Puttanesca Sauce Recipe

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An authentic spaghetti all Puttanesca Sauce recipe or Suggo alla Puttanesca, made with anchovies, capers and black olives. A favorite Italian classic pasta dish! 

Red Pot of Puttanesca Sauce

What is Puttanesca Sauce or Suggo alla Puttanesca?

An incredibly flavorful, traditional Southern Italian Tomato sauce cooked “in the style of a prostitute”, dating back to the 20th century. How is that for a history lesson? You are welcome!

Traditionally served with spaghetti, the sauce gets its flavor from tons of garlic, stinky anchovies, black olives and salty capers. The secret here is to not get stingy with any of the ingredients. Unless you want to make it vegan of course, in which case forget about the anchovies and use a good pinch of dulse flakes for the seafood flavor instead. Perfetto!

I like to think of it as a flavor loaded Marinara or Arrabbiata sauce that you can make with fresh or canned San Marzano tomatoes. It really doesn’t get much easier in the kitchen than making a big pot of sauce to toss with your favorite pasta, right?!

Pot of Puttanesca Sauce with Olives and Capers

How to make the Best Puttanesca

  1. Sautee lots of garlic, red pepper flakes and anchovies in a little olive oil.
  2. Add olives, tomatoes and oregano and cook down into a hearty, thick sauce.
  3. Toss with spaghetti or bucatini and sprinkle with more black olives and Italian parsley.

Puttanesca Sauce Recipe Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Recipe Tips

  • Cook your sauce slowly, on low flame.
  • Stir often with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t stick and burn. Tomatoes contain tons of beautiful natural sugars that can burn easily if you walk away from the pot for too long without stirring, or if the heat is just a little too high. Stay close by!
  • Make more than you need because you will want leftovers. Refrigerate the rest for up to a week or freeze for 4 months.

Easy Italian recipes are my favorite go to for a weeknight dinner, but this classic Spaghetti Sauce alla Puttanesca is also worthy of gracing the holiday table and make a regular appearance for Sunday supper with the family.

Pot of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Puttanesca Sauce Recipe Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
4.89 from 9 votes

Puttanesca Sauce Recipe (Spaghetti alla Puttanesca)

An authentic Puttanesca Sauce recipe or Suggo all Puttanesca, made with anchovies, capers and black olives. A favorite pasta dish of spaghetti alla Puttanesca.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes
Total Time:50 minutes


  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 8 anchovies
  • 3/4 cup black olives sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano or 1 Tbsp dry
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley roughly chopped
  • sea salt to taste
  • 3/4 lb spaghetti


  • In a heavy bottom pot add a lug of olive oil over low heat.
  • Add the anchovies and red pepper flakes to the olive oil and sauté for about two minutes until the anchovies start to melt into the oil.
  • Stir in the garlic and stir well taking good care not to burn it. Add half of the black olives and the capers and cook for about 15 seconds or so.
  • Use your hands to roughly crush the San Marzano tomatoes and add them to the pot together with the oregano. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Partially cover the sauce with a lid and let it cook down for about 35 minutes until reduced and thickened to your liking. Stir often.
  • Remove the sauce from flame and adjust seasonings to your taste with the sea salt.
  • Meanwhile cook the spaghetti al dente and toss them with the puttanesca sauce. Serve hot, garnished with the remaining olives and fresh parsley.


Calories: 570kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 801mg | Potassium: 907mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1191IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 6mg
Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Puttanesca Sauce
Servings: 4
Calories: 570kcal
Author: Florentina

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  1. This is a lovely version of a standard dish – but what on earth does “1 oz x 28 can of San Marzino tomatoes” mean? And the equivalent in the other servings quantities?

    1. Hey Andrew, there was just an error in the recipe card, it’s meant to be 1×28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes. Report back if you give it a try! ~ Florentina

  2. Hi there, I have never cooked with anchovies but would love to try this recipe. Do you buy anchovies canned in oil? And, do you prep the anchovies in anyway before adding them to the hot oil? Thank you for any advice you can provide!

    1. Hi Nicole, at the time I used anchovies packed in oil but nowadays I use dulse flakes or the seaweed mix packed in salt (you can even use crumbled nori) to give it that seafood flavor, way healthier and the flavor is wonderful!

  3. 5 stars
    Really delicious! Big tomato taste with a salty, briny bite. Everyone loved it! Easy to prepare in less than an hour.

  4. I have cooked this on many occasions … my own concoction 85% about 4****..
    Now I think you have given me the real one …. so right, I use to skimp on the anchovies ..
    Cant wait for the week end to give it a bash..
    Would like to add a few chilies is that OK . Green or red

  5. 5 stars
    Never heard of Puttanesca sauce until now. This is the best part about being into food blogging and networking.., you get to learn so much almost everyday. And coming back to the recipe, seems less complicated than the name itself. I will definitely give it a try. Thanks!