The Best Most Delicious Pasta Alla Vodka Sauce

Cocktail glass filled with Vodka Pasta.

Some History About The Best Most Delicious Pasta Alla Vodka Sauce

I first made this recipe years ago when we first met our daughter’s boyfriend, now her amazing husband.  Pretty brave trying out my new recipe during an all important first meeting.   You can’t even image how horrified I was when I first tasted my “new” recipe.  You see, I mistakenly added El Pato HOT tomato sauce, ugh!  My mistake was even bigger as I didn’t just add a few spoonfuls, oh no, I added the entire can!  It was awful and so, so hot.  Mouth burning hot!  Luckily, I had prepared more than just The Best Most Delicious Pasta Alla Vodka Sauce for our dinner.  We can laugh about it now, lol!

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The ingredients are simple, basic and easy to find at your local grocery store.  They include:  Olive oil, italian stewed tomatoes, yellow onion, garlic, celery, carrot, red pepper flakes, vodka, heavy cream, salt and pepper, grated & shredded parmesan cheese, fresh basil, fresh parsley or fresh oregano and pasta of choice.  

Let's get started

Using a large saute pan heat the olive oil over low to medium heat.  While the oil is heating, clean, slice and chop the veggies.  But, when I make it here at home, I’ll use our mandolin to thinly slice the veggies. Then rough chop  them and then into my food processor they go.  (Foto Visualista has no affiliation to any mfg or company referenced, herein.)  Now, I’m not pureeing them, but making them smaller in size so they’ll cook up quickly.  It isn’t necessary, just less time and effort.  

In our short video tutorial I finely hand sliced and finely chopped the vegetables.  At the time we taped the short video we didn’t have any yellow onions, but I had scallions.  We are big on using what we have on hand, so I used scallions.

Once the vegetables are chopped and the oil is heated, I add them to the saute pan and stir to evenly coat them with oil.  I will lightly salt and pepper them.  The sauteing should take 10-15 minutes, more or less.  I’ll test them for tenderness by inserting a fork.  If it slides in easily they are ready.  

A Short Video Tutorial

Play Video

Preparing the Tomatoes

While waiting for the veggies to finish sauteing, you’ll need to drain the juice from the Italian Style sliced stewed tomatoes.  Using a small colander and small mixing bowl, drain and reserve the tomato juice from both cans.  This is when I loosely dice up the tomatoes.  

Once the veggies are sauteed add in the tomato juice.  Simmer until it has reduced by 1/4.  Add in the tomatoes you diced and continue simmering until the juice reduces by 1/4 again.  About another 15 – 20 minutes.  I will also, lightly add salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes.

Now is a great time to start your pasta.  Fill a large pot with water and heat it over high heat.  Once the water is at a fast boil its time to salt your water and add in your pasta.  You can reduce the heat, but make sure to keep that water boiling and cook for 15-20 minutes until al dente.

Vodka and Cream

Before adding in the Vodka and Cream mash the tomatoes.  I use a potato masher to soften and break up the diced tomatoes.

It’s time to add in the vodka and cream.  Be sure to mix thoroughly together and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.  The vodka will cook off and even though the vodka is relatively tasteless, it add richness and intensifies the flavors of your sauce.  The cream provides just the right amount of creaminess while softening the sauces color. 

I will remove the pan from the burner and allow to cool.  Then I will carefully pour the sauce into my large food processor and puree it.  This just insure a smooth and creamy consistency to the sauce.

For our video and food photography I decided to allow the ingredients to show.  Which is why I only mashed the cooked tomatoes and vegetables.  There is no wrong or right way to present this meal.  If it’s just Dave and I sharing this meal, I will usually omit the pureeing step and serve it as is.  

Inspiring Photography

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Pasta alla Vodka Sauce

Delicious authentic flavor in our version of Vodka Pasta Sauce
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Vodka Pasta Sauce, Vodka Spaghetti Sauce


  • Mandolin to finely slice vegetables is recommended, but not required. Food Processor to puree cooked sauce is recommended, but not required.


  • 2 cans Italian style stewed tomatoes I used sliced. I feel there is more tomato juice in the cans.
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil for sauteeing
  • 1 small to medium-size yellow onion, (alternative: 1-3 shallot) finely chopped
  • 1-2 Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 Celery stalk finely chopped
  • 1 Carrot finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Vodka
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 box Pasta 1 lb +/- pasta of your choice.
  • 6 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese I also use shredded for garnishing
  • 1 Fresh Basil Leaf or alternative flat-leaf parsley. Rough chopped for garnishing.
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Vodka Pasta Sauce
  • In a large saucepan and over low-medium heat, heat the olive oil.
  • Finely slice (a mandolin is helpful) and chop, (I will rough chop and finish using a food processor), celery, carrot, garlic, and yellow onion and/or shallot. When olive oil is heated, add to saucepan and sautee until they are softened. Stir frequently. This should take 10-15 minutes, time will vary.
  • Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper (to taste), your veggies. Mixing well
  • Strain juice from each can of stewed tomatoes, and reserve.
  • Dice the sliced stewed tomatoes.
  • When the sauteed vegetables have softened add-in the reserved tomato juice. Allow to simmer and reduce by 1/4 to 1/2. Approximately 10 minutes.
  • After the tomato juice has reduced, add in the diced stewed tomatoes and mix well. Season lightly with more salt and pepper. Continue simmering until the diced stewed tomatoes have softened. Once softened, using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes.
  • Add-in the Vodka and heavy cream, stirring well to mix. Cook/simmer over low/medium until the sauce has thickened, slightly.
  • This is an optional step: Allow sauce to cool and transfer the sauce to a food processor and puree. This will create a smooth and creamy consistency.
  • Pasta
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
  • Once water is boiling, add salt to your water. Note: This is the only time you can salt your pasta!)
  • Once water is at a rolling boil, add pasta, stir and cook to al dente. Time will vary depending on the variety of pasta you're making and between 12-20 minutes. Note: you may reduce the burner heat, but the water must continue to boil. This will help prevent sticking. Also, stir occassionally.
  • Once pasta is cooked al dente and before straining away pasta water, add one spoon full of pasta water to the vodka pasta sauce. (This will help the sauce stick to your pasta.) Then strain away water from pasta using a colander.
  • You can either add your pasta directly to the Vodka Pasta Sauce or transfer well-drained pasta to a serving bowl. Add sauce, grated parmesan, and gently mix well. Top with shredded parmesan cheese, chopped basil, or chopped flat-leaf parsley. Serve and enjoy!

Final Thoughts on The Best Most Delicious Pasta Alla Vodka Sauce

This is one of our family’s favorite recipes and one we often prepare for special occasions.   Like we did this past weekend for our son’s birthday celebration dinner.  It’s always delicious and everyone wants seconds….so I always prepare this in large quantities and often two batches.  Yep, it’s that good!   

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