Spicy pepper bucatini is not your average spicy pasta. This version combines tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, bell peppers, plus spicy long hot peppers and Cubanelles for heat. Just a touch of anchovy for that umami flavor, and a bit of basil for freshness, and you've got a spicy pasta that is simple and satisfying!
I am a huge fan of spicy food. Even if I'm not eating a traditionally spicy dish, I'll usually find a way to add some heat to it, whether it's from cherry peppers, Calabrian chili paste, or hot sauce.
I'm always looking for ways to add heat to the dishes I create and that's how this spicy pepper pasta came to be.
I had extra long hot peppers on hand after using them for one of my favorite side dishes, Calabrian potatoes and peppers.
I decided to combine them with some bell peppers, cubanelles, tomatoes and toss them with pasta. And the rest is history!
How to make bucatini with spicy peppers, Pecorino, and anchovy
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Begin by removing the seeds and slicing 3 Long Hot peppers.
- Also, seed and slice 1 red bell pepper and 2 Cubanelle (Italian frying peppers). Note: Use any peppers you like and that are available and fresh. Long Hots and Cubanelle peppers are mildly spiced peppers, though Long Hots can occasionally be pretty spicy.
- Turn 3 anchovy fillets into paste and slice 6 cloves of garlic. Note: 2 teaspoons of anchovy paste can be substituted for the whole anchovies.
- Bring a large pot of salted (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon) water to boil. Heat a large pan to medium-low heat and add the olive oil followed by the garlic and anchovy. Saute until lightly golden.
- Next, add the peppers and coat with anchovy, garlic, and olive oil. After 3 minutes of cooking add a ½ cup of water, turn heat to medium, and cover.
- Cook the peppers covered for about 10-12 minutes or until they are soft. Once they are fairly soft remove the lid and continue to cook for a few minutes more until most of the water evaporates.
- Add the tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer. Taste test the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce isn't spicy enough for your liking, add a teaspoon or more of Calabrian chili paste. While the sauce is simmering begin boiling the bucatini until 1 minute less than al dente.
- Add the pasta into the sauce and mix well. Cook, stirring frequently until the pasta is perfectly al dente (about a minute more).
- Once the pasta is finished remove the pan from the heat and add the Pecorino. Toss quickly and if the pasta is too dry add a touch of the reserved pasta water.
- Sprinkle the hand-torn basil all over the pasta and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Note: The trick to making this sauce a success is making sure the peppers are cooked until soft. This helps the peppers really become one with the tomatoes yielding a sweet, spicy sauce.
Types of peppers for spicy bucatini
As I mentioned above, I did use Long Hot peppers and Cubanelles as the heat source for this spicy pepper pasta.
Long hots provide mild heat, ranging anywhere from 100-1,000 on the Scoville scale.
Cubanelles are also usually pretty mild.
If you can't find Long Hots or Cubanelles in your grocery store, you can use bell peppers and simply add additional heat from either Calabrian chili paste, spicy cherry peppers, or crushed red pepper flakes.
Now, as mild as long hots and Cubanelles can be, they can range on the spicier side at times. Be sure to taste test to make sure it's to your spiciness level before adding additional spice.
More simple pasta recipes
Here are a few of our favorite simple (and some spicy) pasta recipes that can be made in roughly the same time as the spicy pepper bucatini.
- Spaghetti arrabbiata - Garlicky marinara is combined with cherry peppers and tossed with spaghetti.
- Shrimp fra diavolo - Linguine and shrimp are tossed in a spicy marinara sauce.
- Spaghetti all'amatriciana - Pasta with pancetta, tomatoes, and Pecorino Romano.
- Bucatini cacio e pepe - Pasta with Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper.
- Linguine aglio e olio - Pasta with garlic, olive oil, parsley, and crushed red pepper flakes.
If you’ve enjoyed this spicy pepper bucatini recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.
- 1 pound bucatini
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic sliced
- 3 large anchovy fillets mashed
- 1 medium red bell pepper sliced
- 3 large long hot peppers seeded and sliced
- 2 large cubanelle peppers seeded and sliced
- ½ cup water
- 1 28 ounce canned plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- 1 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste optional, if more heat is needed
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano grated, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup basil hand torn
- 1 cup reserved pasta water will not need all of it
- Bring a large pot of salted (2 tablespoons kosher salt) water to boil. Heat a large pan to medium-low heat and add the olive oil followed by the garlic and anchovy. Saute until lightly golden then add in all of the peppers.
- Cook the peppers for 3 minutes coating well with oil then add the water and cover. Turn heat to medium, and cook the peppers for about 10-12 minutes or until very soft.
- Remove the lid and let the excess water evaporate while stirring. Add the tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer. At this time begin boiling the bucatini until 1 minute less than al dente.
- Taste test the sauce and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If you like it spicy add the Calabrian chili paste now. Add the pasta in and mix well. Cook, stirring frequently until the pasta is perfectly al dente.
- Once the pasta is finished remove the pan from the heat and add the Pecorino. Toss quickly and if the pasta is too dry add a touch of the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle the hand-torn basil all over the pasta and serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Make sure to taste test the spice levels before adding any Calabrian chili paste. Long Hots, though often mild, can sometimes be very spicy.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.