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

Penne Arrabiatta, a staple in Italian cuisine, stands out for its straightforward yet bold flavours. Originating from Italy, this dish’s name translates to “angry penne”, hinting at the spicy kick from red chilli flakes.

The beauty of Penne Arrabiatta lies in its simplicity, combining everyday ingredients like garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes to create a meal that’s both comforting and invigorating.

For beginners, the allure of this recipe lies in its uncomplicated nature. You don’t need a vast array of ingredients or sophisticated cooking techniques. A basic skillet and some stirring are all it takes to bring this dish to life. The main challenge – which isn’t much of a challenge at all – is balancing the spiciness to suit your taste.

Variations of Penne Arrabiatta are as numerous as they are delicious. Some prefer to add a touch of sugar to offset the acidity of the tomatoes, while others enjoy a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese for a salty, umami element.

Vegetarians aren’t left out, as many opt to include a variety of vegetables like bell peppers or mushrooms.

In every variant, the essence of Penne Arrabiatta remains – a harmonious blend of tangy tomatoes, aromatic garlic, and a fiery hint of chilli. This dish is a testament to the Italian culinary philosophy of less is more, where the quality of ingredients and the love of cooking shine above all.

Penne Arrabiatta is more than just a recipe; it’s a canvas for culinary creativity. Whether you stick to the classic version or add your personal twist, this dish is sure to delight.

The key is to use the freshest ingredients you can find – ripe, juicy tomatoes, high-quality olive oil, and the best pasta. The difference these elements make is palpable in every bite.

Penne Arrabiatta is not just about feeding the stomach but also about warming the heart. It’s a dish that brings people together, that turns an ordinary meal into a moment of joy.

So, whether you’re cooking for one or for a crowd, remember that each plate of Penne Arrabiatta carries with it a piece of Italian tradition, a story of simple pleasures, and the promise of a delicious, heart-warming meal.

Expert Tip: To enhance the flavour of your Penne Arrabiatta, try sautéing the garlic and chilli flakes in olive oil until the garlic is golden. This step releases their flavours into the oil, creating a more aromatic and tasty base for your sauce.

What Ingredients to Use & Why

Penne Pasta: Penne, with its tube-like shape and ridges, is excellent for this recipe. The ridges hold onto the sauce well, ensuring each bite is flavourful. As an alternative, you can use rigatoni or fusilli, which also do a great job of trapping the sauce.

Penne arrabiatta shines because of how the pasta interacts with the sauce. The sturdy texture of penne stands up to the robustness of the arrabiatta sauce, making it a perfect pairing. When the sauce clings to the pasta, it creates a harmonious blend of flavours in every mouthful.

Olive Oil: Olive oil is a key ingredient, lending a fruity, peppery base to the dish. It’s essential for sautéing the garlic and chilli, releasing their flavours. If you don’t have olive oil, you can use another mild vegetable oil, but you’ll miss out on that distinct Mediterranean taste.

The olive oil sets the stage for the rest of the ingredients, gently cooking the garlic and chilli to mellow their sharpness while infusing the sauce with its rich flavour. It’s the subtle background note that ties everything together.

Minced Garlic: Garlic is crucial for its pungent, earthy flavour. It’s the backbone of many Italian dishes, and arrabiatta is no exception. If fresh garlic isn’t available, you can use a small amount of garlic powder as a substitute, but the fresh cloves are preferable for their more vibrant taste.

Garlic adds depth and aroma to the dish. When cooked in olive oil, it softens and sweetens, losing its raw edge and becoming an integral part of the sauce’s complex character.

Red Chilli Flakes: These bring the signature heat to arrabiatta. You can adjust the amount to suit your taste or use fresh chilli for a different kind of heat. If you’re not a fan of spice, you can reduce the quantity or skip it entirely, although this will significantly alter the dish’s character.

The chilli flakes are what give penne arrabiatta its personality. They’re not just about adding heat; they bring a certain liveliness to the dish, waking up the palate with every bite.

Canned Tomatoes: Canned tomatoes are ideal for their consistency and convenience. They form the body of the sauce, with their acidity and sweetness balancing the heat from the chilli. Fresh tomatoes can be used when in season, but they should be very ripe and might require a longer cooking time to break down.

Tomatoes are the canvas on which the rest of the ingredients paint their flavours. Their bright acidity cuts through the richness of the olive oil, the heat of the chilli, and the robustness of the garlic, creating a sauce that’s both refreshing and comforting.

Salt and Pepper: These seasonings are crucial for enhancing and balancing the flavours of the other ingredients. They should be used judiciously, as they can easily overpower the dish if overused.

Salt and pepper are like the final adjustments in a well-composed photograph, bringing clarity and focus to the dish, highlighting its best features while rounding out its overall profile.

Fresh Parsley (Optional): Parsley adds a fresh, herbaceous note to the dish. It’s not essential, but it can brighten the flavours and add a pop of colour. If parsley isn’t your thing, you could use basil for a sweeter, more aromatic touch.

Parsley, when sprinkled over the finished dish, is like a final flourish that brings a burst of freshness, cutting through the richness and bringing a lightness to the overall experience.

Expert Tip: Consider using high-quality canned tomatoes for your sauce. They tend to have a consistent flavour and are picked at their peak ripeness, ensuring your Arrabiatta sauce has a rich and robust tomato taste every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Penne Arrabiatta Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! Penne Arrabiatta actually tastes even better when the flavours have had time to meld together. Just be sure to store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you’re ready to eat, you might need to add a splash of water or olive oil when reheating to keep it from drying out.

Is Penne Arrabiatta Suitable for Vegetarians?

Yes, it is! This recipe is inherently vegetarian, as it doesn’t contain any meat products. Just make sure the pasta and other ingredients you use are also vegetarian-friendly.

Can I Add Protein to This Dish?

Certainly! While Penne Arrabiatta is traditionally a vegetarian dish, you can easily add proteins like chicken, prawns, or even Italian sausage. Just cook your protein separately and add it to the sauce as it simmers, allowing the flavours to combine.

How Spicy is Penne Arrabiatta?

The level of spiciness in Penne Arrabiatta can vary based on the amount of red chilli flakes you use. You can adjust the quantity to suit your taste. If you’re sensitive to spice, start with a smaller amount and increase it according to your preference.

What’s the Best Way to Reheat Leftovers?

The best way to reheat Penne Arrabiatta is on the stove over low heat. Add a little water or olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking and to help rejuvenate the sauce. You can also use a microwave, but be sure to cover the dish and stir occasionally for even heating.

Can I Freeze Penne Arrabiatta?

Yes, you can freeze it, although the texture of the pasta may change slightly upon thawing and reheating. To freeze, let the dish cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Expert Tip: Don’t be afraid to experiment with the level of spice. Start with a small amount of red chilli flakes and adjust according to your taste. Remember, the heat should complement the tomato sauce, not overpower it.

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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 Black 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: 533mgFibre: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 907IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Cooking, Food, Pasta, Recipe, Tomato
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Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I'm Nabeela!

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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