Pasta with Vodka Sauce

This Pasta with Vodka Sauce is rich, creamy and loaded with flavor! Best of all this dish is ready in under 15 minutes! In the time it takes to boil your pasta, your sauce will be ready! This recipe is the perfect meal for a busy weeknight!

Looking for more easy pasta recipes? Check out my 20 minute Pasta Carbonara and my Healthy Shrimp Scampi recipes!

Penne noodles in a tomato sauce in a white pan with a wooden spoon.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Vodka sauce is one of those pasta sauces that feels fancy and refined, but is actually so easy to make. With high quality pantry ingredients that are super easy to get your hands on, anyone can make a delicious vodka sauce!

I never thought I would like vodka sauce so much. Maybe it’s the cream that makes it so good. I’ve added vodka sauce to lots of things including pizza!  For me there are times when you want something other than classic marinara and this is a good alternative.

This sauce turns out creamy, peppery, and tangy. The vodka adds some heat which helps to balance the tomato and the heavy cream. Don’t worry, you’ll cook it long enough that the alcohol is cooked right out!

pasta with vodka sauce in a white bowl sprinkled with fresh basil

Ingredients for Vodka Sauce

  • Penne Pasta- I like penne pasta with this recipe, but you can use any of your favorite noodles.
  • Butter AND Olive Oil: I always like to do a combination of both!
  • Garlic- Fresh, minced garlic is best with this recipe.
  • Onion- Dice the onion or alternatively you can use a diced shallot.
  • Vodka- A small amount of vodka will balance this recipe perfectly.
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes- I love the Tuttoroso crushed tomatoes in basil. They are the best jarred crushed tomatoes I have come across.
  • Red Pepper Flakes- Add a little heat to taste with some red pepper flakes!
  • Sugar- Sugar is often used in tomato sauces to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Heavy Cream- Heavy cream is the star in vodka sauce. Make sure you use heavy cream and not half & half.
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh Basil- Top it off with some fresh basil if you have it on hand!

Close up of penne pasta with tomato sauce and a wooden spoon.

How to Make Pasta with Vodka Sauce

  • First, cook your pasta according to package instructions.

boiling penne pasta in large pot

  • While the pasta is cooking, add butter and olive oil to a sauce pan on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. Then, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the vodka and let the alcohol cook off for 1-2 minutes.

Onions being cooked in a white sauce pan.

  • Add in the crushed tomatoes, sugar and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Tomato sauce in a white sauce pan with a wooden spoon.

  • Stir in the heavy cream and the parmesan cheese. Season with salt to taste. Toss in the cooked pasta and stir to coat.
  • Top with fresh basil and serve immediately. Enjoy!

pasta with vodka sauce in saute pan with a wooden spoon.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

  • Store the prepared pasta and sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat, toss your pasta in a pot on the stove or in the microwave until heated through.
  • To freeze your sauce, store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw the sauce in the fridge and then heat up the sauce in a pot on the stove.

Tips for Success

  • Get your veggies! You can add an abundance of vegetables into this sauce, if you would like. You can use zucchini noodles, or toss in some spinach, broccoli, zucchini or kale!
  • Add protein to make a full meal! You can add some precooked shredded chicken into this sauce for some added protein. Or try it with chickpeas for a vegetarian, protein packed option.
  • Use this vodka sauce in place of regular tomato sauce. If you love vodka sauce, then you can use this recipe in place of regular tomato sauce in all different kinds of recipes!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the purpose of vodka in vodka sauce? Alcohol has long been used in cooking practices for flavor. The alcohol gets cooked out and you are left with an abundance of flavor from the cooked down liquid. In this recipe, vodka adds a peppery, tangy flavor that is unlike any other!
  • What is the best type of noodle to use with vodka sauce? You want to use a noodle that will sop up that delicious sauce. I like penne since the sauce will get into the hollow parts of the noodle as well. But you can really use any of your favorite noodles that you would use with a regular tomato sauce. Try campanelle or bowtie for something different!
  • Can I make vodka sauce without alcohol? It wouldn’t technically be vodka sauce, but you can absolutely make a delicious sauce without the alcohol. Instead, add some chicken broth for the liquid and lemon juice for the acidity!

What to Eat With Pasta & Vodka Sauce

Pair your pasta with a delicious salad & some garlic bread or a nice vegetable side! Check out some of my favorite options:

Penne noodles with tomato sauce in a white bowl with a fork.

More Recipes You’ll Love

15 Minute Vodka Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Super Easy Vodka Sauce. Rich and creamy pasta tossed with garlic, crushed tomatoes and fresh basil. Ready in under 15 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • sliced basil, for serving

Instructions

Images:
  • Cook pasta until al-dente according to package instructions.
  • Meanwhile while pasta is boiling, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Add in onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it starts to get tender.
    Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute.
    Next, add in vodka and allow the alcohol to cook off, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add in crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in heavy cream and parmesan cheese and take off heat. Toss with cooked pasta and stir to coat.
  • Serve immediately with fresh basil for serving and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts
15 Minute Vodka Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 486 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 10mg3%
Sodium 274mg12%
Potassium 783mg22%
Carbohydrates 86g29%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 625IU13%
Vitamin C 18.7mg23%
Calcium 113mg11%
Iron 6mg33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cream, Pasta sauce, tomato, vodka