Shrimp Fra Diavolo is an impressive Italian-style meal with a kick! Tender shrimp swim in a garlicky, spicy tomato sauce.

Shrimp fra diavolo

Want a meal to impress…with a little kick? Try Shrimp Fra Diavolo! This Italian-style dish stars tender shrimp that swim in a garlicky, spicy tomato sauce. “Fra diavolo” translates to “brother devil” in Italian, alluding to the intense heat of this dish. But make it homemade and you can customize the spiciness to your taste! It’s fast and easy, great for impressing guests but simple enough for a weeknight meal, too. Here’s how to make this dish that will wow everyone.

Ingredients in Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Fra Diavolo sauce is a spicy Italian tomato-based sauce for pasta and seafood, named “Brother Devil” for the intense heat. Origin stories of the sauce vary, but it’s most likely Italian American, invented at Italian restaurants in New York City in the early twentieth century. One New York City restaurant, Grotta Azzurra, claims to have been serving Lobster Fra Diavolo since 1908.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo is a spin on the lobster version of the dish that’s more economical: and it’s become popular on restaurant menus these days. This punchy sauce brings a kick! But made at home, it’s easy to customize to the eater. Here’s what you’ll need for this dish:

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Use Calabrian peppers or pepper flakes

This Shrimp Fra Diavolo recipe has two options for bringing the heat. If you can find them, we highly recommend using Calabrian chili peppers! The way they lend both flavor and heat to a dish is unparalleled. But, you can use red pepper flakes too, which is the most common way to flavor this dish.

  • Calabrian peppers are a type of chili pepper grown in Calabria, Italy and often used in Italian cuisine. They add just the right level of heat that’s not too searing, along sweet, subtly smoky and fruity flavor notes. We highly recommend them here!
  • Where to find them? Chopped or crushed Calabrian peppers are available in many grocery stores near the olives and pickles, or you can find them online. You can also chop up the whole peppers if that’s all you can find (make sure to wash your hands). We use these chopped Calabrian peppers from our local grocery.
  • Can’t find them? Use red pepper flakes instead! Red pepper flakes don’t add flavor like the Calabrian peppers: they add a straightforward punch of heat.
Calabrian Chili

Customize the heat level to taste

The great thing about this Shrimp Fra Diavolo recipe? You can customize the heat level, and add spiciness until it reaches the ideal level. Here are some notes:

  • 1 teaspoon chopped Calabrian chilis makes a medium spicy dish. This is comparable to ½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
  • Start low, then add more to taste. You can always add more spice: but you can’t remove it! So be conservative at first.
  • Or, have each eater add heat. Serve a little dish of chopped Calabrian chilis or red pepper flakes at the table, and each eater can customize the heat level.

Find fire roasted tomatoes for best flavor

The other key to this Shrimp Fra Diavolo recipe? Canned fire roasted tomatoes. Here’s what to know about this variety:

  • Fire roasted tomatoes are a type of canned tomato that’s roasted over a flame before canning. They’re sold by several different brands; look for them in the canned tomato section in your local grocery. We like Muir Glen.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes taste sweet and subtly smoky right out of the can. This means you can cook them for less time than standard tomatoes.
  • What’s a substitute? Use the highest quality canned crushed tomatoes you can find, and simmer the sauce for at least 15 minutes. Consider adding ½ teaspoon each sugar and smoked paprika to round out the flavors.
Shrimp fra diavolo

Ways to serve shrimp fra diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo can be served in a variety of ways! Serving it over pasta is common, but similar to Shrimp Scampi, that’s not the only way to do it. Add a side of crusty bread, or even rice or couscous. It’s totally customizable! Here are some serving suggestions:

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

More shrimp recipes

Shrimp is quick to cook and nutritious: making it king among healthy dinner ideas! Here are a few more shrimp recipes to try:

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Shrimp fra diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Shrimp fra diavolo is an impressive Italian-style meal with a kick! Tender shrimp swim in a garlicky, spicy tomato sauce.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound large shrimp, deveined (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup minced white onion
  • ¼ cup white wine (or broth of any type)
  • 14-ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes*
  • 1 teaspoon chopped or crushed Calabrian peppers** or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes for medium spicy, plus more to taste as desired
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Optional for serving: 8 ounces pasta (like spaghetti, linguine or Easy Angel Hair Pasta) or crusty bread


Instructions

  1. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel. Prepare the garlic and white onion as noted above. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat the butter on medium high heat. Add the shrimp and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side until almost cooked through, turning them with tongs (they will cook fully later). Remove the shrimp from the pan into a bowl, leaving the juices inside the skillet.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add the olive oil, minced garlic and minced onion. Cook until the garlic is starting to become golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping until the pan is smooth. Once the wine is nearly evaporated, add the tomatoes, Calabrian peppers or red pepper flakes, oregano and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer. Taste, and if it’s not spicy enough, add more peppers to taste. Simmer partially covered, for 7 to 10 minutes until the flavor is smooth and rich (or up to 15 minutes if the tomatoes are not fire roasted). 
  4. Stir in the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute before serving. Serve with crusty bread or over pasta. 

Notes

*Fire roasted tomatoes taste sweet and subtly smoky right out of the can; they’re widely available in most grocery stores. If you can’t find them, substitute best quality crushed tomatoes and simmer longer (see recipe); you can also add ½ teaspoon smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon sugar to round out the flavors. 

**Chopped or crushed Calabrian peppers are available in many grocery stores near the olives and pickles, or you can find them online. We used these chopped Calabrian peppers. The flavor is fruity and subtly spicy, and it’s absolutely worth finding! If not, use red pepper flakes. 1 teaspoon Calabrian chilis makes a medium spicy dish. Customize the heat level to your tastes!

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Shrimp fra diavolo

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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5 Comments

  1. What an epic recipe!

    In Spain we just cook the prawns with garlic and a spicy pepper, this is such an interesting way of cooking them!

  2. After enjoying the virgin drink recipes, I decided to try this shrimp recipe. It turned out very well. I found that I needed more than a teaspoon of calabrian peppers, but the sauce is amazing. I enjoyed dipping French bread into it. I look forward to trying more of these recipes.