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Hearty Dinners/ Pasta/ Pork/ Spice

Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage

April 18, 2019 (Last Updated: October 19, 2022) by Chris Collins

You really can’t beat a Classic Arrabiata Sauce. Served with Penne and Smoked Sausage, this truly is the perfect mid week family dinner!

Arrabiata (or Arrabbiata) is one of my all time favourite pasta dishes. For me, there is no greater combo than tomato, spice and pasta and an Arrabiata sauce embodies just that.

Overhead shot of Arrabiata in a saucepan garnished with parmesan, chilli flakes and parsley

Classic Arrabiata Sauce

A traditional arrabiata sauce is made up of a few, but good quality ingredients. The stars of the show are garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and of course chilli. ‘Arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’ in Italian, hence the chillis. Whilst the combo of garlic, olive oil tomatoes and chilli is divine, I’ve added a few other tasty extras to really bring this dish to life.

My Arrabiata Sauce

I add tomato puree (tomato paste in the US) for a really deep tomatoey flavour. I throw in some smoked sausage which really bulks out the dish and offers a gorgeous smokey spicy combo. I use parsley because I like how subtle it is and doesn’t over powder what is a very simple dish. I also add a pinch of sugar to balance out the spice and any acidity left in the tomatoes. Finally parmesan, because parmesan.

Starchy Pasta Water

This is a secret weapon in this sauce. There’s a notable amount of oil in a classic arrabiata sauce, and in order to combine this with the sauce (instead of it floating to the top and looking greasy) you need some of the water the pasta is cooked in. The starch molecules help emulsify the oils and combine them with the sauce, so the flavour of the oil is kept, but the texture is eliminated. Win win!

Process shots: Fry sausage in olive oil until brown (photo 1), add in garlic and chilli flakes (photo 2), stir in your tomato puree then add pasta water (photo 3), add the remainder of sauce ingredients and simmer (photo 4), add penne (photo 5), stir through parmesan and parsley (photo 6).

How to make Penne Arrabiata - 6 step by step photos

Let the Tomatoes shine!

Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US): It’s really important to fry the tomato puree. Tomato puree is actually quite acidic straight out the can, by frying it you actually sweeten it. It completely changes the flavour and really brings out the most in the puree.

Chopped Tomatoes: Ensure you grab some good quality tomatoes. I actually usually use skinless plum tomatoes and chop them up in the can. Plum tomatoes are richer in flavour and slightly sweeter. Chopped tomatoes work just fine though.

Do I have to use Penne?

Penne Arrabiata is the traditional way, but realistically you can use any pasta you’d like, so long as you reserve some starchy pasta water and only cook until al dente.

Do I have to add Smoked Sausage?

Nope! Traditional Penne Arrabiata actually doesn’t contain meat. With the same token if you’d like to use a different meat then grilled chicken works perfectly in this dish.

How much Chilli do I add?

Now this is completely down to preference. I find 1 tsp dried chilli flakes gives a nice kick, without being too overpowering. If you’re weary then I’d start with 1/2 tsp and adjust at the end. Better to have too little than too much!

close up shot of Arrabiata in a saucepan wit extra chilli flakes on top

Serving Penne Arrabiata

Once the sauce is nicely thickened it’s time to serve up. I usually give individual portions an extra sprinkle of parmesan and parsley, but this is optional. I also like to serve with some Homemade Garlic Bread (bonus points for Cheesy Garlic Bread or Cheesy Pesto Garlic Bread!)

If you’re looking for another spicy pasta recipe definitely make sure you check out my Spicy Chicken Pasta and Spicy Rigatoni!

Hey, whilst you’re here why not check out my other recipes?

Easy weeknight family pasta dishes

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this Penne Arrabiata shall we?!

