Easy Spicy Vodka Sauce

We all want something delicious after work, but don’t always have time to prep. This beautiful easy spicy vodka sauce is simple and comes together in less than an hour.

This easy spicy vodka sauce is a beautiful pink sauce that, honestly, is remarkably simple to make. The alcohol in the vodka reacts with the sugar in the tomatoes to create a flavor that is distinctive to this sauce. Red pepper gives it a kick to keep it interesting. It’s one of my favorites, and you probably already have most of what you need (don’t use your expensive vodka, though). There is no tomato paste in my recipe- so you don’t have to worry about opening a can and slowly watching it go bad in your fridge.

If you have time, I recommend pairing this with some fresh homemade pasta. Check out my tutorial on this topic- it will surprise you with how simple it is.

The vodka.

Don’t use anything expensive or fancy here. I use Smirnoff –my former college self is offended that I now consider this cheap vodka. If I know I’m going to be making this, I soak the crushed red pepper in the vodka all day to infuse the flavor. As you can see in the picture below, the vodka will turn slightly orange. As a bonus, if you have a rough day and no longer feel like cooking-this makes a great vodka infusion for a Bloody Mary instead.

easy spicy vodka sauce

You’ve had a long day at work. Grab a drink and let’s get to it.

Here’s what you need :

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter, salted or unsalted is fine here. You’re going to add salt anyways.
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced. I used more than three in all honesty. If you love garlic you can’t add too much.
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or less if you’re using salted butter.
  • 3/4 cup vodka with 1 tsp crushed red pepper soaking in it
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 28 oz can or two 14 oz cans of tomato sauce (I use the Cento cans in the image above. You won’t use all 28 oz).
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream at room temp
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated

Over medium heat, sauté the onions in the olive oil and butter. Once the onions begin to soften, add half the salt and all the garlic. You don’t want to burn the garlic, so keep an eye on it. Once the onions are translucent and the garlic is beginning to brown, pour in the vodka mixture and add the parsley. The liquid will reduce by about half, like the pictures below, when the alcohol is cooked out. This should take 7-10 minutes. If you’re making this for pasta, go ahead and put your pasta water on.

After the vodka is cooked down, add in the tomato sauce. I add a can and a half, about 22 oz. You can eye ball it, it doesn’t need to be exact. Simmer this for at least five minutes. If you have more time, simmer it for ten. Stir in the heavy cream, making sure you’re constantly stirring while pouring. Simmer this for five minutes, then add the cheese and turn the heat to low. Your water is probably boiling, so add your pasta to the water (make sure the pasta water is salted, like really salted- saltier than your boyfriends ex) and cook to al dente.

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, add it to the sauce with a little bit of pasta water and let it soak up the sauce. You want the pasta to marry in the sauce. They aren’t just friends, they’re spending their life together.

And thats it! Super easy, and incredibly delicious. Drop me a comment and let me know what you think!

Easy Spicy Vodka Sauce

This straightforward recipe comes together in no time. Crushed red pepper adds a kick to spice up your plate.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 140 kcal


  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Butter salter or unsalted
  • 1 Small yellow onion
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup Vodka
  • 1 tsp Crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp Parsley dried
  • 28 oz Tomato sauce I buy two cans of 14 oz Cento
  • 3/4 cup Heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan grated


  • A few hours in advance, place the crushed red pepper flakes in the vodka and let it soak.
  • Over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil and butter. Once the onion begins to soften, add in the garlic and half the salt. Be careful not the burn the garlic, you want the onions and the garlic to be softened at the same time. Cook until the onions are translucent and garlic is soft and beginning to brown.
  • Add the vodka/red pepper mixture to the pan and make sure it is simmering. Add the parsley. Simmer until all alcohol is cooked down, about 7-10 minutes.
  • Add one and a half cans of tomato sauce to the pan, about 22 oz. Allow to simmer for five minutes.
  • Stir in heavy cream. Be sure to constantly stir while you're pouring the cream in. If you substitute with a lower fat version of cream, it may curdle. Simmer for five minutes.
  • Turn heat to low and stir in parmesan. Taste and adjust salt to preference.
    *Don't adjust final salt prior to adding cheese, the cheese will add some salt*
  • If eating with pasta, cook pasta to al dente and toss in sauce. Allow pasta to finish cooking in sauce- this will enhance the flavor profile.
Keyword dinner, easy, italian, pasta, vodka, weeknight

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