Dressings and Sauces

Our Favorite Homemade Vodka Sauce

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The best homemade vodka sauce – rich, creamy, and made with canned whole tomatoes so you can easily have this year-round.

An open jar of homemade vodka sauce.

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!

A large can of San Marzano style whole tomatoes.

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!

Three-step process photos of tomato sauce, cream being swirled in, and finished homemade 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!

A jar of homemade vodka sauce.

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!

5 from 4 votes
A jar of homemade vodka sauce.
Our Favorite Homemade Vodka Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Use canned whole tomatoes to easily make this year-round.

Course: Main
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: vodka sauce
Servings: 8
Calories: 103 kcal
Author: Monica | Nourish + Fete
  • 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
  1. 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.

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

Nutrition Facts
Our Favorite Homemade Vodka Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 103 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 20mg 7%
Sodium 142mg 6%
Potassium 29mg 1%
Vitamin A 5.9%
Vitamin C 0.5%
Calcium 1%
Iron 0.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  • Reply
    September 16, 2018 at 10:48 am

    I am loving the sound of this! I’d likely have to pour a nip of vodka for myself while cooking too. 😉

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish + Fete
      September 16, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      Haha! Now you’re talking! 🙂

  • Reply
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    September 16, 2018 at 3:48 am

    You just can’t beat a good vodka sauce especially when it’s homemade like this one. I hadn’t thought of trying it on pizza so I’m definitely going to give that a go!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish + Fete
      September 16, 2018 at 8:37 am

      It’s actually my favorite pizza sauce – love it with just a bit of mozzarella and oven-roasted tomatoes!

  • Reply
    September 16, 2018 at 3:23 am

    I have never tried a vodka sauce before, but I bet it gives it a lot of flavour. Would be nice for something special.

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish + Fete
      September 16, 2018 at 8:37 am

      Absolutely, perfect for a special occasion!

  • Reply
    Claire | The Simple, Sweet Life
    September 16, 2018 at 1:10 am

    I’ve never tried vodka sauce before but I’m definitely going to have to now! Sounds delicious!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish + Fete
      September 16, 2018 at 8:38 am

      You need to! It’s flavorful and creamy and amazing!

  • Reply
    September 16, 2018 at 12:47 am

    This sauce looks dreamy and creamy! The perfect thing to have ready in the fridge for anything!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish + Fete
      September 16, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Thanks, Natalie! You can go far w/ a jar of this in the fridge! 🙂

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