Calabrian Chili Pasta

calabrian chili pasta

The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4
Yield: 1 pound
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
335 Calories
14g Fat
45g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 335
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 17%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 13mg 4%
Sodium 1492mg 65%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 15mg 73%
Calcium 102mg 8%
Iron 2mg 14%
Potassium 299mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Calabrian chili pasta is a spicy take on your favorite tomato sauce. These spicy, smoky peppers from southern Italy are incredibly versatile, and pack just the right amount of heat without being overpowering. In this recipe we combine the chilis with sun-dried tomatoes and canned tomatoes to elevate an easy pantry sauce. Toss the Calabrian chili sauce with your favorite pasta, then shower it in grated cheese for a satisfying dinner any day of the week. 

Serve this pasta on its own for an easy vegetarian dinner, or alongside grilled chicken and a crisp salad. Make this your go-to recipe for last minute meals or star of your next date.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil

  • 3 tablespoons Calabrian chili paste

  • 1 (28-ounce)can peeled tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 pound long fusilli

  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    calabrian chili pasta ingredients
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt; cook, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

    sauteed onions in a pan
  3. Coarsely chop the sun-dried cherry tomatoes, then add them to the pot. Add in the Calabrian chili paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to soften.

    sauteed sundried tomatoes
  4. Add the can of peeled tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. You want some rough chunks of the tomato, so don’t break them down completely.

    Add in the dried oregano and lemon juice; allow to simmer over low heat for 5 to 6 minute, stirring occasionally.

    calabrian chili pasta sauce
  5. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/4 pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Set the reserved water aside.

    Add the butter to the sauce along with the cooked pasta. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the pasta is coated in sauce.

    pasta in calabrian chili sauce
  6. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved pasta water at a time until you reach your desired sauce consistency. Stir in about half of the parmesan cheese.

    pasta tossed with cheese
  7. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Top the Calabrian chili pasta with more parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve immediately.

    calabrian chili pasta

How to Store

  • This pasta will store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Add a little water to a pan and heat it on high heat, add in the pasta and toss until heated through. Top with more cheese. 
  • This pasta does not freeze well.  You can freeze just the sauce in individual portions in plastic freezer storage bags. Freeze for up to six months. Simply remove from the bag and heat in a saucepan on low heat until heated through.

Recipe Variations

  • You can make this pasta more or less spicy by adding more or less of the Calabrian chili paste. Cut it down to 1 or 2 tablespoons if you like it milder or amp it up to 4 if you like extra spicy. 
  • You can replace the parmesan cheese with pecorino Romano cheese. It has an extra tangy bite that also compliments the spicy sauce well.
  • You can replace the cherry sun-dried tomatoes with regular sun-dried tomatoes. Just make sure to use ones that are packed in oil.

What Type of Pasta Works Best?

A curly shaped pasta will hold onto the sauce best in this recipe. It can be a long or short pasta as long as it has some kind of twist.

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