Easy Vodka Sauce Recipe: Quick and Delicious Pasta Sauce

Bring something new to your pasta nights with our easy vodka sauce recipe, a simple yet sophisticated dish that brings restaurant-quality flavors to your home kitchen. This creamy, tomato-based sauce is infused with a splash of vodka, enhancing the rich flavors and adding a delightful depth to every bite.

Perfect for busy weeknights or a cozy weekend dinner, this recipe requires minimal ingredients and effort, allowing you to create a mouthwatering sauce in no time. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a kitchen novice, this easy vodka sauce will quickly become a favorite go-to for a delicious and comforting meal.

Penne pasta on a plate topped with vodka sauce and a slice of Italian bread on the side.

Easy vodka sauce is something that the whole household asks for frequently. This and baked spaghetti are always a hit here. It is an easy pasta sauce to make with a combination of tomatoes, cream, parmesan and a couple spices that come together perfectly. It is creamy, delicious and quick to put together!

It can be done in less then an hour with not much work, making it perfect for a busy week night dinner. Most often we make it with sausage, but sometimes we make pasta with vodka sauce and chicken. It is delicious with both! As much as I love ground beef, I prefer chicken or sausage for this vodka pasta sauce.

Penne pasta is usually the pasta we serve it over, but there is no right or wrong here. Use your favorite! It is really good on homemade noodles too.

If you like homemade sauce, you will love our pumpkin pasta sauce and homemade lasagna sauce.

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Ingredients prepped for making homemade vodka sauce.

What is this easy vodka sauce recipe made of? It is easy to make with a few simple ingredients, and yes there is vodka in the sauce! But no you won’t get drunk.

Olive oil – We recommend olive oil for the flavor it adds to sauces, but you can use a different oil. This is a taste preference.

Onion – Yellow onions are best here as they help to balance out the acid in the tomatoes, but you can also use a sweet onion. We do not recommend red onions in tomato sauces.

Garlic – Fresh chopped cloves are always best, but you can use garlic powder in it’s place. It will not affect the taste much, only slightly. You would add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder with the basil and salt, not before adding the vodka.

Vodka – There is not a lot vodka and most of the alcohol will boil out so you will not get drunk off of this sauce. You can make this sauce without it, but the vodka helps to bring out the other flavors in the sauce. It is an important ingredient so if you can, be sure to add it.

Diced tomatoes and tomato sauce – We recommend both for a better texture and flavor. The diced tomatoes help to thin out the vodka sauce while adding small chunks of tomatoes before the cheese and whipping cream thicken it slightly. For tomato sauce you can substitute with puree. You can substitute the diced tomatoes with crushed tomatoes if needed.

Salt – You can add less, but I do recommend adding some. You can adjust to taste.

Basil – Basil adds a sweetness but yet a unique taste. There are no recommended substitutions for it and we do not recommend leaving it out.

Heavy cream – It is best to use whipping cream here for a thicker but creamy vodka sauce, but you could use half and half. It will be slightly thinner but not a big difference.

Parmesan cheese – This is best with freshly shredded (or grated) parmesan cheese. We always have a block in the fridge for cooking. Do not use jarred grated cheese here in this sauce. It does not melt the same and the taste is off.

Sausage or chicken – Optional, we use either ground or links for sausage. For chicken you can use chicken breast of thighs, but you want boneless chicken.

Making this easy vodka sauce recipe

Vodka sauce with sausage in a sauce pot after cooking being spooned out of the pot.

You can put this together with minimal prep. The only things you need to prep are the parmesan cheese (really recommend fresh grated or shredded), the onion and the garlic.

If you are using sausage

If you are adding sausage to your creamy vodka sauce, you want to cook it separately to keep most of the fat out of the sauce. We cook it first and set it aside to add to the sauce, but you can cook it in a separate pan if you want to make it quicker.

You want to cook the sausage until it is fully cooked, no longer pink. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up grease.

For chicken vodka sauce

We recommend using either boneless chicken thighs or chicken breasts. Chicken breasts we think give the best flavor for the sauce, but this is a personal preference. Use about 1 pound of chicken.

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan to a 3 quart frying pan or sauce pot. Add the cut up chicken pieces and cook over medium to medium-low heat just until no longer pink. Remove and set aside.

