Vodka Sauce

If you have leftover marinara or you are simply looking for a new pasta sauce recipe, this recipe is a great variation on the classic. In its most basic form, Vodka sauce is marinara, cream, and a splash of vodka. The vodka releases sweetness in the tomatoes. Some people omit the alcohol, but I would argue that it is necessary in this recipe (it’s called vodka sauce after all). All of the alcohol cooks off, so it is a safe dish to feed your children. It has a beautiful soft pink color, but it is packed with flavor. This recipe is a winner in my home, and it will be in yours as well.


Cooking with alcohol is potentially dangerous. Alcohol can catch on fire very easily. With that being said, always keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and always keep a close eye on your cooking. Always remove the pan from the flame before adding the alcohol. When returning to heat, make sure you are using a steady hand, and not spilling.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 4 ounces (¼lb) pancetta diced (pancetta is just like bacon except bacon is smoked and pancetta is cured. I would try not to substitute it. Pancetta can generally be found in the deli section of your grocery store. If you can’t find it there try an Italian foods store.)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (if you are sensitive to spicy, only use ¼ teaspoon)
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 2 cups marinara
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup frozen peas (optional)
  • chopped fresh parsley & grated Parmesan cheese for garnish


In a deep skillet, brown pancetta over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook another 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the vodka. Carefully return to the flame, and reduce the vodka by half stirring constantly (about 3 minutes). Add the marinara and cream, bring the sauce to a simmer, and simmer for 10-20 minutes uncovered. Fold in the frozen peas if you are using them (they will thaw perfectly in the sauce). I serve my vodka sauce tossed with short pasta: rigatoni, penne, farfalle, orecchiette, etc. Garnish with parsley & Parmesan and serve.