Shrimp Fra Diavolo is a hearty and spicy Italian dish made of tomato sauce, garlic, calabrian chilies, spices, and juicy shrimp. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or date night at home, this rich sauce can be paired with crusty bread or pasta, making it a memorable meal!
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Nights when I’m feeling for shrimp with a rich tomato sauce, I go for this Shrimp Fra Diavolo recipe. This spicy, hearty sauce takes your typical tomato sauce up a notch with the addition of calabrian chilis, roasted garlic, shallots, and roasted red peppers. Shrimp are marinated with pimentón, garlic, salt and pepper, and then sautéed and topped over the spicy sauce. My preferred pairing with this dish is crusty bread, perfect for sopping up the sauce.
What is Shrimp Fra Diavolo?
Let’s start by first explaining the name. Fra (short for Fratello) diavolo, which means “brother devil” in Italian. In case you already haven’t guessed, this dish gets its name from the sauce’s spiciness. The flavor profile is spicy, garlicky, rich, hearty and perfect for a switch from marinara sauce.
Once you read through the ingredients for this dish, you might be thinking, “wait, isn’t this arrabbiata sauce?” While there are nuances in how the sauces are made, both are spicy–arrabbiata translates to “angry” in Italian–but the main difference is that fra diavolo can include seafood, like shrimp, and can be served with bread or pasta. Arrabbiata on the other hand is a sauce that is typically served with pasta.
Tools You’ll Need
Shrimp Fra Diavolo Ingredients
There are a number of ways to make Fra Diavolo. Some recipes call for the use of oregano, white wine, chili flakes, and/or basil. This iteration is robust, and rich with a hint of smokiness. Let’s dive into the ingredients:
- Calabrian Chilis – this is where the sauce gets it spiciness.
- Whole San Marzano Tomatoes – Canned and crushed by hand.
- Garlic – This recipe calls for a lot of garlic. Grated garlic for the shrimp marinade, plus three large heads, roasted in the oven for 45 minutes, which is used for the rich sauce. Trust me, it’s worth it.
- Olive Oil – Go for quality olive oil.
- Dry White Wine – This is optional, but it adds a little oomph to the sauce. I use sauvignon blanc.
- Roasted Peppers – I opt for the jarred version.
- Shallots – Diced and sautéed with the calabrian chilis.
- Sugar – Helps balance acidity from the tomatoes.
- Shrimp – Go for large shrimp, shells removed and tails still attached.
- Pimentón – Pimentón is Spanish smoked paprika. This lovely spice imparts a slight smoky flavor to the shrimp. If you can’t find Pimentón, smoked paprika makes for a fine substitute.
- Kosher Salt and Pepper
- Parsley for garnish.
How to Make Shrimp Fra Diavolo
- Roast garlic in a 400°F oven for 45 minutes.
- Clean and marinate shrimp then set aside to allow flavors to meld.
- Blend roasted garlic and roasted peppers then set aside.
- Sauté shallots and calabrian chilis then add blended mixture, tomatoes, and wine (if using).
- Cook for 10 minutes then add sugar and season with kosher salt.
- Cook shrimp and be sure not to overcook, causing rubbery shrimp.
- Spoon fra diavolo onto a plate and top with shrimp and parsley for garnish.
- Pair with crusty bread and enjoy!
What to Serve with Shrimp Fra Diavolo
This rich sauce is typically served with linguine, bucatini or spaghetti. Another great pairing for shrimp fra diavolo sauce is crusty bread, the perfect vessel for scooping this spicy goodness.
Tips & Tricks
- When roasting garlic, aim for large heads that are similar in size. This will ensure consistent results.
- Want to pair fra diavolo with pasta? Simply substitute bread for 7 ounces of spaghetti or bucatini.
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Shrimp Fra Diavolo
- 3 heads of garlic plus 3 cloves grated
- 2 tablespoons calabrian chilis, chopped
- ¾ cup roasted red peppers, jarred
- 1 28 ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
- ¼ cup dry white wine, (optional) I use Sauvignon Blanc
- ¼ cup quality extra virgin olive oil plus extra for shrimp
- ¼ cup shallots, diced
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- 1 pound large shrimp, deveined and shells removed
- pimentón or smoked paprika
- kosher salt, I use Diamond Crystal brand
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Cut ½ inch from top of head of garlic. Drizzle top of heads with olive oil, making sure oil gets into the cloves. Wrap in foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Note, if using smaller heads of garlic, check after the 30 minute mark. The end result should resemble a caramelized color. Once fully roasted, remove from foil and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, start working on marinating the shrimp. Place clean and deveined shrimp in a bowl and season with kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, pimentón (or smoked paprika), 1 teaspoon olive oil, and grated garlic. Mix well and set aside to allow flavors to marry.
- When roasted garlic is cool enough to touch, squeeze garlic from the bottom until cloves begin to spill from the top and place cloves into a blender. Repeat with remaining two heads. Add roasted peppers and blend until smooth.
- In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add olive oil, shallot and calabrian chilis. Cook for 2 minutes or until shallot and chilis are fragrant. Add hand-crushed tomatoes and wine (if using). Once mixture comes to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and season to taste with kosher salt.
- Cook shrimp while tomato sauce is simmering. In a sauté pan, add 2 teaspoons olive oil then add shrimp. Cook shrimp for 4-6 minutes or just until plump. Do not overcook as shrimp will become rubbery.
- When ready to serve, spoon fra diavolo sauce into a bowl then top with shrimp and chopped parsley. Conversely, you can add cooked shrimp to the sauce, mix, then plate. Serve with crusty bread.