Spicy Pesto Pasta Alla Vodka. (2022)

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This silky, smooth and extra creamy Spicy Pesto Pasta Alla Vodka is the perfect cozy winter recipe we need most. Fresh pasta tossed in a spicy tomato pesto vodka sauce that’s creamy and so delicious! The secret to this one-pot pasta? Basil pesto and plenty of cheese on top. The pesto adds a vibrant layer of flavor and richness to this silky, smooth, and creamy pasta. Serve this 30-minute dinner up any night of the week. It’s delicious and looks pretty on any table…not to mention that everyone LOVES a GOOD creamy vodka pasta. This dish will be your new go-to when serving family and friends over the holidays.

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We’ve made it to Thursday, and this week, that means creamy spicy pesto pasta alla vodka for dinner. Like clockwork every December I begin thinking about my family’s favorite vodka pasta. I have made so many versions over the years, but this recipe is my favorite. It’s more classic, but with the small twist of basil pesto, which of course only makes this vodka pasta that much more delicious.

I don’t know what it is about December days, but they always leave me craving some form of pasta in red sauce. I have to say, this pasta alla vodka feels like the most fitting December recipe. Not only for its simplicity and deliciousness, but the pretty red and green colors feel extra festive. Perfect for this time of year.

I know, I know, there she goes again with all the holiday talk. But I’m really grabbing onto anything and everything that adds even just a little holiday happiness into the world this year! And pasta always makes everything better. Especially a creamy vodka pasta.

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So what does the vodka actually do?

The vodka adds a sharp bite that helps to balance out the sweetness of the tomatoes. When used in small amounts, the vodka will boost and intensify the aroma of the sauce. The key is to slowly simmer vodka into the sauce. This will release its flavors and cook out the alcohol.

If you prefer to not cook with alcohol, swap the vodka for chicken broth, vegetable broth, or even just water. That will be totally fine and your sauce will still be great.

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All the spicy details…

This pasta is simple. I didn’t go over the top with it but instead wanted to really focus on the traditional flavors of a great vodka pasta…garlic, tomatoes, and cream. The key is to slowly cook the garlic in oil. I learned this trick when I first started cooking from a friend of our family’s, Mrs. Mooney, as I called her, and actually still call her to this day.

She’d make this dish simply called penne pasta. It was always a favorite. Thinking back on it, it’s actually really similar to an alla vodka style pasta sauce.

Mrs. Mooney taught me to slowly caramelize garlic in olive oil to really infuse flavor into a recipe, especially within an Italian-style red sauce. So, don’t skip this step! Once the garlic is extra fragrant and turns golden, I like to stir in the tomato paste and chili flakes. Then cook those for a bit to really help intensify the flavors in the sauce.

(Video) SPICY (VODKA) PASTA AND GARLIC BREAD DINNER | SAM THE COOKING GUY

Once that’s cooked for a bit, stir in lots of cream. Then let the sauce simmer while you boil the pasta.

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For the pasta, I just used short cut rigatoni (to be honest, it’s really the best kind of short cut pasta I can find in my area). But use any short cut pasta you love or have on hand.

You’ll want to first boil off the pasta, then just before draining reserve some of the pasta cooking water. This step is so important, so be sure to not dump the water before reserving a cup. The pasta water is used to finish the creamy vodka sauce.

Now add in some of the pasta cooking water and simmer the sauce until it has reduced down a bit and thickened. At this point, your kitchen is going to smell amazing. There should be hints of garlic and butter throughout…it’s the best of Italian scents.

Once the pasta is cooked, toss it with the sauce and that pasta water. Add some butter and toss until the sauce is very creamy. Stir in the parmesan and basil. Immediately the heat from the pasta intensifies the smell of the basil…leaving you with nothing but excitement for dinner.

And trust me, you should be excited. Every bowl of pasta is creamy, just oh so slightly spicy, with a subtle pesto touch, and just the right amount of butter and cheese.

It’s is so very good. Roll your eyes back, go for that second bowl, and finish the pasta all in one sitting, GOOD. Dramatic, but true.

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Perfect dinner to serve up this holiday season, even if it’s just the two of you this year! The leftovers are just as delicious! You can prepare the dish in advance, keep it fully assembled in the fridge, and then bake before serving. I love dishes like this for holiday entertaining…they make life so easy!

You can even prepare the sauce way ahead of time, then just add the pasta before you’re ready to serve. This would make a great dinner party meal with aside salad and some bread. Usually, I keep it simple with my 5 Ingredient Beer Bread or Salted Butter Parker House Rolls. But when the whole family is in town for December, I’ll bake this Pull-Apart Garlic Butter Bread Wreath. Either way (or day) you serve this pasta up, it’s going to be good. It’s one of those pasta dishes that’s easily loved by all.

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Looking for other simple winter pasta dishes? Here are my favorites:

(Video) Spicy Pesto Pasta Alla Vodka #shorts

4 Cheese Sage Pesto Florentine Lasagna

One Pot Spicy Pesto Cheese Baked Rigatoni

One-Pan Cheesy Spaghetti Pie

Lastly, if you make this Spicy Pesto Pasta Alla Vodka, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Author: Tieghan Gerard

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

(Video) Creamy & Spicy Pesto Vodka Pasta

Total Time 30 minutes

Servings: 6

Calories Per Serving: 590 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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(Video) How to Make PENNE ALLA VODKA Like an Italian
  • 1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shallot, garlic, and oregano. Cook until the shallots begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes, cook 4-5 minutes, until thickened. Stir in the vodka, cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the pesto and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.

    2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Drain.

    3. To the vodka sauce, add the pasta, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and the butter, tossing until the butter has melted. Add the parmesan and basil. If needed, thin the sauce with additional pasta cooking water.

    4. Divide the pasta among plates and top with basil and cheese. Enjoy!

To Replace the Vodka:use an equal amount of chicken or vegetable broth.

To Make Ahead: prepare the alla vodka sauce through step 1. The sauce can be made 4 days ahead of time and chilled in the fridge. To serve, warm on the stove, follow the directions through step 2.

To Freeze: the alla vodka sauce can be made, then frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw, then use as directed.

(Video) the GREATEST PENNE VODKA you’ve ever made

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FAQs

What does vodka in pasta sauce do? ›

In a vodka sauce, the vodka helps maintain a cohesive texture, allowing the creaminess to meld with the tomato base. And sure, you could use wine to the same effect, but in a sauce as rich as vodka sauce, it's better to use a small amount of alcohol that will impart as little of its own flavor as possible.

How do I spice up penne alla vodka? ›

If the sauce needs a little more seasoning, taste it once it is warm. To liven it up, add a pinch of salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, or a pinch of fresh garlic. Also, fresh and dried herbs would work well: oregano, basil, thyme, tarragon, parsley, etc.

How do you make Gigi Hadid pasta with vodka sauce? ›

Instructions
  1. Boil pasta according to directions on package, adding 1 tsp salt to the water. ...
  2. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. ...
  3. Add in garlic and sauté for a minute.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add in vodka and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Oct 19, 2021

Is vodka sauce supposed to be spicy? ›

Is Vodka Sauce Supposed To Be Spicy? A vodka tomato sauce typically doesn't have an overly spicy taste. Warming, mellow flavor with mild heat is the best way to describe it. In order to make a spicy homemade vodka sauce with an intense spicy flavor, add more crushed red pepper flakes.

Can kids have vodka sauce? ›

The general consensus was that a vodka pasta sauce should be safe for children, if cooked thoroughly. "Traditional vodka sauce uses such a small amount of alcohol that it should evaporate out during cooking," Dr. Rachel Prete, pediatrician with Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, told POPSUGAR.

What spices go well with vodka sauce? ›

How Do You Spice Up Vodka Sauce? When the sauce is warm, taste it and season it with salt and pepper. Add a dash of salt, red pepper flakes, or garlic to liven up the dish. Also, fresh and dried herbs would work well: oregano, basil, thyme, tarragon, parsley, etc.

