The best homemade vodka sauce – rich, creamy, and made with canned whole tomatoes so you can easily have this year-round.
One of my favorite ways to “get ahead” for the week is to make and store a few homemade goodies over the weekend, especially if I have a morning or afternoon when we are just hanging around the house anyway. And there are few things more gratifying than pulling a jar of homemade pasta sauce out of the fridge after a long day, knowing all you need to do is boil some pasta, pour out the sauce, and dinner is served – but still homemade.
Don’t get me wrong, I always have some jarred sauce around, but when I do have time, I love to make it from scratch. And this is hands down our favorite – an easy homemade vodka sauce, made with canned whole tomatoes, rich tomato paste, uncomplicated seasonings, and glorious, real, heavy cream.
When you want to level up pasta night, this is the way to do it!
The importance of quality ingredients
There are no extraneous ingredients here, so be extra sure the ones you do use are of good quality. First and foremost, the tomatoes. You’ll need a large can of whole peeled tomatoes. San Marzano or San Marzano-style are the best, if you can easily find them!
The same definitely goes for this homemade marinara sauce – another of my favorites!
How to make homemade vodka sauce
There are many vodka sauce recipes out there, but one of the things we really love about this particular recipe is the combination of textures you get from both pureeing and chopping the tomatoes. You’ll blitz about half in the blender or food processor, chop the rest, and combine them with a bit of onion, garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. (step 1 below)
Then comes the real magic – a generous splash of vodka, an even more generous splash of cream (step 2), a quick stir and simmer (3), and… you made your own vodka sauce!
Tools to make making this sauce even easier:
Of course you can use this right away – it’s amazing not only with traditional pasta, but also spooned over chicken, as a special pizza sauce, or as a dipping sauce with pretty much anything.
And once you’ve made this vodka sauce, it keeps really well for at least 4-5 days in the fridge. I always get a lot of questions about these jars – I love love love them for storing sauces, salad dressings, and soups!
If you try this homemade vodka or any other recipe on the blog, please rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!
Use canned whole tomatoes to easily make this year-round.
- 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/4-1/3 cup vodka
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Scoop about half the whole tomatoes into the bowl of a blender or food processor, leaving the remaining tomatoes and liquid in the can. Puree those in the blender until smooth. Scoop the remaining tomatoes out onto a cutting board; coarsely chop them, discarding most of the seeds.
Combine the pureed and chopped tomatoes in a large liquid measuing cup. Add a bit of tomato liquid reserved from the can, if needed, until you have about 2 cups total. Add salt and set aside.
In a large saucepan, warm olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add onion and tomato paste; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, just until the onions begin to soften. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 30-60 seconds, just until the garlic is fragrant.
Stir in the tomatoes and salt, followed quickly by the vodka. Reduce heat to medium and simmer briskly for 8-10 minutes, until slightly thickened and the alcohol flavor is cooked off. Stir frequently and reduce heat if the simmering becomes too vigorous. Stir in the cream and cook about 1 minute, just until heated through. (Don’t cook the cream too long or the sauce will separate).
Serve sauce immediately, or allow to cool before storing in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
This sauce will keep well for at least 4-5 days in the fridge; the cream may separate if stored in the freezer.
Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated.