How Do You Make Vodka Sauce

How Do You Make Vodka Sauce

Are you tired of the same old pasta sauces every night? Looking for something that packs a punch and adds depth to your favorite Italian dishes without the heavy cream? Well, look no further! Grab your apron and get ready to elevate your culinary game with this fantastic and versatile vodka sauce recipe.

Best Budget Vodkas Ranked

smirnoff vodka doctors


A global vodka giant with Russian origins, Smirnoff delivers consistent quality and versatility for any mixer.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Crisp, mild sweetness with a clean finish

Best Cocktail Pairing: Classic Cosmopolitan

Best Food Paring: Grilled chicken skewers

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

absolut vodka doctors


Swedish purity in a bottle, Absolut is distilled from winter wheat, giving a smooth and rich experience.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Smooth with light grain and citrus hints

Best Cocktail Pairing: Absolut Elyx Martini

Best Food Paring: Smoked salmon canapés

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

ketel one vodka doctors

Ketel One

A Dutch treat, Ketel One is the result of over 300 years of distilling expertise; a refined choice.

Alcohol Percentage: 40%

Taste Profile: Fresh with subtle citrus and honey notes

Best Cocktail Pairing: Dutch Mule

Best Food Paring: Aged cheeses or Dutch herring

Brand Breakdown: Find out more here

What is Vodka Sauce?

Vodka sauce is a creamy, tomato-based sauce often used to dress pasta dishes. Originally from Italy, it gained popularity in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. The main ingredients include tomatoes, vodka, heavy cream, and a variety of seasonings.

While the alcohol in vodka might seem like an unlikely ingredient, it adds a unique and sophisticated flavor profile to the sauce. Moreover, the alcohol content helps bring out the flavors of the tomatoes and other ingredients, resulting in a more flavorful, aromatic, and well-balanced sauce.

Choosing the Right Vodka

When it comes to choosing the vodka for your sauce, you don't necessarily need to splurge on an expensive bottle. While an ultra-premium vodka won't hurt the flavor, a mid-range vodka will do the job just fine. Just make sure to avoid using bottom-shelf vodka, as it might affect the taste and quality of your sauce.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for a spicy kick)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh basil, for garnish


  1. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Pour in the vodka and simmer for 5-7 minutes, reducing the liquid by half. Make sure not to have an open flame near the pan, as the alcohol content might create a flare-up.
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes if using, salt, and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together and the sauce to thicken.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and carefully stir in the heavy cream until fully incorporated. The sauce should now be a lovely blush-pink color.
  5. Return the sauce to low heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese until melted and smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
  6. Serve the sauce over your favorite cooked pasta and garnish with the chopped fresh basil.

How Do You Make Vodka Sauce Example:

There are endless possibilities when it comes to using your vodka sauce. Toss it with a classic penne pasta or be more adventurous and try it with ricotta-stuffed tortellini or gnocchi. You may even elevate a simple spaghetti dish or use it as a dipping sauce for garlic knots or crusty bread.

Additionally, for a delicious protein-packed version, consider adding cooked Italian sausage, chicken, or shrimp into the sauce. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, so get creative and make your own signature vodka sauce dish!

Now you have all the tips and tricks needed to whip up a scrumptious and memorable vodka sauce at home. Go ahead and impress your friends and family with your newly-acquired culinary prowess. If you enjoyed this guide, please consider sharing it and explore other fantastic vodka-related articles, recipes, and insights here at Vodka Doctors. Cheers to delicious food and great company!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is vodka sauce?

Vodka sauce is a creamy tomato sauce with Italian origins that blends tomatoes, cream, and vodka. The alcohol is cooked off, leaving a rich and velvety sauce with a unique flavor profile that enhances the taste of the tomatoes and cream.

Does vodka sauce contain any actual vodka?

Yes, vodka sauce contains real vodka. The alcohol helps to emulsify the sauce and release flavor compounds from the tomatoes, although it is cooked enough to evaporate most of the alcohol content, making it safe for most people to consume.

Can I make vodka sauce without vodka?

