Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe: Restaurant-Quality at Home

This spicy rigatoni vodka recipe is perfect: creamy, rich, saucy, and tangy. The vodka ties everything together, blending caramelized shallots, garlic, tomato paste, and heavy cream into a tasty meatless dish.

Spicy Vodka Rigatoni is one of my favourite meals. It’s easy to make, delicious, and you likely have most of the ingredients already. The Calabrian chilis add just the right amount of heat, making it addictive. Best of all, you can make it in under 45 minutes!

This recipe gives a spicy twist to classic vodka sauce using crushed red peppers. The heat from the Calabrian chilis pairs perfectly with the rich sauce. You’ll love how easy it is to make this restaurant-quality meal at home.

Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe

Spicy Rigatoni Vodka Recipe

The heat from flavorful Calabrian chilis goes perfectly with the creamy sauce in this spicy rigatoni vodka recipe. You’ll love how easy it is to make a restaurant-quality meal at home! Spicy Vodka Rigatoni is one of my all-time favorites. You probably already have most of the ingredients, and it’s really simple to make. The Calabrian chilis add just the right amount of spice, making it super tasty and addictive! Plus, the best part is you can have it ready in under 45 minutes!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 5
Calories 460 kcal


  • Large pot
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Colander or strainer
  • Large skillet or frying pan


  • 1 pound Rigatoni pasta
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Half medium Onion chopped into small pieces
  • 5 cloves Garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped Calabrian chili peppers or you can use 1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed Tomatoes
  • ½ cup Vodka
  • ¾ cup Heavy cream
  • ½ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil thinly sliced, for serving


  • Heat olive oil in a big pot on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes until it’s soft. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and chopped chili peppers. Let it all cook together for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes and vodka. Give it a good stir and let it simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until it thickens up.
  • While the sauce is cooking, boil some water in another big pot. Add a pinch of salt and then the rigatoni pasta. Cook it until it’s just right (al dente), following the instructions on the packet. Before draining, save a bit of the pasta water.
  • Once the sauce has thickened, lower the heat and add the cream. Stir it gently for about 5 minutes until it thickens more. Then mix in the grated cheese.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir it all together, adding some of the pasta water if you want the sauce to be thinner.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve it hot, with extra cheese and basil on top.


  • If you can’t find Calabrian chili peppers, just use crushed red pepper flakes instead.
  • If the sauce gets too sticky while cooking, add a bit of crushed tomatoes or water to loosen it up. And be careful if you’re using a gas stove with the vodka, as it can flare up.
  • You can store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. When reheating, warm it up gently on the stove with a splash of milk or cream to make it creamy again.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories460 kcal

Can You Leave Out the Vodka?

Can You Leave Out the Vodka?

Yes, you can. Vodka helps the flavours in the sauce come together but doesn’t add much of its taste. If you don’t want to use it, leave it out. The sauce will still be spicy and creamy, just a bit different.

Does the Vodka Completely Cook Out?

Not completely. Most of the alcohol will evaporate as the sauce cooks, especially if you stir it often and use a wide pan. But some might still be left. Use your best judgment about serving this dish.

Why Put Vodka in Rigatoni?

Vodka helps make the sauce smooth and creamy by mixing the cream and tomatoes well. Unlike wine, vodka doesn’t add much flavour, so the other ingredients stand out more.

How Long to Heat Vodka Sauce?

To make the vodka sauce:

  1. Add vodka to the skillet and stir well.
  2. Gradually add the cream while stirring.
  3. Mix in the seasonings and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Add a bit of the pasta water and stir until the sauce is as thick or thin as you like.
  5. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.

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