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spaghetti alla puttanesca in a bowl.
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5 from 6 votes

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

This classic pasta dish represents the best of the best of Italian cuisine. Spaghetti alla puttanesca is made from cupboard essentials, and makes a flavourful tomato based pasta sauce.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Dinner, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: anchovies, capers, olive oil, olives, pasta
Servings: 2
Calories: 435kcal
Author: Tonje
Cost: Cheap


  • 50 g olives
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1 (400 g) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 400 g cooked spaghetti* (about 200 g dry spaghetti, boiled in water)


  • Start by finely chopping the anchovies and garlic, as well as slicing the olives.
  • Warm the olive oil in a small pot on medium to high heat, then add the capers, anchovies and garlic. Allow these to saute for a minute.
  • Then, add the diced tomatoes, olives and sugar to the pot. Bring this to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and leave it to cook for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and the sauce is thick. 
  • Meanwhile, boil spaghetti following the package instructions. Drain off the water. Combine the pasta and sauce before adding to a pasta bowl to serve.


*or as much spaghetti as you like for 2 servings.


Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can freeze spaghetti alla puttanesca up to 3 months. Thaw the pasta dish in the fridge overnight, then reheat it in a saucepan or microwave before serving.

Tips and substitutions

  • Not a fan of anchovies? – No problem, you can omit the anchovies. As they give the sauce a salty flavour, I recommend adding some salt in their place.
  • The spaghetti should be cooked al dente. This means that we cook it until it’s soft, but still has a bit of bite in it. The last thing we want is mushy pasta!
  • If you don’t have canned chopped tomatoes available, you can use tomato passata instead.
  • Allowing the sauce to cook for a while is key. This allows the flavours to develop, and is the difference between a bland sauce and total pasta deliciousness.
  • Make this dish vegan by leaving out the anchovies.
  • The sugar is added to combat the tang from the diced tomatoes. If your tomatoes are particularly acidic, you might want to add more sugar to taste.


Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 508mg | Potassium: 106mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 98IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 3mg