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Shrimp Diablo

Shrimp Diablo is a spicy, smoky dish that really packs a punch!  If you like hot and spicy as well as a fast, easy main dish, this recipe is for you!  Plump, succulent shrimp, simmered in a spicy tomato sauce that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare! The combination of crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder and smoky paprika give this shrimp dish an intense flavor profile.  

Close view of a skillet of Shrimp Diablo

Shrimp or prawns are always in my freezer!  They can be thawed quickly for easy party hors d’oeuvres like these spicy Firecracker Shrimp and Shrimp Cocktail appetizers or these Shrimp and Butternut Appetizers.

You can also make incredible dinners with them like our Chorizo and Shrimp Pasta, or our Cheesy Shrimp and Grits.   For those weeknight dinners when you are really in a hurry, these mega-flavorful Shrimp Fajitas with Chipotle Sauce will be the perfect entrée.

So this shrimp Diablo recipe was born out of my love for shrimp and all things spicy!

Diablo means “devil” in Spanish, and this dish is definitely devilishly hot! But the good news is, you can always adjust the amount of spice to your liking.

Overhead view of shrimp diablo on a bed of rice

Why This Recipe Works:

We are always in need of a flavorful recipe that we can get on the table quickly.  This recipe does just that, although it does come with a caveat….it is intended to be a very spicy dish so if you like things on the milder side, use the smaller amounts of spice. 

  • It is budget-friendly and uses mostly pantry ingredients.
  • A quick dry brine gives the shrimp a plump, succulent texture.
  • Smoked paprika and chipotle in adobe sauce gives the dish a smoky flavor.
  • It is easy to adjust the spice to your own taste preference.
  • Sautéing the spices in oil before adding the tomatoes helps release the flavors and aromas of the spices.

Ingredients Needed for this Recipe:

This is a full-flavor tomato sauce spiked with crushed red pepper flakes, chipotle peppers and dried herbs and spices.  The heat from the red pepper, chipotle, and chili pepper is intended to be fierce but you can adjust them to your level of tolerance.  We have provided all ingredient amounts in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.  

  • Canned tomatoes, whole or diced
  • Large shrimp, fresh or frozen – peeled and deveined
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Red wine
  • Oregano
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Smoked paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Chipotle in adobo sauce
  • Fresh parsley

Ingredients used to make shrimp Diablo.

How to Make Shrimp Diablo:

This is a brief overview of the recipe process, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the printable recipe card and full instructions.

  1. Pour the tomatoes in a bowl and break up into a thick, chunky texture using a stick blender.
  2. Toss the shrimp with salt and baking soda (if using) and let them sit in the brine to tenderize.  
  3. Sauté the shrimp in a skillet then transfer them to a plate.
  4. Sauté the onion, garlic, and spices.  Add the wine.  
  5. Stir in the tomatoes, chipotle, and adobo sauce.
  6. Bring the Diablo sauce to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer.  
  7. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the shrimp into the sauce, pressing down with a spoon to fully immerse the shrimp. 
  8. Serve, garnished with chopped fresh parsley.

Shrimp in a skillet

Tips for Success:

  • Do not overcook the shrimp!  Sauté in the skillet only until lightly pink with some grey. They will finish cooking later when immersed in the hot sauce. This step will prevent them from overcooking. Overcooked shrimp will be tough and flavorless. 
  • The brine with salt and baking soda will make the shrimp slightly more resistant to overcooking. It will also make the shrimp plump and juicy.
  • If you use baking soda in the brine, the shrimp will turn a dull gray color after they sit in the tomato sauce for an hour. Only use the baking soda if you plan to serve the Diablo shrimp right away.
  • This dish is meant to be very spicy and hot, but you can make it mild if you prefer.  You may wish to begin with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes and chili powder and adjust according to your personal heat level.
  • Different brands of chili powder will vary in their heat scale. You may want to start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste. If you switch brands, you may notice a difference in the amount of heat.

Shrimp being submerged in spicy diablo sauce

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Shrimp Diablo a Mexican dish or an Italian dish?

Shrimp Diablo is a Mexican recipe. The Italian version is called Fra Diavolo.

Can I make this dish a day in advance?

You can make the sauce in advance and keep it refrigerated for up to 4 days in advance. Making the sauce in advance will allow the flavors to marry and develop. We recommend that you cook the shrimp the day you intend to serve the dish then add it when the sauce is reheated.

