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Charred Red Sauce Spaghetti (Spaghetti all’Assassina)

4 to 6 Servings

30 minutes

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This is our method for making spaghetti all’assassina—or killer’s spaghetti—a unique dish from Bari, Italy, in which the pasta is cooked start to finish in a skillet. A warm tomato broth is added to the noodles a little at a time, much like the classic technique for risotto. We cook pasta, undisturbed, in an even layer so it chars and crisps, adding texture and flavor. The finished dish is dryish, but pleasantly so, and deliciously intense in flavor, with tasty, crunchy-chewy bits akin to the edges of a baked lasagna. A few things of note: Basic brands of spaghetti, such as Barilla, work best for this, not high-end pastas with a rough, floury appearance, as they tend to release a large amount of starch during cooking. Second, for controlled charring, make sure to use a heavyweight nonstick 12-inch skillet that conducts heat evenly. Lastly, the spaghetti strands must all be parallel when they go into the pan and they remain that way, more or less, throughout cooking.

4 to 6



Don’t try to squeeze 1 pound of pasta into the skillet. It’s too much for the amount of sauce and will crowd the pan. Also, don’t stir the pasta as it simmers. Undisturbed cooking with only two flips allows the spaghetti to develop crispness and deep, flavorful charring.

30 minutes


  • 1

    14½-ounce can tomato puree (1½ cups)

  • 3

    cups boiling water


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Jeffrey C.
May 17, 2024
Surprisingly complex
I saw this dish being cooked on social media and was intrigued. I was pleasantly surprised that the cooking method worked out as expected. The final product was surprisingly complex for such a simple dish. I'll be making again.
Karen J.
March 11, 2024
Crazy New Pasta You'll Love
I did NOT expect this depth of flavor! It's the strangest method to cook pasta, it has such simple, always-on-hand ingredients, it's fast and it packs a punch. I did everything, just as written, with the addition of some fresh basil for serving. I don't think this would ever serve 6 people--I think 3 adults would make quick work of it, it's just that good. The flavor is so beyond what I expected-- Haven't we all used these same ingredients hundreds of times? Trust me, the flavor is really amazing. And who doesn't love a name like Assassin's Spaghetti? That deserves 5 stars too.
Melanie S.
March 8, 2024
OMG!!! This was so good, I can’t wait to make it again! I did have to adjust the ingredients due to a lack of crushed tomatoes but taking them and fast blending them I believe wired out just fine. We don’t care for extreme heat so I eliminated it and here again , I can’t imagine it changed the overall taste. We topped it with some quick sautéed shrimp and we are extremely satisfied. Thank You Milk Street for these delicious recipes!
Beyond Delicious
Joel P.
June 24, 2023
Great spaghetti
Cool technique, and great flavor. Addictive! It was noticeably spicy with 3/4 tsp red pepper, as intended; for the family I'll probably reduce to 1/2 tsp next time. A sprinkle of coarse flaky salt was welcome at the end.
Margo K.
April 21, 2023
The edges of lasagna in a bowl...
This was amazing. I made it after work, and actually used protein pasta. My whole family loved it.