This creamy Penne Arrabbiata is an easy, healthy dinner! It's made with spicy arrabbiata sauce, cashews, and gluten-free penne pasta. Mix in ground turkey, extra veggies, or leave it plain for a dinner recipe that's just spicy enough.
This penne arrabbiata recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free! It's a super healthy recipe and makes it a perfect meal prep recipe. This is one of those recipes that gets better over time! Divide it up into containers and store in your fridge. I promise it will taste just as delicious on day 5 as day 1!
Why We Love This Penne Arrabbiata Recipe
On of my favorite things about this creamy penne arrabbiata pasta recipe is that it's both gluten-free and dairy-free. I recommend buying your favorite gluten-free pasta at any local store. My favorite gluten-free pastas are Ancient Grains and Banza (chickpea pasta).
This creamy penne arrabbiata is also dairy-free! Instead of cream or cheese, this sauce is made creamy with cashews! I use cashews all the time to make things creamy without dairy like my vegan turtle cheesecake and I swear by it.
Here are the simple ingredients for this traditional arrabbiata sauce. Most are pantry staples and easy (and affordable) to find in the grocery store. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
Creamy Arrabbiata Sauce
- Arrabbiata pasta sauce: With no added sugar
- Cashews: Raw and unsalted
- Sea salt: Helps the water boil faster and adds flavor to the pasta.
- Water: Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water.
- Gluten free penne pasta: There are many different brands of gluten free pasta to choose from, but my favorites are Ancient Grains or Banza Chickpea Pasta. Cook according to package instructions, but for the best result, cooked pasta should be al dente.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Be sure to use a good quality olive oil. Avocado oil is a good substitute.
- Ground turkey: This is optional. Without it, this can still be a great vegetarian dish.
- Sea salt: Kosher salt is the best for cooking.
- Garlic powder: An Italian classic seasoning, garlic powder provides a savory, aromatic component.
How to Make Penna Arrabbiata
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This pasta arrabbiata is really easy and these step-by-step instructions will make sure this classic Italian pasta dish turns out every time.
Cook pasta. Add 3-4 quarts of water to a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the penne pasta and allow to boil for 9-11 minutes, stirring frequently. Check the time on your pasta box as cooking time could vary.
Blend sauce. While pasta is cooking, add the arrabbiata pasta sauce, cashews, salt, and water to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend on high for at least 3 minutes until cashews are completely broken up and the sauce turns a lighter color. Sauce should be mostly smooth. Set aside.
Cook meat. If using ground turkey, heat olive oil over medium heat and add ground turkey. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and garlic powder. Brown and stir until cooked completely through. Set aside.
Combine everything. Drain pasta water from pasta and add pasta back to the large sauce pan. Add the pasta sauce and ground turkey to the pan and stir well to combine.
Garnish and serve. Top with more chili flakes, chopped fresh basil leaves, or fresh parsley.
Why is it Called Arrabbiata?
Arrabbiata sauce is a spicy pasta made with red chili flakes. It is a mildly spicy sauce and can be more spicy depending on the amount of red chili flakes you put in it.
Arrabbiata technically means "angry" in Italian and refers to the spiciness of the sauce. It definitely has a kick!
- Substitute the ground turkey with chicken breast, chorizo, or meatballs.
- Change up the type of pasta, using spaghetti noodles or farfalle.
- Serve it with a glass of red wine and fresh garlic bread.
- Use some of the reserved pasta water to thicken the finished sauce.
- Make your own arrabbiata sauce with whole tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic cloves, and chili flakes. Spicy food lovers, give it as much heat as your taste buds can handle!
Adjust the Spice Level
Although this is a spicy pasta recipe, if you don't love spicy things don't be scared of this recipe! I don't love spicy at all and have a pretty low tolerance for spice, but I love it! The cashews cut the spiciness as well so that definitely helps. And if you love a creamy pasta recipe but don't want to the spice, you can definitely buy regular pasta sauce and add red pepper flakes!
How is arrabbiata sauce different from marinara?
Arrabbiata sauce is known for its spiciness, which comes from the addition of red chili flakes or fresh chili peppers. Marinara sauce is typically not spicy, and is characterized by a simple and mild tomato flavor.
Storage & Freezing
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Freeze the sauce separately in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Leave it out on the counter to thaw and warm it on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Cook the pasta fresh when you are ready to add the sauce to it.
Watch How to Make Penne Arrabbiata
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Healthy Pastas
Creamy Penne Arrabbiata (Dairy Free)
Creamy Arrabbiata Sauce
- 1 (24 ounce) can arrabbiata pasta sauce with no added sugar
- 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup water
- 8 ounces gluten free penne pasta my favorites are Ancient Grains or Banza Chickpea Pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey optional
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Add 3-4 quarts of water to a large sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the penne pasta and allow to boil for 9-11 minutes, stirring frequently. Check the time on your pasta box as cook time could vary.
- While pasta is cooking, add the arrabbiata pasta sauce, cashews, salt and water to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend on high for at least 3 minutes until cashews are completely broken up and the sauce turns a lighter color. Sauce should be mostly smooth. Set aside.
- If using ground turkey, heat olive oil over medium heat and add ground turkey. Sprinkle with sea salt an garlic powder. Brown and stir until cooked completely through. Set aside.
- Drain pasta water from pasta and add back to the large sauce pan. Add the pasta sauce and ground turkey to the pan and stir well to combine.
- Top with more chili flakes or chopped basil.