Shrimp fra diavolo is a delicious Italian dish made with juicy, large shrimp cooked in a hearty, spicy tomato sauce with garlic, white wine, and fresh parsley. This spicy shrimp recipe is ready in 20 minutes, and it is great served with your favorite crusty bread, pasta, or rice.
Fra diavolo, pronounced fra-dia-voh-loh, is a hearty tomato-based sauce, typically made with familiar ingredients like tomatoes, onions, garlic, white wine, and oregano. But that’s not all…
The hallmark of this sauce, and what makes fra diavolo different from say a spaghetti sauce or another Italian tomato sauce, is that fra diavolo sauce is fiery hot, thanks to the use of red chili flakes (and sometimes fresh chilis, depending on the recipe). Don’t worry, this shrimp recipe is bearable, with just enough of a kick.
There is some contention about the origins of this sauce. Some claim that it hails from Italy, while others are firm in their belief that fra diavolo is an Italian-American invention, with roots in New York. Regardless of where it hails from, fra diavolo, like puttanesca sauce, is a popular and delicious sauce that pairs especially well with seafood. Since I keep a bag of shrimp in the freezer at all times, I went for a quick and easy shrimp fra diavolo recipe. (Side note: I like this sauce so much, I've used a version of it to make my own fun twist on eggs in purgatory).
About this spicy shrimp recipe
There are a couple of things I do differently in my recipe. Many shrimp fra diavolo recipes call for plain chopped or crushed tomatoes as the base of the fra diavolo sauce, but in this recipe I went for diced fire-roasted tomatoes to play things up a bit by adding a layer of smoky depth.
The sauce will be chunkier because the tomatoes aren’t crushed, but I quite like the heartier texture! I also added tomato paste, because that umami and depth of flavor is unparalleled! (It’s what makes things like my Easy Balsamic Chicken and Garlic Mushroom Pasta so special, but you don't even detect it in those recipes!)
And, as I mentioned earlier, this recipe is not as devilishly spicy. I stick to 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes here to give the spicy shrimp enough of a kick but still keep it bearable. You can scale back, or, if you’re going for the fiery, devilish effect, chop up some fresh hot peppers and add them in the sauce (you can just throw them in to sauté with the onions and garlic).
What is the difference between fra diavolo sauce and arrabiata?
You can think of this dish as being a bit like arrabiata, but with a seafood twist! Fra diavolo and arrabiata sauce share more similarities than differences…even their names are spicy! (Arrabiata means “angry”.)
Both are hot sauces with generous amounts of crushed red pepper and garlic. However, some versions of arrabiata sauce, depending on what region of Italy they come from, may contain basil and capers, and these are never included in fra diavolo. Also, while fra diavolo is typically tossed with seafood (such as shrimp or lobster), arrabiata is often served plain as a vegetarian pasta sauce.
Ingredients: What you’ll need to make this shrimp fra diavolo recipe
Once you have your shrimp defrosted, the rest of this fra diavolo recipe comes together with simple Mediterranean staples. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Large shrimp – Peeled and deveined, but you can leave the tails attached if you like. If they are frozen, defrost the shrimp in a large bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. (In a hurry, you can thaw the shrimp under running water. Just make sure the shrimp is in a closed bag.)
- Crushed red pepper flakes – Shrimp fra diavolo is supposed to be a spicy dish, so don’t skip this. You can also add more for an extra kick!
- Extra virgin olive oil- I like using our Italian Nocellara EVOO here.
- Chopped yellow onion
- Minced garlic – As a huge garlic-lover, I used 5 cloves. Use more (or less) depending on your preference
- Dry white wine – Any crisp white wine you enjoy such as Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc will work. White wine is an important ingredient in this fra diavolo sauce, you won’t really be able to tell it’s there, but, trust me, the sauce falls flat without it – you need the wine to add brightness and to lift the other flavors. If you do not consume wine usually, you may try another form of citrus, although I would start with a lower amount.
- A can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes – Fire-roasted tomatoes take this sauce to the next level. Most recipes call for plain diced tomatoes, but fire-roasted tomatoes add a whole other dimension to the flavor.
- Tomato paste – for delicious umami flavor
- Dried oregano – A generous amount of dried oregano adds earthiness to the sauce.
