You can make the best vodka sauce you have ever tasted at home in your very own kitchen! This easy homemade sauce recipe is rich, bright and big on flavor with minimal effort! No weird metallic taste or unhealthy additives here – just delicious, intensely creamy, deep tomato flavor! (Keto-friendly, Low-carb, Gluten-free, Vegetarian)
Homemade Vodka Sauce Recipe
If you haven’t tasted homemade vodka sauce yet, you are missing out, my friends! Absolutely nothing compares to the flavor of this easy, homemade sauce!
Creamy, rich and luscious texture, this tomato-based sauce has a savory, slightly sweet and spicy taste. With notes of aromatic onion, fragrant garlic, spicy red pepper flakes and fresh herbs, this deeply flavorful sauce is enhanced by the delicate trace of vodka.
Creamy, faintly spicy and extremely tomatoey, this sauce is like nirvana for the tastebuds! No weird additives, preservatives or strange metallic taste here – just naturally delicious, bright tomato flavor!
Caramelized tomato paste and a quick puree in the blender give this sauce an extremely silky, velvety texture with a delicious, complex, layered taste.
Uncomplicated to make and absolutely glorious in taste, this homemade sauce will give pasta night a delicious, new meaning!
What is vodka sauce?
Vodka sauce is an American-Italian tomato-based sauce made from crushed tomatoes, vodka, heavy cream and Italian seasonings. Vodka tomato sauce is traditionally used as a part of a dish, such as penne pasta, rather than as a condiment.
Who invented it?
The origin of vodka sauce is quite controversial, and many people have laid claim to its invention. However, there are two more popular common beliefs. Some claim the sauce and penne alla vodka was invented at Dante, a restaurant in Bologna, Italy, while others recognize James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University (New York) as the inventor.
What is alla vodka sauce?
Alla vodka is used to refer to a dish made of pasta tossed in vodka sauce. For example, penne alla vodka means penne pasta in vodka sauce.
What is it made of?
While there are many different versions of vodka sauce, the traditional base ingredients include tomatoes, vodka and heavy cream.
Why add vodka to tomato sauce?
Vodka is primarily added to tomato sauce to enhance the flavor. Vodka causes the tomatoes to release their natural sweetness. As well, vodka serves as a stabilizer and prevents the sauce from separating.
Why is the sauce orange or pink in color?
Vodka sauce gets it distinctive pinkish-orange color from the heavy cream, which is a crucial component of the sauce.
Is vodka sauce just alfredo mixed with marinara?
Alfredo sauce mixed with marinara sauce is known as pink sauce. While pink sauce and vodka sauce are both types of tomato sauce, they are not the same thing. Pink sauce is creamier and richer in taste as it is made with a lot more heavy cream. As well, pink sauce does not contain any vodka.
What does it taste like?
Vodka sauce has a creamy and silky texture. It is extremely rich and savory in flavor. Is has a slightly sweet taste with notes of pepper and a subtle hint of spicy heat.
Is it spicy?
Vodka tomato sauce is not traditionally overly spicy. It should have a very mellow, warming flavor with mild heat.
However, you can easily make spicy homemade vodka sauce with an intense spicy flavor by adding more crushed red pepper flakes to your sauce!
Is it acidic?
Vodka sauce is primarily made out of tomatoes, which are extremely high in ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. However, vodka sauce should not be extremely acidic in flavor unlike other pasta sauces, such as spaghetti sauce or marinara. Vodka sauce contains onions and herbs which help balance the acidity in the sauce. As well, the heavy cream always found in vodka sauce helps to balance out the PH level and cut the acidic taste of the sauce.
Does it taste like alcohol?
While vodka sauce does contain vodka, it does not have a harsh alcoholic taste whatsoever and it will not get you intoxicated or drunk. The sauce is simmered long enough that the actual alcohol is cooked off. The vodka simply serves to enhance the delicate flavors in the sauce.
Is sauce dairy free?
Vodka tomato sauce is not dairy free as it contains heavy cream.
