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Spicy Rigatoni Pasta

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Hearty pasta sauce, gooey cheese, and tender pasta noodles combine with savory spices for the best Spicy Rigatoni Pasta you’ll ever make! Easy to make and perfect for feeding a crowd, it’ll be your go-to recipe for every occasion. 

a bowl of spicy pasta topped with red pepper and shaved parmesan

Spicy Rigatoni Pasta

We love a good pasta recipe, and rigatoni is one of our favorites! With recipes like one pot spicy rigatoni and baked spicy rigatoni, we clearly can’t get enough. So, with the holidays upon us and our family gathered around, we decided to make another version of our favorite rigatoni pasta with this spicy recipe! It’s: 

  • Budget-friendly.
  • Quick to make.
  • Great for meal prep.
  • And customizable to fit all your needs. 

What’s the Difference Between Penne and Rigatoni Pasta? 

Because they’re both tube-shaped, penne and rigatoni pasta are often confused. However, they are not the same things. The primary differences include: 

  • The Cut. Penne is cut diagonally, giving it pointed ends. Meanwhile, rigatoni is cut bluntly, giving it a tubular or cylindrical shape. 
  • Ridges. Rigatoni pasta always has ridges around its exterior, and penne may be straight or ridged. 
  • Size. Rigatoni pasta is larger than penne. 
  • Shape. Penne noodles are always straight, but rigatoni may have a slight curve. 

Is Rigatoni a Noodle or Pasta? 

Rigatoni is a type of pasta. It comes from the word “rigato” which means ridged. As the name suggests, the pasta is a type of short, wide tube that has a ridged exterior but a smooth interior. As a result, it’s great for thick, chunky sauces.

Ingredients You Need

We love a good, simple recipe, and this spicy rigatoni pasta is just that! Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Rigatoni – Make sure your pasta is cooked to al dente before adding it to the dish. If preferred,  you could use a different type of noodle. Just make sure it’s similar in shape and has ridged edges to pick up the sauce! 
  • Olive Oil – This helps caramelize the onions, creating the best sweet, savory flavor while also adding a boost of healthy fats. 
  • Onion and Garlic – These help form the base of the pasta, adding the best flavor to the dish. 
  • Spices – Crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper are all you need to enhance the rest of the ingredients and add a hint of spice. 
  • Pasta Sauce – Of course, you can easily make your own pasta sauce with a recipe like this. However, to save time, we just opt for a red sauce from the store. Our favorite is Rao’s! 
  • Heavy Cream – This is key to creating a thick, creamy, indulgent rigatoni pasta recipe. 
  • Cheese – Use as little or as much Parmesan cheese as you’d like! for the best flavor, grate it fresh from the rind instead of opting for pre-made varieties. 
a bowl of spicy rigatoni pasta topped with shaved Parmesan and red pepper flakes


We kept this rigatoni pasta recipe super simple for a vegetarian dish everyone can enjoy. However, feel free to bulk it up with extra ingredients like: 

  • Chicken, shrimp, or beef
  • Veggies such as mushrooms, spinach, or zucchini. 
  • Different or more cheese like Mozzarella! 

How to Make Spicy Rigatoni Pasta

Like all of our favorite recipes, this dish comes together in just one pan. Here’s what to do: 

  1. Sauté. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and crushed red pepper until the onions are fragrant and translucent. Add the garlic, and stir again until it is golden and fragrant. 
  2. Combine the Ingredients. Add the pasta sauce, heavy cream, salt, and pepper to the pan. Bring the ingredients to a simmer. Then, reduce the heat to low, and add the remaining cooked pasta and cheese. Let the ingredients simmer, stirring frequently until the cheese is melted and the pasta is fully coated in sauce. 
  3. Serve. Add more crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese and enjoy warm! 
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a large bowl full of spicy pasta topped with shaved Parmesan

Make Ahead and Storage Options

We love to make this spicy rigatoni pasta ahead of time, because believe it or not, it tastes even better the next day! Follow our tips below to keep it fresh. 

Refrigerator: Cover your leftovers, or transfer them to an airtight container. Store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Freezer: Transfer your leftovers to a freezer-safe container, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Reheat: To serve, let your rigatoni thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, warm it in the oven, microwave, or on the stovetop until it is heated through. If needed, add reserved pasta sauce or broth to freshen it back up. 

close up image of a bowl of rigatoni pasta with a fork on the side

Serving Suggestions

This spicy pasta is great to serve as a super filling vegetarian dish. However, it also pairs well with all your favorite main courses and appetizers! Some of our favorite pairings include: 

More Pasta Recipes

Looking for more easy pasta recipes? Try out some of our favorites below! 

overhead image of a large bowl of spicy rigatoni pasta

Spicy Rigatoni Pasta

Food Dolls
Hearty pasta sauce, gooey cheese, and tender pasta noodles combine with savory spices for the best Spicy Rigatoni Pasta you’ll ever make! Easy to make and perfect for feeding a crowd, it'll be your go-to recipe for every occasion.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6
Calories 518 kcal


  • 16 ounces rigatoni pasta (cooked al-dente)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 14 ounces jarred pasta sauce (such as Rao's Sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water (as needed)


  • In a large saucepan on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onions, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently. Add the garlic to the pan, and continue to sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Add the pasta sauce, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Bring the ingredients to a simmer, and reduce the heat to low.
  • Add the cooked pasta, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and all pasta is coated in the sauce. Serve with additional crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese, if desired.
  • *Add reserved pasta sauce as needed until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.



Serving: 1serving | Calories: 518kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 864mg | Potassium: 463mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1134IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 163mg | Iron: 2mg
Keyword 15 minute dinner, easy pasta recipe, pasta, rigatoni, rigatoni pasta, spicy rigatoni
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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I love the different levels of spice from garlic and crushed red pepper. My guests kept going back for more! Going in the recipe box, which is a big thing in our house. Only the best recipes go in there.