Penne Arrabiata served in a white bowl with two fork on a wooden background

How to make Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage (Full Recipe & Video)

Overhead shot of Arrabiata in a saucepan garnished with parmesan, chilli flakes and parsley

Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage

You really can't beat a Classic Arrabiata Sauce. Served with Penne and Smoked Sausage, this truly is the perfect mid week family dinner!
5 from 5 votes
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Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Calories per serving: 429kcal
Cost per serving: £1.50 / $2


  • Large Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Large Pot & Colander
  • Fine Cheese Grater

Ingredients (check list):

  • 12.3oz / 350g Penne
  • 7oz / 200g Smoked Sausage (see notes)
  • 2x 14oz / 400g good quality Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1oz / 30g freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to serve
  • 3 fat cloves of Garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in the US)
  • 2.5 tbsp good quality Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp finely diced Fresh Parsley, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tsp Chilli Flakes, or to taste
  • good pinch of Sugar
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste


  • Drizzle your olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add sausage & fry for a few minutes each side until brown.
  • Push to the edges of the pan then add your garlic & chilli flakes into the centre. Fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic begins to brown. Meanwhile pop your pasta in salted boiling water and cook until al dente, reserving 1/2 cup / 125ml starchy pasta water just before draining.
  • Once your garlic becomes fragrant, add your tomato puree and fry for 1-2mins, then stir in starchy pasta water. Add your tomatoes then season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. Allow to simmer for a good 10mins, or until it slightly thickens.
  • Add your pasta then stir through your parmesan and parsley. Serve with extra parmesan/parsley and enjoy!

Quick 1 min demo!


a) Smoked Sausage - You can leave this out and it will still be delicious. With the same token if you're looking to use a different meat then grilled chicken works perfectly in this recipe.
b) Garlic - If you're struggling to get thin slices then feel free to mince/finely dice it. I just find that thin slices infuse the oil a bit better.
c) Chilli Flakes - I find 1 tsp adds a nice kick to the sauce without being too overpowering. If you're at all weary then start off with 1/2 tsp and add more in later. 
d) Starchy Pasta Water - This is a key part of the sauce. The starch molecules will help emulsify the olive oil and create the sauce. Important you scoop out the water just before draining so it's nice and starchy.
e) Calories - Based on using 1/4 tsp sugar and no extra parmesan to serve.

Your Private Notes:


Nutrition Facts
Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage
Amount Per Serving
Calories 429 Calories from Fat 235
% Daily Value*
Fat 26.07g40%
Saturated Fat 7.486g37%
Trans Fat 0.066g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.418g
Monounsaturated Fat 13.546g
Cholesterol 70mg23%
Sodium 851mg35%
Potassium 770mg22%
Carbohydrates 31.88g11%
Fiber 3.7g15%
Sugar 1.33g1%
Protein 18.48g37%
Vitamin A 750IU15%
Vitamin C 24.8mg30%
Calcium 110mg11%
Iron 3.2mg18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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Recipe Rating


  • Reply
    March 2, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    5 stars
    Made this just now step by step and I wouldn’t change a thing! Tons of flavour, perfectly warm heat, and super simple to do. My hubby loves spice and I don’t as much but this was the perfect happy median! Make sure you serve with some fresh crusty bread to sop up that yummy sauce left over at the end!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 4, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      That’s great to hear, Briar! Crusty bread is always a must! Thanks for popping back for a review 🙂 Chris.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    5 stars
    Mmm this dish sounds so comforting! I love a meal with a little kick.

    • Reply
      April 22, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks Rosa! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 22, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    5 stars
    This sounds so flavorful! Pasta is such a family favorite that this is a great way to change it up.

    • Reply
      April 22, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks Demeter 🙂

  • Reply
    April 22, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    5 stars
    So irresistible! This is a new family favorite meal!

    • Reply
      April 22, 2019 at 6:10 pm

      Definitely family approved!

  • Reply
    Nicolas Hortense
    April 22, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Mmmm yum that looks so dang tasty!! Love how you added the smoked sausage (:

    • Reply
      April 22, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      It compliments this dish so well 🙂

  • Reply
    Danielle Wolter
    April 22, 2019 at 11:34 am

    5 stars
    Arrabiata sauce really is so wonderful. It has the perfect amount of heat and I’m loving the smoked sausage used here. What an incredible recipe!

    • Reply
      April 22, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks so much Danielle 🙂