Best Vodka Sauce is creamy, rich and silky smooth with amazing tomato parmesan flavor!  This vodka sauce recipe comes together in only 20 minutes and goes perfect with any pasta!

vodka saue on pasta

Vodka Sauce:

Vodka sauce is one of my absolute favorites to make at home!  This is a restaurant classic “pink sauce” that most people love, and let me tell you, it is so fast and simple for a weeknight dinner!  You can make this any night of the week because it’s fast, but it also is a really luxurious pasta that is great for an occasion as well.  Basically this is a tomato based cream sauce, but it’s special because of the vodka addition. My recipe makes a good 2 cups worth of sauce and works well on any pasta you wish. I tend to prefer a short cut pasta like rotini or penne.  If you’ve had our reader favorite Alfredo Sauce, you’ll love this one too!

What Does the Vodka Do in Vodka  Sauce?

This may sound surprising because vodka is kind of a plain tasting alcohol its own, but it really adds to this sauce!  The vodka basically just really enhances the  tomato flavor overall.  If you’re concerned about this sauce actually tasting like vodka, don’t worry, it doesn’t!  Its such a simple way to add a depth of flavor, and the sauce won’t taste the same without it!  The alcohol also completely cooks out, people of any age can enjoy this dish.

vodka sauce in pan

How to Make Vodka Sauce:

  • You will start by melting together some butter and olive oil in a large skillet.  Trust me on the combination of oil/butter together, it really gives this sauce the best flavor.
  • Then, we add in onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.  I LOVE and highly recommend using red onion here!  That’s what I use and liked the best after testing this recipe many different ways.
  • Now, you’ll add some tomato paste and just let it cook for one minute before adding the vodka.  Pour your vodka in carefully, it will simmer in the pan.  Mix it up with the tomato paste and scrape any bits from the pan, that’s extra flavor!
  • Now, just add in your tomato sauce or puree.  Turn the heat down and let it simmer for just 10 minutes.
  • Make sure to remove the pan from the heat to add in your cream and parmesan cheese!  At this point you can add a little pasta cooking water if you want a looser sauce.
  • I like to top this with a little fresh basil, but any herbs you like will be fine.  Or, it’s great just as it is!

vodka sauce pasta recipe



5 from 2 votes

Best Vodka Sauce

Best Vodka Sauce is creamy, rich and silky smooth with amazing tomato parmesan flavor!  This vodka sauce recipe comes together in only 20 minutes and goes perfect with any pasta!
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Servings 6



  • Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes until the onion is soft.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, and cook stirring constantly for one minute.
  • Carefully pour in the vodka and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce, bring to a boil, immediately turn the heat down and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream and parmesan until smooth.
  • Add in reserved cooking water as desired to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.
  • Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as desired.



Note on Vodka:  Any brand of vodka is fine for this recipe.  The alcohol completely cooks out so this sauce doesn't taste like vodka.
Note on Cheese:  It's best to always use freshly grated (not pre-shredded/bagged) cheese for best results.
Note:  The nutrition facts account for the sauce mixed with one and one half Cups of pasta.


Serving: 1.5Cups, Calories: 476kcal, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 40mg, Sodium: 200mg, Potassium: 258mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 528IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 128mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
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Hey! Nice to meet you! I'm Nichole!

Welcome to The Salty Marshmallow! I'm a mom, animal lover, photographer, & kitchen mess-maker. Here you will find the result of my decades-long passion for chasing the best flavors in the kitchen, all meant to be cooked by regular people with busy lives just like you and me.

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  1. 5 stars
    Oooh it has been way too long since I have made a vodka sauce to pair with pasta. Yours looks absolutely amazing! I love how easily it comes together in only 20 minutes too.