Rigatoni Arrabbiata – Sprinkles and Sprouts

This Rigatoni Arrabbiata is a spicy Italian classic pasta dish. It makes an easy, quick meal for spice lovers. 

Arrabbiata translates from Italian to angry, which perfectly describes the spicy sauce in this dish. It is spiked with plenty of red pepper flakes to give the sauce an ‘angry’ kick. 

This classic dish is the ideal combination of comfort and excitement. It is a versatile recipe as you can add protein or keep it vegetarian with extra veggies. Ready in 30 minutes, this is an excellent quick-cook dinner idea.

overhead of rigatoni arrabbiata in a large shallow pan with a pile of rustic plates

Ingredient Notes 

These notes are here to help make this recipe a success; they cover some but not all ingredients; for a complete ingredient list, check out the recipe card below.

Tomatoes: Buy the best quality canned tomatoes within your price range. The sauce is based around them, so they make the difference. I like canned chopped Italian tomatoes best.
Garlic: The recipe calls for five cloves of garlic. But as I always say, we measure garlic with our hearts, so add more if you want.
Red pepper flakes: Also called chili flakes, these add spice and turn the tomato sauce into an angry sauce. As written, the arrabbiata sauce has a spicy kick. Feel free to reduce or increase the amount to taste.

a plate of rigatoni with a serving dish behind on a wooden table

Recipe Tips

We’ve tested this recipe at least 3 times to ensure it works well for you, have a look at our tips for getting the best dish you can!

  • Adding the red pepper flakes to the oil first starts to soften them and allows them to flavor the oil, carrying the flavor and heat of the flakes throughout the sauce.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, and then add the garlic. It wants to be stirred around in the oil for no more than 20 seconds before the tomato is added. This stops it from burning in the hot oil.
  • Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the packet suggests, and then allow it to finish cooking in the tomato sauce.
  • Reserving pasta cooking water means you can add it to the pasta and sauce if it starts to look too dry. You only need around ¼ cup with this dish, but I reserve a whole cup just in case.
overhead view of rigatoni pasta in a shallow dutch oven on a wooden table

Make ahead of time

You can make the sauce up to 3 days ahead of time in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. First, Defrost thoroughly, then reheat gently before adding it to cooked pasta.

Why You’ll Love This Rigatoni Arrabbiata

  • It uses ingredients that you already have at home.
  • It is very easy to adapt (see below)
  • The sauce freezes beautifully, so you can always have it on hand. 
  • It is a spicy yet comforting dinner.
close up on how the sauce coats the pasta in the pan

Recipe Adaptions/Substitutions

These are all just suggestions and things that have worked in our test kitchen, but it is your dinner, so adapt it to suit your family. That is the beauty of cooking; we can all create our own delicious meals.

  • Change the spice levels: Add more or less red pepper flakes to suit your tastes. You can also add fresh red chilies for an extra flavor and spice boost.
  • Use a different pasta: Swap the rigatoni for penne or spirals. Or pick a long pasta like spaghetti or linguine.
  • Add cooked meat: Add cooked meatballs, sausage, shredded chicken, bacon, or leftover pulled pork/beef to the sauce.
  • Add fish: For spicy seafood pasta, add shrimp, squid, mussels, or white fish to the sauce.
  • Add veggies: Fry carrots, onions, and celery in the spicy oil at the beginning of cooking. Or, add blanched vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, or asparagus to the finished dish. You can also wilt some spinach through the sauce. 
  • Make it creamy: Add ¼-½ cup of cream to the finished sauce to mellow the spice.
a shallow cream cast iron dish filled with tomato rigatoni with a napkin underneath

Serving Suggestions

Sides: This simple rigatoni arrabbiata is perfect for serving as a side or a main. Pair it with a green salad and some crusty bread as a main. As a side, add a perfectly cooked steak, grilled chicken breast, or a meaty fish like swordfish.

Wine: Alcohol can enhance the burn you get from chili, so look for wines with lower alcohol content. I try to stay under 12%. High-tannin wines and those aged in oak also don’t complement spice, so avoid those. The perfect white is a sharp, crisp wine like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. For those looking for red, a Valpolicella would be ideal. Interestingly, sparkling wine works well, too, and everything is better with bubbles! 

Rigatoni Arrabbiata on a rustic plate with a spoon on the plate

For more tomato pasta dishes try:

Enjoy x

If you make this Rigatoni Arrabbiata, don’t forget to come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media. 

Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.

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close upon the pasta coated with tomato sauce

Rigatoni Arrabbiata

Claire | Sprinkle and Sprouts

This Rigatoni Arrabbiata is a spicy Italian classic pasta dish. It makes an easy, quick meal for spice lovers. Arrabbiata translates from Italian to angry, which perfectly describes the spicy sauce in this dish. It is spiked with plenty of red pepper flakes to give the sauce an ‘angry’ kick. Ready in 30 minutes, this is an excellent quick-cook spicy dinner idea.