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Best Vodka Sauce

Cara is a web writer and website owner with over 15 years of experience providing information to readers on a number of topics.

A well-made vodka sauce is creamy, silky smooth, and rich. It has incredible tomato flavor with the perfect backup from parmesan cheese. This sauce only takes 20 minutes to perfect and goes great with any pasta.


Vodka Sauce

This restaurant classic pink sauce is one of my favorite sauces to make when family comes over. It’s easy to make, fast, delicious, and will wow your guests. When you’re craving a luxurious pasta dinner, but you are short on time, this recipe should be your go-to. This recipe makes 2 cups of sauce and works great on any pasta you prefer. It’s a tomato-based cream sauce that is amplified with a little bit of vodka. If you are looking for a great recipe that doesn’t include alcohol, try my delicious Alfredo Sauce Recipe.

Why Does Vodka Work Well in this Sauce?

You may be wondering why vodka goes so well in this sauce. It’s a plain-tasting alcohol on its own and really doesn’t have a tantalizing flavor as a stand-alone ingredient. However, it really adds to this sauce! The vodka really adds to the flavor of the tomato and brings the sauce to a new level. The best part is the sauce doesn’t taste like vodka. Since the alcohol cooks out, everyone can enjoy this sauce without having to worry about it having an alcohol content.

How to Make Vodka Sauce

To make vodka sauce you will start by melting together butter and olive oil in a large skillet. The mixture of butter and oil will give you a wonderful base to build your flavors on. Add in onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. You can use any type of onion here, but I personally prefer red onion. I have made this recipe a lot of different ways and red onion is the preferred option in my house.

Now, you will add tomato paste and let the mixture cook for about a minute before adding in the vodka. Make sure to pour your vodka carefully, the alcohol will simmer off in the pan. Mix the tomato paste and scrape the small bits from the pan. These small bits add extra flavor that you can’t replace with other ingredients. Now add in the tomato sauce or puree. Turn down the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Make sure to remove the pan from the heat and add in parmesan cheese and cream. This is when you can add a little bit of the water you cooked your pasta in to create a looser sauce, but this is a personal preference.

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I like to top my pasta with fresh herbs, but you don’t have to. Just do what feels right to you.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

15 min

25 min

Serves 6


  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablesppon butter
  • 1 cup red onion, finely minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup unflavored vodka
  • 15 ounces can tomato sauce or puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated


  1. Cook your choice of pasta according to the directions on the package. Make sure to reserve ½ cup of the cooking water for later. Drain your pasta and set it aside.
  2. While your pasta is cooking, heat your butter and olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring continuously until the onion has softened.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and stir continuously for 1 minute.
  4. Carefully pour in the vodka because it is flammable. Scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan to help build flavor.
  5. Stir in your tomato sauce and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it has reached a boil, turn down the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove your pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Mix until smooth. Add in some reserved pasta water to reach the thickness you prefer from pasta sauces.
  7. Taste your sauce and adjust the seasoning to taste. Add in your pasta and allow your sauce to finish for 2 minutes over low heat and serve.


Any brand of unflavored vodka will work for this recipe. Since the alcohol cooks out, your sauce will not taste like vodka, it only adds to and enhances the other flavors in the sauce.

The nutrition facts below account for a serving of sauce mixed with 1 ½ cups of pasta.

If you're excited about freshness, check out my recipe for Homemade Pasta.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Cara Garrison

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