Vodka Sauce Recipe

Danger is to adventure, what garlic is to spaghetti sauce. Without it, you just end up with stewed tomatoes.

Tom Robbins

So my husband is Italian, he grew up on real homemade sauce. ‘Sunday Sauce’. His freezer growing up had nothing but jars of frozen sauce. I, on the other hand; grew up on Ragu.

When we married I received their family recipe for sauce. Felt like a big deal to me! He said that store bought sauce should never be in our pantry. This was fine for me cause I know he enjoys a good sauce. He’s favorite is a vodka sauce. So I learned how to make one for him to enjoy with pasta. It’s an incredibly easy lightened up version of the classic recipe. Still creamy, nice shade of pink with olive oil, tomatoes, half and half, fresh basil and garlic of course!!


  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup half and half
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh black pepper, to taste


  • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in tomatoes and vodka and continue cooking the mixture for 5-7 minutes until slightly reduced, stirring occasionally.
  • Then stir in the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, salt, and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer tomato mixture to a food processor or blender, add basil, and purée until smooth. Return sauce to the pan and stir in half and half. You want creamy and slightly sweet consistency. Start with 1/2 cup of half and half, taste, and add more if needed. Cook until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese – use right away or freeze until you want to use the sauce.

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