Is sauce Keto-friendly?
This recipe for homemade vodka sauce is keto-friendly and low in carbs.
Is it Gluten-free?
This recipe is gluten-free. However, you should always check ingredient labels to ensure the products you are using are in fact gluten-free. Likewise, make sure you use a pure, distilled vodka for the sauce.
How to cook vodka sauce from scratch?
Homemade Italian-American vodka tomato sauce is incredibly easy to prepare home! Plus, it tastes a million times better than any store-bought brand! No weird metallic taste or unhealthy additives here – just naturally delicious, creamy tomato flavor!
(Scroll down for the detailed measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page)
- Sauté onions & aromatics: In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmering over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste is caramelized, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add vodka & tomatoes: Add in the vodka bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture is reduced by half, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes to the pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer
- Simmer & add basil: Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 35 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil.
- Puree: Use an immersion blender, or transfer the mixture to a stand blender or food processor in batches. Puree until the sauce is smooth in consistency. Return the sauce to the pan and place over medium-low heat.
- Add cream & adjust taste: Stir in ½ cup of cream. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until heated through. Taste the sauce. You want the sauce to have a creamy consistency and slightly sweet taste. Adjust the sauce to taste with more cream, salt and pepper if desired. Stir in parmesan and more fresh herbs if desired.
- Serve: Serve with warm pasta and enjoy! Or, allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
How to make vodka tomato sauce step by step photos:
How to thicken sauce?
Homemade vodka sauce should be relatively thick and creamy if properly prepared and cooked. However, if you prefer an ultra-creamy, thick sauce, there are a few different ways you can make sauce thicker.
- Cook Longer. The easiest way to naturally thicken sauce is to simmer it for longer amount of time. However, make sure you never let the sauce come to a boil after the cream is added. Boiling will cause the sauce to break.
- Add More Cream. Add more cream to taste and then simmer the sauce until thickened.
- Add Cheese. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in freshly grated parmesan cheese. The cheese will cause the sauce to thicken up.
- Add Starch. Whisk a little cornstarch with an equal amount of cold water until a paste (known as a slurry) forms. Slowly add the slurry into the simmering sauce while whisking constantly. Allow the sauce to continue to simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Pro-tip: Use about 2-3 teaspoons of cornstarch for every cup of sauce you want to thicken.
How to use sauce?
There are countless ways to use this creamy tomato-based sauce at home! While you can use the sauce to create a dish, you can also use the sauce wherever a recipe calls for pasta or spaghetti sauce.
What to put vodka sauce on?
- Pasta – Toss warm, buttery noodles with sauce.
- Veggie Noodles – Ladle sauce over your favorite vegetable noodles such as zucchini or squash.
- Ravioli – Generously top a plate of ravioli with sauce.
- Spaghetti or Pasta Casseroles – Use the sauce in spaghetti bakes or Italian pasta casseroles, such as manicotti or ziti.
- Lasagna – Sauce can be used as a layering sauce in lasagna.
- Meatballs – Either braise meatballs in sauce or toss cooked meatballs in sauce.
- Sausages – Brown Italian sausages in a skillet and then simmer in the sauce for a meaty main dish.
- Easy Bolognese – Brown and cook ground beef or pork and add it to the sauce for an easy homemade Bolognese.
- Pizza – Use vodka sauce for a richer, creamier alternative to traditional tomato sauce pizza pies.
- Braise Chicken or Meat – Braise browned beef or chicken in sauce for a comforting, hearty dish.
- Shrimp or Fish – Use sauce with shrimp, fish or seafood. Add in some pasta for a heartier dish.
- Chicken Cacciatore – Prepare a quick cacciatore by using already prepared homemade sauce.
- Parmesan – Make eggplant, veal or chicken parmesan using vodka sauce.
- Rollatini or Involtini – Create delicious chicken rollatini or eggplant involtini at home with sauce.
