Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo is a pasta dish topped with tender shrimp sauteed in a spicy, fresh tomato and white wine sauce.  This is an easy weeknight dinner that is impressive enough to serve to guests.

Bowl of Shrimp Fra Diavolo - juicy shrimp sauteed in a spicy, fresh tomato sauce served over pasta and garnished with parsley and Parmesan cheese.


The literal meaning, in Italian, is ‘brother devil’.  It originated as a moniker given to a child in the 1700s who became ill, recovered, and went on to lead Italian insurgents against the French.

His fiery personality was memorialized in a tomato sauce full of hot, chile peppers, garlic, and olive oil.

Fra Diavolo is the base in which seafood is sauteed to perfection, lending it’s briny goodness to the garlicky, tomato sauce.  Clams, mussels, lobster, or shrimp are all delicious additions to the Fra Diavolo.


  • First, let’s start with the shrimp.  I like using extra-large (16-20 count) shrimp.  Frozen is cheaper and works wonderfully in this recipe.  Clean and devein the shrimp.  The tail can be left on or removed.  If you like more of a ‘shrimpy’ flavor to the sauce, leave the tail on.
  • Tomatoes.  This recipe uses three types of tomatoes – fresh tomatoes, canned crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste. If you can find San Marzano tomatoes, they are the best, but use what you have on hand and don’t stress it.
  • Aromatic vegetables – in this recipe, we’re using onions and garlic.
  • Dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and sugar.
  • Fresh basil and/or parsley – the basil is used in the sauce for an herbaceous note.  Basil or parsley can be used for garnish.
  • White wine – use a dry white that you enjoy drinking.  I like a buttery chardonnay.


  • First, we’re going to make the tomato sauce by sauteeing the onions and garlic in olive oil.  Then add all the tomatoes, wine, herbs, and spices.  This is simmered to allow the flavors to blend and the sauce to thicken a bit.
  • Next, the shrimp is added to the sauce and cooked until just opaque.
  • Cooked pasta is added to the pan and tossed in the sauce.

Bowl of Shrimp Fra Diavolo - juicy shrimp sauteed in a spicy, fresh tomato sauce served over pasta and garnished with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

If you are running short on time:

  • Purchase shrimp that is already cleaned and deveined.  You will pay a bit more for this convenience, but sometimes it is worth it.
  • Use a good jarred sauce to start and add the chile flakes and sauteed vegetables to it before adding the shrimp.
  • Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried.

Make it a meal:



Tender shrimp are sauteed in a spicy, fresh tomato sauce.  This easy recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal and yet special enough to serve to guests.

  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: Italian



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, very finely minced

6 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ teaspoon dry oregano

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 ½ pounds cherry, grape, or plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded, reserving any juices

1 ½ cups canned crushed tomatoes

1 ½ cups dry white wine

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

12 teaspoons sugar

Handful fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

8 ounces spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini, cooked per the package instructions

Chopped basil or parsley as garnish

4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese


Heat the oil In a large skillet over medium heat. 

When shimmering, add the onions and stir to coat with the oil.  Saute, stirring often, until translucent – about 3-5 minutes.

Add the garlic and stir, cooking for another 3 minutes.  Don’t let the garlic brown.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomato paste, oregano, and chili flakes. Stir, cooking until the tomato paste is incorporated into the onions and garlic.

Pour in the tomatoes, with any juices, the canned tomatoes, wine, and salt.  Stir well to combine the ingredients.

Cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the fresh tomatoes are soft and beginning to break down.

Sprinkle in the sugar.  Continue to cook for another 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust for salt and sugar.

Use the back of your spoon to break down any large chunks of tomato.

Stir in the basil leaves and shrimp.  Cover the pan and cook until the shrimp turn opaque – about 4-5 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and turn in the sauce until all of the noodles are coated in the sauce.

Divide the pasta evenly between four bowls.  Top with shrimp and spoon any remaining sauce on top.

Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh basil or parsley and 1 tablespoon cheese per bowl.

Keywords: shrimp fra diavolo, pasta recipes, Italian food, spicy food, tomato sauce, shrimp, seafood, weeknight dinners