If you like your pasta easy, slightly spicy and with minimal washing up afterwards, you are in for a treat with this Spicy Chicken Arrabbiata Pasta recipe! A rich tomato-based Arrabbiata sauce coating the spaghetti and succulent chicken pieces make a great Italian-inspired dinner that even novice cooks can make! This great recipe comes together within 30 minutes, and it is all made in one pan without any shop-bought pre-made sauces!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost for you! Thank you!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- It comes together in under half an hour! Just like our Chicken and Chorizo Pasta Recipe With Creamy Tomato Sauce.
- Chicken Arrabiata pasta only requires simple ingredients that you can get in any grocery store.
- You can adjust the heat level to your individual spice tolerance and preference, making it perfect for spicy food lovers and milder palates alike.
- Minimal washing up after your meal will be needed, as it all comes together in one pan.
Fancy something truly Italian, but without tomato sauce? Try our Pasta e Piselli (Italian Pasta With Peas and Bacon) or Penne Pesto Pasta (Vegetarian Recipe).
What Is Arrabbiata?
Arrabiatta Pasta is a classic Italian pasta dish, made with a spicy tomato sauce (arrabbiata sauce). Traditionally made with chilli, garlic and onions, the recipe originates from Rome and is now popular across the globe.
Served with a good amount of parmesan or Pecorino Romano on top, it is an easy, but extremely flavoursome pasta dish with a bit of a kick. Whilst it is traditionally a vegetarian pasta recipe (like our Spaghetti Arrabbiata), we added some chicken to make it a more filling dish for everyone to enjoy!
Arrabbiata literally means ‘angry’ in Italian. It likely is a reference to the chilli heat that gives this pasta a bit of an edge.
Pomodoro is a more generic term to refer to tomato sauce. Arrabiatta is a spicy version of it, made with chilli, garlic and onions.
Ingredients and Substitutes
Some of the best pasta dishes use simple everyday ingredients that let them speak for themselves. You will only need a handful of everyday items to make this Italian recipe with chicken.
- spaghetti: we love our Chicken Arrabbiata with long pasta, like spaghetti or linguine, but you are more than welcome to use penne pasta, rigatoni or other short pasta types.
- chicken: we highly recommend using chicken thighs in this recipe. They can withstand longer cooking time without drying out and are better for reheating. But if chicken breasts are all you have, this recipe will work too!
- olive oil: can be replaced with vegetable, avocado, rapeseed or sunflower oil.
- fresh basil: can be replaced with fresh parsley.
- garlic cloves: finely chopped or minced. Whilst garlic powder may be used as a substitute, we highly recommend using fresh garlic.
- red onion: or brown onion or shallots, finely chopped.
- tomato puree: also known as concentrated tomato paste.
- chilli flakes: or mild red pepper flakes if you don’t like a spicy sauce.
- tinned chopped tomatoes (canned tomatoes): can be replaced with smooth tomato passata or marinara sauce.
- cherry tomatoes: can be substituted with baby plum tomatoes or some regular diced tomatoes.
- parmesan cheese: can be replaced with other hard Italian cheese, like Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano.
- seasoning: sea salt and black pepper to keep it simple!
Best Pasta For Arrabbiata
Arrabbiata sauce is traditionally served with spaghetti, but other long pasta like linguine, tagliatelle and pappardelle will work very well too! The noodles are coated in beautiful garlicky tomato sauce that sticks to the starchy exterior.
Experiment with different types of pasta. Noodle-type pasta like spaghetti or linguine takes on less sauce, so if you like it extra saucy, use pasta with a lot of nooks and crannies to hold the sauce in (think, Farfalle or Conchiglie).
Extras and Variations
Fancy adding something else to this Chicken Arrabbiata Recipe?
- Add extra veggies: bell peppers, spring onion, tenderstem broccoli and even roasted aubergine cubes work very well.
- Substitute chicken thighs with chicken breast pieces, or ground chicken or turkey. Or you can simply use leftovers of roast chicken.
