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Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage

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This Italian Penne Arrabiata with smoked sausage is made with a rich, spicy, tomato-based sauce, fresh parsley and basil then tossed with penne pasta, smoky sausage, and Kalamata olives.  Serve this with some warm, crusty bread and a hearty appetite!  

Overhead view of penne arrabiata with smoked sausage

The Italian definition of Arrabbiata means “angry” and this fiery dish is so named because it is said that one becomes red in the face when eating it.  The heat comes from the dried red peperoncini chilies used in the dish.

Traditionally, the Italians use a dried red peperoncini in their arrabbiata, we are substituting with dried red pepper flakes which is common in most kitchen pantries. My suggestion is to add a small portion and let it cook into the sauce, then taste before adding additional flakes.


Why You Will Love This Recipe:

  • Uses simple everyday ingredients
  • It is an easy, one-pot meal
  • Complex flavors of spicy, smoky, and salty

If you are interested in more pasta dishes, try our roast beef pasta that uses leftover beef or our old fashioned tuna pasta casserole or our cheese stuffed pasta shells.

Overhead view of a serving of penne arrabiata in a dish. Glass of wine, bread and cheese in background.

What Goes into this Penne Arrabiata?

All the ingredients are either in your pantry or readily available in the supermarket. Save the rind from a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a lidded container in the freezer. It only takes a small portion added to a tomato sauce to boost the flavor level and slightly thicken the sauce.

  • Penne pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Red wine
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • Sugar
  • Italian smoked sausage links 
  • Kalamata olives
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Fresh parsley

Sausage and olives in arrabiata sauce

How to Make Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage:

Here is a quick overview so you can see how easy it is to make this classic pasta recipe. Make sure to scroll down to the printable recipe card when you begin to cook.

  1. Cook the pasta, drain and reserve
  2. Sauté the onions, red pepper flakes and garlic.
  3. Add the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped basil and sugar 
  4. Toss in a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional)
  5. Stir in the sliced olives and smoked sausage and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked pasta, toss to combine and heat through

Overhead view of penne pasta on top of arrabiata sauce

Tips for Success:

  • Do not over cook the pasta (it will get gummy and mushy).
  • Smoked sausage will increase the umami flavor
  • Drain and rinse the Kalamata olives (don’t add the juice from the bottle or the sauce will be too watery).
  • Adjust the heat level. Add red pepper flakes to your specific heat level.
  • For an extra layer of spice and heat, you can dice a Serrano chili pepper and add it along with the dried chilli flakes.
  • Save some pasta water. Adding a little starchy pasta water will help ‘glue’ the sauce to the pasta.
  • Don’t toss that cheese rind. A chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind added to the simmering sauce adds thickness and umami flavor. You can keep old cheese rinds in the freezer for meals like this.

Close up view of a serving of Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage

Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Rich, creamy and sooo good! This Seafood Mac and Cheese is one of the best loaded Mac ‘n Cheese recipes I’ve ever had! It’s incredibly delicious with Dungeness crabmeat, shrimp and chunks of wild salmon. Try it, you will love it!

Can you imagine the flavors in this Spanish Chorizo and Shrimp Pasta! Thick fettuccini tossed in a lightly spicy, delicious sauce with smoky sausage, plump shrimp and salty olives!

Lobster Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce: Serve this incredible one-pot dinner for a special occasion or a date-night! A creamy garlic sauce combined with sweet lobster meat then topped with crunch lemon-garlic panko breadcrumbs, then served piping hot!

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Overhead view of penne arrabiata with smoked sausage

Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage

This Italian Penne Arrabiata with smoked sausage is a quick and easy, one-pot meal.  Penne pasta, smoked sausage and Kalamata olives are tossed in a rich tomato-based, spicy sauce that is well balanced with fresh parsley and basil. 
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 455kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger


  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to your liking
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cans 14.5 oz. each diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind optional
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 16 ounces Italian smoked sausage links sliced diagonally
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the penne and cook according to the manufacturers’ instructions.  Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the water.  Return the pasta to the cooking pot and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Cover the pot of pasta and keep warm.
  • Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat.
  • Add onions and cook 3-5 minutes until soft.  Stir in the red pepper flakes and the garlic, cook for 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.  
  • Pour in the wine and stir to deglaze the pan.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, sugar and the cheese rind, if using.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  • Stir in the sliced olives and smoked sausage, stirring to combine in the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  • Remove and discard the cheese rind then stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water.
  • Add the cooked penne, toss to combine and heat through.
  • Serve garnished with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the chopped parsley.


  • If possible, use penne rigate as it has ridges on the outside of the pasta that soak up the sauce.  Regular penne is smooth and the sauce tends to slide off.
  • For an extra layer of heat and spice, you can dice a fresh Serrano chili pepper and add it when you stir in the dried chili flakes.
  • Garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes and peeled whole tomatoes are also traditional ingredients in this sauce.
  • The tomato-based sauce takes its spiciness from red pepper flakes.  It is intended to be very spicy, make adjustments according to your preferred level of heat.
  • The chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind added to the simmering sauce will add thickness and umami flavor. 
  • Adding a little starchy pasta water will help ‘glue’ the sauce to the pasta.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 738mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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Recipe Rating

John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

Love penne arrabiata, and really like the addition of the smoked sausage and olives. What a great idea! This must be one tasty dish -- thanks.

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

Thanks John

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