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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 quick meal 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 means “brother devil” in Italian, alluding to the intense heat of this dish. But make it homemade and you can customize the spiciness to taste! It’s fast and easy, great for impressing guests but weeknight friendly too. Here’s how to make this dish that will wow everyone!

History of the dish

Fra diavolo sauce is a spicy Italian tomato-based sauce for pasta and seafood. The name translates to “brother devil” in Italian, named so because of the heat of the sauce. It’s likely it’s not a traditional Italian sauce but is Italian American, invented at Italian restaurants in New York City in the early twentieth century. One New York City restaurant called Grotta Azzurra claims to have been serving lobster fra diavolo since 1908.

Ingredients in shrimp fra diavolo

Shrimp fra diavolo is a spin on the lobster version of the dish that’s cheaper and easier to make, and it’s become popular on restaurant menus these days. This punchy sauce brings a kick! Made at home, it’s easy to customize the heat level to taste. Here’s what you’ll need for this dish:

  • Protein: Large shrimp, tail on
  • Pantry: Olive oil, dried oregano, fire roasted tomatoes, Calabrian chili peppers or red pepper flakes
  • Dairy: Butter
  • Fresh ingredients: Garlic, white onion
  • Special ingredients: White wine or broth
Shrimp Fra Diavolo

For the heat: Calabrian peppers vs 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 for the sweetly smoky heat they infuse into the dish. Substitute red pepper flakes for another 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 with subtly sweet, smoky, and fruity flavor notes. We can’t recommend them enough!
  • Chopped or crushed Calabrian peppers are available in many grocery stores near the olives and pickles, or you can find them online. Or, you can chop up the whole peppers if that’s all you can find (make sure to protect your hands). We buy these chopped Calabrian peppers from our local grocery.
  • As a substitute, 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 to taste

The great thing about making a shrimp fra diavolo recipe at home? You can customize the heat and add spiciness until it reaches the ideal level for the eaters at your table. 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.
  • Alternatively, have each eater add heat at the table. Serve shrimp fra diavolo with a little dish of chopped Calabrian chilis or red pepper flakes at the table, so each eater can customize the heat level before digging in.

Use fire roasted tomatoes if possible

The other key to this shrimp fra diavolo recipe is using fire roasted tomatoes. Here’s what to know about this special variety of canned tomatoes:

  • Fire roasted tomatoes are a type of canned tomato that’s roasted over an open flame before canning, which gives them a sweet, smoky flavor right out of the can. They’re sold by several different brands; look for them in the canned tomato section in your local grocery. (We like the brand 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.
  • The best substitute is San Marzano tomatoes, which are becoming easy to find canned at your local grocery. Otherwise, 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:

This shrimp fra diavolo recipe is…

Gluten-free.

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Shrimp fra diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 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 or San Marzano 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, use San Marzano tomatoes or substitute best quality crushed tomatoes and simmer at least 15 minutes. Taste and add about 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

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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9 Comments

  1. Honestly, this is an amazing, simple, straight-forward, slam-dunk great recipe! I did add smoked paprika to the fire roasted tomatoes and simmered awhile, and added more Calabrian peppers (we do like it spicy!) And we loved it! I’m making it again tonight. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. Such a great recipe. Huge hit with the fam. A top five for me.

    On a a side note, I inadvertently purchased diced Muir Glen tomatoes on my third time making this recipe, while not as good as crushed, it still worked. All you need to do is simmer a bit longer.

    As an FYI, when x2 is chosen the text of the recipe instructions does not update. Salt being the example here. Not a a big deal at all just wanted to let people know.

  3. So good! Reading the recipe, it reminded me of my favorite menu item at a restaurant that closed a long long time ago. I thought if I doubled the sauce and added a smidge of heavy cream, it would be in the ballpark, and I was right!. It was terrific. Thank you for yet another great recipe to add to my 5-Star recipe binder.

  4. 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.

  5. great dish, love the flavor in this, and I don’t need to add pasta, better for my diet, so thank you!

  6. 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!