the job just as well!

Olive Oil: This golden elixir is the stuff of dreams. It not only helps cook my garlic and chilli flakes but also adds a touch of Mediterranean magic to my dish.

If you’re not an olive oil fan (which, by the way, breaks my heart), you can always use a neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil.

Garlic and Red Chili Flakes: These two spice-slingers are the dynamic duo that gives Penne Arrabbiata its kick! The garlic adds depth, while the red chilli flakes bring the heat. But hey, if you’re not into spicy foods, you can always dial down the chilli flakes or swap them out for something milder, like sweet paprika.

Canned Tomatoes: A good can of chopped tomatoes is the unsung hero of this dish. They provide the base for my sauce and help create a rich, savoury flavour that will make your taste buds sing. Fresh tomatoes are an alternative but be prepared for a longer cook time to reach the desired saucy consistency.

Salt and Pepper: These classic seasonings are the yin and yang of the culinary world, balancing out the flavours in my Penne Arrabbiata. They may seem like minor players, but trust us, they make all the difference.

Fresh Parsley: Finally, a sprinkle of fresh parsley adds a pop of colour and a hint of freshness to the dish. It’s like a little green confetti to celebrate your culinary masterpiece! If parsley’s not your thing, you can try basil or even oregano for a different herbaceous twist.

And there you have it! With these simple ingredients, you’re well on your way to making a scrumptious Penne Arrabbiata that’ll impress both your taste buds and your friends. So, go forth and conquer the kitchen, and remember – when in doubt, just add more garlic!

A Pasta Makeover: Substituting Penne in Arrabbiata

Ah, Penne Arrabbiata – that spicy, garlicky, tomatoey delight! But what if you want to switch things up and try a different pasta? Fear not, my fellow pasta lovers, I’ve got you covered.

First, let’s talk about pasta shapes. While penne’s tubular form is great for trapping the Arrabbiata sauce, there are other shapes that work just as well. For instance, rigatoni, with its ridged surface, is a fabulous alternative. You might also consider fusilli, which is a corkscrew-shaped pasta that holds onto the sauce quite nicely.

For a more elegant affair, consider farfalle – those delightful little bow-ties that can make any dish look classy. Or perhaps you’re a fan of spaghetti or linguine – the long, thin strands intertwine perfectly with the spicy sauce, creating a harmonious balance.

When substituting pasta, remember to cook your chosen shape according to its package instructions. And always aim for al dente, as it’s the ideal texture to marry with the Arrabbiata sauce.

Now, let’s say you’re looking for a healthier twist. Whole wheat pasta is a fantastic option that adds an earthy, nutty flavour to the dish. If you’re seeking a gluten-free alternative, there are plenty of options, from rice or quinoa pasta to those made with legume flours like chickpea or lentil.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your Penne Arrabbiata. Switch out the pasta for a fun, new dining experience, and remember – the sauce is the boss, but the pasta sets the stage!

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot: Spicing Up Your Penne Arrabbiata

Are you a fan of spicy food? If so, you’ve probably had your share of Penne Arrabbiata and thought, “It could be hotter.” Well, you’re in luck! Today, I’ll share some tips to bring the heat in your Arrabbiata.

First off, let’s talk about those red chilli flakes. If you want more spice, simply increase the amount you use. But be cautious – adding too much can overpower the dish. Start by doubling the quantity, then taste and adjust accordingly.

For an even spicier kick, consider swapping the red chilli flakes for fresh, chopped chilli peppers. Thai bird’s eye chillies or serrano peppers are excellent choices for their fiery heat. Remember to remove the seeds and membranes before chopping to control the spice level.

Alternatively, you can incorporate hot sauces like Sriracha or Tabasco into the sauce. Begin by adding a few dashes, then taste and adjust until you reach your desired heat level.

Another option is to add a pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika for a different type of heat. The smoky flavour from the paprika adds an exciting twist to the dish.

Keep in mind that everyone’s spice tolerance varies. It’s essential to find the perfect balance between heat and flavour to ensure your Penne Arrabbiata remains enjoyable and doesn’t turn into a five-alarm fire in your mouth!