- Chopped fresh parsley – I like to finish the shrimp fra diavolo with fresh parsley for a pop of color and a hint of fresh pepperiness.
How to make shrimp fra diavolo
You need just one large skillet to get this fra diavolo sauce going. Here’s how you make it:
- Partially cook the shrimp. After patting the shrimp dry, season it with kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Move the shrimp and any juices to a plate. The shrimp will not be cooked through yet, so don’t worry if it still looks somewhat gray and translucent.
- Make the fra diavolo sauce. In the same skillet, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are softened and golden brown. (This will take about 5 minutes.) Reduce heat during this step if the garlic starts to burn. It should be a light golden color, not dark brown. Pour in 1 cup dry white wine and cook until it has reduced by half. Stir in the diced fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato paste. Season with kosher salt, black pepper, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened.
- Add shrimp to the sauce and serve. Add the shrimp to the tomato sauce. Cook for about 1 minute, until the shrimp has warmed through and is pink in color. Top with ½ cup chopped fresh parsley and serve.
What to serve it with
Shrimp fra diavolo is typically served with a long pasta such as linguine or spaghetti. I like to change it up and serve it with anything that can either soak up or help me scoop the sauce.
If you aren’t in the mood for pasta, toss the fra diavolo sauce with toasted orzo or basmati rice. Crusty bread is also a delicious vehicle for enjoying the sauce. For a side salad, consider something cooling like creamy cucumber salad to balance the spicy shrimp.
Leftover and storage tips
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat over medium heat on the stove, and remove from heat the moment the shrimp is warmed through. This will keep it from becoming too rubbery.
Additional fra diavolo tips
- Do not overcook the shrimp! Even the largest of shrimp may take 3 minutes to cook in total. For this recipe, first, saute the shrimp no longer than 1 minute, then remove it even if it still looks a little grey in some parts. When the sauce is ready, tuck the shrimp in it and it should turn perfectly pink in about 1 more minute. For more great info about working with shrimp, don't miss our Guide to Buying and Cooking Shrimp.
- Make-Ahead tip. You can make the sauce a day or two in advance and save it in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend making the shrimp ahead because every time you reheat shrimp, it will get a bit more rubbery. Since it only takes a couple minutes, prepare the shrimp when you are about ready to serve the meal.
Other seafood fra diavolo variations
Once you make this deliciously spicy fra diavolo sauce, you can try other seafood options. Use lobster or crab meat, lobster tails, or chunks of fish fillet like bass or snapper in place of the shrimp (or with it for something more amped up). Cooking time will vary, particularly if you use fish, which would require you to par-cook the fish first for 4 minutes or so before adding it to the sauce to finish cooking. Par-cook the fish for about 4 minutes. (Smaller chunks of white fish usually takes about 5 to 6 minutes to cook completely on the stove. When the fish has turned from translucent to opaque, and it flakes easily with a fork, it is cooked. The result may be similar to this baked fish with tomatoes and capers.)
More shrimp recipes
Hungry for more? Here are all our Mediterranean Recipes!
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails attached
- Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, more to your liking
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 15- ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, or plain fire-roasted tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- Black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Pat the shrimp dry and season with kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute over medium heat. Transfer the shrimp and its juices to a plate for now. (If the shrimp is still grey in some parts it is okay, it will finish cooking in the sauce).
- In the same skillet, heat another 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering. Reduce the heat to medium then add the onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, tossing regularly, until the onions have softened and turned a light golden brown (manage your heat to make sure the garlic does not burn). Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Season with kosher salt, black pepper, the oregano, and the remaining red pepper flakes. Bring to boil, then lower the heat to medium low and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes or so until thickened.
- Return the shrimp to the skillet and nestle it into the sauce. Cook for 1 more minute or until the shrimp is just warmed through and pink. Finish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately with your favorite crusty bread, pasta, or rice.
- Make ahead tips: You can make the tomato sauce a day or two in advance and save it in the fridge in a tight-lid container. When you're ready, warm up the sauce and cook the shrimp according to the recipe.
- For a more spicy fra diavolo: If you need more heat to your fra diavolo sauce, you can add more red pepper flakes or chop up some fresh hot peppers and add them in the sauce (you can just throw them in to sauté with the onions and garlic).
- Leftovers and storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Remove the shrimp from the sauce before heating it up, then tuck the shrimp in just before eating.
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