You can make a sauce that is similar to vodka sauce without using vodka, but it will lack the distinct flavor that the alcohol imparts to the sauce. Some people use water or broth as a substitute for a non-alcoholic version.

What can I use instead of vodka in vodka sauce?

If you prefer not to use vodka, you could try alternatives like white wine or a bit of lemon juice for acidity. Keep in mind, though, that these substitutions will alter the original flavor of the sauce.

How do I make vodka sauce from scratch?

Making vodka sauce from scratch involves sautéing onions and garlic, adding tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, and then stirring in vodka, heavy cream, and seasoning. It typically simmers until thickened and the flavors are well combined.

How long does it take to cook off the alcohol in vodka sauce?

Generally, it takes about 20 minutes of simmering to cook off the alcohol in vodka sauce. However, some trace amounts may remain, so consider this if serving to children, pregnant women, or individuals who avoid alcohol for health or religious reasons.

Can vodka sauce be frozen?

Yes, vodka sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Ensure it is cooled completely before transferring to airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Is vodka sauce spicy?

Vodka sauce is typically mild with a rich, smooth taste. However, its flavor can be easily adjusted, and some recipes include ingredients like red pepper flakes to add a spicy kick.

What types of pasta pair well with vodka sauce?

Vodka sauce pairs beautifully with a variety of pasta shapes, including penne, rigatoni, and fusilli. It's also delicious with filled pastas like ravioli or tortellini.

How can I thicken my vodka sauce?

If your vodka sauce is too thin, continue simmering to reduce and thicken it. You could also add a bit of grated cheese, such as Parmesan, which can help to emulsify and thicken the sauce.

Is it safe to cook with vodka when pregnant?

Since the alcohol in vodka sauce is cooked off, it typically contains very minimal alcohol content. However, pregnant women may wish to avoid it or consult with their healthcare provider due to the use of alcohol in its preparation.

What are the nutritional benefits of vodka sauce?

Vodka sauce can contain some nutritional benefits like lycopene from tomatoes, and small amounts of calcium and protein from the cream. However, it is also high in calories and fat, so it's best enjoyed in moderation.

Can vodka sauce be considered vegan?

Traditional vodka sauce is not vegan because it contains heavy cream. However, you can create a vegan version by replacing the cream with a plant-based alternative such as coconut cream or cashew cream.

Can I use half-and-half instead of heavy cream in vodka sauce?

Yes, half-and-half can be used as a substitute for heavy cream in vodka sauce for a lighter version, although the sauce may not be as rich or thick.

What is the best vodka to use for vodka sauce?

You don't need an expensive vodka for the sauce; a good quality mid-range vodka will suffice since you're using it for cooking rather than drinking.

What herbs go well with vodka sauce?

Basil, oregano, and thyme complement the flavors in vodka sauce very well. Fresh herbs are best added at the end of cooking to preserve their flavor and aroma.

What type of tomato should I use for making vodka sauce?

Canned San Marzano tomatoes are often recommended for their sweet flavor and low acidity, but any quality canned tomato will work well. If using fresh tomatoes, choose ripe, flavorful varieties and consider peeling them before use.

How should leftover vodka sauce be stored?

Leftover vodka sauce should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within three to four days. As with all leftovers, if it smells off or shows signs of spoilage, discard it.

Can vodka sauce be reheated?

Yes, vodka sauce can be reheated on the stove over low heat until warm throughout. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. If it becomes too thick upon reheating, you can thin it out with a splash of cream or broth.

Will my vodka sauce curdle if I boil it?

There is a risk of curdling if vodka sauce is boiled, especially if it contains a high amount of dairy. To prevent this, heat it slowly and never let it reach a full boil after adding the cream.

Should vodka sauce taste like alcohol?

No, vodka sauce should not have a strong alcohol taste. The vodka flavor should be subtle, enhancing the overall flavor profile without being overpowering since the alcohol is mostly cooked off during preparation.

vodka doctors zawadzki
Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

About Ferdynand Scheuerman

Ferdynand is Vodka importer, exporter and specialist with over 30 years of experience in the Vodka industry. He knows the subtle in's & out's of Vodka. Spending most of his time discovering new brands, new blends and new cocktails.

Related Posts