Our recipe for Shrimp Fra Diavolo takes a big step into the modern era with the addition of Chinese chili crisp and fresh cilantro. Serve the saucy and spicy shrimp over your favorite pasta (we like orzo) or with large hunks of crusty bread. Just 30 minutes and you’ll be digging into this satisfying and easy meal!

Our recipe pays homage to the traditional Italian or Italian-American dish (the true origins are murky) with a simple ingredient list of shallots, garlic, tomatoes and of course pepper flakes which gives the sauce the spicy kick it’s known for.

And while it’s not spicy enough to blow your socks off, it does have a kick. If you love heat and want it to light you aflame, add more pepper flakes! If you prefer a more mild spice, start with just ½ teaspoon of pepper flakes. 

fresh cilantro, chili crisp, and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce served over orzo pasta in a shallow white bowl

What is Shrimp Fra Diavolo?

Traditionally, shrimp fra diavolo (pronounced fra-dia-voh-loh), is a spicy tomato sauce served over a bed of linguine and shellfish, most commonly lobster and shrimp (though sometimes clams as well). Diavolo sauce loosely translates to “devil sauce” and gets its spice from red pepper flakes. This rich tomato sauce can be fiery so adjust the amount to your liking. 

This isn’t our only spicy pasta sauce—try our reader-favorite Saucy Gochujang Noodles and Spicy Ramen Noodles.



We believe shallots are one of those ingredients that sets restaurant meals apart from home-cooked meals. We’re big believers in putting them to work in the kitchen, so get yourself a large shallot for this recipe. If you can’t find shallots, you can use a white onion instead. 


Just a touch of garlic is key to this recipe. And instead of chopping or mincing we’re thinly slicing it. Cooking with sliced garlic adds garlic flavor without its astringency or “kick.” 


Anchovies are a workhorse ingredient—adding umami and saltiness to this recipe. Use oil-packed anchovies instead of salt-packed which will add too much salt. 

Red pepper flakes

Red pepper flakes are key to making any kind of fra diavolo—which is roughly translated to “among the devil” or “devil sauce.” If you like a lot of heat, feel free to increase the amount of pepper flakes or add some minced red hot chilis to the shallot mixture as it cooks.


You’ll need one 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes. We utilize both the tomatoes and their juices, so don’t drain them! For the best consistency you’ll need to crush the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.

To crush the tomatoes, you can either use a potato masher, or our preferred way, your hands. Crush each tomato individually as you add it to the skillet. Be careful though, they have a tendency to shoot tomato juice out! 

chili cirsp, cilantro, minced shallot, honey, whole peeled tomatoes, oil, anchovies, and raw shrimp set out on a counter


Just a dash of honey balances out the spice from the pepper flakes and the acidity of the tomatoes. You can also use regular cane sugar.


The hero of the recipe! You’ll need 1 ½ pounds medium shrimp (30-45 per pound) that are peeled and deveined. If you have larger shrimp you will need to cook them slightly longer, if you have smaller, cook them less (check out the recipe notes for more details). 

If you aren’t near a coast and don’t have the luxury of quality fresh seafood, opt for frozen shrimp but look for products with an ingredient list of jump shrimp (no additives). 

Chili crisp

Chili crisp is not a traditional ingredient in shrimp fra diavolo, but we like to keep things interesting and that often includes a fusion of cuisines. Look for chili crisp near the Asian sauces and condiments in the grocery store. You can also buy chili crisp online. The addition of chili crisp offers an added bit of spice, crunch, and a lovely punch of garlic flavor.


Fresh cilantro is another non-traditional curveball ingredient. It adds bright freshness and some welcome greenery to this bold, spicy dish. If you don’t like cilantro you can also use parsley.

fresh cilantro, chili crisp, and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce in a sauté pan

How to Make Shrimp Fra Diavolo

There are few things as satisfying as a meal that’s stunning and flavorful that also comes together quickly. When you stumble across one it feels like you’ve uncovered a secret. This is one of those recipes! Here’s all you have to do to get this Shrimp Fra Diavolo on the table:

  1. Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. 
  2. Cook a chopped shallot in some oil until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and some minced anchovies and cook just until starting to brown. 
  4. Add the red pepper flakes and cook briefly, just to bloom the flavor.
  5. Stir in the canned tomatoes and crush into bite-sized pieces. 
  6. Add a dash of honey and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the sauce from heat, stir in the shrimp and let the residual heat of the sauce cook the shrimp gently. 
  8. Top with dollops of chili crisp and handfuls of fresh cilantro and serve. 

