Fra Diavolo Sauce

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Make delicious homemade spicy Fra Diavolo sauce that can be paired with shrimp, chicken, seafood, pasta, and more. This fiery Italian tomato sauce is full of flavor and easy to make.


Fra diavolo sauce is a delicious spicy tomato sauce that you need to try! This easy homemade sauce is made with tomatoes, garlic, onion, chilies, and fresh herbs for a fiery sauce that tastes great with pasta, seafood, and chicken dishes.

Most of us have heard of shrimp fra diavolo or chicken fra diavolo, but this spicy Italian sauce tastes amazing with so many different dishes. Toss it with al dente spaghetti, linguine, or penne for a zesty pasta dish. It also makes a fantastic accompaniment to seafood, such as shrimp, clams, or mussels. Or pair it with chicken, pork, tofu, or beans. 

Love making new sauces for pasta? Don't miss this Arrabiata, Pepperonata, or No Cook Tomato Sauce.

What Is Fra Diavolo Sauce?

Fra diavolo sauce is an Italian spicy tomato sauce infused with the rich flavor of fire-roasted tomatoes and the fragrant accents of garlic, onion, parsley, oregano, and basil.

The savory flavors are balanced with the heat of Calabrian chilies, tying everything together. In fact, “fra diavolo” roughly translates to “brother devil” or “among the devil,” which is a nod to the devilish heat infused in this iconic sauce.

Once it’s simmered to a thick consistency, it boasts a deep red hue and a texture that generously coats whatever you pair it with! One of our favorite proteins to serve it with is shrimp, like in our shrimp fra diavolo, but it also pairs well with chicken and other types of seafood, like lobster, scallops, or clams.

Shrimp fra diavolo with spicy tomato sauce and pasta served on a plate with fresh basil.

Why You'll Love Fra Diavolo Sauce

  • Easy to prepare: You'll love how easily this sauce comes together in just one pan. The total time it takes to prepare is only about 30 minutes!
  • Customizable heat: You can adjust the spice level to your liking, making it as fiery or mild as you prefer.
  • Freezer-friendly: This sauce is great for meal prep! Make a large batch and freeze it, then just add shrimp when you’re in need of a quick dinner.
  • Versatile: Use this sauce for pasta, shrimp, chicken, rice, grilled proteins, bowls, and more. This sauce works with so many different dishes. 

Ingredients and Substitutions

Fra diavolo sauce is such a breeze to make! Here is what you’ll need:

  • Olive oil: We like to use extra-virgin olive oil to impart a rich element in the base of the sauce. You can also use avocado oil or butter if you prefer.
  • Onion: Adds natural sweetness and depth of flavor. For a milder onion taste, substitute regular onions with shallots.
  • Garlic: Provides intensely savory and pungent notes that round out the other ingredients. While we recommend fresh garlic cloves, garlic paste will work in a pinch.
  • Calabrian chilies: These Italian peppers provide the fiery characteristic fra diavolo sauce is known for. If Calabrian chilies are unavailable, try a few teaspoons of red chili flakes.
  • Dry white wine: Helps deglaze the pan and brightens the sauce. If you don’t consume wine, you can replace it with chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Canned tomatoes: For an extra smoky flavor, we love to use fire-roasted canned diced tomatoes. If you can’t find those, opt for regular diced tomatoes instead.
  • Italian seasoning: Provides a savory, earthy, and slightly minty blend of flavors. Use store-bought or make your own mix with herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme.
  • Fresh herbs: Both fresh basil and parsley add refreshing, herbaceous notes to balance the heat of the Calabrian chilies.

How To Make Fra Diavolo Sauce

This sauce is easy to make and freezes great. So much better than store-bought sauce.

1. Cook The Aromatics

Start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet, waiting until it's shimmering to add the onions. Cook them until they soften and release a sweet aroma, which will help balance the heat of the chilies. Once they are softened, stir in the minced garlic and let it become aromatic.

