Pasta Alla Vodka Recipe (2024)

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The point of the Vodka, or any alcohol in a recipe, is to extract flavor compounds out of the ingredients that do not dissolve in water. In step 2 here, the vodka is getting lots of flavors out of the pancetta pieces, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, and all the yummy bits cooked onto the bottom of the pan.The flavors that come from foods and spices may dissolve best in water, some in alcohol, some in fats like butter or pancetta fat, and some in acidic liquid like lemon juice.

Chiffon Bubblebroiler

Serviceable, but Pasta Alla Vodka it is not, quite. When I worked under famed chef Stefano Formaggio near Bologna in the 1980s, he would have resigned his commission before using crushed tomatoes instead of whole. Pecorino Romano was the only cheese ever seriously considered, ideally from a ewe sequestered for seven Sundays and made to listen to to Verdi. And in game involving the whole village, the vodka was sneaked from the liquor cache of the oldest man in town. Try it, it makes a difference.


Maybe instead of using just tap water, use some of the pasta water because the starch makes it thicker, therefore actually thickening the sauce (if you want it thicker)

Margaux Laskey, Senior Staff Editor

Hi guys! Some of you felt the dish was too watery, so we adjusted the recipe to allow a range of water added. Bon appetit!


I thought the flavor of the sauce was spot on like the vodka sauce we enjoy at our local Italian restaurant- but it was too thin. Next time I will skip the added water, and cook it a little longer so it is a thicker consistency before adding in the cream, which thinned it out. Maybe this is due to the kind of canned tomatoes I used- I used San Marzano whole tomatoes in a puree, and crushed the tomatoes myself.


Rather than using the water, how about opening the tomatoes at the beginning of cooking, pouring them into a bowl, then rinsing the can with the vodka and adding that to the onion pan? Then add the tomatoes and use a silicone spatula to scrape all the juice out of the bowl.

Margaux Laskey, Staff Editor

Made it, loved it. Served it with a pile of roasted broccoli and sliced Italian sausage on top.


@Philip vodka enhances the flavor because of the chemical reaction with the other ingredients, it has nothing to do with aromatics. Adding a stronger flavored drink with similar alcohol level (~40%), like bourbon or cognac, will add a distinctive flavor even when the alcohol cooks off. The advantage of vodka is that it doesn't add flavor of its own, it just gives the actual ingredients a boost of flavor. For the science see


So good. Delayed on starting the pasta because sauce takes longer than total time mentioned in recipe.

Hana Vizcarra

I do a version of this (learned from my father) with Italian sausage instead of pancetta and adding sundried tomatoes - lots of flavor and always a hit.

Alex Cesarini

I typically would add a bit of tomato paste to thicken in.


I used a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and skipped adding the water. Plenty of sauce for a pound of pasta, which is how we like it. Delicious!

Mina O

For those living in more remote areas, bacon is an easy substitute for pancetta.


Adding up the steps to prepare the sauce looks like it takes 20-25 minutes, so why make cooking the pasta (@8 minutes?) the very first step? Won't that result in over cooked or limp pasta?


Making this recipe, embarrassingly, was my first time doing a pasta sauce from scratch. May it be the first of many times! As many reviewers suggested I omitted the added water entirely and I kept the sauce bubbling and thickening far longer than the 10 minutes called for in Step 3, but these were my only departures from the recipe. Fantastic result, and I have a new favorite weeknight dish.

use two cookie sheets

Use fresh tomatoes if they are delicious and in season. It will make for a thicker sauce and taste better. Definitely do not add the extra water to the sauce. Strangely, this sauce was much better on day one than on day two. Leftovers were watery and in no way more flavorful. But it’s good and quick. Pancetta was a nice addition, but definitely not necessary.


This was delicious. I added some frozen (drained) spinach at the end for the nutritional value. Ruins the smoothness, but for home cooking, we take our veggies any way we can. Next time I’ll cook the sauce after adding the tomato for a bit longer. This is a keeper.


I don’t know what I did wrong, but this did not come out good. I’ve had good vodka sauces before, and they are very smooth. This was way too chunky. There were also way too many onions, which made it even less smooth. It was pretty much a disaster.


There are other recipes out there with less or no onion. I recommend seeking out one of those. And ditch the pancetta if you want smooth.


Maybe add peas into it


To add Italian sausage:Cook .75-1lb spicy Italian sausage in the pan before adding onions and garlic. I also added ~1.5 tbsp tomato paste to the cooked down sausage and onions, and let that toast a bit before adding the vodka.


Feels like spring today, so stirred in frozen baby peas at the end to make it a bit like a primavera. Also counted that as the vegetable portion.


Very good


Next time I am going to try using tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes to make it thicker. I didn't add the extra water. It taste better as it sits rather than eating immediately after cooking.


Use crushed, as stated. Tomato sauce will have other ingredients. Diced definitely would make this lumpy.


I tripled the recipe for a party and everyone loved it. The yields is generous!

Julie Anderson

My husband is pork-free, so I sauteed chicken breasts and removed, then sauteed the onion, garlic, and red peppers in the fat and later folded tender chicken pieces into the finished sauce before adding in the pasta. Doubled the amount of garlic and pepper flakes and added slight amount of pasta water instead of tap when sauce was thick. This sauce was an excellent use for my homegrown whole San Marzano tomatoes which I had canned in fresh garlic and basil. Delicious recipe.


Folks, if it's too watery, just cook it down. Pancetta is not traditional in alla vodka, but has anyone anywhere at any time ever complained about bacon?


This is just DIVINE. Using the S blade on my food processor, I combined the garlic cloves and onions and pulsed until finely chopped (I struggle with finely chopping by hand..). I accidentally poured the tomatoes in my Dutch oven before the vodka so I ended up putting them in at the same time- sauce still came out BEAUTIFULLY. Such a knockout recipe that I’ll keep in my back pocket if I want to impress but also keep it simply elegant.


Sister liked. Halved and added diced instead of crushed then blended bc she likes it smooth. Added more onion and simmered for longer and also more cream and cheese

skip Meat

Decent sauce. No need to add pancetta, Vic noticed it, and didn’t like it


No water was needed, I used a heaping half teaspoon of salt, and I used coconut milk instead of cream due to dairy intolerance. It was amazing!

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Pasta Alla Vodka Recipe (2024)
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