We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Fra Diavolo?

By Dale Marshall
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Fra diavolo, an Italian term meaning “brother devil,” is the name given to a number of spicy sauces, usually tomato-based, used in American Italian cooking. Although some fra diavolo sauces are prepared and served over pasta with no other additions, most are prepared with one or more types of shellfish. Many Italian restaurants in the US feature such dishes as shrimp, scallops or lobster fra diavolo.

Although sometimes referred to as a Mediterranean specialty, there’s little doubt that the fra diavolo sauce popular in America’s thousands of Italian restaurants was actually developed in the US. While there are hot dishes called “devilled” or “alla diavolo” in other regions in Europe, there’s no similar tradition in southern Italian cooking. Also, the robust spiciness of most fra diavolo sauces is enough to overpower many delicate shellfishes, especially lobster or scallops. This combination would be unlikely within Mediterranean culinary tradition.

Across the wide variety of these sauces, the common ingredients are olive oil and garlic. Most recipes also call for tomatoes, either canned or fresh. If canned tomatoes are used, some chefs call for the grating of a small carrot to “cut” the bite of the canned tomato flavor. Traditional Italian herbs such as oregano, parsley and basil are called for in virtually all recipes, and onions are almost as ubiquitous.

If tomatoes aren’t used in the sauce, chicken or fish stock is generally used as the base. The sauce is thickened with a variety of substances, from roux to yogurt. Wine or sherry, or both, are used as flavoring agents, as are other traditional ingredients like anchovies. When called for, finely chopped celery and sweet peppers are sautéed and added to to the sauce both for their flavor and texture.

What sets fra diavolo sauces apart from other sauces is their spiciness. Traditionally, crushed red pepper flakes are the main source of this heat. Some contemporary recipes, though, call for other peppers and hot sauces, especially chiles and Sriracha hot sauce. Many modern recipes also encourage moderating the level of spiciness when delicate shellfish is an ingredient and using the shellfish itself in the preparation of the stock, in the manner of a bisque.

While the majority of fra diavolo sauces are served plain or with shellfish, there’s no reason to restrict them to those ingredients. Chicken, beef and pork, and the sausages made from them, stand up very well to the most peppery fra diavolo sauce. Some recipes call for the inclusion of these meats in the sauce; more often, though, the meats are grilled separately and the sauce is drizzled over them only when served.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.