Pasta Vodka

This pasta sauce comes together very quickly, so prep all sauce ingredients before starting.

Recipe from Brian Lagerstrom.


  • 1 lb. penne, fusilli, or your favorite pasta (save 1 1/2 c. pasta water + a little extra)
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1-2 TBSP Calabrian chiles, optional
  • 1/2 c. (small can) tomato paste
  • 1 c. of vodka
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1-2 TBSP butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Basil, chiffonade


  1. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high heat; then add red onion and saute for 30 seconds.
  3. Then add the garlic and red pepper chili flakes and toast the chili flakes for a minute or so until the oil starts to take on a reddish hue.
  4. Then add the Calabrian chilles, if using.
  5. Then add the tomato paste and fry for a few minutes to “bloom” it out.
  6. Then deglaze with the vodka for 15 seconds.
  7. Then add the heavy cream and bring to simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  8. Then add 1 c. of pasta water and stir to combine.
  9. Then taste and adjust seasoning with salt and/or sugar.
  10. Then add the pasta and cut in the butter and then add an additional 1/2 c. pasta water and toss to combine.
  11. Then add about 1/3 of the parmesan cheese and toss to combine and taste and adjust seasoning.
  12. Serve topped with parmesan cheese and basil

Pasta Vodka:

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