Vodka Sauce


Vodka adds a spicy flavor to this popular Italian American sauce. More Italian Dishes

close up of rigatoni with vodka sauce
Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
3 cups (enough for 1 pound of pasta)


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 ounces pancetta, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1/4 cup vodka

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • One 35-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed by hand

  • Pinch of sugar

  • 2 basil sprigs

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Sauté the pancetta, garlic and crushed red pepper over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with vodka. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices. Stir in the sugar and basil, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic. Add heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes

Make Ahead

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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