Ultimate Guide to Perfect Spaghetti with Arrabiata Sauce: Tips & Pairings

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine twirling your fork through a steamy pile of spaghetti, each strand perfectly coated in a spicy, garlicky arrabiata sauce. This classic Italian dish, whose name literally means “angry” in Italian, is sure to ignite a fire in your taste buds with its bold flavors and hearty texture.

Arrabiata sauce hails from the Lazio region, where locals favor simplicity and spice. With just a few key ingredients—ripe tomatoes, fresh garlic, and a generous sprinkle of red chili flakes—you can whip up this fiery sauce in no time. It’s a perfect weeknight meal that brings a little Italian flair to your dinner table without needing a plane ticket.


Embrace the vibrant flavors of Italy with these simple, quality ingredients essential for crafting your spaghetti with arrabiata sauce.

Spaghetti Pasta

  • 1 pound (about 450 grams) of dried spaghetti

Arrabiata Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes (adjust based on your spice preference)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

Other Ingredients

  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Additional fresh basil leaves
  • Red pepper flakes, for extra heat

Required Tools and Equipment

To ensure a smooth cooking process for your spaghetti with arrabiata sauce, having the right tools and equipment is crucial. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Large pot: Ideally with a heavy bottom, for boiling the spaghetti. Ensure it’s large enough to provide ample space for the pasta to cook uniformly.
  • Skillet or saucepan: You’ll use this for making the arrabiata sauce. A skillet that heats evenly is preferable to avoid burning the sauce.
  • Colander: Needed for draining the cooked spaghetti.
  • Wooden spoon or spatula: These will help in stirring the sauce and pasta, making sure ingredients are well-combined without breaking the pasta.
  • Kitchen knife and cutting board: Essential for chopping the garlic and basil.
  • Cheese grater: For fresh grating of Parmesan cheese, which will top off your dish.
  • Measuring spoons and cups: To accurately measure out ingredients like olive oil, salt, and red chili flakes.

Ensure each of these items is clean and ready to go before you start cooking. This setup not only makes the cooking process easier but also enhances your overall kitchen experience while preparing this delightful Italian dish.


Now that you’ve gathered your tools and ingredients, let’s start crafting your spaghetti with arrabiata sauce. Follow these steps to ensure a flavorful and memorable meal.

Prepping Vegetables

First, wash all your vegetables thoroughly under cold water. Then, grab a cutting board and a sharp knife. You’ll need to finely chop four cloves of garlic and dice one large onion. For a touch of freshness, roughly chop a handful of fresh basil leaves, which you will use later to garnish the dish. Set these aside as you prep for the sauce.

Making Arrabiata Sauce Base

Begin by heating three tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped garlic and diced onion. Sauté these for about 2-3 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent and the garlic releases its aroma.

Next, crush the canned whole peeled tomatoes with your hand or a potato masher directly into the skillet. Add half a teaspoon of red chili flakes – you can adjust this according to how spicy you prefer your sauce. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Let the sauce simmer over low heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The goal here is to allow the flavors to meld beautifully and for the sauce to thicken to the perfect consistency. As the sauce simmers, you’ll notice the vibrant red color deepen, a sign of a well-cooked arrabiata sauce.

Cooking Instructions

Follow these detailed steps to bring your spaghetti with arrabiata sauce to life. Each stage is crucial for achieving that perfect blend of flavors.

Cooking Pasta

  1. Bring Water to Boil: Start by filling a large pot with water—about 4 to 6 quarts. Add a generous pinch of salt to enhance the pasta’s flavor. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat.
  2. Add Spaghetti: Once the water is boiling vigorously, add 12 ounces of spaghetti. Stir gently to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  3. Cook Until Al Dente: Cook the pasta following the package instructions, typically about 8-10 minutes, until it is al dente. This means the pasta should be tender yet firm to the bite.
  4. Drain and Set Aside: Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander. Toss it with a little olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Set aside while you finish the sauce.

Making the Arrabiata Sauce

  1. Heat the Pan: Use a large skillet or saucepan. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Sauté Garlic and Onions: Add 1 finely chopped onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic to the hot oil. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes, ensuring they do not burn.
  3. Add Tomatoes and Spices: Pour in two 14-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes. Stir in 1-2 teaspoons of red chili flakes (adjust based on your heat preference), 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
  4. Simmer the Sauce: Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.
  5. Adjust Seasonings: Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the sauce is too spicy, add a teaspoon of sugar to balance the acidity and heat.
  6. Combine Pasta and Sauce: Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce. Toss well to ensure the pasta is evenly coated with the arrabiata sauce.


