The Best Spices for Spaghetti

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Spaghetti is a long, thin noodle made from durum wheat flour (semolina), salt and water. Although many speculate that noodles were first created in China, and were a staple in diets throughout the world, spaghetti is known for being an Italian noodle. Traditional spaghetti is served with marinara sauce, but other variations include arrabbiata, puttanesca, pesto, Alfredo and bolognese sauces.

Traditional Spices

For traditional marinara sauces, basic Italian cooking spices are basil, oregano, crushed black pepper, garlic and salt. If possible, use fresh herbs when cooking spaghetti. If you don't have fresh herbs, dried herbs at a slightly larger quantity. For a basic marinara sauce, cook these herbs with tomato sauce. Some marinara recipes call for a pinch of sugar.

Common Variations

To increase the flavor and spice levels of spaghetti, some people add crushed red pepper while cooking the sauce, or sprinkle it on top of the spaghetti when served. Another common spice to increase the flavor of spaghetti dishes is called Spike. Spike is a combination of many different spices, and was created specifically for Italian dishes. Spike should be added during the cooking of the sauce, along with the other spices mentioned above.


Spaghetti Arrabbiata is another common Italian dish. Instead of using the basic spices listed above, arrabbiata is made with olive oil, garlic and fresh red chilis. Parsley is a common garnish for arrabbiata sauce.

Alfredo Sauces

Alfredo sauces are cream based and often made with butter and cheese. The basic Alfredo sauce calls for crushed white pepper and salt, but there are some variations that use lemon, lemon zest, a small amount of nutmeg and parsley.