Veggie Delight: Adding Vegetables to Penne Arrabbiata

Ever thought of giving your Penne Arrabbiata a colourful, nutritious twist? Adding vegetables to this classic dish is not only a great way to boost its nutritional value but also adds an interesting texture and flavour profile.

Start with bell peppers. Choose red, yellow, or orange ones to add a pop of colour to your dish. Chop them into bite-sized pieces and sauté them with garlic and red chilli flakes before adding the tomatoes. This addition adds a lovely sweetness that complements the spiciness of the sauce.

Mushrooms are another great option. They provide a meaty texture and earthy flavour that melds well with the bold Arrabbiata sauce. Simply slice them and toss them in with the peppers.

For a burst of green, consider adding spinach or kale. These leafy greens wilt down quickly, so add them towards the end of the cooking process. They provide a lovely contrast to the red sauce and offer a boost of vitamins and minerals.

Zucchini or eggplant are also excellent choices. Dice them into small cubes and sauté with the other veggies for a delightful mix of flavours and textures.

To add an extra layer of flavour, try roasting or grilling your vegetables before adding them to the sauce. The caramelized edges and smoky taste will elevate your Penne Arrabbiata to new heights.

Remember, the key to success when adding veggies to your pasta dish is to ensure they’re cooked just right – not too soft, but not too crunchy. You want them to maintain their texture while absorbing the flavours of the sauce. So, get creative and give your Penne Arrabbiata a veggie makeover!

Saving the Spice for Later: Storing and Reheating

We’ve all been there – you cooked up a delicious Penne Arrabbiata, and now you’ve got leftovers. But fear not, my pasta pals! Storing and reheating this dish is a breeze, and I’m here to guide you through the process.

To store your leftover Penne Arrabbiata, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it. Properly stored, it should last 3-4 days. To maintain the best quality, avoid letting it sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

When it’s time to reheat your pasta, you have a few options. The microwave is a quick and easy method. Place your Penne Arrabbiata in a microwave-safe dish, cover it loosely with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap, and heat it on medium power for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Stir it halfway through the heating time to ensure even warming.

If you prefer the stovetop, transfer your Arrabbiata to a saucepan and heat it gently over low heat, stirring occasionally. You might need to add a splash of water or tomato sauce to loosen the sauce and prevent sticking.

For a crispier result, try reheating your pasta in the oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C), transfer your Penne Arrabbiata to an oven-safe dish, and cover it with aluminium foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Remember, the key to successfully reheating Penne Arrabbiata is to ensure it doesn’t dry out or become mushy. Monitor the heat and adjust as needed, and you’ll be enjoying your delicious leftovers in no time!

Farm-Fresh Goodness: Using Fresh Tomatoes

Are you ready to take your Penne Arrabbiata to the next level? Using fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones can add a vibrant, summery touch to this classic dish. Follow my tips, and you’ll be enjoying a fresh, homemade Arrabbiata in no time.

First, choose ripe, juicy tomatoes for the best flavour. Plum or Roma tomatoes are ideal because they have lower water content and fewer seeds, making for a thicker sauce. You’ll need roughly 6-8 tomatoes to replace the 400g of canned tomatoes.

Next, blanch the tomatoes to remove their skins. Bring a pot of water to a boil, score an “X” at the bottom of each tomato, and then drop them into the boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to an ice bath. Once they’re cool, the skins should peel off easily.

Now, it’s time to remove the seeds and chop your tomatoes. Cut them in half, gently squeeze out the seeds, and then dice them into small pieces.

To make your fresh tomato Arrabbiata sauce, follow the original recipe with a slight modification. Sauté the garlic and red chilli flakes in olive oil, then add your fresh tomatoes along with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken the sauce.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavours to meld and the tomatoes to break down. You may need to adjust the salt and pepper as the sauce cooks.

And there you have it! A Penne Arrabbiata made with fresh tomatoes that is sure to impress your friends and family. So, roll up your sleeves, hit the farmers market, and get ready to whip up a fresh and fabulous meal.

Penne Arrabbiata: A Protein Powerhouse

While Penne Arrabbiata is already a satisfying meal on its own, adding protein can make it even heartier. Whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian, or vegan, there are plenty of options to suit your preferences and dietary needs.

