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Arrabbiata Sauce | Spicy Italian Pasta Sauce | Rao's Arrabbiata Copycat

Sharing with you spicy, aromatic, and scrumptious Pasta Sauce that will make your Italian Pasta Dinner even more special! 

I'm a big fan of tomato based pasta sauces. I think it is all for my love of tomatoes! So, a jar of Arrabbiata is always in my refrigerator. For those who are new to word Arrabbiata  - Arrabbiata Sauce is a tomato sauce flavored with some Italian spices and provides a spicy kick of red pepper in every bite! Not unbearable kick, yet a pleasant zesty experience!  

I fell for Arrabbiata in my early days of Italian Food Exploration in US :)  Whenever we dined at a local Italian Restaurant, their Arrabbiata sauce just made us crave for Italian pasta dinner whole week!! Being super-fan of spicy, hot food, it became our favorite dinner on Friday's night out! We not wanted anything but penne all arrabbiata!!! yummm every time!!

And then it happened..... once I brought a part of leftover penne alla arrabbiata home from such a dinner night out and left in refrigerator! In morning, I was surprised to see a cake of fat frozen on the top of arrabbiata! that was a big no-no! Don't get me wrong, I love restaurant food! but I just can't bear overuse of fat to make food delicious! Every restaurant tries to make food luscious and delicious with fat and extra dose of spices! and everyone likes it! We liked that arrabbiata for a long time due to it's silky, aromatic, and hearty taste! Yet, I think restaurant should be more transparent about the excessive use of fat...


First, that was the last time we ever ate in that restaurant.

Second, I started making or buying a less-fat organic arrabbiata sauce with most natural ingredients!

Made from Scratch Italian Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce based on famous Rao Arrabbiata Sauce

In store bought pasta sauce, Rao's Arrabbiata Sauce is one famous name! To me, it is one of THE best store bought sauce I have ever used. All natural ingredients, not artificial preservatives, and delicious taste every time, pretty close to homemade. Whenever, I'm not making homemade arrabbiata, I love bringing a jar of this sauce for delicious and spicy Italian Pasta dinner.

Today's arrabbiata recipe is copycat of Rao's Arrabbiata! This recipe is my low-and-slow, taste-and-try test to achieve quality and taste like Rao's! Surely, the tasty magic of Rao's spicy and fresh arrabbiata sauce at home. Only difference is, I have just kept the sauce a little chunky vs Rao's sauce is less chunky.

Now Let's Talk Diet!

Gluten Free - Arrabbiata sauce is gluten free. You can buy gluten free pasta to serve it gluten free way!

Vegan - It is also vegan. No dairy or animal products used. No butter or saturated fats. Just olive oil...

This sauce is also nut-free, soy-free, low-fat, and can be paleo if you don't use sugar. (Amount of sugar depends on acidity level of tomatoes. Always adjust per taste.)

Homemade All Natural Spicy Italian Arrabbiata Sauce

If you like Italian food and tomato sauces like I do, I bet arrabbiata will be your new favorite once you try this sauce!

Sauce is ready! It is time to boil some pasta! Buon Appetito!!

Cheers to Italian Dinner at home! 


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Arrabbiata Sauce | Spicy Italian Pasta Sauce | Rao's Arrabbiata Copycat

Arrabbiata Sauce | Spicy Italian Pasta Sauce | Rao's Arrabbiata Copycat
Total Time Prep Time Cook Time Difficulty Easy Yields 4 Cups Serves 6
Smart Swap Puree cooked sauce for a fine texture like restaurants!!



