Pasta With Vodka Sauce

Cooks often wonder why there’s vodka in this classic recipe: wine, not the hard stuff, is usually used in cooking. The answer is that it lightens the dollops of heavy cream and Parmesan cheese in the sauce, without adding any flavor of its own. You can leave it out, but you might miss its lightness and bite. For a more up-to-date version of the sauce, use a whole 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and cut the amounts of cream and vodka in half. Moreover, the richness of this sauce cries out for handfuls of freshly chopped parsley; Add them once the pan is off the heat.


  • 1 ½ pounds pasta such as penne or ziti
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon hot, dried red-pepper flakes
  • 1 cup, less 2 tablespoons, Polish or Russian vodka
  • 1 cup canned, Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Nutritional Information
    • Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

      840 calories; 34 grams fat; 21 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 9 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 87 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams sugars; 22 grams protein; 102 milligrams cholesterol; 284 milligrams sodium

    • Note: Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available data.

6 servings


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and salt to taste. Cook according to package directions or to the desired degree of doneness.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a casserole or saucepan large enough to hold the pasta when it is cooked and drained.
  3. Add the pepper flakes and vodka, and bring to a boil. Let simmer two minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cream, and bring to the boil. Let simmer 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, drain it. Add it to the hot sauce. With the heat on low, add the cheese and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.

20 minutes

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