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  • Writer's pictureNicole Leonetti

Vodka Sauce Recipe

Vodka Sauce was all the rage back in the late 90s. At least it was for my family when we were living in Staten Island during that era. I worked at the most fabulous Italian deli while I was in high school and they made delicious vodka sauce. I brought home their vodka sauce maybe a little too often! Once we left New York, my family started making our own so we could enjoy it whenever we wanted. The recipe below was inspired by several different versions we’ve tasted over the years, and I hope you love it as much as we do. You can also add different ingredients to this pasta: peas, prosciutto - anything you like - but this is the original iteration. Warning – could be highly addictive!

Serves 4


- Salt

- 3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

- 4 Garlic Cloves (minced)

- 1 Cup Canned Tomato Puree

- Red Pepper Flakes (a generous pinch)

- ½ Cup of Vodka (whatever brand you like)

- Black Pepper (as much as you like)

- 1 Cup Heavy Cream

- 1lb Pasta (I like to use Cavatappi, Campanelle, or Farfalle)

- ½ Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (Freshly Grated – save more for garnish)

- ¼ Cup Fresh Basil (chopped)


- Bring a large pot of water to a boil (salt as you see fit)

- Heat the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil in a large skillet over High heat

- Add the Garlic in the skillet and cook until it starts to sizzle – about 25 seconds (don’t burn it!)

- Add the Tomato Puree and Red Pepper Flakes and bring to a simmer

- Stir in the Vodka and cook about 4 minutes (until you can no longer smell the alcohol)

- Pour in the Heavy Cream, stir – bring to a simmer

- Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly and is a lovely pink color (about 5 minutes)

- Add plenty of Black Pepper to the sauce

- Meanwhile – add your Pasta to the boiling water – cook until al dente (about 8 minutes)

- Drain the Pasta when it’s ready

- Add the Pasta to the skillet with the sauce

- Stir, Stir, Stir

- Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the pasta/sauce

- Add Fresh Basil

– Mix, Mix, Mix

- Garnish with extra Fresh Basil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano

You can serve this with a simple salad or just eat bowls of it on its own – whatever works for you. It's always nice with a big crusty piece of bread on the side. I believe this is a versatile dish that you can enjoy with red or white wine – I typically go with one of my favorites – a nice glass of Pinot Noir. Enjoy!

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