This Spicy Bucatini Recipe is our ode to the end of summer. We cook cherry tomatoes and spicy fresno chilies in nutty brown butter, and then toss it with chewy bucatini noodles, toasted almonds, fresh thyme, and plenty of garlic. A little bit of salty, starchy pasta water and parmesan cheese finish off this irresistibly spicy, nutty summer-to-fall pasta.
End of Summer Spicy Bucatini Recipe
Even though we’re kind of on the fall train with Apple Clafoutis and Pasta Fazool, I can’t quite let go of summer. Because while mums line the outside of stores and butternut squash and apple cider fill the inside of stores, where I’m at, tomatoes are still very present.
Today’s Spicy Bucatini Recipe is an ode to the end of summer, as I’ve done my best to combine a few of my favorite summer staples – tomatoes and thyme – with one of my favorite fall ingredients – brown butter. Oh, and we have the ingredient that brings them all together – spicy Fresno chilis.
Word to the wise, this pasta is SPICY, in the best way possible. It’s also simple, in the best way possible. Here’s the scoop:
- Nutty brown butter studded with garlic, slivered almonds, and thyme. The trio becoming toasty and nutty and herby and all things delicious.
- Cherry tomatoes and spicy Fresno chilies sautéed in the brown butter, garlic, and almonds just until the tomatoes are about to burst.
- Aldente bucatini noodles bathed in it all, and then coasted in the hallmark of a great pasta- parmigiano reggiano.
Trust me guys, this Spicy Bucatini Recipe is not something you want to miss. It comes together in 30 minutes, feeds a crowd, and it just SO delicious.
Ingredients in our Spicy Bucatini Recipe
Butter. Normally I always recommend using unsalted butter, but in today’s case, you are free to use salted butter if you have it on hand.
Almonds. I really wanted an element of crunch and texture in our bucatini recipe because the chiles and tomatoes soften up quite a bit after cooking. I like to use slivered almonds because they can withstand cooking in the brown butter, plus they don’t get lost in the pasta when it’s finished,
Garlic. I don’t think I have a pasta recipe on this website that doesn’t include garlic. I use three cloves here, but honestly, use as much as you want.
Thyme. I can’t get enough of fresh thyme. I love the slightly citrusy notes of it, and love how well it pairs with tomatoes AND brown butter. It’s one of those herbs that’s great to use regardless of the season, so you can be sure I’ll be carrying this far through the fall and winter.
Tomatoes. For this particular bucatini recipe, you really want to use cherry or grape tomatoes. The key to a successful recipe is to have some of the tomatoes burst prior to serving to help create the sauce, but you also want some of them to stay whole so the sauce doesn’t get too, um, saucy.
Chiles. Our Fresno chilies are what puts the spicy in our spicy bucatini recipe, so don’t leave them out (although I do have a substitute below if you can’t find them). If you’ve never had a Fresno chili pepper, I’d describe them as slightly more spicy than a jalapeño, but have a sweetness to them jalapeños don’t. They’re bright red, so they’re also really pretty.
Pasta. Bucatini pasta works phenomenally here. Bucatini, if you’re not familiar, is similar to spaghetti, but thicker and has a teeny tiny hole in the middle. It clings to lighter sauces, like today’s brown butter sauce, really well, and has a bit more bite to it than a spaghetti noodle.
Pasta water. Aside from the juice from the tomatoes, pasta water is what it going to make our bucatini noodles silky-smooth. I used about a half a cup, but you may want more if you want a looser sauce.
Parmesan cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano is the variety we use, but you can definitely swap out a cheaper aged parmesan instead.
Let’s make our Spicy Bucatini Recipe!
Brown the butter. We’ve browned butter countless times, so I’m sure you’re familiar with the process if you’re a regular around here, but here’s how it goes. Heat a large skillet to a medium-high heat. Add your butter. Let the butter melt and once it starts to brown on the edges, start to swirl the pan. Continue to swirl the pan until the butter turns a deep brown color and smells nutty.