For meat lovers, you can’t go wrong with some Italian sausage or pancetta. Brown your choice of protein in the skillet before adding garlic and red chilli flakes.

The rendered fat adds depth and richness to the sauce. Shrimp or chicken are also great choices – just sauté them separately before tossing them in with the pasta and sauce.

For vegetarians, consider adding some pan-fried or baked tofu cubes. Opt for extra-firm tofu, and press out any excess liquid before cooking. You can also add sliced halloumi or cubes of paneer cheese for a Mediterranean twist.

Beans and legumes are fantastic protein sources for both vegetarians and vegans. Chickpeas, white beans, or lentils work well in this dish. Simply drain and rinse canned beans or cook dried beans beforehand, then add them to the sauce to heat through.

For a more unique protein boost, try adding quinoa or farro to your Penne Arrabbiata. Cook these grains separately, then mix them with the pasta and sauce for added texture and nutrition.

Whichever protein source you choose, remember to consider its flavour profile and cooking requirements. You want it to complement the bold, spicy Arrabbiata sauce, creating a well-rounded, satisfying meal.

Going Gluten-Free: Penne Arrabbiata for All

Ditching gluten doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your beloved Penne Arrabbiata. With the wide array of gluten-free pasta options available, you can still enjoy this spicy Italian classic. Here’s how to make a gluten-free Penne Arrabbiata that everyone will love.

First, choose your gluten-free pasta. There are numerous options, including those made from rice, corn, quinoa, or legume flours like chickpea or lentil.

Each type has its unique texture and flavour, so it’s worth trying a few to find your favourite. Note that cooking times and methods may vary, so always follow the package instructions for optimal results.

When it comes to the sauce, you’re in luck – Arrabbiata sauce is naturally gluten-free! The main ingredients – tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and red chilli flakes – are all safe for those with gluten sensitivities.

Just be sure to double-check your spices and any additional ingredients you plan to include for potential gluten sources.

If you want to add protein, there are plenty of gluten-free options. For meats, make sure to choose fresh, unprocessed varieties, as some processed meats may contain gluten as a filler or binder. For vegetarian or vegan options, opt for tofu, legumes, or gluten-free grains like quinoa.

Finally, if you plan to serve your gluten-free Penne Arrabbiata with a side of bread, make sure it’s gluten-free as well. Many grocery stores and bakeries now offer gluten-free bread options that pair wonderfully with this dish.

Creating a gluten-free Penne Arrabbiata is a simple and delicious endeavour. Just be mindful of your ingredient choices, and you’ll have a satisfying, gluten-free meal in no time.

A Make-Ahead Marvel: Prepping Penne Arrabbiata for Later

When you’re short on time but still craving a delicious, homemade meal, make-ahead Penne Arrabbiata is the answer. With a little planning, you can have a tasty, stress-free dinner waiting for you in the fridge or freezer.

To make Penne Arrabbiata ahead of time, start by preparing the sauce according to the recipe. You can make it up to 2-3 days ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The flavours will meld and develop, resulting in an even more delicious sauce.

For the pasta, cook it slightly less than al dente, as it will continue cooking when reheated. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process, then toss it with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Store the cooked pasta separately from the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

When you’re ready to enjoy your make-ahead Penne Arrabbiata, simply combine the pasta and sauce in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through and reaches your desired level of tenderness. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water or tomato sauce to loosen it up.

To freeze Penne Arrabbiata, follow the same steps but store the sauce and pasta in separate freezer-safe containers. They can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.

To reheat, thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight, then follow the reheating instructions above. For the pasta, it’s best to reheat it directly from frozen to avoid a mushy texture.

With these make-ahead tips, you’ll be able to enjoy a homemade Penne Arrabbiata even on the busiest of days.

Penne Arrabbiata for One: Scaling Down the Recipe

Sometimes, you’re just cooking for yourself, and that’s perfectly fine! But how can you scale down the Penne Arrabbiata recipe to serve one? Follow my tips, and you’ll be savouring a perfectly portioned dish in no time.