Now that your pasta is perfectly al dente and the arrabiata sauce is bursting with flavor, it’s time to bring everything together for the grand finale.

Combining Pasta and Sauce

Begin by draining your cooked spaghetti. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water to help emulsify and thicken the sauce. Return the spaghetti to the hot pot but off the heat. Pour your vibrant arrabiata sauce over the spaghetti, tossing well to coat each strand thoroughly. If the sauce seems too thick or the pasta starts to stick, gradually add the reserved pasta water until the consistency is silky and the sauce clings to the noodles beautifully.

Adding Garnishes

To elevate the dish, sprinkle freshly chopped basil over the top for a burst of freshness and color. Grate some Parmesan cheese directly over the hot pasta, allowing it to melt slightly and add a creamy texture. For a final touch, a drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil can add a rich finish and enhance the overall flavor. Serve immediately, and enjoy the harmony of spicy, tangy, and savory notes in your homemade spaghetti with arrabiata sauce.

Serving Suggestions

After tossing your al dente spaghetti with the rich, spicy arrabiata sauce and garnishing it with basil, Parmesan, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, you’re almost ready to serve this delightful dish. Here are a few ideas to elevate your meal:

  • Pair with Protein: Complement your spaghetti arrabiata with grilled chicken breast, sautéed shrimp, or even crispy pancetta for an added protein boost. This addition transforms the pasta into a more filling meal, perfect for a hearty dinner.
  • Serve Alongside Vegetables: Balance the heat of the arrabiata with a side of roasted or steamed vegetables. Broccoli, asparagus, and bell peppers not only add a splash of color but also offer a refreshing contrast to the tangy and spicy flavors of the sauce.
  • Include a Fresh Salad: A crisp salad dressed in a light vinaigrette works wonderfully with this dish. It’s a great way to introduce some greens into your meal while keeping things light and digestible.
  • Bread Is a Must: No pasta dish is complete without a side of bread. Choose a crusty baguette or a soft ciabatta to soak up any leftover sauce on your plate. You can also toast the bread with a bit of garlic butter for an extra treat.
  • Wine Pairing: If you enjoy wine, a glass of Chianti or a Sangiovese complements the acidic and spicy notes of the arrabiata sauce beautifully. For a cooler option, opt for a crisp, chilled rosé.

These suggestions not only enhance the eating experience but also help in presenting a well-rounded meal. Whether it’s a casual dining affair or a more formal gathering, these tips will surely impress your guests and satisfy all palates.

Make-Ahead Tips

Planning ahead can save you time and enhance the flavors of your spaghetti with arrabiata sauce. Here are some useful tips for prepping your meal in advance:

Prepare the Arrabiata Sauce Early

  • Cook the sauce the day before: The spices in arrabiata sauce develop and deepen overnight. Simply prepare the sauce as described, let it cool, then refrigerate it in an airtile container. Reheat gently while you cook your pasta to serve.

Pre-Cook Pasta

  • Partially cook your pasta: Boil your spaghetti until it is just shy of al dente. Drain and toss it with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Store it in a sealed container in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, your pasta can finish cooking in the hot sauce for perfect texture.

Prepping Garnishes

  • Chop garnishes ahead: Chop your basil and grate your Parmesan cheese and store them in separate containers in the refrigerator. This makes assembling and garnishing at mealtime a breeze.
  • Freeze extra sauce: If you make a large batch of arrabiata sauce, it freezes well for up to three months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently, adjusting the seasoning as needed before serving.

These make-ahead tips not only save you prep time but also enhance the dish’s overall taste and quality, ensuring every bite is as delicious as intended.


Ready to dive into the rich, spicy world of spaghetti with arrabiata sauce? Armed with these tips and tricks, you’re all set to whip up a dish that’s sure to impress. Whether you’re planning a cozy dinner for two or a festive gathering, this beloved Italian classic will bring warmth and zest to your table. Remember to play around with the garnishes and pairings to suit your taste and occasion. Enjoy the process and relish your delicious creation!

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