Sauté the tomatoes and chilies. Once the butter is brown, add in the tomatoes and chilies. Toss in the butter. Continue to cook the tomatoes and chilies for about 4-5 minutes until you can see the skin start to blister.
Cook the pasta. At this time, drop the bucatini into salted, boiling water.
Toast the almonds, garlic, and thyme. Add the almonds, garlic, and thyme to the butter, tomatoes, and chiles. Toss with the tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is softened. Add in salt. Toss to combine. Use a wooden spoon to smash about 10 of the tomatoes.
If the bucatini isn’t done cooking, remove from the tomatoes from the heat while it finishes.
Toss. The bucatini is done cooking when it’s just UNDER aldente. We want it to be just under because it will continue to cook when we toss the noodles with the sauce and pasta water.
So, use tongs to transfer the pasta to the tomatoes and sauce. RESERVE that pasta water! Toss the pasta with the tomatoes, nuts, and chilies. Add pasta water and parm. Toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper!
Can I make this ahead of time
Sure! Again, be sure to cook the noodles UNDER aldente. I’d also reserve a little extra pasta water. Once you make the bucatini from start to finish, cool completely and simply store in the skillet you made it in. When you’re ready to serve, turn the heat on LOW and gently reheat the pasta.
Microwave the pasta water until hot, and add as needed to the pasta.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- You can swap out spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine for the bucatini.
- If you can’t find Fresno chilies, you can use a jalapeño or Serrano pepper instead. Just be sure to taste first so you can decipher the spice level you can tolerate.
- Instead of almonds, you could use walnuts or even macadamia nuts.
- When you toss the pasta, gently toss everything together, because you want about half of the tomatoes to stay whole.
- When you add the garlic, almonds and thyme to the butter, be sure to watch it. If the butter is still too hot, it could burn,
- If you want to add a protein, you could easily fry up some Italian sausage, pancetta, or bacon to add to the mix.
Other Simple Pasta Recipes
- If you want to stick with something vegetarian, you should check out our Cavatelli and Broccoli. Slightly spicy, cheesy, and so darn good.
- Looking for something indulgent? This 5-Ingredient Pasta Gratin is irresistibly cheesy and rich.
- Easy Shrimp Pappardelle is one of our favorite weeknight dinners. We take silky pappardelle noodles and pair them in a simple buttery garlic sauce and sautéed shrimp. Can’t get much simpler than that!
- 4 tbsp salted (or unsalted) butter
- 1 1/2 lbs cherry tomatoes, about 4 cups
- 2 fresno chili peppers, sliced
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 4 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 lb buctaini noodles
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- 1/2 cup (heaping) parmigiano reggiano, plus more for garnish
- Large skillet
- large pot
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season generously with salt, it should taste almost as salty a sea water.
- Heat a large skillet to a medium-high heat. Add butter. Let the butter melt and once it starts to brown on the edges, start to swirl the pan. Continue to swirl the pan until the butter turns a deep brown color and smells nutty. It shouldn't be blonde in color, it should be very brown with dark specks.
- Once the butter is brown, turn the heat down to medium and add in the tomatoes and chilies. Toss in the butter. Continue to cook the tomatoes and chilies for about 4-5 minutes until you can see the skin of the tomatoes start to blister.
- When the tomatoes soften, drop the bucatini into the salted, boiling water.
- Turn the heat down to medium low and add in the almonds, garlic, and thyme. Toss with the tomatoes and butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is softened and the almonds are toasted. Add in salt. Toss to combine. Use a wooden spoon to smash a few about 10 of the tomatoes. If the bucatini isn’t done cooking, remove from the tomatoes from the heat.
- The bucatini is done cooking when it’s just UNDER aldente. We want it to be just under because it will continue to cook when we toss the noodles with the sauce and pasta water. Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the tomatoes and sauce. RESERVE that pasta water! Toss the pasta with the tomatoes, nuts, and chilies. Add pasta water and parm. Toss until parmesan has melted into the sauce. If needed, add a little bit more pasta water to get to desired sauce consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with more parm.