A sauce of canned tomatoes tempered with cream is a no brainer for pasta. This recipe, however, which became popular in the 1960s, adds a healthy slug of vodka to the mix. The alcohol doesn’t survive the deglazing and cooking, so don’t worry (your kids—and you—won’t feel tipsy), but it does add some of the richness and complexity that any spirit (brandy, for instance) brings to many dishes. These cozy, comforting pastas with vodka sauce are just the thing to get you through a long, cold winter—or Valentine’s Day, the perfect time for celebrating the perfect marriage of pasta ingredients.
Bialetti Pasta Pot with Strainer Lid, $29.99 on Amazon
No matter what kind of pasta you make, a pot with a built-in strainer makes draining it easy.
Deglazing the pan you sautéed scallops in with vodka is a bold and beautiful way to get maximum flavor. Lemon, cream, and a whole lot of tarragon finish a delicate dish that’s delicious as is or tossed with pasta. Get our Seared Scallops with Lemon and Vodka recipe.
For a fun twist that’s not quite as costly as steak and scampi, pair spicy Mexican chorizo and clams, serve it tossed with pasta, and consider it surf ’n’ turf for the weeknight schedule. The vodka adds warmth and character. Get our Linguine with Clams and Chorizo recipe.
The classic creamy penne dish with just the right balance of tomatoes and cheese. Feel free to add wilted spinach, cooked chicken, or whatever else you like. Get the Penne Alla Vodka recipe.
Yes, you can even cook pasta in your pressure cooker. Add a creamy vodka sauce and tender shrimp and it’s a fast, fancy, filling meal for any occasion, from date night to any given Sunday evening. Get the Instant Pot Shrimp Pasta with Vodka Sauce recipe.
Instant Pot 6-Quart 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker, $99.95 on Amazon
If you haven't joined the cult of pressure cooking yet, maybe now's the time?
Proof that vodka sauce works with any pasta shape, this rigatoni brings ground chicken and Italian seasoning to the mix, plus fresh basil leaves for a fragrant finish. Get the Chicken Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce recipe.
Scraping up the pan residue with vodka adds deepened flavor here, in this spicy, oregano-scented pasta dish. The results aren’t boozy—what you get is a tomato-y sauce with a kick! Get our Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Vodka Sauce recipe.
Spaghetti is a gentle twist on the classic penne in this recipe. What’s more, the addition of Italian sausage bulks it up and adds even more flavor. (But if you’re up for something lighter, ditch the meat and replace the heavy cream with ricotta, a less caloric alternative.) Get the Spaghetti with Vodka Sauce and Italian Sausage recipe.
If you’re gluten-free, good news: so is most vodka—so feel free to adapt these recipes to use GF pasta! And check out our helpful tips on cooking gluten-free pasta the right way.
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Header image courtesy of Homemade Hooplah.