First, start by reducing the amount of pasta. A typical single serving of pasta is about 100g, so measure out that amount of penne for your dish. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, then drain and set it aside.

Next, adjust the sauce ingredients. Use a quarter of the original amounts:

  • 12.5ml olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 100g canned and chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil, and sauté the garlic and chilli flakes. Then, add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for about 5-7 minutes, allowing the flavours to meld.

Toss the cooked penne with the sauce, heating everything through for another minute or so. Serve your single-serving Penne Arrabbiata with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

By scaling down the recipe, you can enjoy a delicious, homemade Penne Arrabbiata without any excess leftovers. Plus, it’s a great way to practice portion control and reduce food waste.

Spicing It Up with Extra Heat

Are you a spice lover looking to turn up the heat on your Penne Arrabbiata? Look no further! With a few simple adjustments, you can add an extra kick to this already fiery dish.

To begin, increase the number of red chilli flakes in the recipe. Instead of using 1/2 tsp, try 3/4 tsp or even a full teaspoon for a truly fiery experience. Remember to adjust the spice level according to your tolerance and preference.

For an even bolder flavour, consider adding fresh chilli peppers, such as Thai bird’s eye chillies or serrano peppers. Slice them thinly and sauté them along with the garlic and red chilli flakes.

This addition will not only bring the heat but also add a fresh, vibrant flavour to the dish.

Another option is to use a pinch of cayenne pepper or a splash of hot sauce. Both of these ingredients can add extra heat without overwhelming the other flavours in the dish. Be cautious, though, as a little goes a long way!

When spicing up your Penne Arrabbiata, always remember to taste and adjust as you go. You can always add more heat, but it’s much harder to tone it down once it’s in the sauce.

And don’t forget to have a glass of water or milk handy – you might need it to cool down your palate after enjoying your extra-spicy creation!

Now, with these tips in hand, you’re ready to create a Penne Arrabbiata that truly packs a punch. So, grab your ingredients and let’s turn up the heat!

Check Out These Other Recipes

If you enjoyed the Penne Arrabbiata recipe, you’re in for a real treat. Let me introduce you to some other mouth-watering dishes that you simply can’t miss.

Picture yourself diving into a warm plate of Chicken Pasta or a delicious Tuna Pasta Bake, both of which are perfect comfort foods for any pasta enthusiast. Or perhaps you’re craving the bold flavours of a classic Spaghetti Bolognese, with its rich meat sauce and perfectly cooked noodles.

For those who love a bit of spice, my Chicken Madras and Chicken Tikka Masala are sure to impress. And if you’re in the mood for something a little more exotic, be sure to try the creamy Coconut Chicken Curry or the tangy Tomato Chicken Curry, which brings a taste of the tropics to your kitchen.

Of course, you can’t forget dessert. My No Bake Oreo Cheesecake and Blueberry Cheesecake are heavenly indulgences that are worth every bite. And if you’re a chocolate lover, you won’t be able to resist my gooey Chocolate Brownies or scrumptious Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Feel free to explore my extensive collection of recipes and don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know what you think. We love hearing from you, and we’re always eager to learn about your culinary adventures. So, go ahead and try out some of these amazing dishes, and get ready for a culinary journey you won’t forget!

Penne Arrabbiata

Penne Arrabbiata

by Nabeela Kauser
Penne arrabbiata is a traditional Italian recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. A quick penne pasta dish packed with garlic and chilli flavour that is ideal for a delicious midweek dinner.
5 from 2 votes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 588 kcal


  • 500 g Pasta Penne
  • 50 ml Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Chillies
  • 400 g Tomatoes Canned and chopped
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • Parsley Chopped (Optional)


  • Begin by cooking the penne pasta according to the instructions on the package until it is al dente. Then, drain it and set it aside.
  • Next, take a large skillet and heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed chilli flakes to the skillet and cook for a minute.
  • After that, add the chopped tomatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Finally, toss in the cooked pasta and heat everything through for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve the dish in bowls and garnish with freshly chopped parsley, if desired.


Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 588kcalCarbohydrates: 98gProtein: 17gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 17mgPotassium: 533mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 907IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Cooking, Food, Pasta, Recipe, Tomato
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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Welcome to Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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