Fra diavolo sauce with shrimp and linguine is a classic Italian dish perfect for Christmas Eve and the seven fishes, Friday nights during Lent, or just a spicy summer pasta with a kick! I love spicy shrimp pasta and this dish has a depth of flavors and a short-lasting kick of spice, perfect for the whole family. Even my 2-year-old loves this!
When you grow up in an Italian-American household, your parents just sort of say words and you copy them like fra diavolo or escarole. You don't actually learn how to spell them or know what they mean until later in life.
What Does Fra Diavolo Mean?
It means brother devil in Italian. The dish gets its name from the spiciness of the dish. It is commonly misspelled diablo in English, maybe because diablo is devil in Spanish.
There's a history of the phrase dating back to the French occupying Italy and Michele Pezza, nicknamed fra diavolo, leading an Italian insurgent revolution, but you're not here for a history lesson.
As with a lot of Italian dishes, the origin of this fiery tomato sauce is contentious. Some believe it is from Naples while some believe it was created in the tri-state area. My thoughts on this are always this, does it really take a genius to put these simple ingredients together? Who cares where it's from?
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Shrimp. Always buy raw shrimp for this dish. You need to cook the shrimp in the pan for the sauce to develop the right taste. Fra Diavolo is mainly served with seafood, so the sauce needs that seafood flavor developed from start to finish.
Linguine. I'm always going with a long pasta when it comes to seafood. Linguine is my favorite for this because it's flat and picks up a lot of the sauce. I would substitute, bucatini, angel hair, or spaghetti.
Red Wine. If you wouldn't drink it; don't eat it. That's my motto when it comes to wine. Buy a decent red wine and have a glass while you cook. Don't use crappy wine. There is no such thing as cooking wine. There is good wine and bad wine.
Calabrian chili peppers. I buy these in a jar. You can also use fresh or dried chili peppers. Another option is to just substitute crushed red peppers.
This recipe is so easy to make and the sauce is the perfect level of spicy!
Marinate the Shrimp
Marinate your shrimp 1 hour before you're ready to make this dish. Peel, devein, and remove the tails. Then dry the shrimp with a paper towel.
Place the shrimp in a bowl and add 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Adjust the cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you want them. Mix the shrimp well with the spices and store in the refrigerator for 1 hour, uncovered.
Frying the Shrimp
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, fry your shrimp in batches without overcrowding the pan.
Cook shrimp on each side for 60-90 seconds. Overcooked shrimp will start to shrivel and the head will touch the tail. Set the shrimp aside for later.
Sauteing your Fragrants
In the same pan, lower the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté shallots for 3-4 minutes. Stir often to not burn the shallots. Once the shallots are translucent add the garlic, and saute for 30 seconds.
Then add calabrian chili peppers and tomato paste. Stir and caramelize the tomato paste for 2 minutes.
Fra Diavolo Sauce
Deglaze the pan with the red wine. I used a cabernet. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Simmer the red wine for 5 minutes until the wine is reduced by half. The red wine reduction will thicken and when you drag your spoon through, it will leave a trail behind.
Add in the tomatoes, basil, and 2 teaspoon salt. Bring the sauce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1 cup of pasta water from your linguine about 25 minutes in, to help the sauce stick to the pasta.
Combine with the Pasta
Bring a large pot of water with salt to a boil and cook your linguine to al dente. Add the pasta to the boiling water when your sauce has been simmering for 20 minutes.
Stir your shrimp and the juices into the fra diavolo sauce. Drain the linguine and add it to the sauce.
Stir in some chopped parsley and extra basil. Serve with a loaf of crusty Italian bread.
If you like this fra diavolo sauce, we'd love for you to share it! You can find us on Instagram @vindelgiudice and @alwaysfromscratch on Tiktok. Leave a rating below to tell us what you think and check out these seafood pasta recipes if you like our recipe
- Dry your shrimp! Press them with a paper towel. If you don't they will "boil" instead of sear. It makes a huge difference. It's a mistake I used to always make!
- The keys to the sauce are cooking it in the same pot as you cooked the shrimp and adding pasta water at the end!
- Be patient with your red wine reduction. Check for the trail. See the video below for what I mean!
Variations to Try!
Some things you may want to try with this recipe!
- Add anchovies to the pan with your tomato paste. It brings the sauce a little more depth, saltiness, and umami.
- Instead of shrimp, try it with scallops, clams, or lobster. You may also love our Linguine Clamato sauce.
- If you want the sauce to feel a little lighter, use white wine instead of red wine.
More Pasta Dishes You Will Love
Shrimp Fra Diavolo Sauce
- 1 large saucepan
- 1 large pot
- 1 lb linguine
- 2 shallots (chopped)
- 4 Cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 basil leaves
- 1 lb shrimp
- 4 tbsp EVOO
- 1 cup red wine
- 1-2 tablespoon calabrian chili peppers
- 3 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Defrost shrimp, peel, and devein. Dry the shrimp thoroughly with a paper towel. Marinate shrimp for 1 hour in the refrigerator with 2 tablespoon EVOO, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1-2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of EVOO and pan-fry the shrimp in batches to avoid overcrowding. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side. if your shrimp starts to curl, you're overcooking it. It should become opaque but not shriveled. Remove the shrimp and set aside.
- In the same pan, lower the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of EVOO and sauté shallots for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic, calabrian peppers, and tomato paste. Sauté garlic and let tomato paste caramelize for about 2 minutes. Stir and combine.
- Add red wine to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to simmer for about 5 minutes until it reduces by about half. If you drag your wooden spoon through it should leave a trail.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, basil, and 2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water. Add in linguine and cook until al dente. Save about 1 cup of pasta water and slowly add it to the sauce.
- Add Shrimp to the sauce and mix. Then add the linguine in and stir. Garnish with parsley and serve.
- Dry the shrimp before you add oil and season. This will get a better sear.
- Marinating shrimp for one hour in the fridge will get you more flavor!
- Red wine reduction is a lot easier than it sounds. Just let the red wine simmer and occasionally stir. You'll know it's done if when you drag your wooden spoon through the liquid slowly moves back together. Look up at the images in the blog to see a detailed explanation.
- Save pasta water to add to your sauce. It will help it stick to the linguine.