Test Kitchen Tips

  • To make it spicier, increase the amount of red pepper flakes, add more chili crisp at the end, or add minced fresh red hot chilis to the shallot as it cooks. 
  • For a less-spicy dish, pull back on the red pepper flakes to about ½ teaspoon. 
fresh cilantro, chili crisp, and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce served over orzo pasta in a shallow white bowl

How to Serve

The classic way to serve shrimp fra diavolo is over a bed of linguine. And while it’s classic for a reason, we like to enjoy this recipe with orzo. If you’re looking for something a bit more rustic and laid back—or to serve as an appetizer—serve the saucy shrimp with large hunks of crusty bread, it’s the perfect vehicle to sop up the rich sauce! 


How can I quickly thaw shrimp?

To quickly thaw shrimp, dump the frozen shrimp into a bowl and cover the shrimp with cold water. Let the shrimp sit in the water for 10–20 minutes (depending on size) until thawed. We recommend draining and refilling the water a few times—this will speed up the process. 

Be sure to use cold water—warm water will change the texture of the shrimp and, not surprisingly, hot water will start to cook the shrimp.

You’ll know the shrimp are thawed when no ice layer remains on the exterior of the shrimp and the shrimp are tender when lightly squeezed.

What is the difference between fra diavolo and arrabiata sauce?

Fra diavolo and arrabiata are nearly cousins, sharing similar ingredient lists. Both are tomato-based sauces with fiery heat from pepper flakes. Arrabiata often features capers and/or basil (much like Puttanesca) while fra diavolo never contains these. Additionally, arrabiata is generally served over a bed of pasta without the addition of protein while fra diavolo almost always is served with seafood.

More Shrimp Recipes to Try

  • If you like lobster rolls, then you’ll love this Shrimp Roll recipe. It’s truly the best shrimp roll recipe out there! 
  • Our Cajun Shrimp is the perfect 15-minute weeknight dinner or go-to appetizer when guests drop by.
  • This modern take on Shrimp Fra Diavolo is absolutely delicious. Topped with dollops of chili crisp and fresh cilantro, it’s unlike any fra diavolo you’ve had and in the best possible way! 
  • Looking for another shrimp sandwich? Try these Shrimp Burgers complete with an herby tartar sauce. 
  • Shrimp tacos are also a must—check out these Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos as well as these Tacos Gobernador which feature shrimp poached in a fresh tomato sauce then piled onto crisp cheesy tortillas with avocado and romaine. 
  • Creamy Shrimp Bisque is the perfect date-night dinner while Peel ‘n Eat Shrimp are a go-to party appetizer or holiday starter. 

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Category Fish and seafood, Main Course
Cuisine American/Italian, Italian


Tender shrimp cooked in a rich, fiery tomato sauce. Serve over pasta or enjoy as a rustic meal with crusty hunks of bread.


  • Kosher salt
  • cups dry orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced (½ cup)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 oil-packed anchovies, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 ½ pounds medium shrimp (30-45), peeled and deveined
  • Dollops of chili crisp, such as Fly by Jing or Momofuku
  • cup lightly packed cilantro leaves


  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Season heavily with salt (2 tablespoons) and stir in 1½ cups pasta; cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain and toss pasta with a drizzle of olive oil; set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium until shimmering.
  • Add 1 finely diced shallot, season with ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
    minced shallot in a sauté pan
  • Add 2 cloves sliced garlic and 2 minced anchovies; cook until garlic is golden, 2–3 minutes. Stir in ¾ teaspoon pepper flakes and cook 30 seconds.
    minced shallot garlic and spices cooking in a sauté pan
  • Stir in a 28-ounce can of tomatoes, and their juices, and gently crush tomatoes with a potato masher until crushed into bite-sized pieces (be careful, they like to splatter).
    spicy tomato sauce in a sauté pan
  • Bring tomato sauce to simmer then stir in 2 teaspoons honey and season with salt to taste. Simmer 5 minutes.
  • Remove sauté pan from heat and stir in 1½ pounds shrimp.
    raw shrimp cooking in a spicy tomato sauce in a sauté pan
  • Let sit until shrimp are cooked through and opaque, about 3 minutes.
    shrimp cooking in a spicy tomato sauce in a sauté pan
  • Dollop chili crisp over saucy shrimp and sprinkle with cilantro.
    fresh cilantro, chili crisp, and shrimp cooking in a spicy tomato sauce in a sauté pan
  • Divide orzo between serving bowls and top with shrimp fra diavolo.



The recipe instructions have been developed using medium (30-45) size shrimp. If you are using larger shrimp, you will likely need to cook them over heat for a minute or so to cook through. If you are using small shrimp, remove the sauce from heat and let it sit for 1 minute before stirring in the shrimp. The goal is to gently cook the shrimp just until they are cooked through. We want them to be tender instead of tough and tightly curled up.
If you only have salt-packed anchovies, give them a quick rinse before mincing and adding to the sauté pan.


Serving: 1/4 recipeCalories: 390kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 45gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 367mgSodium: 839mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
fresh cilantro, chili crisp, and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce in a sauté pan

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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  1. 5 stars
    I have not made this, but I will.
    It’s everything I crave in nice open bowl with a Chuck of warm rustic bread