Fra diavolo Sauce: Spicy Italian Tomato Sauce

diavolo sauce
Fra diavolo sauce is a spicy tomato sauce originally from Italy. 'fra diavolo' translates to 'brother devil' in English. This classic sauce is simple and best served with seafood, pasta, vegetables, or breadsticks.

What Is Fra diavolo Sauce?

Diavolo sauce is a spicy tomato sauce. It features ripe tomatoes, garlic, hot chili peppers, and herbs for a bright and spicy sauce that goes with many Italian dishes.

History has it that the sauce was named after a famous Italian guerilla leader, Michele Pezza, whose nickname was Fra Diavolo for his devilish behavior and resistance to French rule in the late 1700s until his death in 1806.

Traditionally, Italians loved serving it with jellyfish, lobster, shrimp, and authentic pasta such as linguine or penne. Beyond seafood and pasta, fra diavolo sauce is versatile and tastes great as a topping sauce, dipping sauce for fried potatoes, and baked bread.

Shrimp fra diavolo with pasta.
Shrimp fra diavolo with pasta.

What Are The Ingredients In Fra diavolo Sauce?

The classic fra diavolo sauce recipe requires minimal ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper chili flakes
  • Fresh garlic
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes (fresh or canned crushed tomatoes)
  • Onions
  • Fresh parsley and basil
  • Salt
  • Optional: Black pepper, dried oregano, red or white wine

How Spicy Is diavolo Sauce?

In this sauce, crushed red pepper flakes are the primary heat source. These chiles often have a rating of 15,000-30,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale, so diavolo should be a medium-hot sauce.

However, giving a standard rating for fra diavolo tomato sauce is difficult because people add red pepper in different amounts. Additionally, some chefs and home cooks prefer to use other types of chili, such as chili paste—especially from authentic Italian Calabrian chilis, which are much spicier at 25,000-40,000 SHUs!

So the heat level may vary drastically depending on the personal preference of the cook. If you make diavolo sauce at home, you control the heat.

What Is The Difference Between Fra diavolo And Arrabiata Sauce?

While fra diavolo and arrabiata sauce use similar ingredients, they are different in the following aspects:

Name – arrabiata means angry in Italian, while fra diavolo translates to brother devil.

Taste – fra diavolo sauce has a sweet, tangy, herbaceous, and spicy flavor. On the other hand, arrabiata sauce is deliciously hot and fiery.

Heat level – both sauces are spicy, but arabiatta sauce typically uses fresh hot red chili peppers, like cayenne, instead of flakes.

Origin – fra diavolo tomato sauce is American-Italian, while arrabiata is described as an authentic Italian sauce.

Does diavolo Sauce Have Dairy?

No. Diavolo sauce is gluten-free and has no dairy products. This makes it popular for vegan diets.

Fra diavolo sauce is tangy from tomatoes, blended with natural flavors from onions, garlic, fresh herbs, and crushed red pepper. It’s a deliciously healthy sauce excellent for any dish.

What Kind Of Chili Flakes Are In diavolo Sauce?

Also known as crushed red peppers, red pepper flakes are diavolo sauce’s primary spicing agent. The flakes come from sun-dried red peppers, which are crushed and not ground.

Aside from their vibrant red color, these peppers bring an earthy, peppery flavor. To make red pepper flakes, you can use cayenne-variety peppers, including red jalapeno, cayenne, or serranos.

What To Serve With Fra diavolo Sauce

Fra diavolo tomato sauce is the foundation for many popular Italian dishes. Its fresh, tangy taste with a manageable kick of spiciness makes it versatile for different dishes, such as:

  • Seafood- Fra diavolo sauce is magical on lobster and seafood. This authentic shrimp fra Diavolo is a delicious classic recipe.
  • Pasta– Fra diavolo tastes great as a pasta sauce, especially on linguine and penne. Try this mouth-watering fra diavolo sauce with pasta recipe.
  • Italian baked bread – fra diavolo spicy sauce makes an excellent dipping sauce for traditional crunchy Italian bread.
  • Breadsticks and mozzarella sticks– fra diavolo is a tasty dipping sauce for cheesy, gooey breadsticks and mozzarella sticks.
  • Deep-fried potatoes– Serve deep-fried potatoes with fra diavolo sauce instead of the traditional Spanish salsa brava.
  • Fresh vegetables– Drizzle fra diavolo sauce over fresh steamed vegetables.
  • Scrambled breakfast eggs – Serve diavolo sauce over your eggs or in a breakfast burrito to wake up your morning.

How To Make Diavolo Sauce

Once you have all the ingredients ready, here’s how to make this spicy Italian tomato sauce. The recipe below makes about 8 servings. In addition to adding intense flavor to your favorite dishes, fra diavolo sauce is rich in calories, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium.

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diavolo sauce

Fra Diavolo Sauce: Spicy Italian Tomato Sauce

  • Author: Regie


Serve this spicy and versatile Italian tomato sauce over seafood or pasta.


Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons cooking olive oil (Preferably extra virgin olive oil).
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper/ chili flakes
  • 6 fresh garlic cloves
  • 3 cups of fresh, crushed tomatoes with natural juices (canned or whole tomatoes also work fine)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley and basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt for seasoning


  1. Put two tablespoons of virgin olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan and let it heat.
  2. Add thinly sliced onions and let them cook until soft.
  3. Put crushed garlic, then cook until you feel its fragrance.
  4. Pour your peeled, diced tomatoes (with juices). Canned tomatoes also work great.
  5. Add salt and red pepper, and stir until the mixture boils. Under medium heat, let the sauce simmer for around 20 minutes to make it thicker. Keep stirring.


  • Add more red pepper flakes for extra spiciness.
  • Reduce the amount of crushed red pepper you use for a milder sauce.
  • Add parsley and fresh basil leaves to give your diavolo sauce a herby flavor.
  • Some dry white wine gives a more enhanced flavor.
  • Use fire-roasted tomatoes to get a uniquely deep taste.


Aside from being a writer, Regie is a food lover. She loves adding chili to almost everything – apart from tea. Within her small compound, she has lots of red and green chilis that grow throughout the year. She looks forward to sharing her love and passion for pepper through crafting informational pieces that you’ll love. Happy reading!

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