How do you make vodka pasta sauce taste better? ›

How Do You Make A Jar Of Vodka Sauce Taste Better? If the sauce needs a little more seasoning, taste it once it is warm. To liven it up, add a pinch of salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, or a pinch of fresh garlic. Also, fresh and dried herbs would work well: oregano, basil, thyme, tarragon, parsley, etc.

What happens if you put too much vodka in vodka sauce? ›

How do I tone down the vodka taste in vodka sauce? If you've got an overwhelming taste of vodka you've probably added too much and/or added it too late. In such case just continue simmering the sauce to reduce down the alcohol. The longer you simmer the less powerful the vodka will be.

What spices pair with pesto? ›

Pesto mixed with olive oil or mayonnaise makes a regular salad special and is the perfect dressing for tuna, chicken, and pasta salads. It can also add tremendous flavor when mixed into rice, risotto, or mashed potatoes, or dolloped onto hot vegetables such as cauliflower to transform fair into fabulous.

Is pesto supposed to be spicy? ›

Pesto alla calabrese is a sauce from Calabria consisting of (grilled) bell peppers, black pepper and more; these ingredients give it a distinctively spicy taste.

What is pesto seasoning made of? ›

To make the pesto, combine basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Why does Gigi Hadid put vodka in her pasta? ›

Vodka adds a slightly acidic taste to the dish, you can substitute with lime juice mixed with grape juice or apple juice, This is now one of our favorite pasta dishes, all the cheesy, creaminess of pasta with a splash of chili flakes make it a winning dish!

Is Gigi Hadid pasta healthy? ›

How can you make Gigi Hadid's pasta recipe healthy? Some of the ingredients are visibly not healthy such as the amount of olive oil she added, heavy cream, butter, and of course, the white pasta. It is heavy in saturated fat and simple carbs.

Can you get tipsy off of vodka sauce? ›

No, you can't get drunk off vodka sauce

That's because after the vodka is added to the sauce, it continues to cook. As the sauce simmers, some of the alcohol in the spirit evaporates, according to Popsugar. The longer the sauce cooks, the more alcohol will burn off.

Can you get drunk from vodka pasta? ›

Penne Alla Vodka: Can it make you drunk? ? You will not get drunk from this sauce because it contains vodka. If you cook with any alcohol, the alcohol will be dissolved in the liquid. Although the alcohol used is still present and can be tasted, the physical amount of alcohol has been reduced to a negligible amount.

Is vodka sauce healthy? ›

Alfredo, vodka and pesto sauces are higher in fat and calories than most tomato-based sauces. Alfredo and vodka sauces contain cream, which sends the saturated fat numbers soaring. Pesto sauces are high in fat, but it's mainly healthy unsaturated fat from vegetable oil and pine nuts – these are healthy fats.

Does vodka pasta get you drunk? ›

Penne Alla Vodka: Can it make you drunk? ? You will not get drunk from this sauce because it contains vodka. If you cook with any alcohol, the alcohol will be dissolved in the liquid. Although the alcohol used is still present and can be tasted, the physical amount of alcohol has been reduced to a negligible amount.

Is vodka necessary for vodka sauce? ›

Vodka does not need to be in vodka sauce; a simple replacement is some fresh water and a squeeze of lemon. Not only is this an easy replacement, but it also is very cost effective if you are looking to save some money,” Reimers suggests. Ready to make your own vodka sauce? Try this flavorful but entry-level recipe.

Why is vodka used in cooking? ›

Adding vodka rather than water to your dough prevents gluten from forming during the baking process, leaving your tasty treat flaky and delicious rather than tough and chewy. Adding vodka to your baking is especially important when making pie crusts.

What is the difference between vodka sauce and marinara sauce? ›

A marinara sauce differs from a vodka sauce on the basis of the ingredients used. There is nothing but tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and herbs in the marinara sauce, whereas in vodka sauce, there is something like cream, along with herbs and spices like basil and oregano.

Videos

1. COOKING WITH MY MOM EPISODE 4 | HOW TO MAKE SPICY PESTO PASTA ALLA VODKA
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3. GIGI HADID'S FAMOUS Pasta without Vodka | Tiktok Spicy Pasta Recipe - Best Spicy Sauce Penne Pasta
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