Simple Arrabbiata Sauce – This is the EASIEST pasta sauce recipe I know. I almost always have everything in my pantry, and it can be done in minutes. Perfect for nights when time or the budget is tight, or you don’t have anything in the house!
Every so often, I get stuck in the kitchen. Maybe we’ve been sick for a few days and REEEEALLY need to get to the grocery store, or we’ve been traveling, or our other dinner plan fell through, or the grocery budget is almost spent. On those nights, this recipe is the one that saves me. Arrabbiata sauce is a simple, slightly (or not so slightly) spicy tomato sauce made from pantry staples I pretty much always have on hand. The beauty is that there’s so much flavor going on that it doesn’t feel like an afterthought or budget saver.
Instead, I coax as much flavor as possible out of the short ingredient list–canned tomatoes, chili flakes, garlic, oregano, salt, and oil. Then, everything gets a quick blitz (either in the blender or right in the saucepan with an immersion blender) and it’s done before the pasta is cooked.
When my kids are eating it, I keep the spice level fairly low for them, but you can make this as spicy as you like. Do know that once the sauce is heated, the heat will wake up the capsaicin (chili oil) in the chili flakes, so the spice level will go up.
Notes on the Recipe:
Tomayto-Tomahto. I’ve made this with regular canned tomatoes and with fire-roasted. Honestly, my preference is fire-roasted since they add another slightly smoky flavor to the sauce, but I also really love and enjoy it with regular canned tomatoes. There really isn’t a wrong answer there. I will say that I’ve tried making this with canned tomato sauce (instead of pureeing the tomatoes myself) and for some reason the flavor is a bit more tinny and metallic. I prefer using diced tomatoes and pureeing it myself.
Is this too spicy? Well, the heat level is entirely in your hands. Since we’re eating with little ones, I almost always keep it fairly mild, but if I know they’re going to have olive oil and salt instead of sauce, I love turning the heat up to medium. I don’t like anything TOO hot, so my recommendation is always to start small and add from there.
What if I made it too spicy? If you added more than you bargained for, you can counteract the spice level with a bit of sweetness (a pinch of sugar, honey, or pure maple syrup) or try a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Or, you can add a little more water or more tomatoes to dilute it.
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If you’re cooking for kids or are sensitive to spices, start small (1/4 tsp) with the chili flakes. If you like things spicier, feel free to keep adding till it gets where you like it! I usually prefer it best between 1/2-3/4 tsp red pepper flakes.
- 1 (28oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
- 2–3 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp olive oil or chili oil
- 1/4–1 tsp red chili flakes (sometimes called crushed red pepper)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp oregano
- Optional: fresh basil
- Place tomatoes, garlic, oil, 1/4 tsp chili flakes, salt, and oregano in a blender and puree until smooth.
- Or, place omatoes, garlic, oil, 1/4 tsp chili flakes, salt, and oregano in a saucepan and puree using an immersion blender.
- When sauce is smooth, bring to a simmer over medium heat until heated through and fragrant. Taste and add more chili flakes, as desired. If desired, add some minced fresh basil for garnish and little extra flavor before serving.