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  • Step for Recipe - Arrabbiata Sauce | Spicy Italian Pasta Sauce | Rao's Arrabbiata Copycat
    1. Heat oil in heavy bottom saute pan!
    Step for Recipe - Arrabbiata Sauce | Spicy Italian Pasta Sauce | Rao's Arrabbiata Copycat
    2. Add onion, broken whole pepper, and saute until starts to brown at edges, add minced garlic, and oregano, basil (if using dried, fresh only add at the end) and cook for 30 seconds. Don't let garlic burn.
  • Step for Recipe - Arrabbiata Sauce | Spicy Italian Pasta Sauce | Rao's Arrabbiata Copycat
    3. Add canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and sugar. (remove whole pepper) Stir to bring to boil. When sauce starts bubbling, bring heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring once every 5 minutes, until oil has separated and showing on the sides.
    Step for Recipe - Arrabbiata Sauce | Spicy Italian Pasta Sauce | Rao's Arrabbiata Copycat
    4. Taste and adjust salt. If using fresh basil, add it now. Use it make Penne Alla Arrabbiata pasta or store in an air-tight container in refrigerator for 1 week.
Savita's Notes:

If you can't find San Marzano tomatoes, use any good quality canned tomatoes. If you can't find tomatoes with juice, add 1/4 of cup of unsweetened tomato juice.

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32 comment(s)

  1. Wow! I am so thankful I found your recipe and directions. Have tried to make this and never tasted this good. Thank you!

    Ashlea, I'm glad you enjoyed! I can never have enough of Arrabbiata. So I can totally see your happiness in finding a good recipe. Thanks for sharing your sweet feedback with us.
  2. Made the Sauce this morning, I love it, just spicy enough without being too spicy. question though, it is too hot for my mom, would you recommend not using the chili pepper or the red pepper flakes? she likes it spicy, but was just a little too spicy for her

    Hi Susan, I'm glad you enjoyed Arrabbiata Sauce so much. For heat, do two things: 1) Whole chili pepper in Arrabbiata is for flavor. If you add it without breaking, it will not release heat. 2) Reduce the flakes to half or 1/4 so to have very less heat. I hope it helps.
  3. is the red chili pepper a dried pepper?

    Hi Susan, yes, it is dried red chili pepper.
  4. Very, very good. I browned 2 links of sweet Italian sausage and simmered them with the sauce. Will make again.

    Hi Kittie, I'm glad you enjoyed arrabbiata sauce! It is a great idea to simmer the protein in sauce, I'm sure it added even more flavor. Thanks for taking time to leave feedback. Have a wonderful day! -Savita
  5. I love arrabiata sauce- it is so spicy and yet slightly sweet from the tomatoes! It is great! I love adding seafood to my sauce.

    Shelby, thanks :)
  6. I love Arrabbiata sauce - it's one of my favorites! This looks amazing!

    Keri, thanks! :) glad you like it!
  7. Much needed sauce and looks so vibrant:)Beautifully presented:)

    Padma, thanks!
  8. Savita this sauce looks lip smacking delicious!! I could see myself eating it a bowl full!!

    Ami, thanks!
  9. I can't tell you how much I love homemade pasta sauce Savita! This looks fresh and delicious! Will be making it!

    Mira, our love for pasta is mutual! ) I bet you will love this sauce! thanks for the pin!
  10. I love cooking, but one thing I never get around to, is making my own pasta sauces from scratch.. I need to remedy that!!! Thanks for sharing! <3 -

    Gingi, you know what! My husband don't like homemade pasta sauce that easily! So I'm super careful in making a new sauce at home:) but for Arrabbiata , even he was convinced, it tastes delicious :) I bet, you will love the taste too!
  11. Like you...I love a good spicy tomato sauce but not if it means eating all that fat. This looks perfect! Thanks for sharing!

    On same page with you, Annie! A quality tomato sauce does not need a lot of fat!
  12. My kids love pasta with tomato sauce. I also buy Rao's all the time, it's expensive but totally worth it. I really need to to try your recipe. It might help me to save money ?

    Oh yes! Oriana, it will save you money! and it tastes ditto! Actually, this is one of the reason I stared making it at home! When sauce does not fit in my grocery budget, instead of compromising quality, I prefer to make a batch at home!
  13. This looks so delicious Savita! Will give it a try, pinned! :)

    Manali, thanks!
  14. This pasta sauce looks super yummy. I love it. Very nice. :)

    Ritu, it is really very delicious pasta sauce! a must try!
  15. This pasta sauce looks so vibrant and delicious! Loved the spicy and aromatic flavors here. Great share, Savita! :D

    Anupama, thanks!
  16. Lovely Savita! Was just drooling through your post!! :)

    Kimberly, thanks dear!