Vodka Pasta

posted in: Main Dish, Pasta, Vegetarian        date:

Vodka Pasta

Eric and I love pasta so much that we usually have it once a week. Out of all the recipes I have saved (which is a ridiculously high amount, by the way), pasta recipes appear the most. You’d think, with all those saved recipes, that I would be trying a new pasta dish each week. Sometimes that’s true, but lately I can only think about this pasta. It’s easily become my favorite, and I’m tempted to put it on the menu week after week.

It’s kind of funny how this recipe evolved. The changes started out pretty innocently and ended up turning this recipe into something different, and I think better, than the original. The addition of just a few ingredients really transformed this recipe. It started with me adding garlic. If something can be made with garlic, you can bet that I’ll put garlic in it. Eric and I love garlic so much that we use the full amount called for even when we halve recipes. The next time we made this, we had a can of crushed tomatoes that I thought would be really good in the sauce. I loved the addition of the tomatoes and continued using them. Then another time we had half of a yellow onion, and I couldn’t resist adding it. I love the smell of garlic and onion cooking in melted butter, and I’m not sure why I didn’t think to add the onion sooner.

This sauce is rich, creamy and full of tomato flavor. I like the added texture provided by the onion and tomatoes and actually think the sauce was a little boring without them. The basil provides a nice boost of freshness, which is nice with heavier sauces. While you can’t taste the vodka, I’ve read that vodka enhances the flavor of the tomatoes, making the flavor more intense than it would be without the alcohol. My favorite way to serve this is with crusty garlic bread, which happens to be the perfect vessel for eating leftover sauce.

Vodka Pasta

  • YIELD: 4-6 servings
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • ½ cup vodka

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • Generous pinch of red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil, plus additional for serving

  • 1 pound penne pasta

  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving

  • 1

    Cook pasta in well salted water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of cooking water, drain pasta and set aside.

  • 2

    While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about a minute more. Stir in tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste and vodka. Cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, at least 5 minutes.

    Stir in cream, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook sauce until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Stir in basil and cheese.

  • 3

    Add pasta to skillet and toss to coat, adding pasta water as needed to thin the sauce. Serve topped with additional basil and parmesan.

COMMENTS: ( 29 )
  • Oh yum! This sounds great! I love the photos, such strong colors!

    • I think all of your changes sound wonderful! We used to eat penne with vodka sauce a lot… and then it just fell off of our radar for some reason.

      • Courtney

        Thanks, Shawnda! I’m pretty happy with the result.

  • Addition of vodka sounds interesting, I didn’t realise it enhances the taste, apart from the fact that pretty much all food tastes a lot more delicious after many vodkas:). I know vodka helps in making batters and pastries lighter and crispier.

  • Blog is the New Black

    Yum! Looks great!

  • Marlyn

    I LOVE a good vodka sauce, so I will have to give this one a try.

  • I made something very similar last night. It’s definitely a crowd favorite!

  • Love vodka sauce! This looks amazing!

  • Elise

    Oh yum! Todd and I just love Vodka sauce!

  • I love all vodka sauces, this one looks amazing.

  • I love pasta with vodka sauce and your dish looks absolutely delicious! I must try this!! Your tablecloth is beautiful too. 🙂

  • Oooo! We had our mini-wedding reception at one of our favorite restaurants. One of the dishes we had at our dinner was a pasta with vodka cream sauce. I hadn’t given much thought to that, and had actually never had it before that night. It was amazing! I’d love to try your recipe to see how it compares! (But not till after I finish the leftovers from the wedding that are still in the fridge!)

  • I was just looking for ways to use up the vodka I have. This sounds fab!

  • Wow! This looks FANTASTIC! Loving your pictures… and that sauce is to die for!

    New to your blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  • This looks delicious!

  • I love booze in my food!

  • Heather

    This looks delicious! I love vodka sauces and I can’t wait to try yours 🙂

  • MMMM MMMM…I love vodka pastas! I should make this soon!

    • Nicole

      Made this tonight. It was wonderful! Only slight change I made was to mix the tomato paste into the onions and garlic first, then add the vodka and mix, let reduce slightly, then add crushed tomatoes. Otherwise I followed the directions exactly. Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Kim

    I made this recipe and it was SO good! Thanks for posting it!

  • I can’t wait to try this out!!

    • I made this tonight for dinner for the bf and myself and it was really good!! In fact I got the second ever “I’m impressed!” from the bf (he’s kinda a picky eater) but I think I could do better. I was wondering what vodka you were using, as the one I used made the sauce a bit sweeter than I thought it should be and was wondering what you would suggest. But the recipe was amazing, made extra to freeze, as the bf has already requested more for this weekend!! 🙂

  • This looks awesome! I’m going to make it soon! 🙂 it was so great to meet you in person this past weekend. 😀

  • Lindsey

    I made this last night and found the cooking times to be significantly longer. The onions were crunchy, and I cooked them for 10 minutes– the vodka took about 10-15 minutes to cook through. In any case, I think if I make this again, I will double the cooking times. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Courtney

      I’ve made this recipe more times than I can remember and have never had a problem with the cooking times. The onions are supposed to have a little bite to them, and mine cook until translucent and softened in that amount of time. The recipe I adapted this from only calls for 5 minutes of cooking time to let the vodka evaporate, and I have always found that to be sufficient. If you had the heat where it was supposed to be, I’m not really sure what went wrong, but I will try to check my cooking times next time I make this.

  • This looks silly good. I don’t know why I’ve never attempted vodka pasta, because, hello, what’s not to like! Can’t wait to whip up this yummy dish. Thanks for sharing! Any recommendations in terms of a good vodka to use for cooking? That’s a new deal to me, but we usually have vodka on hand so we can experiment too.

  • Jaime

    Has anyone tried substituting the heavy cream for greek yogurt?

    • I haven’t done it for this sauce specifically but have successfully done it with other sauces. It should be fine to swap it in this recipe.

      • Jaime

        I tried the swap and was not personally a fan of my result.