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This vodka rigatoni recipe is made with a quick and simple homemade vodka sauce and is a great way to switch up your normal pasta night recipe. It's ready in under 30 minutes and is a tasty meatless meal!
Vodka rigatoni is going down today, as in rigatoni with VODKA in it! Don’t freak out—I promise you can’t taste it. I’m sure most of us have had store-bought vodka sauce before, right? Well, there's vodka in the store-bought sauce, so I figured why not make a homemade version?!
This vodka rigatoni recipe is so simple and so good thanks to the homemade sauce. I hope you love it as much as we did!
The full ingredient list is below in the recipe card. Here, I'm simply providing further clarification on a few of the ingredients, along with substitutions.
Rigatoni - The recipe is called "vodka rigatoni" so though rigatoni is in the name, you can use whatever pasta you have in your pantry, including gluten free pasta if you prefer.
Canned fire roasted tomatoes - Diced or crushed, just make sure you're using fire roasted tomatoes because they're more flavorful.
Milk - You can use any kind of milk; however, I recommend a combination of almond/oat/dairy milk and heavy cream/half and half. You want the sauce to be creamy, and adding some cream or half and half helps significantly.
Like I mentioned, you’re going to make the sauce and while the sauce is simmering, you’ll cook the pasta.
Step 1: Sauté garlic. Add olive oil and garlic to a dutch oven or large pot and stir for 2 minutes over medium heat or until the garlic is fragrant.
Step 2: Add ingredients to the pot. Make sure to drain the liquid from the cans of tomatoes, then pour in the tomatoes, milk, heavy cream, and vodka and stir to combine. Next, stir in the parsley, salt and red pepper flakes and then place a lid on the pot and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes or so.
Step 3: Cook the pasta. While the sauce is simmering, bring a separate pot of water to a boil and then cook the pasta.
Step 4: Blend the sauce. By now the sauce should be good, so you can add the cheese in slowly and stir. In order to get the sauce to be smooth and creamy, you'll want to use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until it’s smooth. Alternatively, you can pour the sauce into your blender and blend until smooth.
Pour the sauce back into the dutch oven, then add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Add extra parmesan/red pepper flakes, black pepper, parsley to taste.
FAQs and Tips
- You can use fire roasted diced or crushed tomatoes -- whatever you have on hand.
- You'll want to use a combination of milk and cream/half and half. Though I almost always use almond or oat milk for anything, adding in the cream makes a huge difference in flavor for this sauce. Trust me!
Can I make this dairy-free?
Yes, though it will alter the flavor. To make this pasta dairy-free, use 2 cups dairy-free milk, and use vegan parmesan instead of regular parmesan cheese.
If I want to add meat, what kind do you recommend?
I'd go with either Italian sausage, bacon or shrimp.
Any sides to serve with this recipe?
More pasta recipes:
- Bacon Parmesan Pasta
- Tomato Spaghetti Squash Pasta
- Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
- Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 28 oz. fire roasted crushed tomatoes liquid drained
- 1/2 cup milk any kind
- 1 cup half and half or heavy cream
- 1 oz. vodka
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oz. rigatoni pasta
- fresh basil optional, for garnish
- Add oil and garlic to a dutch oven or large pot and sauté for 2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant.
- Then, strain the liquid from the cans of tomatoes and add just the tomatoes, milk, half and half (or cream), and vodka to the pot and stir to combine; last, stir in the parsley, salt and red pepper flakes, place a lid on top and simmer sauce for 15 minutes.
- While sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in a separate saucepan.
- Once the sauce is done, slowly add in the cheese and stir until it's melted. Then, use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until it's smooth. Alternatively, you can pour the sauce into a blender and blend it up that way.
- Pour sauce back into the dutch oven, then add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Add extra parmesan cheese and/or red pepper flakes to taste.
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in April 2019. It was updated with new text and photos in July 2020.