This Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce recipe is made very simple for this classic Italian dish.
You’ve probably spotted vodka sauce pasta recipes on the menu in Italian restaurants. And you may have even ordered and enjoyed this fabulous dish. Now you can make it at home with this simple recipe!
What is Vodka Sauce?
Vodka sauce is an Italian-American sauce made from smooth tomato sauce, vodka, herbs and heavy cream. The cream is what gives this sauce its signature “orange” hue, as its combination with the red sauce turns the sauce orange. The vodka in the sauce serves two purposes. The first is that vodka helps release the good flavors in the tomato sauce. Secondly, vodka acts as an emulsifier, keeping the consistency of the sauce stable so the oil in the cream sauce doesn’t react with the acidic tomato sauce to separate from the water.
An old, Italian friend gave me this recipe many years back, and it’s been my go-to for vodka sauce ever since. We add in shallots and prosciutto to this Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce… and plenty of Parmesan too.
Can other pasta varieties be substituted for the Rigatoni?
Yes! Tube shaped pasta is great for pairing with vodka sauce because the tubes act as good “catching” vehicles for creamy sauces that have chunks of tomato or meat in them. You may also use penne, ziti, cavatappi or campanelle for this recipe.
My husband and I took our son on a trip to Rome, Italy a couple of years ago. It was a fantastic trip- full of exploration and sampling plenty of Italian food. We sure ate our share of pizza, pasta and gelato, and we were able to sample pasta with vodka sauce there too. It was so good!
I found that the coolest thing about Rome (besides the food!) is that you can just be walking along any kind of normal street with shops and restaurants, and… BAM… there are some more ancient ruins. They’re just sort of all over the place. And I’m sure there is a ton of stuff underground that they have not even discovered yet. It’s just so impressive. Have you been to Italy yet? Add it to your travel bucket list!
One of the more adventurous things we did in Rome was to go on a segway tour of the city with Fat Tire Tours. It was an easy, fun way to get around without walking everywhere, and we loved having a guide to tell us about every little historical Roman thing we were seeing. The guides teach you how to ride the segways, so unless you’re super uncoordinated or unbalanced on your feet, you should be just fine in riding one. I would do it again- especially in other cities (Fat Tire Tours operates in a lot of other cities, and they do bike tours and walking tours too).
So now it’s time to try this Rigatoni in Vodka sauce, and pretend like you’re in Italy!
Here are a few more pasta recipes you might like to try:
- Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
- Chicken Pasta Primavera
- Skillet Pasta Carbonara
- Garlic Butter Spaghetti with Herbs
- Baked Pasta
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
- Creamy Garlic Pasta
- One Pot Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Pasta
Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce
- 16 ounces Rigatoni pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large shallots, peeled & finely chopped
- 3 ounces (6 to 8 slices) prosciutto, finely chopped
- ½ cup vodka
- ½ cup dry white wine (suggest Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1 cup jarred marinara sauce (something simple and smooth like tomato-basil)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 5 large basil leaves, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- additional basil leaves, for garnish (if desired)
- Prepare the Rigatoni according to the package instructions. Don't overcook-- it's actually better if you remove it from the water when it's somewhat al dente, rather than soft.
- While the Rigatoni is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil. Add shallots and prosciutto, and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the vodka and wine to the pan and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half. Add the marinara sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and basil, and heat through. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Drain the pasta and put it back into the pot. Scrape the sauce onto the pasta in the pot and toss to coat. Turn the heat to medium to heat through. Stir in ½ cup of the Parmesan. Remove from heat.
- Plate individual servings with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.