Spaghetti all’Assassina (‘Killer’ Spaghetti)

This is the best recipe on the internet for the spicy, crunchy tomato pasta from Bari, Italy that’s taken the food world by storm.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    50 minutes


By Dan Pashman

Published on April 11, 2024

Hailing from Bari, Italy, spaghetti all’assassina is a relatively new entry into the pasta canon. It’s made by simmering spaghetti in spicy tomato sauce until the pasta is al dente and the sauce is mostly absorbed or evaporated and about as thick as tomato paste. It’s then fried until the pasta turns golden brown and crispy in some parts and charred and crunchy in others. This recipe from “The Sporkful” podcast creator and host Dan Pashman is inspired by the superlative spaghetti all’assassina at Ghiotto Panzerotto.

Pashman emphasizes that spaghetti is the perfect pasta shape for this dish, especially the Teflon-extruded kind like De Cecco. A flatter pasta would throw off the ratios—too much of it would be in contact with the pan and you’d have all crunchiness, no chewiness—while a thicker noodle would have too much chewy interior in relation to exterior crisp. Pashman also recommends using silicone-tipped tongs for this recipe so you don’t scratch your nonstick pan. 

Once the dish is cooked, do not leave it in the pan or serve it in one large bowl because the steam will destroy the crisp you worked so hard to create. Serve it individually and eat it right away. And while it’s not traditional, Pashman is partial to adding a sprinkle of grated parmesan at the end.

Adapted from the book Anything’s Pastable by Dan Pashman. Copyright © 2024 by Dan Pashman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.


  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • One 24- to 25-oz. jar marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 5–10 jarred whole pepperoncini peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Finely grated parmesan, for serving (optional)


Step 1

To a large pot over high heat, add the salt and 2½ quarts of water. Bring to a boil.

Step 2

To a large nonstick skillet, add the marinara, tomato paste, and pepperoncini. Add 1½ cups of water to the empty marinara jar, close it tightly, and shake it to release the residual sauce, then add it to the skillet. Stir well, then set the skillet over medium heat. 

Step 3

Add the pasta to the boiling water (it may not be fully submerged at first) and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until just pliable enough that some pieces form an “S” shape, about 3 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the skillet, then use a silicone spatula to gently spread out and press down the pasta until it is fully submerged. (If necessary, add pasta cooking water 2 tablespoons at a time until the pasta is just submerged.) Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, pressing down to resubmerge the pasta and adding more pasta water if needed. 

Step 4

Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the oil over the pasta, then use the tongs and spatula to gently turn it over in sections. When all the pasta has been turned, use the spatula to press it into a flat, even layer, turn the heat to high, and cook for 5 minutes. Using the tongs and spatula, rotate the pasta, moving the lighter sections to the bottom and the crispy bits to the top, then press into an even layer and cook for 2–3 minutes. Repeat this process, rotating the skillet occasionally, until about a quarter of the pasta is blackened, a quarter is deeply browned, and half is dark red, 15–18 minutes. (If you want it crunchier, cook it longer.) Add the remaining oil and toss to combine.

Step 5

Transfer the pasta to four bowls, top with parmesan if desired, and serve immediately. 

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