Fra Diavolo Sauce Recipe (Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Diavolo Sauce is an easy and spicy marinara sauce made with flavor-forward ingredients, like tomatoes, garlic, white wine, and red pepper flakes. Toss it with spaghetti and your favorite seafood and enjoy!

Three bowls of spaghetti with diavolo sauce on wood counter.

This restaurant-worthy Diavolo Sauce takes just 20 minutes to make using a short list of no-nonsense ingredients. As with most homemade pasta sauces, this recipe requires slightly more effort than storebought pasta sauce, but rest assured, it’s worth it! 

While Diavolo is a spicy tomato sauce, it isn’t overwhelming or heavy like many other pasta sauces. A splash of white wine keeps it light while the red pepper flakes give it just the right amount of heat.

Shrimp fra Diavolo is an easy shrimp pasta and one of the more common Diavolo-based dishes. However, this homemade spicy tomato sauce has plenty of uses, such as:

  • Braising white fish, shrimp, lobster, and other fresh seafood. 
  • Turning up the heat up on pasta night. 
  • Paired with all kinds of vegetables and proteins.
Overhead closeup of diavolo suace in skillet.

🍅 What is fra Diavolo sauce?

Fra Diavolo (pronounced fra-dia-voh-loh) roughly translates to “brother devil” or “among the devil” in Italian – an appropriate nickname for a marinara sauce known for its signature devilishly delicious hot pepper heat.

The origins are up for debate, but fra Diavolo sauce is at the heart of many Italian-American seafood dishes. Making it from scratch leaves you in control of the spice; keep it mild or turn the heat way up with dried or fresh hot peppers. 

🌶 Arrabbiata vs. Diavolo

Both are tomato sauces made with Italian herbs and red pepper flakes. Fra Diavolo sauce recipes typically include white wine, and arrabbiata recipes do not. However, the most distinguishable difference between these two spicy red sauces is what they’re typically used for:

  • Arrabbiata is used mainly in simple pasta dishes with just sauce and pasta noodles.
  • Diavolo is better suited in stew-like seafood dishes.
Ingredients for diavolo sauce on counter.

🛒 Ingredients needed

  • Olive oil – With so few ingredients, the quality of the olive oil counts here! Try to use a rich, full-bodied oil.
  • Garlic cloves
  • Red pepper flakes – A little goes a long way in this sauce. If you don’t love spice, start with ½ teaspoon, then work up to more to find the perfect level of heat.
  • Sugar – The sugar helps to cut any bitter, acidic flavors from the tomatoes, resulting in a well-rounded sauce. 
  • Petite diced tomatoes – Or use a can of fire-roasted tomatoes for extra heat. 
  • Dry white wine – Vermouth works well, too. Adding either intensifies and improves the flavor of every ingredient.  
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt 

📋 How to make Diavolo sauce

Start the sauce by sautéeing half of the minced garlic in a large oiled skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden. 

Add the red pepper flakes, salt, sugar, tomatoes, and wine. Let the sauce simmer until it thickens. To finish, add the remaining garlic and a handful of chopped parsley. Turn off the heat. 

Now add your cooked spaghetti to the skillet and toss to coat the noodles. Serve hot and enjoy!

🌟 Tips and tricks

  • If you’re making pasta for your Diavolo sauce, don’t rinse it after draining. The starch on the surface of the noodles helps thicken the sauce.
  • You can stir 2 or 3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water in with the pasta and sauce if the sauce is too thick. 
  • For even more flavor, try substituting the freshly minced garlic added at the end with roasted garlic. 

ℹ️ FAQs

Is Diavolo sauce spicy?

If you follow the recipe as instructed, your Diavolo sauce will have a kick, but it won’t be overwhelming. If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, use less than 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Or, if you love spice, add more!

How much does this serve?

This spicy Diavolo sauce recipe makes just the right amount for a 1-pound box of dry spaghetti (4 cups cooked).

Can you freeze Diavolo sauce?

Yes! Store the extra Diavolo sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge before reheating it in a saucepan over medium heat. 

🍽 Serving suggestions

The best way to serve this spicy sauce is to toss it with long pasta noodles and your favorite kind of seafood. Stir in air fryer or boiled shrimp, cod, crab, mussels, seared scallops, clams, or lobster.

Is pasta not your thing? That’s ok, you can still enjoy this sauce stirred into cooked rice, polenta, or mashed potatoes.  

Make this pasta dish a meal with these 40 Easy Sides for Pasta!

🍷 Wine pairings

You’ll find that spicy pasta dishes with seafood pair best with wines that are fruity and aromatic, like:

  • Dry Rosé: It’s fruity but more crisp than sweet, so it won’t compete with the bold flavors. 
  • Sauvignon Blanc: The acidity in this fruity white wine complements the sweet, tangy tomatoes. 
Three bowls of spaghetti with diavolo sauce on wood counter.

If you need more options, use my guide on the best wines to pair with pasta.

​​Did you make Diavolo sauce?

If you tried this homemade pasta sauce, I would appreciate it if you gave it a starred review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.

For more great Platings and Pairings recipes, be sure to follow me on  Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and Facebook.

Sauce with spoon in skillet.

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus more, to taste)
  • 6 large cloves garlic (minced, divided(about 3 TBSP))
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 28- ounce can petite diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or vermouth)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley (minced)
  • Salt (to taste)

For Serving:

  • 1 pound spaghetti (cooked, pasta cooking liquid reserved)
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

  • Once hot, add half of the minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is light golden, about 7-10 minutes.

  • Add red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, tomatoes and wine. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until thickened, about 8 minutes.

  • Stir in the remaining garlic and parsley.

  • If desired, add spaghetti and toss to combine, adding pasta cooking liquid if needed to loosen the sauce.

Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 27mg | Potassium: 475mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 470IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 3mg

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