Vodka Sauce {vegan option}

A few weeks ago I bought a gigantic bottle of vodka at Costco. Vodka is the only liquor I generally care to drink, not that I drink it a lot. But since I’m generally excited about large quantities of things for low prices and all things Costco, I figured I’d invest in this ginormous bottle of vodka. I knew it would come in handy for entertaining because who doesn’t like vodka drinks?

When I brought the bottle home I had a bit of buyer’s remorse wondering what in the hell I was going to do with all that damn vodka. I spotted a slightly smaller but nearly full bottle of vodka in Sis’s cupboards this past winter when I was visiting and asked her what in the hell she does with all that vodka. The answer? Vodka sauce. She swears by it. She hasn’t steered me wrong recently when it comes to food so I was eager to crack open my gigantic bottle of vodka and get sauced. Tomato sauced.


I did a lot of research before coming up with my own recipe. I saw tons of recipes for sauce and pasta together with complicated directions of adding ingredients to both the sauce and the noodles. Pass. I wanted something relatively simple and a recipe for sauce only. I had some fresh tortellini from Costco that I wanted to use with my vodka sauce. And then I found just sauce recipes that also seemed too complicated by involving straining of the tomatoes and pureeing before pouring into the pot. Pass again. Again, I wanted simple.

So I drew from simple experience and my recipe for Drunken Carmelized Onions to get the below recipe that my cousin Alison deemed a success. It was so good I made it two days in a row (after sending Alison home with all the leftovers on day one.) Eat with your favorite noodle, boxed or fresh, or try making your own noodle and mixing it with this fantastic sauce.


  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 28-oz can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 c. vodka, divided
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ to ¾ c. heavy cream or full fat coconut milk
  • salt, to taste
  • ½ c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish


  1. Heat olive oil in  large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until soft, about two minutes. Add ½ cup vodka, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook stirring occasionally until vodka has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, and remaining ½ cup vodka. Stir and cook over low heat until vodka has mostly cooked out. Use an immersion blender to purée the sauce. (Or pour into a blender or food processor and purée and then return to pot.)
  4. Stir in the cream and salt and simmer 1 more minute. Taste and adjust flavor by adding more cream, salt or chili pepper if needed.
  5. Serve with your favorite shaped pasta and plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe rating: 

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