Easy Recipe For Pasta With Vodka Sauce with Meat

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This easy vodka sauce recipe is the perfect indulgence dish that will make you feel like you’re sitting in an authentic Italian café on the streets of Rome.

Like many foods, vodka sauce has an interesting backstory. The beloved penne alla vodka first showed up on the Italian food scene in the early part of the 1970s. But the question is this: Did this delicious sauce originate in Italy or New York?

Vodka sauce is a pink tomato sauce that’s thinned with heavy cream to make it super creamy. The sauce is cooked over a low flame until the tomatoes turn jammy in consistency and caramelize. The first vodka sauce was served at New York’s Orsini Restaurant, and penne ala vodka was created by Chef Luigi Franzese.

Penne alla vodka is a delicious dish. This homemade vodka sauce with ground beef or Italian sausage, diced tomato, fresh basil, and grated parmesan will have your family begging for more of this pasta sauce. Vodka is the perfect addition to any Bolognese sauce.

The catch? There is none.

You can make this recipe in less than 45 minutes in your own kitchen and it’ll be the star of the show for any occasion. 

When we first came across the concept of putting vodka in pasta sauces, we must admit our eyebrows were certainly raised.

It just doesn’t sound right. However, you must believe us when we say it adds something unexplainable to what would be a traditional Italian recipe. 

Can I use any type of pasta for this recipe?

We recommend using a larger pasta like penne or rigatoni as it’ll absorb more of the sauce, however, you can use spaghetti or linguine if you wish.

It’s just down to personal preference.

I don’t eat red meat, can I use chicken instead?

Chicken works just as well in this recipe and is recommended if you’re not the biggest fan of red meat. You could always use chicken sausage if you still want to achieve the same consistency as the pork sausage in this recipe.

If you are going to substitute for chicken in this recipe, you’ll want to spend more time cooking the meat to guarantee that it is properly cooked.

Can you taste the vodka in this dish?

Unless you’ve poured in more than the instructed amount, you won’t be able to taste the vodka in this dish. The vodka just adds a nice kick to the sauce and brings everything together.

We’re not quite sure how it works, but it certainly excels at filling our kitchen with mouth-watering aromas and adds a little something extra to this dish.

Is it safe for children to eat this vodka sauce pasta?

Yes, this vodka sauce uses such a little amount of vodka that it reduces down and evaporates whilst cooking.

If you don’t feel comfortable with using vodka in this sauce, then you can substitute with lemon juice to achieve a similar flavor. 

How to Cook Pasta Perfectly

The perfect pasta is subjective to the chef or person eating it. If you want your pasta to be more al dente (hard) you should cook for less time, around 10 minutes.

If you like your pasta to be thoroughly cooked then you can cook it for 13-14 minutes, any longer and it will begin to fall apart. Fresh pasta will take less time to cook, so you’ll need to check the cooking instructions on the label. 

You should bring your salty water to the boil before even adding your pasta, then once it has returned to the boil after adding the pasta, you can begin the timer to start cooking.

If you’re unsure if it’s ready or not, stick a fork in and pull a piece out to taste it, making sure you let it cool before doing so. You should stir your pasta whilst it boils to stop it from sticking to the pan. 

Top tip: Don’t rinse your pasta with cold water after draining it as it prevents it from absorbing your sauce.

Making the Vodka Sauce

The key to perfecting this recipe is taking your time and care when adding all your ingredients. Once your onions, mushroom, garlic, and meat are all cooked, you’ll want to add the vodka very slowly.

If you have a stove with an open flame you’ll want to take extra care as the alcohol can make the flames fly up. Turn your heat back up to medium-high and reduce the vodka for 3 minutes.

You need to cook the vodka at a higher temperature to make sure it evaporates properly, otherwise, you’ll need to take more time cooking it off.

Once your vodka has reduced, you’re ready to add your chicken broth and can of tomatoes to the mixture and bring it to the bubble whilst continuing to stir with a wooden spoon.

Your final wet ingredient for this recipe will be the heavy cream which you need to add to the sauce and then simmer on low heat to make sure it doesn’t curdle or burn. 

Taste a little bit of the sauce from your wooden spoon and see if it needs some extra seasoning. It may look like a lot of sauce in the skillet, however, once the pasta is added and it’s all mixed it’ll be just the right amount. 

Easy Vodka Sauce Pasta Recipe

A unique twist on a more traditional Italian recipe, this easy vodka sauce pasta recipe is set to impress all your dinner guests and will leave them asking ‘what’s the secret ingredient?’.
5 from 69 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 998 kcal


  • Garlic press
  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Large skillet
  • Wooden spoon


  • 10 oz of penne pasta
  • 1.5 lb pork sausage
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 10 oz of sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 1 cup of sodium-free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 32 oz can of crushed/chopped tomatoes
  • 20 finely chopped basil leaves
  • Handful of parmesan to garnish



  • Using a sharp knife, thinly chop your onions on the chopping board and place them in a bowl on the side. Then using a garlic press or the flat surface of a knife, mince the 4 garlic cloves and also place in the bowl. Next, dice all your mushrooms and place them on a plate or bowl. Finally, you’ll want to finely chop the basic leaves and place in a separate bowl.


  • Heat your large skillet on medium heat on the stove and add in two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil. Then add your diced onions and minced garlic to the skillet and saute for 3 or so minutes, making sure they don’t burn to the pan.
  • Then add your diced mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes until they soften and darken in color. Then you’ll want to add your sausage meat and break it down with a fork into smaller pieces. If the skillet is pitting oil, you can use a long utensil to break down the sausage meat. The meat doesn't have to be cooked through completely at this point as it'll cook properly in the sauce in the later steps. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and your two tablespoons of Italian seasoning to the mixture and stir thoroughly.
  • Turn the heat down to low and add your ½ cup of vodka to the skillet slowly. Once all the vodka is in, turn the heat back up to medium-high for 2 minutes to reduce the vodka.
  • Add your can of crushed/chopped tomatoes and also your 1 cup of sodium-free chicken broth to the skillet and bring to the bubble. Reduce the heat to a simmer and then add ½ cup of heavy cream to the sauce and stir continuously.
  • Whilst your sauce is simmering on low heat, you can begin cooking your pasta by boiling salty water. Cook for 10 minutes if you like your pasta al dente or for 13-14 minutes if you like it softer.
  • Add your diced basil leaves to the sauce in the skillet and also season with salt and pepper. If you like a spicy kick to your food then you’re welcome to add some chili flakes.
  • Drain your pasta and then add it to the sauce in the skillet and mix thoroughly, ensuring all the pasta is covered in the rich creamy sauce.
  • If your sauce is still a bit too thin, you can leave it simmering on the heat to reduce more or you could add a teaspoon of plain flour to thicken it up.
  • Once you’re happy, you can serve up in some bowls and garnish with any spare basil you may have and some parmesan cheese. We recommend pairing with some warm pieces of homemade garlic bread to dip into the rich creamy sauce.


Calories: 998kcalCarbohydrates: 87gProtein: 44gFat: 71gSaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 585mgPotassium: 1622mgFiber: 8gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 1360IUVitamin C: 31.1mgCalcium: 156mgIron: 6.8mg
Keyword Easy Vodka Sauce Pasta, Easy Vodka Sauce Pasta Recipe, Vodka Pasta Recipe, Vodka Sauce Pasta
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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