2. Build The Sauce

Pour in the wine, making sure to scrape all flavorful browned bits off the bottom of the pan. This process, known as deglazing, will ensure the sauce is infused with the most flavor.

Next, it’s time for the canned tomatoes, Calabrian chilies, and Italian seasoning. Once these are in, reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer. Aim for 10 to 30 minutes to give the flavors time to meld together and the sauce to thicken slightly.

3. Add The Finishing Touches

The last step is to stir in some salt and the fresh parsley and basil into the tomato mixture. Adding the herbs at the end preserves their vibrant color and fresh taste. Your fra diavolo sauce is now ready to toss with pasta, shrimp, seafood, or other proteins.

Chicken fra diavolo sauce served in a cast iron skillet with fresh herbs.

What To Serve With Fra Diavolo Sauce

While this sauce shines when paired with shrimp, its versatility doesn't end there! Here are a few more ideas:

Storage and Reheating

This sauce stores well, so make a large batch to keep on hand for quick meals all week! Here’s what to do:

  • Fridge: Store the sauce in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer: Portion the sauce into freezer-safe containers and freeze it for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Reheat your fra diavolo sauce gently on the stovetop, adding a little water or broth if needed to adjust the consistency.

Spice up Your Fra Diavolo Sauce

The beauty of this sauce is that it can be a blank canvas for different ingredients. Here are a few ideas to put a spin on this classic:

  • Splash of cream: Add a splash of cream for a creamy fra diavolo sauce.
  • Citrusy: Infuse it with lemon zest or a touch of lemon juice for a bright, citrusy flavor.
  • Briny: Add capers or olives for a briny, salty taste.
  • Sweet: Stir in roasted red bell peppers for a sweeter flavor.
  • Meaty: Add cooked Italian sausage for a high-protein version.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions about making Fra Diavolo sauce.

When cooking with wine, choose a quality option that you also enjoy drinking. For this sauce, a dry white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, works well. These wines add a depth of flavor without overwhelming the sauce. Avoid sweet white wines as they can throw off the flavor.

Of course! If you don't have Calabrian chilies or red pepper flakes, you can substitute them with other types of chilies for a fairly equal medium-high heat. Cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, or hot paprika all work.

Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes, but we find canned fire-roasted tomatoes offer a richer and deeper flavor to the sauce. If you decide to use fresh tomatoes, just make sure they are ripe and flavorful.

Spicy Fra Diavolo sauce with tomato sauce and red chile peppers in a glass jar.
The Recipe
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Fra Diavolo Sauce

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  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp Calabrian chilies (or red pepper flakes, adjust to taste)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 28 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil

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Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Once hot add the onions and cook for 4-6 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and Calabrian chilies (red pepper flakes). Cook for 1 minute.

Sliced onions and garlic in a skillet with olive oil.

Add the wine to the pan and use it to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

White wine being poured into a skillet with onions.

Add the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-30 minutes to deepen the flavor. It should thicken slightly. Taste and adjust spice level if needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Tomatoes, herbs, and sliced onions in a skillet for sauce.

When ready to serve, add parsley and basil. This is delicious with shrimp, chicken, seafood, or pasta.

Fra diavolo simmering in a skillet with tomatoes, red pepper flakes, herbs, and garlic.


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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 81
Calories from Fat 31
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 228mg
Total Carbohydrate 8g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 1g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Fra Diavolo Sauce
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Tracey L Holdway
January 15, 2024 - 19:59
Add a Rating:
THANK YOU so much for saying the option of butter would work as a sub for olive oil. I have always made my red sauce with butter, long before discovering I DO NOT like the taste of olive oil
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June 7, 2023 - 17:21
Hi, this really looks good butI have a question. It looks like in step one and three you say to add the red pepper flakes. Is that half the amount each time?
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September 19, 2023 - 10:40
Just updated the recipe! It's all added in step one so that the chile peppers can cook and develop a deeper flavor.
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