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This fra diavolo sauce is a spicy Italian tomato sauce made with fresh or canned tomatoes, red chili flakes, and oregano. It pairs perfectly with pasta and seafood!
One of my goals in 2020 is to make more foods from scratch.
That includes pasta sauce.
This summer, I made batch after batch of classic marinara sauce, yellow tomato marinara, and red wine pasta sauce.
As the weather turned cooler, I started making winter squash sauces like this acorn squash pasta sauce.
Recently, though, I’ve been craving something a little spicier.
This homemade fra diavolo sauce is an easy version of the classic Italian sauce, and is perfect for both pasta and seafood.
Want more pasta ideas? Try this butternut squash lasagna, lemon spinach pasta, pasta con le sarde, scallop alfredo and seafood macaroni and cheese.
What Does Fra Diavolo Mean?
It’s Italian for “brother devil” or “devil monk” and refers to a spicy Italian pasta sauce.
Fra diavolo sauce is generally served with pasta or seafood. I love shrimp fra diavolo, scallop fra diavolo, and mixed seafood fra diavolo!
How Spicy Is This Fra Diavolo Sauce?
It definitely has a little bit of a kick.
If you were ordering takeout, I’d call this a medium or a hot, depending on how spicy your chili flakes are.
That said, you can definitely adjust the recipe to your heat-level preferences by using fewer chili flakes. Or use more chili flakes if you like things extra-hot.
Can I Preserve This Sauce for Later?
You sure can!
Store it in the fridge for up to six days or freeze it for up to a year.
This sauce has not been tested for canning.
Can I Use Canned Tomatoes?
Both fresh and canned tomatoes will work perfectly.
This sauce also works well with frozen tomatoes, but you should thaw them before cooking.
The tomatoes in the photos are fire-roasted tomatoes that I froze earlier this year.
How to Make Fra Diavolo Sauce
Start by adding olive oil, a diced onion, red chili flakes and sea salt to a large pan. I use this Lodge 12″ carbon steel skillet.
When the onions soften, add some garlic.
Next, add the tomatoes, water and dried oregano.
Bring it to a simmer and continue simmering until most of the water has evaporated and the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
Taste the sauce. If the seasoning needs adjusted, do it now.
Finally, toss your favorite pasta in the fra diavolo sauce and enjoy!
Fra Diavolo Sauce
- large heavy skillet (12-inch minimum)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons red chili flakes Use less for a milder sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes (diced) or 28oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Add the oil, onions, chili flakes and salt to a large, shallow pan. (Use a 12" pan or larger, see recipe notes.)Cook the onions over medium heat until they begin to brown (~5 min). Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, water, and oregano to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer the tomatoes for 20-25 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated and the sauce has thickened.Taste the sauce and add more chili flakes, salt, or oregano if desired. Simmer 1-2 more minutes if you added more seasoning.Serve immediately along with fresh pasta or with seafood, refrigerate and use within 4-6 days, or freeze and use within a year.
I tried this out last night and it was great! I did 1/2 the chili flakes because I cant handle too much spice, but probably could have stuck to the 2 tsp as on the recipe without being too much. I also found a 12 inch skillet to be too small for the volume of sauce once it started bubbling/sputtering so I would use something larger or 1/2 the recipe next time. I had it over pasta with some veggies on the side and had plenty for leftovers!
I’m so glad you liked it!! And that’s good to know, maybe my 12″ is a little larger than it’s supposed to be lol. I’ll add a note about that in the recipe, thank you!!
Love the spiciness!
Overall we really liked that it was an unexpected twist to the classic marinara. I used 1 1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flakes. My husband liked it, but I would have preferred 1 tsp. I also used half crushed tomatoes and half diced tomatoes. Next time I will use all crushed as we prefer a thicker sauce that clings to the pasta a bit more. But this recipe will definitely be put into the rotation.
I made this last night. We love garlic so immediately added a few extra cloves. My Italian sauce loving husband was the first to try it and thought it needed something, I agreed. I added more oregano, some dried celery flakes and Italian seasoning and some red wine. I let it simmer a bit longer and it was much better. We had it with just mussels steamed open in the sauce. It was spicy as fra diavolo should be but if you are someone who doesn’t like so much heat, certainly cut back on the crushed red pepper.