- Italian Peppers and Onions – Simmer peppers and onions in sauce to create a flavorful side dish.
- Baked Zucchini Fries or French Fries – Use the sauce as a dip for your favorite fries.
- Polenta – Top a big bowl of creamy polenta with a generous amount of sauce and sprinkle with fresh parmesan. Add in some greens or top with a fried egg for a more substantial meal.
what meat with vodka sauce?
Looking to create a heartier sauce? You can add a wide variety of meats to this creamy sauce for added flavor and sustenance.
- Steak – cut into bite-sized pieces
- Ground Beef
- Ground Veal
- Italian Sausages
- Ground Pork
- Cubed Chicken Breasts or Thighs
- Ground Chicken
- Cubed Turkey Breasts
- Ground Turkey
Can you make it in advance?
Homemade sauce can easily be made ahead of time. Prepare the sauce a day or two in advance and allow it to cool on the counter to room temperature. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use
How long is vodka sauce good for?
Leftover sauce should be allowed to cool to room temperature before being transferred to an airtight container or zip-closure bag. The sauce will keep well for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Can sauce be frozen?
Creamy tomato sauce can be stored in the freezer!
To freeze, prepare the sauce according to the recipe instructions. Allow the sauce to cool on the counter to room temperature. Transfer the sauce to airtight containers or freezer-safe zip-closure bags. Store in the freezer for up to six months.
To reheat, thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight. Transfer the thawed sauce to a saucepan. Reheat on the stovetop over medium-low to low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed throughout.
There is nothing better than sauce made with love from scratch! Pasta night with the family will have a whole new meaning after you try this sauce!
Until next week, friends, cheers – to homemade flavor!
The best Homemade Vodka Sauce recipe👇
You can make the best vodka sauce you have ever tasted at home in your very own kitchen! This easy homemade recipe is rich, bright and big on flavor with minimal effort! No weird metallic taste or unhealthy additives here - just delicious, intensely creamy, deep tomato flavor! (Keto-friendly, Low-carb, Gluten-free, Vegetarian)
Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.
- 3 TBS Olive Oil
- 1 large Sweet Onion – small dice (about 2 cups)
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper
- 4 cloves Garlic – peeled & roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – or more to taste
- 1 ½ tsp EACH: Italian Seasoning & Dried Oregano
- 2 TBS Tomato Paste
- 1 Cup Vodka
- 2 (28 ounce) Cans Whole, Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes – crushed by hand (SEE NOTES)
- 1/3 Cup Fresh Basil – thinly sliced (chiffonade), or more to taste
- ½ - 1 Cup Heavy Cream – to taste (SEE NOTES)
Sauté onions & aromatics: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmering over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and oregano. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste is caramelized, about 1-2 minutes.
Add vodka & tomatoes: Add in the vodka and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture is reduced by half, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Simmer & add basil: Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil.
Puree: Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender, or transfer the mixture to a stand blender or food processor in batches. Puree until the sauce is smooth in consistency. Return the sauce to the pan and place over medium-low heat.
Add cream & adjust taste: Stir in ½ cup of cream. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until heated through. Taste the sauce. You want the sauce to have a creamy consistency and slightly sweet taste. Adjust the sauce to taste with more cream, salt and pepper if desired. Stir in parmesan and more fresh herbs if desired.
Serve: Serve with warm pasta and enjoy! Or, allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
- I recommend San Marzano tomatoes for the best flavor and taste!
- To easily crush tomatoes with a lot less mess, use a potato masher! Use a slotted spoon to transfer the whole, peeled tomatoes to a large bowl. Use the potato masher to gently crush the tomatoes. Use the crushed tomatoes PLUS the sauce in the can in the recipe.
- Make sure you add the heavy cream to taste! I suggest starting with ½ cup unless you know you like a super creamy vodka sauce. You can always add more cream to the sauce, but you can’t take it away once you add it!
Recipe Yield: Roughly 7 Cups
Nutritional information is an approximation based upon 7 servings (1 cup per serving)
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