How to Make Pasta with Vodka Sauce: Creamy and Rich Tomato-based Pasta Dish

How to Make Pasta with Vodka Sauce: Creamy and Rich Tomato-based Pasta Dish

When it comes to making pasta dishes, there are countless options to choose from. However, if you’re looking for a dish that is both creamy and rich, then pasta with vodka sauce is definitely worth considering.

Why Vodka Sauce?

Vodka sauce is a popular tomato-based sauce that gets its name from the addition of vodka. While it may seem like an unusual ingredient to add to a pasta sauce, the vodka actually helps to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients and creates a smooth and creamy texture.

Another reason why vodka sauce is so popular is that it is incredibly versatile. You can add a variety of ingredients to the sauce, such as vegetables, meats, or seafood, to create a dish that suits your tastes.

What Makes Vodka Sauce Creamy and Rich?

The creaminess of vodka sauce comes from the addition of heavy cream or half-and-half. This helps to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and creates a velvety texture that coats the pasta.

In addition to cream, vodka sauce also typically includes garlic, onions, and crushed red pepper flakes for added flavor. The vodka itself is added early in the cooking process to help release the flavors of the other ingredients.

Overall, making pasta with vodka sauce is a delicious and satisfying way to enjoy a classic Italian dish with a twist.

pasta ingredients


For the Pasta

  • 1 pound of spaghetti or linguine
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of salt

For the Vodka Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of vodka
  • 1 can (28 ounces) of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves

For the Pasta

1. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and stir until dissolved.

2. Add 1 pound of spaghetti or linguine to the pot and stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

3. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.

For the Vodka Sauce

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Sauté for 1 minute.

4. Add 1/4 cup of vodka and stir to deglaze the pan. Cook until the vodka has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

5. Add 1 can (28 ounces) of crushed tomatoes and 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Stir to combine.

6. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. Add 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stir until melted and combined.

8. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

9. Add the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.

10. Stir in 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves.

Tip: You can make the sauce ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the sauce in a saucepan over low heat before serving.

cooking pasta

Instructions: How to Make Pasta with Vodka Sauce: Creamy and Rich Tomato-based Pasta Dish

Cooking the Pasta

1. Fill a large pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

2. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook it according to the package instructions until it is al dente.

3. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander and reserve about a cup of the pasta water for later use.

Making the Vodka Sauce

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.

2. Add the diced onion and cook for about 5 minutes until it becomes soft and translucent.

3. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant, stirring occasionally.

4. Pour in the canned tomatoes and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes break down and start to thicken.

5. Add the vodka to the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the alcohol evaporates.

6. Pour in the heavy cream and stir to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and becomes creamy.

7. Season the sauce with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.

Combining the Pasta and Sauce

1. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the vodka sauce and stir to combine.

2. If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water to thin it out.

3. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the pasta is heated through and coated in the sauce.

4. Serve the pasta with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil on top.


  • Use a good quality vodka for the sauce to enhance the flavor.
  • Do not overcook the pasta or it will become mushy.
  • Reserve some pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
Ingredients Amount
Pasta 1 pound
Olive oil 2 tablespoons
Onion, diced 1 medium
Garlic, minced 3 cloves
Canned tomatoes 28 ounces
Vodka 1/2 cup
Heavy cream 1 cup
Salt To taste
Black pepper To taste
Red pepper flakes To taste
Parmesan cheese Grated, for serving
Fresh basil Chopped, for serving

pasta tips

Tips and Tricks for Making Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Choosing the Right Pasta

When making pasta with vodka sauce, it’s important to choose the right pasta shape. The best pasta shapes for vodka sauce are those that can hold the sauce well, such as penne, rigatoni, and fusilli. These shapes have ridges and grooves that help the sauce cling to the pasta, creating a delicious and satisfying dish.

It’s also important to cook the pasta al dente, which means “to the tooth” in Italian. This means that the pasta should be cooked until it is firm but not hard. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and won’t hold the sauce as well as al dente pasta.

Choosing the Right Vodka

The vodka you use in your pasta sauce can make a big difference in the flavor of the dish. It’s best to use a high-quality vodka that is smooth and has a clean taste. Avoid using flavored vodkas, as they can overpower the other flavors in the sauce.

Some popular brands of vodka for pasta sauce include Grey Goose, Belvedere, and Absolut. However, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on vodka for your pasta sauce. A mid-range vodka will work just fine.

Adding Extra Ingredients

While the classic pasta with vodka sauce recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients, you can add extra ingredients to make the dish even more flavorful. Some popular additions include:

  • Crushed red pepper flakes for a spicy kick
  • Chopped sun-dried tomatoes for a sweet and tangy flavor
  • Sautéed mushrooms for an earthy taste
  • Grilled chicken or shrimp for a protein boost

When adding extra ingredients, be sure to adjust the seasoning of the sauce accordingly. You may need to add more salt, pepper, or herbs to balance out the flavors.

Ingredient Amount
Crushed tomatoes 1 can (28 oz)
Heavy cream 1 cup
Vodka 1/2 cup
Garlic cloves, minced 3
Red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper To taste

By following these tips and tricks, you can create a delicious and creamy pasta with vodka sauce that will impress your friends and family.

pasta with vodka sauce


Learning how to make pasta with vodka sauce is an excellent way to add some variety to your pasta dishes. This creamy and rich tomato-based pasta dish is perfect for any occasion, from a simple weeknight dinner to an elegant dinner party.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create a delicious and satisfying pasta dish that your family and friends will love. Remember to use fresh ingredients and take your time to prepare the sauce properly. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of pasta or add your own unique twist to the recipe.

When it comes to serving this dish, consider pairing it with a light and refreshing salad or some crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce. And of course, don’t forget a glass of your favorite wine to complete the meal!

Overall, making pasta with vodka sauce is a fun and rewarding experience that can bring a touch of Italian flavor to your kitchen. With a little practice and patience, you can master this recipe and impress your guests with your culinary skills. So, get cooking and enjoy the delicious flavors of this classic pasta dish!

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