How long will leftovers keep?

Transfer any leftovers to a covered container and keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

How do I reheat the leftovers?

Heat the cold sauce and shrimp in a pan over medium heat until the shrimp are heated through. Optionally, remove the shrimp from the sauce and transfer them to a plate, then bring the sauce to a boil. Once the sauce boils, remove it from the heat and immerse the shrimp and let them sit in the sauce until warmed through.

a serving of shrimp diablo on a bed of rice

Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Penne Arrabiata with Smoked Sausage is a zesty, one-pot dinner using everyday ingredients including crushed red pepper flakes. Arrabiata means ‘angry’ in Italian and so named for this fiery dish.

Our recipe for Mexican Steak Ranchero is an easy-to-make crowd pleaser for your next dinner party. Tender beef strips cooked in a mix of vegetables, tomatoes, chipotle adobo sauce, onions and garlic. Serve this with hot rice or in warm corn tortillas.

Blackened shrimp tacos make a quick and easy dinner. Chipotle slaw, a sweet mango salsa, and spicy shrimp get loaded in soft tortilla shells. It’s a great way to get your taco fix. If you have time, make your own kamut tortilla shells.

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Overhead view of shrimp diablo on a bed of rice

Shrimp Diablo

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Shrimp Diablo is a spicy, smoky dish with an intense flavor profile.  Plump, succulent shrimp, simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. The combination of crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder and smoky paprika give this shrimp dish a big flavor punch! 


  • 1-1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon regular salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional, see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes, whole or diced
  • 1/2-1 chopped chipotle pepper from a can with adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the canned chipotle)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley


Before you begin: if you are using whole canned tomatoes, break them up into fine chunks or puree them with a stick blender. Also, make sure you do not use the whole can of chipotle peppers. The recipe only calls for 1 pepper from the can.

  1. Place the shrimp in a bowl, then toss them with the salt and baking soda. Set them aside and let them brine in the salt for 10 to 30 minutes. If you don't plan to serve the dish right away, omit the baking soda, as it will discolor the shrimp after they sit in the tomato sauce.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat.  Add the shrimp and cook for 1-1/2 minutes on each side. Cook the shrimp in batches so you don't overcrowd the skillet. Transfer the shrimp and their juices to a plate and reserve.   
  3. Heat the olive oil in the same skillet and sauté the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, paprika, chili powder, and black pepper (start with the smaller amounts of chili powder and red pepper, you can always add more later). Saute for 1 minute to release the flavors and aromas of the spices.
  5. Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes to burn off the alcohol.
  6. Stir in the reserved tomatoes, chopped chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce. Mix well.
  7. Taste the sauce. If necessary, add additional salt, red pepper flakes, or chili powder according to your personal taste. 
  8. Bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and reduces slightly, about 4-5 minutes. 
  9. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the cooked shrimp into the hot sauce, pressing them down to fully immerse for 1-2 minutes to reheat.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  10. Serve immediately with rice, pasta, or polenta.


  • Kosher salt works best for the shrimp brine. If you don't have Kosher salt, use half the amount of regular table salt.
  • Brining the shrimp in salt for at least 10 minutes will help the shrimp stay plump and succulent as they cook.
  • Adding a small amount of baking soda to the salt brine will help the shrimp brown faster and gives them a snappy texture.
  • If you think you will have leftovers or you won't be serving the dish right away, omit the baking soda.
  • If you use baking soda, the shrimp will start to turn a dull gray color after they sit in the tomato sauce for about an hour. The shrimp will be safe to eat, but they will not look appetizing.
  • This dish is very spicy if you use the full amount of spices.  You may wish to begin with 1/2 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes and adjust according to your personal heat level.
  • Chili powder is a blend of spices, and the heat level will vary from one brand to another. Some brands of chili powder pack a big punch of heat, while others are fairly mild. Start with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon and increase the amount if needed.
  • You may want to use half of the chipotle pepper and increase the amount if you want the dish spicier.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 329mgSodium: 1657mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 35g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Monday 23rd of May 2022

You have me at that spicy smoky flavour! This would be really great over some pasta too.

Pat Nyswonger

Monday 23rd of May 2022

Thanks, Angie...yes, it is good on pasta!

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