How To Spice Up Vodka Sauce

How To Spice Up Vodka Sauce

Vodka sauce is a time-honoured favourite for pasta lovers, but who says you can't get creative and add a little more spice to this classic dish? If you're looking to take your vodka sauce game to the next level, you've come to the right place. In this article, we'll delve into different ways to spice up your vodka sauce and take your taste buds on a tantalising journey.

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

1. Amp up the heat with more red pepper flakes

For those who like their vodka sauce with a bit of a kick, increasing the amount of red pepper flakes in your recipe is a simple and delicious way to spice things up. Experiment with different quantities to suit your desired level of heat. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way, so start with small amounts and adjust based on your taste preferences.

2. Add depth of flavour with roasted red peppers

Roasting red peppers adds a smoky and slightly sweet flavour to the sauce. Simply char your red peppers on a grill or over an open flame, then peel off the charred skin and purée the roasted peppers along with your tomato sauce base. The result is a rich and complex flavour profile that will impress any dinner guest.

How to roast red peppers:

  • Place the red peppers directly on the flame of a gas stove or under a broiler. Turning occasionally, roast them until the skin is blackened and blistered on all sides.
  • Transfer the roasted peppers to a bowl and cover with cling wrap to steam for 10 minutes. This will make the skins easier to peel off.
  • When the peppers have cooled, use a knife or your hands to gently remove the blackened skin.
  • Remove the stem and seeds, and purée the roasted peppers with your tomato sauce using a blender or food processor.

3. Use fresh, seasonal herbs for added complexity

Fresh herbs can make a world of difference in a vodka sauce, adding both flavour and visual appeal. Popular options include basil, oregano, and parsley, but don't be afraid to experiment with your favourite herbs to find your perfect blend. To get the most out of your herbs, don't add them until the end of your cooking process.

4. Turn up the richness with sun-dried tomatoes and cream

Sun-dried tomatoes add an intense, concentrated tomato flavour to your sauce. Chop them finely and allow them to simmer in the sauce. You can also consider adding a touch more cream to your recipe for a balance of richness and tanginess that won't overwhelm the palate.

5. Get creative with additional spices

There's no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to spicing up your vodka sauce, so feel free to get creative with your spice rack. A touch of smoked paprika adds an earthy, subtle heat, while a dash of crushed fennel seeds brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes. Mixing and matching spices can help you achieve a more balanced and nuanced sauce, so don't be afraid to try something new.

How To Spice Up Vodka Sauce Example:

Spiced-Up Vodka Sauce Recipe


  • 2 cups tomato purée
  • 1 cup roasted red pepper (see instructions above)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for sautéing


  1. In a large skillet, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until softened.
  2. Add the tomato purée, roasted red peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the vodka, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. Continue simmering for another 10 minutes to let the flavours meld together.
  4. Add the heavy cream and fresh herbs, stirring well, and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve over your favourite pasta.

Now that you're armed with these tips and tricks to spice up your vodka sauce, you'll never have to settle for bland, boring pasta again. Put your newfound knowledge to the test and whip up an impressive, restaurant-quality meal at home. Don't forget to share your creations with us on social media and explore other delicious recipes and guides on Vodka Doctors – your one-stop destination for all things vodka-related.


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