Start by heating your pan over medium heat. Add in the oil and chopped onions, allow to sauté for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally.

For the sauce

Add the olive oil and onions to the sauce pot. You can use a 3 quart frying pan or sauce pot to make this easy vodka sauce recipe. Sauté the onions in the olive oil for about 3 minutes over medium to medium low heat.

Add in the garlic and cook stirring often for about 2 minutes. Now you want to carefully add in the vodka. The first few drops will create a bunch of steam and some sizzling but adding the rest of the vodka will settle the sizzling quickly. It’s the temperature difference between the hot oil and the room temperature vodka.

Cook for about 2 minutes stirring occasionally. You will see that the vodka has been reduced by about half. Now add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, salt and cooked sausage if you are adding sausage. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Pour in the cream and cook for about 2 minutes before adding the parmesan cheese. Do not allow the vodka sauce to simmer too hot after adding the heavy cream, just a gentle simmer over medium or medium low.

Add in the parmesan cheese and cook for about 1 minute. Your easy vodka sauce is now ready to put on top of pasta.

Frequently asked questions

What brand of vodka should I use?

We like Svedka here, but this is a personal preference. Use your favorite vodka if you have one. You can always ask your liquor store for recommendations too. Don’t get the cheapest, but you do not need to buy the most expensive either.

Do I have to use fresh parmesan?

I highly recommend it. We buy it in a block and keep it in the fridge. It will not turn out the same at all with bottled cheese. You can buy the fresh grated cheese often found in the dairy or deli sections if you don’t want the block.

How long does homemade vodka sauce last in the fridge?

If you place it in the refrigerator promptly, it should last about 3-4 days.

Can I freeze vodka sauce?

Yes you can freeze it as long as you store it in a freezer safe container. Be sure to let it cool all the way and do not fill the container all the way as it will expand slightly in the freezer. I like to put it in the fridge to cool without the lid on (or not on all the way) to cool first and place in the freezer after an hour or 2. If properly handled, it should last 6 months in the freezer.

Do I have to add sausage or chicken?

No you do not have to add sausage or any meat, this is a personal preference. I do think sausage or chicken make the best vodka sauce if you plan to add meat, but you may like it with something else.

Penne pasta on a plate topped with vodka sauce and a slice of Italian bread on the side.

Homemade Creamy Vodka Sauce

Creamy vodka sauce is an easy and delicious sauce to make with the perfect combination of tomatoes, spices, vodka, cream and parmesan. Sausage is optional.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner, sauces
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 5
Calories 530 kcal


  • 1 pound sausage links or ground (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 100 milliliters vodka about ½ cup
  • 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes no salt added, see notes
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt see notes
  • 1 teaspoon basil dried, or 2 tsp fresh basil
  • cup heavy cream can use half and half
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese fresh grated or shredded


  • If you are adding sausage, cook the sausage and set aside.
    1 pound sausage
  • Heat your sauce pan over medium heat (see notes.) Add olive oil and onions to your sauce pan. Cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally.
    3 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 yellow onion
  • Add in the minced garlic and cook about 2 minutes stirring frequently.
    3 garlic cloves
  • Carefully pour in the vodka and stir. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.
    100 milliliters vodka
  • Add in the diced tomatoes, sauce, basil, salt and cooked sausage. Stir well and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
    14.5 ounces diced tomatoes, 15 ounces tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pour in the cream and cook for about 2 minutes before adding the parmesan cheese. After adding the cheese, cook for 1 minute before removing from heat to serve.
    ⅓ cup heavy cream, ½ cup parmesan cheese


Serving size is estimated and so are the nutritional facts.  
For the salt, we use unsalted tomatoes and sauce.  If you are using regular tomatoes, you might need to adjust your salt a bit.  
For the vodka, we don’t recommend going with the cheapest but you don’t need to get expensive either.  We used Svedka.   It is measured in milliliter here as that is often how it is sold in the stores.  If measuring it in a measuring cup, use half a cup.
We highly recommend fresh grated or shredded parmesan cheese for best flavor. 
You can use half and half instead of heavy cream if needed.


Calories: 530kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 19gFat: 41gSaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 1227mgPotassium: 600mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 575IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 197mgIron: 3mg
Keyword easy
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