This vodka sauce recipe blends tomatoes, heavy cream, and a hint of vodka for a luxuriously silky pasta sauce.

It’s easy to make, perfect for dressing up your pasta, and guaranteed to become a weeknight favorite.

Easy Vodka Sauce on pasta

Pasta Perfection: Easy Vodka Sauce

  • Vodka and a splash of cream are unique additions that make this sauce restaurant-quality.
  • Pair it with almost any pasta and add in chicken, sausage, or shrimp.
  • It’s easy to make but will impress your family!
  • This dish is kid-friendly – the alcohol is cooked off, making it a family fave.
Vodka Sauce ingredients with labels

Ingredients for Vodka Sauce

  • Onion & Garlic: Onion (or shallot) and garlic add flavor to this sauce.
  • Pancetta: add a salty, savory depth of flavor. Use bacon in place of pancetta if needed.
  • Vodka: The vodka enhances the sauce’s flavor, choose an inexpensive vodka for this recipe. The alcohol will cook off so this recipe is safe for kids.
  • Tomatoes: Use a mix of canned whole for texture and crushed tomatoes for vibrant flavor. San Marzanos are the best canned tomatoes if you can get them but any canned tomatoes work in this vodka sauce.
  • Heavy Cream : A bit of cream adds richness.
  • Parmesan Cheese: freshly grated Parmesan (or Romano for a sharper edge) adds flavor.
  • Fresh Parsley: fresh herbs add touch of freshness. Basil is a great alternative if you prefer.

Pasta & Variations

Penne alla vodka is classic, but rigatoni or linguine are all great choices; this homemade vodka sauce will work with almost any shape. Try rotini, farfalle, or cavatappi.

No pancetta? Use some made-from-scratch meatballs or use cheese or sausage-filled tortellini, if you like. Add veggies like spinach, chopped kale, sliced mushrooms, or peas.

How to Make Vodka Sauce

This Vodka sauce recipe is a classic sauce that’s super easy to make.

  1. Cook onion in butter or olive oil until softened. Add pancetta and cook until some of the fat is rendered out.
  2. Add vodka and garlic and cook per recipe below.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and parsley.
cooked Vodka Sauce with bowl of pasta beside it

Tips for the Perfect Pasta Sauce

  • Boil pasta until just al dente and save a little pasta water to add to the sauce. This provides more texture to the sauce and helps it cling to the pasta.
  • For an extra smooth sauce without chunky bits of tomato, puree the sauce in a small blender before adding cheese in Step 6.

More Favorite Pasta Sauces

Did you make this Vodka Sauce? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

plated Vodka Sauce with noodles
5 from 20 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Easy Vodka Sauce

A creamy and tomato-based pasta sauce with a touch of vodka adds a unique richness and depth to the flavor.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author Holly Nilsson



  • ½ small onion finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta chopped, or bacon ½-inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • cup vodka
  • 28 ounces whole tomatoes with juices canned
  • 14 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, or romano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley


  • Using your hands, squish the tomatoes into a bowl to break them up (reserving the juices) and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Stir in the pancetta or bacon and continue cooking until some of the fat has rendered out, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant.
  • Add the vodka and bring to a low boil, let boil uncovered for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the whole and crushed tomatoes (with any juices) and the pepper flakes. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the cream and simmer for an additional 9 to 11 minutes or until thickened.
  • Remove from heat, and add the parmesan cheese and parsley. Stir, taste, and season with salt and pepper.



This is enough sauce to toss with 16 oz dry pasta.
No vodka? No problem! Use a splash of white wine instead (although it won’t technically be vodka sauce anymore). If you’d like to make this recipe without alcohol, leave the vodka out. It will change the flavor but it will still be delicious.
San Marzano tomatoes are preferred if you can get them. Break up whole tomatoes by hand before using or with the back of a wooden spoon in the pan.
Add grilled shrimp, shredded chicken, or Italian sausage if desired.
Save some pasta water, if you mix the sauce with pasta, add a bit of reserved pasta water. Not only does it help with consistency, but the starches also help the sauce cling better.
5 from 20 votes

Nutrition Information

Serving: 0.25of the recipe | Calories: 510 | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 771mg | Potassium: 846mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1730IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 223mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Pasta, Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Easy Vodka Sauce in the pot and plated with noodles and a title
Easy Vodka Sauce in a pot with a title
Easy Vodka Sauce on noodles with writing
plated Easy Vodka Sauce with writing


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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. Love, love, LOVE this recipe! I have made it 3 times in the past week due to requests by the family. Not only is it becoming a family favorite but it is becoming a family obsession! Thank you for sharing!5 stars

  2. I enjoyed making this recipe for my daughter and I on a cold rainy day in Northeastern Ohio. It was delicious and the house smelled wonderful from all of the aromas. I loved the flavor the smoky pancetta added to the recipe. It’s a keeper. Thank you!5 stars

  3. WOW…what an awesome recipe. My husband and I just loved it. Eat some the next, even better…the ingredients had time to mellow. I will definitely be making this again & again. Thanks for such a really great recipe.5 stars

    1. Hi Rebecca, this recipe should freeze well. Just let it come to room temperature and store it in an airtight container before moving it to the freezer. We would love to hear how it turns out!