Vodka Sauce

Growing up my family and I ate a lot of spaghetti and other pastas. For the most part we only had my Mom’s “basic” red sauce. Occasionally we had pesto or clam sauce too. I’ve tried over and over to replicate my Mom’s red sauce, and I just can’t get it right; she of course doesn’t have a written recipe. But I have been experimenting with other sauces and this is one of my favorites.


I first had vodka sauce at a restaurant, and like usual, I knew it was something I needed to learn how to make at home. I scoured the internet for the perfect recipe but none were exactly what I was looking for. Many versions contained pancetta, which I’m not a fan of, so I decided to start from scratch and make it the way I liked it.

Everybody I’ve ever served this to has enjoyed it, even babies!  My friend Carolyn requested this one be posted, so here it is! Over the years I have made some adjustments. Mostly I’ve increased the amount of red pepper flakes because we like it a little spicy. You can definitely adjust the spices to satisfy your taste buds.


Here’s what you’ll need

Chop up the garlic

Melt butter in a large pot.

Sauté garlic just until fragrant

Add the sauce

Once all the sauce is added give it a good stir

Add the vodka

Add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

Add the heavy cream

Stir the sauce; cook for an additional 15 minutes

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

Enjoy with family and friends


Vodka Sauce

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Side Dish


  • 4 28 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 10 pieces of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of vodka
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 quart heavy cream


  • Begin by melting the butter in a very large pot. Add the minced garlic, be careful not to let it burn. Once it is fragrant, add the tomato sauce and the vodka. Next add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Increase or decrease these amounts according to taste. I start with 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes and then taste and adjust as I go. Cook on low for 45 minutes, stirring often.  Once you have the seasonings the way you like it, add the heavy cream.  Stir and cook for 15 more minutes. Now give it a taste and add more seasonings if necessary. I hope you enjoy this sauce as much as we do.


This makes a lot of sauce, so feel free to halve the recipe. But I prefer to make a big batch and separate the sauce into smaller containers and put it in the freezer. Put the sauce in your refrigerator the night before you plan to serve it and you have a nice, quick meal when you get home from work. In my experience the intensity of the red pepper flakes increase when you freeze it.
Also, I admit this is not the healthiest meal I make. Recently, in attempts to increase the nutritional value we have been adding grilled chicken, and roasted broccoli and mushrooms to the pasta.  Other ideas are:  shrimp, asparagus, zucchini, and broccoli rabe.
Keyword pasta, Sauce