- For a meatless option, try our Spaghetti Arrabbiata or add prawns to the sauce about 4 minutes before the sauce is cooked.
- Experiment with different herbs: add parsley instead of basil, or skip fresh herbs altogether, and add mixed dried herbs to the sauce instead!
Heat the oil in a large skillet (don’t use a non-stick pan, as we will shred the chicken in it later).
Add the chicken thighs and finely chopped onions and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli flakes. Stir and turn the chicken on the other side and cook for another couple of minutes. Your chicken should have changed colour completely.
Add the tomato paste and, tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, stir, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 25 minutes on low heat. The tinned tomatoes should disintegrate further and the sauce reduced and thicker.
In the meantime, cook spaghetti in a large pot following the instructions on the packet. Make sure to keep it al dente.
When the chicken is cooked, shred it inside the sauce into bite-size pieces, using two forks.
Stir in fresh basil leaves and halved cherry tomatoes. Toss the delicious sauce through the pasta. Divide it between bowls and serve with parmesan on top!
Helpful Tips & Tricks
- Chop your onions very finely. You want the pieces small so that it blends in with the Arrabbiata sauce and coats the pasta evenly.
- Reduce the sauce enough to coat the pasta well. But if you take it too far, use starchy pasta water to loosen it.
- Don’t overcook your pasta. For a truly Italian experience, always keep your pasta al dente.
- For the sauce to stick to your pasta, it needs to have a starchy coating. If you are rinsing your pasta before cooking, it will remove the starchy coating and your sauce will slip off. Another reason could be adding oil to your pasta before you coat it in the Napoli sauce. We only recommend adding oil, if you cooked your pasta too early and don’t want the noodles to stick to each other.
What To Serve With Chicken Arrabbiata Pasta?
Chicken Arrabbiata is best served with some bread or/ and a healthy green salad on the side. Try it with:
- Crusty bread, like Sourdough, which is perfect to mop up any remaining spicy tomato sauce.
- Cheesy garlic bread is always a hit!
- We love it with Courgette Ribbon Salad. It’s fresh and balances out the chilli heat!
- A pile of rocket (arugula) with some balsamic glaze is wonderful with almost any tomato-based pasta.
Storage and Reheating
Spoon any leftover Chicken Arrabbiata Pasta into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat, place the semi-covered container in a microwave for a couple of minutes, or until it is piping hot.
If you want to freeze chicken arrabbiata, we recommend only freezing the sauce and cooking the pasta fresh.
Other Pasta Recipes
Pasta is such a great option for busy weeknights, but it doesn’t mean you should compromise on flavour or use shop-bought pasta sauces to make an easy meal. Try our other pasta recipes that you can make from scratch in under 30 minutes:
- Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- Pasta Napoletana
- Chicken And Bacon Pasta
- Cream Cheese Pasta With Mushrooms
- 15-Minute Red Pesto Pasta With Prawns
Spicy Arrabbiata Chicken Pasta
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 2 chicken thighs skinless and boneless
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped or minced
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
- 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes 1 tin
- 200 g spaghetti
- 150 g cherry tomatoes halved
- 15 g fresh basil leaves
- 20 g parmesan finely grated
- Heat the oil in a large skillet (don't use a non-stick pan, as we will shred the chicken in it later). Add the chicken thighs and finely chopped onions and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and chilli flakes. Stir and turn the chicken on the other side and cook for another couple of minutes. Your chicken should have changed colour completely.
- Add the tomato paste and, tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, stir, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 25 minutes on low heat.
- In the meantime, cook spaghetti in a large pot following the instructions on the packet. Make sure to keep it al dente.
- When the chicken is cooked, shred it inside the sauce into bite-size pieces, using two forks.
- Stir in fresh basil leaves and halved cherry tomatoes. Toss this delicious sauce through the pasta. Divide it between bowls and serve with parmesan on top!