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Homemade vodka sauce in a skillet
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Homemade Vodka Sauce

This vodka sauce is bright, creamy and flavorful! We are combining simple ingredients like onions, tomato paste, cream and parmesan for this vodka sauce recipe. Use it to easily make penne alla vodka or another vodka sauce pasta dish in the comfort of your own home!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: vodka sauce
Servings: 6 servings (including pasta)
Calories: 468kcal
Author: TipBuzz


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin recommended
  • 1 cup yellow onion chopped, or shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste (optional)
  • 1/3 cup vodka 3 oz
  • 28 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes or 3 cups fresh diced tomatoes (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste double concentrated recommended
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper to taste (optional)
  • 3/4 cup half and half or ½ cup whipping cream
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (see note)

Penne Alla Vodka (optional)

  • 1 pound penne pasta or other pasta (16 oz)
  • grated parmesan for serving
  • fresh parsley or basil for garnish


  • Place a large skillet over medium heat (see note). Add the oil followed by the garlic, onions and red pepper flakes. Cook for 4-5 minutes until soft, stirring regularly to prevent sticking.
  • Add the vodka and tomatoes to the pan. Stir and continue cooking for 5-7 minutes more until the sauce has reduced somewhat.
  • Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer partially covered for 15-20 minutes until reduced by about half. Stir occasionally.
  • While the sauce is simmering, you can cook the pasta in boiling salted water, following the package directions. Drain, toss with a teaspoon of olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
  • Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor. Purée for about 5 to 10 seconds until smooth.
  • Add the pureed sauce back to the skillet. With the heat on medium-low, add in the half and half or cream. Stir gently for a minute or two until it starts to bubble.
  • Stir in the parmesan cheese. Then toss with the cooked pasta until coated completely. Garnish with extra parmesan and optional parsley or basil before serving.


  • Cookware: Use a steel, enameled or nonstick pan. Avoid aluminum or cast iron, which can react with the tomatoes imparting bitterness.
  • Salt: Note that canned tomatoes, tomato paste and parmesan usually contain salt, so consider adding less during preparation and adjust to taste before serving.
  • Tomatoes: If using canned tomatoes, look for a quality brand such as Muir Glen, 365 or San Marzano to reduce the risk of bitterness. Use whole peeled tomatoes with no added flavors like basil.
  • Parmesan: Use freshly grated parmesan for the best flavor. Avoid the pre-packaged green can!
  • Storage: You can store vodka sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 468kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 333mg | Potassium: 536mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 364IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 3mg | Net Carbs: 63g