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Fra Diavolo Sauce

This simple Fra Diavolo sauce is a fiery blend of tomatoes, garlic, and a generous dash of red pepper flakes, creating a bold yet harmonious flavor.

It’s perfect for pairing with pasta or seafood and makes ordinary meals extraordinary with its kick. This fra diavolo sauce is a testament to the power of simple ingredients coming together in Italian cooking to create a big flavor quickly.

And if you like spicy tomato sauces, please also see my Arrabiata sauce.

Black plate with pasta and shrimp fra diavolo.

Ingredients

labeled ingredients for fra diavolo sauce on marble background

Ingredients for fra diavolo sauce include tomatoes, herbs, aromatics, and red pepper flakes. I like to add white wine and shrimp for added protein. The red pepper flakes can be adjusted to taste to make the sauce from mildly to spicy to very spicy.

Variations

Protein Variations: Aside from seafood, you can make Fra Diavolo sauce with chicken, sausage, or even tofu for a vegetarian version.

Seafood Selection: Shrimp is a classic choice, but you can use other seafood like lobster, mussels, clams, or a combination of seafood. Make sure to adjust cooking times accordingly.

Creamy Fra Diavolo: Add a touch of heavy cream or coconut milk to the sauce for a creamy variation. This mellows out the heat and adds richness.

Add Vegetables: I love to make shrimp and broccoli rabe version of this but you can also make it vegetarian version by skipping the animal proteins and adding roasted or sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms to the sauce.

How to Make

Sautéing garlic and red pepper flake in olive oil
Adding tomato sauce to garlic and oil in hot pan.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it becomes translucent. Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes and white wine (if using). Season with salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken slightly. Stir occasionally.

Raw shrimp added to pot of tomato sauce.
Topping shrimp fra diavolo sauce in pot with parsley.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare your seafood if you haven’t already. If using shrimp, make sure they are peeled and deveined. Add the shrimp (or your choice of seafood) to the simmering sauce. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the seafood is cooked through and opaque. Be careful not to overcook it.

Stir in the fresh basil and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, red pepper flakes if needed, and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Tips

Adjust Spiciness: The level of spiciness in Fra Diavolo sauce is adjustable. Start with a small amount of red pepper flakes and add more gradually if you prefer it spicier. Taste as you go to ensure it’s to your liking.

Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality canned crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs for the best flavor. San Marzano tomatoes are a popular choice for a rich tomato flavor.

Wine Choice: While white wine is traditionally used, you can also use dry red wine or even chicken or seafood stock for added flavor. The wine adds depth, but it’s optional if you prefer not to use alcohol.

Fresh Herbs: The addition of fresh basil and parsley at the end brightens up the sauce. You can also consider adding a touch of fresh oregano or thyme for additional herbal notes.

Serve with Pasta: Fra Diavolo sauce is commonly served with pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine. Cook the pasta al dente and toss it with the sauce before serving.

More Pasta Sauces

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📖 Recipe

Black plate with pasta and shrimp fra diavolo.

Fra Diavolo Sauce

This simple Fra Diavolo sauce is a fiery blend of tomatoes, garlic, and a generous dash of red pepper flakes, creating a bold yet harmonious flavor.
5 from 1 vote
Author: Marie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 175 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes adjust to your desired level of spiciness
  • 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 pounds shrimp peeled and deveined (or use lobster, mussels, or other seafood of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 pound Cooked pasta

Instructions
 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it becomes translucent.
  • Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, and white wine (if using). Season with salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken slightly. Stir occasionally.
  • While the sauce is simmering, prepare your seafood if you haven’t already. If using shrimp, make sure they are peeled and deveined.
  • Add the shrimp (or your choice of seafood) to the simmering sauce. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the seafood is cooked through and opaque. Be careful not to overcook it.
  • Stir in the fresh basil and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and red pepper flakes if needed and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.
  • Serve the Fra Diavolo sauce over cooked pasta.

Notes

The nutrition estimate does NOT include pasta and is based on using 1-pound shrimp. 

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 18gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 270mgPotassium: 647mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 482IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 106mgIron: 2mg
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